Turning up the Heat on Nutrition through Slow-Cooked Fall Meals


by Sharon Palmer, RD

Slow cooked meals date back to early humans slow-cooking their meals of game meat, plants, herbs and water over the open fire.   Yet, this cooking style is still hot today, as it enhances flavor, enriches nutrition, requires minimal time and effort, and is economical.  So, next time you find yourself debating over what to make for supper, turn up the heat and slow cook your meal.

Tomato products are the perfect starter for your next crock pot concoction.  They can naturally tenderize and season meats and serve as a base for soups, stews, bean dishes and side dishes.  The use of moist, flavorful ingredients, like tomato products, reduces the need to add extra fats and sodium to your recipe, as well.  You can use leaner cuts of meat that trim unhealthy saturated fats in slow-cooked meals, because the longer, moist cooking time will tenderize the meat.

Red Hot Nutrients
Some nutrients become more available to your body as they are cooked.  For example, the powerful antioxidant, lycopene, becomes more readily absorbable in your body when it is cooked (for example, in tomato products), so you can maximize nutrients in slow-cooked meals.  Adding tomato products to the crock pot also adds an easy vegetables—you gain a great dose of vitamins C & A, fiber, and potassium in every serving.

Foods in combination provide nutritional synergy—they seem to amplify the health benefits of nutrients, compared to taking them individually.  For example, when you combine broccoli with tomato products, the cancer-protective effects are increased, according to research.  Thus, combining many nutrient-rich vegetables in a slow-cooked meal can amplify nutritional content of a dish.

Provide, Protect & Prevent
If you cook meat in a liquid at low heat (such as in slow-cooking), you can help reduce the number of cell-damaging compounds known as AGEs (advanced glycation end products)   that are produced in the meat by 50%, compared with broiling or grilling.  AGEs have been linked with inflammation, diabetes and heart disease.  Charred, grilled meats are also linked with producing more heterocyclic amines (HAs), carcinogens linked to cancer.  So, slow-cooking seems to be one of the safest ways to cook meats.

Let Tomato Products Star in Your Crock Pot

Tomato products are picked at their peak and preserved within hours of harvest.  They are economical and you can store them for long periods of time in your pantry.  Stock up on tomato products to add nutrition and flavor to your favorite fall crock-pot dishes.  Add them to crock-pot soups, stews, bean dishes, chili, meat dishes, and more.  Try our recipe for delicious Slow Cooked Asian Meatloaf listed below!








Slow Cooked Asian Meatloaf

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: about 4 to 6 hours


  • 1 (6-oz.) can no salt added tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp each: chili garlic sauce and honey
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp peeled and finely chopped or grated fresh ginger,
  •  divided
  • 1 (20-oz.) package extra lean (99% fat-free) ground turkey
  • 2/3 cup panko bread crumbs*
  • 1/3 cup each: diced red bell pepper, diced water chestnuts and sliced
  • green onions
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 egg

Directions:  Place a long strip of foil inside the slow cooker and press into the bottom. (This will allow you to lift out the cooked meatloaf.) Stir together tomato paste, chili garlic sauce, honey, soy sauce and half the ginger in a small bowl; set aside. Stir together 1/4 cup tomato mixture, remaining ginger and all remaining ingredients in a medium bowl until well blended. Shape mixture into a round or oval loaf to fit into your slow cooker and place on foil. Spread reserved tomato mixture over the top and sides of meatloaf. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours or until internal temperature reaches 165°F on a meat thermometer. Carefully lift meatloaf out of the slow cooker and let stand for 5 minutes before slicing  Makes 4 to 6 servings.Quick oven variation: Prepare meatloaf as directed above, placing on a lightly greased baking sheet instead of in a slow cooker. Cook in a preheated 350°F oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until meatloaf reaches 165°F on a meat thermometer. *Panko or Japanese bread crumbs can be found in the Asian Foods section or near traditional bread crumbs in most supermarkets.

Nutritional analysis per serving
Calories: 220, Fat: 2.5g, Saturated Fat: 0g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 90mg, Sodium: 570mg, Potassium: 444mg, Carbohydrates: 21g, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 11g, Protein: 32g, Vitamin A:  25%, Vitamin C:  40%, Calcium:  2%, Iron:  20%

For more information about tomato products, visit http://www.tomatowellness.com

Written by Sharon Palmer, RD with Briana Austin.