9 Heart-Healthy Slow Cooker Recipes to Warm You Up

9 Heart-Healthy Slow Cooker Recipes to Warm You Up
Presented by Spartan Training®

An endurance athlete’s heart is predictably a strong one. According to research, endurance training puts stress on the heart, but ultimately does reduce risk of cardiovascular disease or cardiac events. In taking care of your heart (which you’ll want to like crazy, especially if you’re training for a race), it’s important to focus on your nutrition. Specifically, you should eat foods that have plenty of healthy fats, whole grains, and antioxidants to boost your heart health and keep blood pressure down. But, with your busy schedule, you’ll also want the simplicity of coming home (or waking up) with a meal ready to serve. That’s where these heart-healthy slow cooker recipes come in. This month, treat yourself (and your heart) at the same time with nine delicious dishes.   

Related: 7 Foods to Boost Your Winter Training

Delicious Heart-Healthy Slow Cooker Recipes for OCR Athletes

1. Vegan Breakfast Quinoa with Blueberries and Bananas

Recipe and image from Abbey Sharp, RD, of Abbey’s Kitchen

blueberry quinoa heart-healthy slow cooker recipes

You don’t typically think of quinoa as a breakfast food, but this is a hearty one, filled with whole grains. The dietary fiber in those whole grains can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association, and helps your digestion too. The healthy fats in the flaxseed and nuts also reduce heart disease risk and can lower blood pressure. This dish can be ready in as little as two hours, if you cook on high, or as long as six hours, if you cook on low. 


Related: 9 High-Protein Breakfasts That Aren’t Eggs

2. Pesto Minestrone Soup

Recipe and image from Lauren Sharifi, RDN

pesto minestrone soup heart-healthy slow cooker recipes

This soup is a winner because it’s also filled with fiber, from the veggies, to the beans and chickpeas. It’s also made with whole grain pasta, a much heart-healthier option than refined grain pasta. Plus, it’s a plant-based meal that is chock full of filling protein. The cook time is a solid seven hours, so you can throw it on in the morning and have it ready by dinner time. 


3. Spiced Nuts

Recipe and Image from Stacie Hassing, RDN and Jessica Beacom, RDN of The Real Food Dietitians

spiced nuts heart-healthy slow cooker recipes

Slow cooking doesn’t need to be limited to meals; you can make a great, healthy fat-filled snack by simmering these spiced nuts. The best part is there’s no actual sugar added; the blend is sweetened by honey, pure maple syrup, orange zest, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. You can have them ready to crunch on in under three hours. 


4. Loaded “Baked” Sweet Potatoes

Recipe and image from Alexis Joseph, MS, RD, LD of Hummusapien

sweet potato heart-healthy slow cooker recipes

Sweet potatoes not only are delicious, but contain carotenoids, which are believed to have anti-inflammatory antioxidant properties, and also can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease, research has found. These stuffed potatoes, with corn, black beans, and avocado, can serve as a flavorful side, appetizer, or even a meal. You can cook them on high for three to four hours to get them nice and soft. 


Related: Sweet-Potato Toast Recipes You Need to Try

5. Salsa Verde Chicken

Recipe and image from Elizabeth Moye, ACE-certified health coach and nutritionist, of Hello Spoonful

salsa verde heart-healthy slow cooker recipes

In terms of protein, it’s best for your heart to go with lean meat such as chicken, rather than red meat, which is higher in saturated fat, the American Heart Association states. Also, it wouldn’t seem this way, but spicy foods are actually a positive for heart health: Anything containing chili peppers (this dish has both salsa verde, hot sauce, and chili powder) has the antioxidant capsaicin, which jump-starts the metabolism and protects the heart from disease and stroke, according to Penn Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. 


6. Vegetable Curry Tofu

Recipe and image from Alexis Joseph, MS, RD, LD of Hummusapien

vegetable curry tofu heart-healthy slow cooker recipes

Curry is another dish that brings the spice, and therefore the antioxidants, to the table. This veggie version also contains tofu, a low-fat source of protein. And, it can be whipped up in under four hours. 


7. Rosemary Acorn Squash

Recipe and image from Jenna Braddock, MSH, RDN, CSSD, CPT of Make Healthy Easy

squash heart-healthy slow cooker recipes

The slow cooker is a smart option for seeping flavor into the squash. Acorn squash packs both fiber and antioxidant-rich carotenoids. You can choose to cook them on low (three hours) or high (seven hours) depending on how much time you have. 


8. Quinoa Apple Crisp 

Recipe and image from Alyssa Rimmer, CHN of Simply Quinoa

quinoa apple heart-healthy slow cooker recipes     

Apple crisp can be full of sugar, and isn’t usually full of heart-healthy whole grains, as in this recipe. This one has the double whammy of whole grains, between quinoa and oats. Plus, it’s sweetened with natural coconut sugar for a much cleaner dessert option. You can toss all the ingredients in the crock pot before dinner and have it ready in three hours for a late-night treat. 


Related: 4 Dark Chocolate Desserts Athletes Can Eat Every Night

9. Banana Nut Oatmeal

Recipe and image from Liz Della Croce of The Lemon Bowl

banana nut oats heart-healthy slow cooker recipes

This warm breakfast, made with steel cut oats (fiber powerhouses), flax (also a fiber powerhouse), and walnuts, a solid source of healthy fats, can be made in a big batch for the week. Also, it takes just about eight hours to cook, so you can turn on your slow cooker while you sleep and wake up the next morning to a hearty breakfast that’s already made. 


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