Sometimes it just seems like there’s not enough time to get a healthy meal on the table. Soccer practice, piano lessons, play practice, homework or a really busy season at work can make it seem impossible to cook something nutritious and still have time left to actually eat it! Days like this, the slow cooker comes in very handy. One of my favorite busy-day meals is slow cooker chicken marinara. Good marinara really does need to simmer all day long, so this is a perfect match for a crazy day! To save even more time, chop the vegetables and put them in the crockery part of your slow cooker with some organic chicken breasts (you can even throw them in frozen). Put the whole thing in the fridge, and all you have to do the next morning is plug it in before you dash off.
The great thing about this recipe is that it is so easy, but so savory and filling. Start with organic tomato sauce (here’s how you can make your own!). This is just plain old tomato sauce, not ready-made pasta sauce (watch for corn syrup in commercial pasta sauces…Yikes). You want to put one can or jar of the sauce in first, so that none of your vegetables or chicken stick to the bottom of the crockery. On top of the sauce, layer some cubed zucchini, chopped onion, and here’s where you can get creative: squash, grated carrots, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, fresh basil–go ahead and add whatever you have in the fridge and whatever sounds good! Toss in several organic, free-range chicken breasts (or skip them if you’d rather not have the meat). Press 4 or 5 cloves of garlic on top, and add some dried herbs. I used dried basil, oregano, and thyme from my parents’ garden…yum! Pour another can (or jar) of organic tomato sauce over the meat and vegetables, pop a lid on it and set it in the fridge so that it’ll be ready in the morning. Before you run off to work, just take out the crockery and set it in the electric part of the slow cooker. I set my slow cooker on high and let the sauce simmer for 8 hours. If you are home in time, take the lid off the slow cooker and let the sauce simmer for another 30-40 minutes so that some of the moisture escapes and the sauce thickens a bit. Then, right before serving, throw some noodles on the stovetop and use a wooden spoon to smash the tender, slow-cooked chicken into little chunks. Ta-da! Delicious dinner, ready to eat when you are.
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What’s your favorite busy-day meal?