This hearty slow cooker root vegetable stew is perfect for chilly fall and winter days. It can be prepped in a few minutes then left to simmer in the slow cooker for 5 hours until the vegetables are melt-in-your-mouth tender. The flavour is savoury with a hint of sweetness and the dish is low in fat and calories but full of flavour and nutrition. Get out your slow cooker and prep a batch of this stew for healthy comfort food all week!
Warming Foods for Winter Wellness
I’m all about cozy soups and stews lately. I’ve been making soup, after soup, after soup and I think it just got chilly enough to start in on the stews. During the warmer months, my food prep routine typically consists of raw veggies and salads but as the temperature drops, food prep goes from raw to cooked and my oven, stovetop and slow cooker get put to work.
I crave warming foods during the colder months and tend to lean toward root vegetables over leafy greens. I still try to sneak in some raw, leafy green salads but my body really craves roasted vegetables such as carrots, squash, onions, leeks, cauliflower, beets and parsnips.
In traditional Chinese medicine certain foods affect our body temperature by heating and invigorating from the inside out. Warming foods are thought to dispel the cold, improve circulation and replenish the energy of the organs, all of which is greatly needed, particularly in cold winters.
My favourite warming foods for winter wellness are:
- roasted vegetables
- soups and stews
Health Benefits of Root Vegetables
Butternut squash isn’t actually a root vegetable but parsnips, carrots and rutabaga sure are. Root vegetables are some of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world. They each have their own set healthy benefits but they also share some common ground, so to speak. Root vegetables are all high in antioxidants, vitamin C, B, A and iron and high in fibre with healthy carbohydrates making them a great source of energy.
Slow Cooker or Stove Top
The benefit for cooking this in a slow cooker is not having to worry about it for around 5-6 hours, plus giving it extra time for the flavours to come together and vegetables to cook to tender perfection. However, you can also make it on the stovetop. I’d probably let it slightly simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour until everything is soft. Once it’s cooked, stir in the cornstarch or flour mixture, remove from heat and let it thicken up. Either way it will be delicous. I prefer the slow cooker method for this dish though.
Slow Cooker Root Vegetable Stew
This stew is savoury, hearty and comforting with a hint of sweetness. It’s absolutely perfect after a long day, especially a cold one! It’s can be made ahead and kept in the fridge for up to 5 days, it can be frozen and it makes a great packed, plant-based lunch too.
The vegetables are cooked until perfectly soft and ready to melt-in-your-mouth with every bite. Best part? It’s so easy to make: just a few minutes of chopping, toss it all in the slow cooker and dinner will be ready in a few hours. I love the flavour of the slightly sweet butternut squash and parsnips with the carrots, rutabaga, onion and garlic.
Use Your Favourite Veggies
You can go ahead and substitute the vegetables in this with a mixture of sweet potato, yam, turnips, potato or celery. In total you want about 12 cups of various cubed vegetables. Any and all combination works!
I kept mine simple with butternut squash, carrot, parsnip and rutabaga. I’m not a huge turnip fan so usually go for rutabaga, and I love butternut squash, carrot and parsnip. Aside from the vegetables, only a few other ingredients are needed and they’re all common enough you just might have everything you need!
I’ve made this delicious stew three weeks in a row now and I can see it being a staple all winter long
- 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, with their juices
- 2 rutabagas, peeled and cubed (approx. 4 cups)
- ½ a butternut squash, peeled and cubed (approx. 4 cups)
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped (approx. 2 cups)
- 3 parsnips, peeled and chopped (approx. 2 cups)
- 1 large or 2 small white onions, diced (approx. 2 cups)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 tsp ground thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp cornstarch or flour mixed with 2 tbsp of water
- optional: 2 tsp maple syrup or other sweetener of choice
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Add all ingredients except for the cornstarch/flour to a slow cooker and give it a good stir to mix thoroughly.
- Cook for approximately 3 hours on high and 2 on low. When there's about an hour left, combine the cornstarch or flour with a little water in a small bowl to form a paste then stir into the stew.
- Let simmer lightly on low for another hour or so. I've eaten this after 3 hours on high and it's totally fine but I loved the flavour and texture after it cooked for another few hours on low. There's no real set time for this, once the vegetables are soft and tender and it's thickened up, it's ready!