Food

13 slow-cooker recipes that make eating healthy easier

When we think of slow-cooker food, hearty chili, fall-off-the-bone tender short rib and beefy stews come to mind. Not exactly "light" and "healthy."

But the slow cooker is so convenient! How great would it be if it could make eating healthy easier?

Oh, wait. It can.

RELATED: How to cook healthy meals in a slow cooker

By choosing lean cuts of meat, going heavy on the veggies and throwing in whole grains and beans, you can transform your whole slow-cooker recipe repertoire. Here are some recipes to start with:

Slow-Cooker Chicken Chili
Slow-Cooker Chicken Chili
Grace Parisi / TODAY
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Anchos and chipotles give this dish a double dose of chile flavor. Anchos are mild and fruity while chipotles are hot and smoky. Fresh corn tortillas are pureed with the tomatoes, broth and chipotles, which thickens into a silky, luscious sauce as it cooks.

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If you still haven't tried making oatmeal in your slow cooker, you're in for a real treat. And with a serve-yourself toppings bar, you don't have to worry about who's an oatmeal purist and who likes to load it up with all the fruit, nuts and chocolate chips they can handle.

Slow-Cooker Bone Broth

Chrissa / Physical Kitchness / TODAY Food Club

Packed with immune-boosting vitamins and minerals, this fool-proof slow-cooker bone broth is easy, delicious, and essential to stock your freezer with this winter!

RELATED: 11 slow cooker tips and tricks every home cook needs to know

Slow-Cooker Farro Soup
Slow-Cooker Farro Soup
Courtesy of Page Street Publishing Co.
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This soup not only offers many important vitamins and minerals, but it will also keep you full while helping you lose weight through improved digestive and metabolic systems. Oh, and it's super flavorful, too.

Slow-Cooker Turkey Chili
Rui Correia cooks up a delicious slow cooker chili with ground turkey and chorizo
Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
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If you're looking for an easy dish to feed a crowd or just something warm and cozy on a cold day, this slow-cooker turkey chili is sure to please.

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Joanie Simon / TODAY Food Club

Let the flavors of the Southwest mingle together in your slow cooker for an easy and healthy weeknight dinner. Top with crispy tortilla strips for crunch.

Luscious Lazy Slow-Cooker Lasagna
Wendy Bazilian makes her Luscious Lazy Slow-Cooker Lasagna
Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
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Packed with veggies and beans, this lasagna will fill you right up. And while it's delicious fresh out of the slow cooker, many think it's even better the next day!

Slow-Cooker Apple Sauce
Slow-Cooker Apple Sauce
TODAY
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Here's yet another unexpected way to use your slow cooker: To make apple sauce! Throw all your ingredients in there, let it do its magic for a few hours, et voilà: You've got your childhood in a bowl.

RELATED: 10 tips for using your slow cooker to get the best results

Camila Alves' Brazilian Slow-Cooker Chicken
Camila Alves' recipe for Brazilian slow-cooker chicken dinner
Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
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Supermodel Camila Alves says that this is one of her favorite Brazilian dishes: a slow-cooker stew teeming with chicken, beans, tomatoes, corn and olives. Serve it over white or brown rice to make it a complete hearty meal.

Crock-Pot Coconut Cinnamon Oatmeal with Dates
Melissa Clark cooks up slow cooker coconut cinnamon oatmeal with dates and chicken and white bean chili with lemon and baby kale
Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
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Whether you're looking to feed a big crowd or need a break from boring breakfasts before work, this overnight oatmeal will hit the spot — and make mornings so much easier.

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It can't get any easier than a stir-and-cook slow-cooker chili, and this simply satisfying white chicken chili is no exception. No need to sauté or brown in advance; you'll still get tons of slow-cooked flavor from this comforting blend.

RELATED: How to cook vegetables in the slow cooker

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These loaded sweet potatoes bake overnight in the slow cooker until they're soft and tender. In the morning, they're ready to be topped with Greek yogurt, healthy fruits, nuts and more. High in fiber and antioxidants but low in fat and calories, it's a smart and sweet way to start your morning.

Slow Cooker Healthy Chicken Noodle Soup

Laura Fuentes / Momables / TODAY Food Club

With this slow-cooker recipe, you can just set it and forget it, and know that a steaming bowl of comfort awaits. Bonus: Leftovers are super easy to warm up the next morning and send to school or the office — a hug in a thermos!

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