Transitioning to the Mediterranean diet? Your Instant Pot can help

Want to eat better? Push back decision fatigue with these easy-to-prepare, one-pot, one-dish meals.
Different ingredients, green olives in glass
Beans, quinoa, brown rice, chicken breasts and hard-boiled eggs are good choices to meal prep if you're following the Mediterranean diet.Westend61 / Getty Images
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By Stephanie Thurrott

For most of us, eating in line with the Mediterranean diet is a smart choice. There’s solid research that basing your diet around vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains can:

The Mediterranean diet also allows for some animal protein — mostly chicken and fish, and some dairy foods. And pasta, red meat, and sweets are limited, but not forbidden. “It includes foods that people like to eat, so it’s pretty easy to follow and sustainable. It’s less about what’s off limits,” says Samantha Cassetty, RD, a nutrition and weight-loss expert with a virtual nutrition counseling practice based in New York City.

Push past decision fatigue

Still, changing your diet isn’t easy. “Every day you make about 200 food decisions — it’s overwhelming,” Cassetty says. On top of that, you’re making decisions about your family, your work, and every other aspect of your life.

And then there’s the time commitment. “Most people don’t find spending 30 or 40 minutes cooking and cleaning at night all that delightful — it feels like a chore,” Cassetty says. So it’s easy to default to takeout or something that’s quick and convenient, but less healthy.

Having a plan can help. “It can help you develop a strategy and game plan. Having healthy items in place can help you work on your process and reach your goals,” Cassetty says.

It can save you some time, too. “With the Instant Pot, you don’t have to stand over it and watch your pot boil — it frees up your hands to do other things. If you want to fold a load of laundry or check off some emails, it gives you some time to do that. And because it’s all happening in one place, it reduces cleanup. You haven’t made too much of a mess,” Cassetty says.

The Instant Pot help with meal prep, too

Cassetty is also a fan of the Instant Pot for Mediterranean diet meal prep. She says almost every week she makes a big batch of quinoa with equal parts quinoa to vegetable or chicken broth, cooked for one minute. “It comes out perfectly. You’re just steaming it in there,” she says.

She also like to prep chicken breasts with some broth, garlic, or Italian seasoning. She cooks them for 12 minutes and lets the pressure release naturally, then shreds it to add to salads, grain bowls, or tacos. “You can add other seasonings and transform it into any number of weeknight dinners,” she says.

Beans, brown rice, and hard-boiled eggs would also be good choices for meal prepping foods for the Mediterranean diet.

And Cassetty points out that foods don’t have to come from Italy, Greece, or other Mediterranean countries to satisfy the diet’s requirements. You can follow its principles with foods that come from other locations and cultures. For example, bean and veggie tacos in a whole-grain corn tortilla shell would fit within the framework of the diet.

Give these Mediterranean diet recipes a try

America’s Test Kitchen’s "Mediterranean Instant Pot" cookbook is filled with complete meals you can cook in your Instant Pot. Next time you’re thinking of turning to takeout or convenience foods, prepare one of these one-pot meals instead:

Lemony chicken with fingerling potatoes and olives

Lemony chicken with fingerling potatoes and olivesDaniel J. van Ackere

This dish blends garlic, lemon, and olives in a to-die-for combination.

Individual asparagus and goat cheese frittatas

Tangy goat cheese, tarragon, and lemon zest kept these frittatas bright and flavorful.America's Test Kitchen

Prepared in single-serving ramekins, these frittatas are loaded with veggies and perfect for breakfast or lunch all week.

Cod with warm tabbouleh salad

Cod with warm tabbouleh salad.America's Test Kitchen

For this recipe, you cook the bulgur first, and you can finish preparing the tabbouleh salad while the fish is cooking. You could substitute haddock or striped bass for the cod.

Try these Instant Pot recipes

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