7 Healthy Slow-Cooker Recipes for Diabetics

A slow cooker's low heat and long cook times make lean (and affordable) cuts of meat tasty and tender. Here are seven weeknight meals that come together with little effort.

Cooking Vegetable: Potato, Carrot, Beet, Zucchini, Onion, Cabbage.

Making healthier meal choices is important when it comes to managing type 2 diabetes, but that’s easier said than done of course. The first step is making a meal plan—a guide that takes into account what you like to eat (and what you don’t) as well as everything else you have going on in your life, according to the American Diabetes Association. Enter the slow cooker: It’s a fab way to get dinner on the table with a minimal amount of work on your part. These recipes are designed with the diabetic in mind—they’re healthy, tasty, and may help stabilize your blood sugar. (Follow your registered dietitian’s advice in terms of carb intake and that portion sizes that are right for you.) If you’re looking for a breakfast dish that’s also slow-cooker friendly, you can’t go wrong with this speedy guide to make-ahead oatmeal (another great dish for people with diabetes).

Italian chicken Cacciatore hunter's stew with spaghetti noodles and crusty bread
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Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore Recipe

Enjoy this chicken on its own or serve over cooked whole-grain pasta. Adapted from Denise Hollebeke, Penhold, Alberta, Canada

Serves 6

Prep Time: 20 min.

Cook Time: 4 hrs.

• 1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour

• 1 broiler/fryer chicken (3 to 4 lbs.), cut up, skin removed

• 2 tbsp. canola oil

• 2 medium onions, cut into wedges

• 1 medium green pepper, cut into strips

• 1 jar (6 oz.) sliced mushrooms, drained

• 1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• Pinch of salt

• 1/2 tsp. dried oregano

• 1/4 tsp. dried basil

• 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Place flour in large plastic bag. Add chicken, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat. In large skillet, brown chicken in oil on all sides. Transfer to 5-qt. slow cooker.

2. Top with onions, green pepper, and mushrooms. In small bowl, combine tomatoes, garlic, salt, oregano, and basil; pour over vegetables. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours or until chicken juices run clear and vegetables are tender. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Per serving: 277 cal, 11 g fat (3 g sat), 15 g carbs, 29 g protein, 2 g fiber, 85 mg chol, 463 mg sodium, 146 mg calcium

Stewed pork neck in sauce. Served with mashed potatoes and salad
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Slow-Cooked Pot Roast Recipe

The aroma alone is satisfying! Serve this homey, fork-tender pot roast with a green salad—and then find out the 5 best meats to eat and the ones to avoid. Adapted from Vera Carroll, Medford, Massachusetts

Serves 6

Prep Time: 10 min.

Cook Time: 6 hrs.

• 1 large sweet onion, chopped

• 1 cup sliced baby portobello mushrooms

• 1 (3-lb.) beef rump roast or bottom round roast

•1/2 tsp. salt

• 1/4 tsp. pepper

• 1 cup dry red wine or beef broth

• 1 tbsp. brown sugar

• 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

• 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

• 2 tbsp. cornstarch

1. Place onion and mushrooms in 5-qt. slow cooker. Rub roast with salt and pepper; cut in half and place over onion mixture. In small bowl, combine wine or broth, brown sugar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce; pour over roast. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours or until meat is tender; remove meat and keep warm.

2. To make gravy: Mix cornstarch and 2 tbs. water until smooth; stir into cooking juices. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes or until gravy is thickened.

Per serving: 382 cal, 11 g fat (4 g sat), 8 g carbs, 51 g protein, 1 g fiber, 141 mg chol, 395 mg sodium, 54 mg calcium

Creamy Garlic Mushroom Chicken
Alexander Prokopenko/Shutterstock

Slow Cooker Turkey with Mushroom Sauce Recipe

Use the cooking juices from the slow cooker to whip up a delicious gravy in just moments. Adapted from Myra Innes, Auburn, Kansas

Serves 8

Prep Time: 10 min.

Cook Time: 7 hrs.

• 1 boneless turkey breast (3 lbs.), cut in half

• 2 tbsp. butter, melted

• 2 tbsp. dried parsley flakes

• 1/2 tsp. dried tarragon

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• 1⁄8 tsp. pepper

• 1 jar (4 1/2 oz.) sliced mushrooms, drained, or 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

• 1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth

• 2 tbsp. cornstarch

1. Place turkey skin side up in 5-qt. slow cooker. Brush with butter. Sprinkle with parsley, tarragon, salt, and pepper. Top with mushrooms. Pour wine or broth over all. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted in turkey reads 170°F.

2. Remove turkey to serving platter; keep warm. Skim fat from cooking juices and discard; transfer cooking juices to small saucepan. Bring liquid to a boil. Combine cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water until smooth. Gradually stir into pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve with turkey.

