Healthy food doesn’t have to be flavorless *or* time-consuming.
Instant Pots have revolutionized the kitchen in the last few years. They’re basically an updated version of the classic pressure cooker, with unique features to be able to saute onions, make your own yogurt, cook perfect rice, and slow cook meat.
You can do a lot with these versatile appliances, but it’s not always easy to find healthy recipes. The ones that are healthier tend to be a little predictable: soups and stews with lots of veggies.
You can use your Instant Pot to make meals that are low in sodium and/or sugar, that contain fiber-rich veggies and grains, and that feature lean proteins. If you want something unique and healthy from your Instant Pot, try these ideas:
1. Mexican street corn quinoa salad
If you’re intimidated by cooking quinoa, the Instant Pot will take the pressure off. (See what we did there?)
Mexican street corn, or elote, is a beloved street food that douses grilled corn on the cob with chili powder, lime juice, crema or mayo, and cheese. This recipe takes those incredible flavors and turns it into a healthy (and less messy) quinoa salad. Find out how to make Mexican street corn quinoa salad here.
2. Cashew chicken
Yes, you can make Chinese takeout favorites in an Instant Pot. Making it at home has its perks, like being able to control the amount of sugar and salt in the dish. For example, you can use coconut aminos or reduced sodium soy sauce in place of traditional soy sauce.
Check out this recipe for Instant Pot Cashew Chicken by Shuangy’s Kitchen Sink, which uses coconut aminos and honey instead of soy sauce and sugar, respectively.
3. Stuffed peppers
Stuffed bell peppers made in the oven can be an hour-long process, but you can do it in a tenth of the time with a pressure cooker. Peppers can be stuffed with so many different things, but one healthy option is a vegetarian, Tex-Mex approach—with rice, black beans, and corn.
4. Veggie chili
Chili recipes often ask for hours of low-and-slow cooking—and everyone knows chili often gets even better after a night in the fridge. Thanks to the Instant Pot, you can pack in all those fiery flavors in the time it takes to say, “Would you like cornbread with that?”
Try a vegetarian chili, which gets a variety of flavors and textures from beans, lentils, and veggies. Sweet potatoes in chili may sound blasphemous, but once you’ve tried it, you’ll never want chili without it. Check out this Instant Pot Lentil Chili from Greens & Chocolate here.
5. Apple steel cut oatmeal
Thanks to Instant Pots, hot breakfasts on a weekday don’t sound so crazy. Steel cut oatmeal often takes over 20 minutes to cook, but the instant pot can do it in a quarter of the time.
Say “no” to bland oatmeal by incorporating chopped fresh apples and bold spices like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Find out how to make Instant Pot Spiced Apple Steel Cut Oatmeal from Glue and Glitter here.
6. Mushroom risotto
If you’ve ever made risotto on the stove before, the Instant Pot version will make you want all those minutes back that you spent stirring, stirring, and stirring. Risotto is notorious for requiring a lot of time and labor, but the Instant Pot can do the work for you.
7. Lentil dal
Indian food and pressure cookers go together like chutney and naan. It’s a creamy, hearty, porridge-like stew made from lentils or other pulses. You can get dal with different flavors and colors—vibrant yellow, gorgeous crimson, earthy jade, and deep amber—depending on the pulse you choose.
If dal intimidates you, the Instant Pot might help. Find out how to make Instant Pot Lentil Dal from Vegan Richa here.
Moral of the story: Healthy food doesn’t have to be flavorless *or* time-consuming. In fact, you can really make it in an instant—or pretty close.
5 whole grains to keep your family healthy. Chicago, IL: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2018. (Accessed on May 5, 2020 at https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrient-rich-foods/five-grains-to-keep-your-family-healthy.)
Global foods for a healthy plate. Chicago, IL: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2019. (Accessed on May 5, 2020 at https://www.eatright.org/health/lifestyle/culture-and-traditions/global-foods-for-a-healthy-plate.)