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I live in a very modest house with a husband, two children, and three cats. Let’s just say there isn’t much time for a five course, Italian-inspired dinner party after an eight hour work day, my oldest’s baseball practice, and nursing an infant. I am convinced that this routine is why so many people find it difficult to maintain a healthy diet. It’s too easy to grab a frozen lasagna and stick it in the oven. I will admit that I’ve done that a time or 2–hey, we aren’t perfect! However, I’ve found a way to put a nutritious, well-balanced, hot meal on the table that is just as easy as frozen lasagna. Two words: Crock Pot! What a little miracle of an invention. Who invented it anyway? [Enter quick Google search... Our ancestors were slow cooking in prehistoric times, but the first commercialized slow cookers showed up in the early '70s by Naxon Corp, and have remained almost the same besides when they introduced programmable versions in 2001 - double genius!]

Anywho, I actually plan several weeknight meals around the use of my Crock Pot. If I know I’m going to have a particularly busy evening and won’t have much time to cook I’ll grab one of my favorite Crock Pot recipes. For most of these, the only prep that is required is compiling your ingredients, tossing them into the Crock Pot, turning it on, leaving for work… and voila! It’s is hot and ready whenever you are.

Here are 11 great ones to try. Click on the title of the recipe for the instructions!

White Bean and Chicken Chili – This is my favorite that my mom taught me, and I couldn’t find any recipe as easy and low in calories online.

1 bag frozen diced chicken, 1 24 oz. jar white northern beans, 1 can Mild Rotel Tomatoes with Green Chilies, 2 cups low sodium chicken broth, 1 packet white chicken chili mix. Throw them all in the Crock Pot on low heat for at least 3 hours. Serves about 6. Per serving: 249 cal, 3g Fat, 27g Carbs, 8g Fiber, 26g Protein

Squash, Chick pea, and Red Lentil StewVegetarian and filling! I love squash and lentil soups, so why not combine them? Serve over rice to add a little umph!

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French Country Beef Stew – There’s nothing I love more than a good vegetable soup. This recipe adds lean beef for a hefty dose of protein.

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Crock Pot Applesauce: No Sugar Added – I LOVE making my own applesauce. Skip the preservatives and added sugar with this recipe. You can also make things like apple butter and pumpkin butter in a similar way!

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Crock Pot Carnitas – Mexican night made easy (and healthy)! Use “the other white meat” to make some delicious enchiladas!

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South American Slow Cooker Pot Roast – Pot roast is one of those traditional dishes in my family. Make this belly-filling recipe packed with nutrients!

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Slow-Cooker Oatmeal - Skip the instant oatmeal and make this scrumptious breakfast for the entire family!

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Skinny Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese - Everyone loves the taste of home-baked macaroni and cheese. Simplify with this low-calorie recipe!

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Banana Bread Quinoa - I love banana bread and I love quinoa! Can’t wait to try this one for breakfast!

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Healthy Crock Pot Chicken Stroganoff – Traditional beef stroganoff is loaded with calories. Try this recipe for a fix with less of the guilt!

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Clean Eating Slow Cooker Brownies – What better way to finish off your healthy meal than with a healthy sweet treat? Try these brownies for a little bit of indulgence!

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