A lot of times though, spending 30 mins- an hour cooking, as much as I LOVE it, is not what I want to do or have time for in between working and going to school. I only end up cooking 4 dinners a week (the nights I don't work) and try to use up the leftovers for the other 3 nights and lunches throughout the week. Usually at least 1 and often 2 of the days that I cook, I use my crockpot to cut down even more on prep time.
One thing I DON'T like about crockpot recipes is that often they are paired with other "shortcuts" that totally ruin the nutritional value of the food and thus the point of cooking at home! I hate and NEVER use crockpot recipes that tell you to use cream-of-anything soup (full of fat and sodium), seasoning packets (like ranch, italian dressing, gravy, etc- they are all full of chemicals and sodium and are an expensive and unhealthy stand in for real, better tasting spices), or whole bottles of preservative-laden chemically sauces when it's easy to just make your own. In my crockpot recipes, I try to break the bond between 'easy' and 'unhealthy/processed/as-few-ingredients-as-possible'. This meal is tossed into the crockpot in 10 minutes using all natural ingredients and is super delicious!
Chicken tikka masala is everybody's favorite Indian dish that isn't really an Indian dish ;) creamy, tangy, spicy, and over a scoop of rice it's a delicious and filling meal! It tastes decadent but this recipe, which uses fat free greek yogurt and just a smidge of half and half is only 181 calories per serving of chicken. With rice and parsley or green onions on top, the total is only 353 calories per serving. This is based off of 3/4 cup of chicken with sauce and 1/4 cup DRY rice which is usually between 1/2-1 cup cooked rice.
For my personal favorite Indian dish that happens to be a vegetarian version of this recipe, check out my recipe for Paneer Masala! It's a bit more complicated and probably a bit more heavy on the calories but it's just as delicious!
Chicken Tikka Masala
1 chicken breast (raw=31 cals/oz- this recipe based on a 13 oz raw breast)
¼ yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
½ tbsp. fresh ginger
1 cup tomato puree
½ cup greek yogurt
½ tbsp. garam masala
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cracked black pepper
½ tsp cayenne
1 bay leaf
¼ cup half and half
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp parsley or green onions
1 cup dry brown rice
Finely dice 1/4 of a yellow onion and toss into your crockpot.
Peel the ginger and garlic, mince them up, and throw them in with the onions.
Get together all your spices. You can just measure them right into the crockpot or make a spice mix separately and add it in a bit at a time to taste. I used all the spices called for, I just wanted to take a picture of them :)
Add the tomato puree, greek yogurt, and spices to the crockpot and stir to combine. This is when you could adjust the spices to your preferences if you'd like. Toss in the bay leaf once everything is all mixed up.
Grab a chicken breast- frozen, thawed, whatever- and add it to the pot. Spoon some sauce over the top to coat it. When I buy chicken breast (usually in packs of 5) I put them all in individual ziplock bags and freeze them so that I can just grab one whenever I need without having to defrost the whole bunch.
Put the lid on the crockpot, turn it to 'low' and let cook 4-6 hours. Since there is only one chicken breast, it doesn't take too long (I don't know why crockpot recipes are always designed to serve 5 million people). Once the chicken is fully cooked, shred it right in the sauce. You also have the option of using a thawed chicken breast initially and cutting it into bite sized pieces before you cook it. I never remember to thaw chicken over night and I don't like defrosting in the microwave... and I prefer the texture of shredded chicken so I usually just go with that :)
Combine the half and half and corn starch and then add to the crock pot and stir to combine. Let cook for about 30 more minutes with the lid off to thicken slightly. During this time you can cook the rice and chop up your desired garnish.
Serve a heaping 3/4 cup of chicken over 1/4 of the cooked (1 cup dry) rice and garnish with parsley or green onions. Yum!
Total recipe (chicken):725.5
1 cup dry brown rice: 680
1/4 serving chicken (about 3/4 cup): 181
1/4 serving total (chicken, rice, and garnish): 353