Per serving: 308 cal, 14 g fat (5 g sat), 3 g carbs, 38 g protein, 0 g fiber, 118 mg chol, 327 mg sodium, 31 mg calcium

Homemade Braised Lamb Shanks with Sauce and Herbs
Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Slow Cooker Burgundy Lamb Shanks Recipe

Serve this hearty lamb dish when you need a stick-to-your-ribs meal to warm you up. Looking for more hearty dishes? You can’t go wrong with these 10 unexpected recipes for slow cookers. Adapted from Mrs. F.W. Creutz, Southold, New York

Serves 4

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours

• 4 lamb shanks (about 20 oz. each)

• Salt and pepper to taste

• 2 tbsp. dried parsley flakes

• 2 tsp. minced garlic

• 1/2 tsp. dried oregano

• 1/2 tsp. grated lemon peel

• 1/2 cup chopped onion

• 1 medium carrot, chopped

• 1 tsp. olive oil

• 1 cup Burgundy wine or beef broth

• 1 tsp. beef bouillon granules

1. Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper. Place in 5-qt. slow cooker. Sprinkle with parsley, garlic, oregano, and lemon peel.
2. In small saucepan, sauté onion and carrot in oil for 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in wine or broth and bouillon. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Pour over lamb. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until meat is tender.
3. Remove lamb and keep warm. Strain cooking juices and skim off fat. In small saucepan, bring cooking juices to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced by half. Top lamb with gravy and serve.

Per serving: 633 cal, 27 g fat (13 g sat), 6 g carbs, 69 g protein, 1 g fiber, 228 mg chol, 404 mg sodium, 30 mg calcium

Hot Homemade White Bean Chicken Chili with Peppers and Corn
Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili Recipe

Chili is the quintessential slow-cooker meal—it only gets better the longer it simmers. This chicken version is lighter than traditional red meat recipes.

Serves 6

Prep Time: 10 min.

Cook Time: 5 hrs.

• 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

• 1 cup chopped onion

• 3 tbsp. canola oil

• 1 can (15 oz.) white kidney or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

• 1 can (14 1/2 oz.) no-salt diced tomatoes, undrained

• 1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes with mild green chilies, undrained

• 1 cup frozen corn

• 1⁄8 tsp. salt

• 1 tsp. ground cumin

• 1 tsp. minced garlic

• 1/2 tsp. celery salt

• 1/2 tsp. ground coriander

• 1/2 tsp. pepper

• Sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese, for serving (optional)

1. In large skillet, sauté chicken and onion in oil for 5 minutes or until chicken is browned. Transfer to 5-qt. slow cooker.

2. Stir in beans, tomatoes, corn, and spices. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours or until chicken is no longer pink. Garnish with sour cream and cheese if desired.

Per serving 304 cal, 10 g fat (1 g sat), 22 g carbs, 30 g protein, 5 g fiber, 73 mg chol, 455 mg sodium, 66 mg calcium

Homemade chicken vegetable soup, overhead, close up view on an old wood background

Slow Cooker Mulligatawny Soup Recipe

This Indian-inspired soup has a dash of curry powder and chopped tart green apple—both of which make for a distinctive, memorable meal. Adapted from Mary Ann Marino, West Pittsburg, Pennsylvania

Serves 8

Prep Time: 20 min.

Cook Time: 6 hrs.

• 1 carton (32 oz.) low-sodium chicken broth

• 1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes

• 2 cups cubed cooked chicken

• 1 large tart green apple, peeled and chopped

• 1/4 cup finely chopped onion

• 1/4 cup chopped carrot

• 1/4 cup chopped green pepper

• 1 tbsp. minced fresh parsley

• 2 tsp. lemon juice

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1 tsp. curry powder

• 1/2 tsp. sugar

• 1/4 tsp. pepper

• 2 whole cloves

1. In a 3- or 4-qt. slow cooker, combine all ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or until vegetables are tender. Discard cloves and serve.

Per serving: 107 cal, 2 g fat (1 g sat), 10 g carbs, 12 g protein, 1 g fiber, 26 mg chol, 461 mg sodium, 25 mg calcium

Fried pan vegetables, with mushrooms and dried tomatoes. Seasoned with a mix of herbs.Top view.

Slow Cooker Ratatouille Recipe

Ratatouille is a classic dish in Southern France, where it’s the answer to an abundance of seasonal vegetables. If you have different types of produce on hand, make like the French and add them in! Then get the skinny on how to work the Mediterranean diet plan into your life with these 10 tasty recipes. Adapted from Jolene Walters, North Miami, Florida

Serves 10

Prep Time: 20 min. + standing

Cook Time: 3 hrs.

• 1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

• 2 tsp. salt, divided

• Nonstick cooking spray

• 3 medium tomatoes, chopped

• 3 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced

• 2 medium onions, chopped

• 1 large green pepper, chopped

• 1 large sweet yellow pepper, chopped

• 1 can (6 oz.) pitted ripe olives, drained and chopped

• 1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste

• 1/2 cup minced fresh basil

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 1/2 tsp. pepper

• 2 tbsp. olive oil

1. Place eggplant in colander set over plate; sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt and toss. Let stand for 30 minutes. Rinse and drain well. Transfer to a 5-qt. slow cooker coated with cooking spray.
2. Stir in tomatoes, zucchini, onions, green and yellow peppers, olives, tomato paste, basil, garlic, pepper, and remaining salt. Drizzle with oil. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or until vegetables are tender.

Per serving: 127 cal, 7 g fat (1 g sat), 15 g carbs, 3 g protein, 4 g fiber, 0 mg chol, 488 mg sodium, 42 mg calcium

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest