By Suzanne Boothby
One of the biggest challenges in eating healthy is making time for healthy habits, especially cooking. If you’re feeling crunched for time in the kitchen, you might be ready for an Instant Pot.
This appliance will help you make meals without spending so much time prepping and cooking. It covers many functions including steaming, slow cooking, pressure cooking, rice cooking, yogurt making, sautéing, and more.
Plus, the Instant Pot cooks healthy foods fast. Craving split pea soup for dinner or want to wake up to warm oats? No problem. You can enjoy that all-day cooked feeling in your foods or make your own versions of pricier items—like coconut yogurt.
It’s no wonder the Instant Pot (and products like it) have become so popular recently. Sales of electric pressure cookers in the U.S. and Canada grew from around 300,000 in 2010 to more than 3 million in 2015. Additionally, the Instant Pot Facebook Community Page has more than 350,000 members who share recipes and rave about it.
Here are 8 great ways to apply this gadget to a nutritious, plant-based life.
You can make a dozen perfectly boiled eggs in just minutes. Set yourself up with breakfast for the week or salad toppings. Best of all, these eggs will peel easily. Try adding slices of boiled egg to this Avocado and Tomato Salad or on top of this Hail to Kale Salad for extra protein.
Pour water in the pot and gently place the eggs in the rack inside the Instant Pot. Close the lid and set for 5 minutes at high pressure. Allow the pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes. Take out the eggs and place in a bowl of cool water. When you are ready, peel and eat or drain the eggs and save in a container in the fridge.
Coconut yogurt can be a pricey choice at the store, so making your own can help keep your grocery bill down. Feel free to add fresh fruit, granola, or enjoy this creamy delight all by itself.
In this Coconut Yogurt recipe, you will need 2 cans of coconut milk, vanilla extract, maple syrup, tapioca starch, probiotic powder and water.
Cauliflower rice is a great way to eat more veggies, but all that chopping up can be intimidating or just plain messy. This “cauli-rice” recipe cooks even faster than regular rice.
Wash one large head of cauliflower and cut the leaves off. Pour one cup of water into the instant pot and then place cauliflower on top of the steamer. Lock the lid in place with the valve closed and set on “manual” for one minute (this will take about 10 minutes to get up to pressure). After the minute cook-time, open the valve and let the steam quick release. Lift the cauliflower out and pour the water out from the Instant Pot. Push the “cancel” button, and then turn to “sauté” Pour in a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Add the cauliflower back in and break up with a potato masher tool.
You can take your caul-rice and turn it into “rice” and beans with this recipe.
Yes, you can even make Veggie Burgers using the Instant Pot. You can use this Lentil and Quinoa Veggie Burger recipe or use another one that you like.
Set Instant Pot to “sauté” and add onion, garlic and salt. Dry sauté for 2 to 3 minutes and then add the quinoa, red lentils and 1.5 cups of water. Lock the lid and set on “manual” for 10 minutes. Let the pressure come down naturally before removing the lid. Transfer the quinoa/lentil mixture to a large bowl and then add the rest of the ingredients. Stir until mixture becomes well-mixed then form into patties. Cool in the refrigerator before baking.
Ditch the stovetop and make oatmeal in an Instant Pot. No watching and stirring required. Just add oats and water and come back to perfect oatmeal.
Place oats and water into the Instant Pot. Close the lid and vent and set on “manual” for 3 minutes. After the oats finish cooling, allow the pressure to release naturally then open the lid and give the oatmeal a good stir. Add cinnamon or other toppings and allow to cool slightly before serving.
If you want to make overnight oats, follow the same process but use the slow cook function the night before. Wake up to a warm breakfast.
That’s right, you can enjoy “baked” and nutritiously loaded sweet potatoes in under 30 minutes. Use this recipe for Loaded Stuffed Sweet Potatoes and adjust with these directions.
Instead of baking the potatoes in the oven, cook them in the Instant Pot. Add water to the pot, place the steaming basket inside and lay potatoes on top. Put the lid on, seal the pot and set for 18 minutes on “manual.” Prepare veggie toppings while potatoes cook. Allow the device to depressurize naturally when finished and carefully remove the lid. Add prepared toppings and serve.
Roasting spaghetti squash in the oven takes a minimum of 45 minutes, so once again the Instant Pot saves you time, as you can cook up soft, spaghetti squash noodles in 10 minutes.
Cut the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Add 1 cup of water to the Instant Pot and then stack the two pieces of squash right on top of each other. Close the lid, set to “manual” for 5 minutes and then allow another 5 minutes for the steam and pressure to decrease. Turn the vent at the top to release any additional steam and open the lid. You know your squash is ready when you can take a fork to it and create spaghetti-style noodles. You can make your own sauce or try this recipe for Tomato-Basil Spaghetti Squash.
It’s no surprise that you can make soups in the Instant Pot, but the fun feature is that you can sauté and pressure cook in one place. Once you chop your veggies, you can press a button and then walk away and do other things.
Here’s a Vegan Curried Butternut Squash Soup recipe to try.
Use the “sauté” function and add olive oil and onion. Add garlic and curry powder after 5 minutes. Then add butternut squash, salt and water to pot. Use the “soup” setting and cook for 30 minutes. After letting the pressure release naturally, use an immersion blender to puree soup directly in the pot or transfer to a blender or food processor. Return blended soup to the pot and stir in coconut milk. Season to taste.
You can also apply this same method with other soup recipes like Creamy Roasted Beet Soup, Carrot Red Lentil Chili or Creamy Parsnip Soup.