For most of us, when we think of diets, we think of deprivation. While that isn’t entirely accurate, it IS true that going on a diet usually means giving some things up. One thing we should get to keep? Our slow cookers! Convenient, satisfying meals don’t have to be unhealthy, as Buzzfeed recently reminded us. So we went looking for the healthiest, most delicious, and most diet-friendly crock-pot recipes out there, and we found TWENTY-TWO! They’re all so good, we’re feeling indulged, not deprived. You’ll feel the same after you check them out and pick your favorites.
- Beef Barley Soup
Barley just might be THE key to tons of slow-cooked flavor without tons of calories. The super-healthy grain gives you the consistency of pasta and the rich flavors of nuts and beer without adding those less-healthy ingredients, letting you enjoy the beef in this dish without guilt.
- Corn-On-The-Cob, Three Ways
Our favorite thing about summer is the abundance of fresh, healthy vegetables, and right at the top of that list is corn on the cob! Use your slow cooker to enjoy it in three delicious variations: salt-and-pepper, chili-lime, and pesto!
- Brussels Sprouts
Another veggie we just can’t get enough of? Brussel sprouts! If you’re still on the fence about this unfairly-maligned green, this slow cooker recipe – featuring a balsamic glaze, brown sugar, and Parmesan – will push you over the edge to LOVING them.
- Spaghetti Squash
Satisfy your pasta cravings without loading up on carbs by sticking this summer veggie in your slow cooker. All you have to do is add water, and you’re all set for an awesome, healthy slow-cooked dish.
- Spaghetti Squash Thai Noodle Bowl
Want to take that spaghetti squash one step further? Try this take on a Thai noodle bowl made with broccoli and peanuts.
- Whole Chicken
If you simply must have meat, you can’t do much better, health-wise, than chicken! This recipe lets you cook an entire bird in your slow cooker, along with some carrots and celery for added veggie power.
- Chicken Breast Fillets
Love the idea of slow cooker chicken but don’t want to deal with the whole bird? Use this recipe to just make chicken breasts! Bonus— it adds even more flavorful spices AND potatoes for good measure.
- Vegetable Curry
Adding flavor to basic vegetables doesn’t have to mean stripping them of nutrition or adding fat. This dish takes inspiration from Indian cuisine and spices up cauliflower, sweet potatoes and more for a healthy curry. Make it just like the recipe or adapt it to include YOUR favorite vegetables.
- Chicken Chili
No matter the season, we pretty much always have a chili craving. You too? Indulge AND make it a little healthier by swapping out the beef for leaner chicken . . .
- Turkey Chili
. . . or ground turkey! This one is absolutely packed with flavor, thanks to the bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic, and two kinds of beans.
- Paleo-Friendly Pork Carnitas
We can’t go through summer without having at least some barbecue, and what barbecue is complete without carnitas? Enjoy without destroying your health by making them paleo-style without anything processed or synthetic. Plus, this recipe calls for them to be served in lettuce cups, cutting out the carb-rich tortillas totally!
- Lazy Golumpkis
These traditional Polish cabbage rolls are totally simple and satisfying. Make them even healthier by swapping out the beef for a leaner cut or meat, or making them entirely vegetarian!
- Beef and Broccoli
Going healthy doesn’t have to mean swearing off all beef all the time. Keep it simple and satisfying with broccoli, rice, basic spices ad sesame oil . . .
- Roasted Vegetable Pulled Beef Tacos
. . . or enjoy it in lighter tacos, balanced out by feta cheese, tzatziki, and tons of veggies like zucchini and roasted tomatoes.
- Quinoa Black Bean Stuffed Peppers
We LOVE making stuffed peppers in the crock-pot, and now we can make them more often— because instead of ground beef, they’re stuffed with quinoa, black beans, refried beans, spices, and just the right amount of cheese.
- Hawaiian Pork Burrito Bowls
This tropical, sweet-and-spicy dish feels like a treat without filling you up with fat. With the tastes of avocado, pineapple, peppers and homemade enchilada sauce, it just can’t be beat.
- Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
This simple recipe is totally filling, and makes enough to feed a crowd, give you leftovers for lunch, or both! Plus, you can use quinoa instead of rice, if you want, for extra-filling healthy options.
- Chicken, Potatoes and Green Beans
Slow cookers are the perfect opportunity for one-pot meals! When you cook the chicken, potatoes and green beans all-together, all you need to add a little more flavor are lemon juice, olive oil, and spices— nothing unnatural or unhealthy.
- Salmon With Lemon And Herbs
Getting that piece of salmon just right can be tricky. Make eating the flavorful, healthy fish a little easier by getting your slow cooker to help! You can make as many fillets as you need, and use parchment paper to make them easier to lift out of the crock pot.
- Vegan Black Bean, Butternut Squash and Quinoa Chili
The images most people have of slow cooker meals or comfort food are ones full of traditional, meat-and-potatoes kind of food, but they don’t have to be! In fact, they don’t even need to have any animal products. Yes, go vegan in your crock pot, with recipes like THIS freezable, gluten-free, soy free and nut-free chili . . .
- Red Potato Curry
. . . or this creamy curry made with red potatoes, coconut milk and vegetable broth.
- Chicken Fajitas
Leave out the tortillas if you want to save even more calories and carbs. Either way, this pile of chicken and veggies is healthier than we could have hoped, and tastier than we could ever dream— perfect for healthy eating without deprivation!
Want even more slow cooker dishes? Of course you do! Check out Buzzfeed’s list of diet-friendly dishes, then explore these other collections we’ve put together for you:
- 29 Healthy Crockpot Recipes You Can Prep and Freeze Ahead of Time
- 27 Crock Pot Recipes to Try Immediately
- 5 Slow Cooker Meals to Help You Clean Out the Pantry
- 3 Brilliant “Chicken Dump” Recipes for Quick and Easy Meals
- 10 Delicious Slow Cooker Recipes for Potlucks
- 25 Great Vegetarian Recipes for the Crock Pot
- 28 Slow Cooker Supper Recipes