To Save Time, Cook Slow

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By Katy Wilkens, MS, RD

There may be nothing quicker for dinner than a carton of food you pick up at the supermarket and pop in the microwave. However, usually there is more salt packed in that pretty little box than you should have in a whole day.

How do you keep the salt out and still fix a quick meal? One answer is a technology from the past: a slow cooker such as a Crock-Pot.

Pull out that 1980s answer to the pressure of time. Slow cooking gives food time to develop that meaty, brothy taste called “umami” that chefs love.

By cooking foods slowly, you will increase flavor and decrease the need for salt. Put the ingredients in your slow cooker before you head off for work and when you get home, dinner will be ready!

Island Beef

2 pounds beef top round steak, fat trimmed and cut into thin strips

2 onions, cut into wedges

1 20-oz. can unsweetened pineapple chunks, juice reserved

½ cup water

4 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

¾ tsp. garlic powder

3 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce

½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares

Rice

Add all the ingredients except peppers and pineapple to a 4-quart slow cooker. Mix well. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours or until the beef is tender. Increase the heat setting to high. Stir in the bell peppers. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes. Start rice cooking on the stove or in a rice cooker—it will be done at the same time as the stew. Last, stir in pineapple chunks and serve. Serves 6 to 8.

Per serving: 333calories, 61 milligrams sodium, 15 grams fat.

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