(This article is part of Virginia Gay Hospital’s bi-annual publication, “Thrive” Fall/Winter 2017 issue. An online version of the entire publication can be found at https://myvgh.org/thrive/)

As the weather starts to nip at your nose but your schedule doesn’t slow down, it is always good to have a couple healthier meal options ready to go, whether it’s using the crock pot or having it prepared ahead of time so you just need to pop it in the oven!

Crock-Pot Chicken Carrot “Noodle” Soup

8 c. chicken low sodium broth/stock
1 c. celery, sliced thin
1 c. yellow onion, diced small
1 garlic clove, minced
3 bay leaves
1-2 garlic cloves, diced small
½ tsp. dried thyme, or 2 tsp. fresh thyme
3-4 large boneless chicken breasts (bone-in creates more flavor)
2½ c. shredded thin carrot “noodles”*
salt and pepper to taste

*Use a Spiralizer to create curly carrot “noodles” from peeled, large carrots; you can also use zucchini or any other root vegetable of your choice.
In 4½ to 6-quart slow-cooker, add broth, celery, onions, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme. Then add raw chicken. Cover slow- cooker. Cook on low 8-10 hours or high 4-5 hours. Transfer cooked chicken to cutting board. Remove bay leaves from soup.
Add carrot “noodles” to slow-cooker; cover with lid and cook 30 additional minutes.
While carrot “noodles” cook, chop meat to bite size pieces. Stir chicken back into the soup, and serve. Serves 6-8.
Nutrition Information per 1 c. serving:
237 calories, 21g protein and 17g carbohydrates

Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli and Rice Casserole

1 c. frozen or fresh broccoli, cut into smaller pieces (thawed if using frozen)
¾ c. instant rice
1 lb. cooked diced chicken
1 can cream of mushroom soup, “Healthy Request,” condensed
¾ c. skim milk
¾ c. cheddar cheese (2% cheese if available)
¼ onion, diced
¼ tsp. each black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder

Spray a baking dish (9x13”) with cooking spray and set aside. In a bowl mix broccoli, rice, chicken, soup, milk, onion, seasonings, and ½ cheddar cheese together. Mix thoroughly and place in baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350˚F for 45 minutes-1 hour or until hot and bubbly and the broccoli is tender. Uncover, top the casserole with remaining cheese and place back in oven for about 5 minutes to melt the cheese. Serve hot and enjoy! Serves 6.
Nutrition Information per ¾ c. serving:
307 calories, 28.01g protein and 28.02g carbohydrates, 9.57g fat. Allergens: Wheat, gluten, soy, sulphates, milk

Easy Crock-Pot Spaghetti Squash with Meatballs

1 medium to large spaghetti squash, washed
1 jar of spaghetti sauce,
your preferred variety (more if desired)
3 c. of frozen turkey meatballs
¼ onion, diced small
garlic powder & black pepper to taste

Cut the spaghetti squash in half around the middle. Use a spoon to remove the seeds and membranes. Place cut sides down in a large crock pot. Pour the spaghetti sauce, onions, and seasonings around the sides of the squash and then place your meat balls around the sides as well. Cook on low for 5-6 hours, or high for 3-4 hours. Test for doneness by piercing the squash with a fork, if it goes through the skin easily, it is done. Use tongs to carefully remove the squash from the crock pot. Use a fork to pull out all the squash; discard the shell.
Serve with the sauce and meatballs from the crock pot. Enjoy! Serves 6-8.
Nutrition Information per 1 c. serving:
252 calories, 15g protein, and 25g carbs

These recipes were provided by Sara Wattnem, RD, LD. She is the Clinical Dietitian and a Diabetes Educator Level 1 at Virginia Gay Hospital. For additional information about Virginia Gay Hospital and its services, please visit www.myvgh.org.