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Slow and easy

A slow cooker is all nutritional therapist Summer Waters needs for "fast food."

The appliance appeals to Waters and legions of other fans for its "hands off" nature. While supper simmers away in her slow cooker, Waters is free to pursue other culinary and nutritional ventures. Freezing portions of most slow-cooked recipes gives Waters a stockpile of even quicker meals.

"It is absolutely about convenience," she says. "Because I don't want to be a slave in the kitchen."

Slow-cooker techniques for "wonderfully warming and filling and easy" meals are the subject of a class Waters plans Thursday, Nov. 14, at Medford's Wise Women Care Associates.

The event is this year's last in Wise Women's "Nourishing Foods" series with co-instructor Augustine Colebrook, a busy mom who suggested a focus on slow-cooking.

"She has learned that the Crock-Pot is her friend," says Waters.

While all the dishes — including chicken and a grass-fed beef roast — will conform to the whole-foods requirements of the Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet, Waters and Colebrook encourage anyone to attend. The class is ideal for would-be cooks who complain about the time commitment, says Waters.

"They haven't embraced simple strategies."

Maximizing the nutrients in low-cost ingredients, slow cookers are available for just a few dollars at thrift stores, says Waters. Buying several sizes allows for preparation of multiple dishes at once, she says, adding that desserts suit smaller cookers.

The 31/2-quart cooker inspired the new cookbook "Slow Cooking for Two: Basics, Techniques, Recipes" by Cynthia Graubart (Gibbs Smith, $19.99). The James Beard Award-winning co-author of "Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking" turned to slow cooking for simplicity and economy, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

But the book's 100 recipes offer the sophisticated Cornish Hen in Port Wine and Fig Preserves, Smoky Chipotle Butternut Squash Soup and Mushroom Risotto. Graubart also explains how to bake banana bread and vanilla custard in a slow cooker.

"Some kind of sweet treat" with fall fruits will cap off Wise Women's "cooking and eating class," where participants get to sample all the dishes, says Waters. But meat on the bone is the foundation of her favorite meals, as well as the nutrient-rich broth she advocates for all clients.

The broth either can be strained and used in other ways, or accompany vegetables for a stew. Removing the bones before serving is optional, says Waters, who prefers a "rustic" presentation.

"There's endless combination of different meat and vegetables," says Waters. "Low and slow cooking makes foods easily digestible."

Colebrook and Waters recommend serving slow-cooked stews with fermented vegetables or all-natural yogurt sauce for the probiotic properties.

Reach Food Editor Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487 or email slemon@mailtribune.com.

Kale and kielbasa soup is among the recipes in the new cookbook 'Slow Cooking for Two: Basics, Techniques, Recipes.' See the accompanying recipe. - MCT