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7 PHOTOGRAPHED BY CHRISTINE PETKOV Recipe Slow cooker pork tenderloin in barbecue sauce ¾ cup sweet and smoky barbecue sauce* ¾ cup unsweetened apple juice 1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar 1 tablespoon brown sugar ¼ teaspoon smoked hot paprika 1 small onion, finely chopped 1 (1½-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed of visible fat 1 garlic clove, smashed * Aim for a barbecue sauce with less than 130 milligrams sodium per tablespoon. In a bowl, stir together barbecue sauce, apple juice, vinegar, sugar and paprika. Stir in onion. Rub pork tenderloin with garlic clove; discard leftover garlic. Pour half the sauce into a 5-quart slow cooker. Top with pork tenderloin. Pour remaining sauce over pork. Cover. Cook at low setting for 5 to 6 hours. (Meat thermometer inserted into pork should read at least 145 degrees.) Remove pork from slow cooker, but don't turn off slow cooker. Let pork rest for 3 minutes. Slice pork into ¼-inch thick slices. Meat will break into thick chunks. Return to slow cooker and let soak in the sauce for 3 to 5 minutes. Serve pork with sauce. Makes 6 servings WATCH THE SODIUM AND SUGAR Be aware of ingredients such as condiments and sauces, however, that can increase the sodium or sugar content of a slow-cooked dish. "Dumping a can of condensed soup on a stew can add sodium; some barbecue sauces are very high in added sugar," explains Moore. To adjust, she suggests diluting store-bought condiments with water and providing a flavor boost with extra garlic, oregano or basil. She also recommends switching from condensed soup to broth. "Broth can taste just as good. It doesn't have to be creamy to taste good," Moore says. There is one drawback if you also use a slow cooker for weekend meals when you're home: The enticing aromas may tempt you to lift the lid and take a taste or two before the dish is ready. The solution? Keep healthy snacks on hand for a quick fix while you wait, says Lillien. • Per serving (with sauce): 230 calories / 4 grams total fat / 26 grams protein / 19 grams carbohydrates / 72 milligrams cholesterol / 270 milligrams sodium Speeding up the While the main course is simmering in its pan on the stovetop, your slow cooker makes it easy to serve nutritious, long-cooking vegetables and legumes. "It's an exciting frontier in the kitchen," says Libby Mills, a registered dietitian nutritionist in the Philadelphia area. "Instead of [quicker-cooking] carrot after carrot, you can choose other vegetables that taste a little different." For example, Lisa Lillien, creator of the Hungry Girl brand, makes spaghetti squash in her slow cooker. "You just put the whole thing in with half a cup of water and cook for two and a half hours," says Lillien. You can also cross dried beans off your list of foods that take too long to make. Instead of soaking the beans for hours and then cooking them, let a slow cooker do all the work. Marisa Moore, an Atlanta registered dietitian nutritionist, says she often uses a slow cooker to prepare dried beans from scratch. It's so easy, "I don't have to do anything," she adds. After a long simmer in a slow cooker, lean pork tenderloin shreds when sliced. Scoop up the pork with its hot-sweet sauce and serve plain, over baked potatoes or in a bun with coleslaw. LEAN AND MEAN Just as important, a slow cooker gives you the opportunity to incorporate more healthful cooking techniques and ingredients, including vegetables, beans and lean meat cuts. For a meaty slow cooker entree, for example, you can opt for lower-fat eye of round or rump roast, says Mills, a Philadelphia area nutrition and cooking coach. "They're most edible when they're slow cooked with moisture … really tender," she says. Low-fat chicken breasts can be a delicious slow-cooked surprise for your family. "One of my favorite recipes is to get chicken breasts, put them in the slow cooker with the best salsa you can find, and cook," says Marisa Moore, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Atlanta. She uses the cooked chicken for salads or tacos. Because oil and butter aren't essential to slow cooking, you can also cut back on these caloric ingredients. "I rarely use much butter or oil for anything— and especially not in my slow cooker recipes," says Lisa Lillien, author of the cookbook "Hungry Girl Clean & Hungry" (St. Martin's Griffin, 2016). sides