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Lentils don't need to be soaked before use, but I think a lot of beans need to be. Some beans, especially kidney beans, should be boiled for twenty minutes or so on the stove before eating if they are cooked over low heat in a slow cooker. They contain a toxin that is destroyed by high heat, but isn't always destroyed when cooked over low heat. Slow cookers make cooking beans pretty easy though, and they are great to use that way!

Soups and stews are the best to make with slow cookers. They cook really well, and the flavors get plenty of time to develop. Any really soft veggies (like zucchini) or foods like pasta and rice will get fall-apart soft if you cook them that long, so if that bothers you either leave them out of recipes or add them in the last half hour of cooking. I regularly make chili, minestrone, and mock "beef" and vegetable stews in our slow cooker.
 
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