Containing over a thousand tried-and-true recipes from cooks all over the country, this cookbook provides easy slow cooker meals, all with reduced fat and reduced salt. Substitutions are the key here, with reduced fat ingredients such as turkey sausage and ground turkey, in place of beef, and lowfat cuts of pork, skinless and boneless chicken breasts, and low-fat cuts of beef in place of the higher fat cuts normally used. Low-fat condensed mushroom and chicken soup (canned), low sodium barbecue sauce, low-fat or nonfat cheeses, and low-sodium tomatoes and tomato sauce replace the usual products.
The soup section is the largest section, and there are over twenty-five versions of chili. Desserts feature fruit, rice pudding, and bread pudding, but there is one Hot Fudge Cake resembling the standard "Denver Chocolate Pudding," which quickly converts this delicious baked recipe to the slow cooker.
The primary value of this cookbook is that it shows easy adaptations of standard recipes, so if you have favorite recipes and need to adapt them, this offers good alternatives. Most of the recipes are light on herbs and spices, and adding them or increasing the amounts would greatly improve the low salt versions of these recipes. The chicken recipes are particularly good, with a Dill-Lemon Chicken, a Twenty-Clove (Garlic) Chicken, and a Southwestern Chicken which are delicious, though there is a significant loss of texture when skinless, boneless chicken is used in place of chicken breasts with bones and skin.
Very low fat meat cuts (pork tenderloin or pork top loin, flank steak or extra lean beef cubes, for example), do not result in the cut-with-a-fork, fall-off-the-bone meats one is accustomed to with slow cooking--they remain quite firm (and rather dry) even with hours of cooking. Longer cooking of the pork, especially, creates an almost pasty texture, and the slow cooker's original purpose of tenderizing a tough, fatty cut is lost. This may be one of the reasons that the soups, which are terrific, are the largest and most interesting section here. Lovers of slow cookery may prefer to use their own recipes and seasonings for favorites, checking these for ways to cut down on fat and salt and perhaps getting ideas for new ways of cooking. Mary Whipple