Get an Instant Pot for Christmas? Nothing beats the promise of a quick-cooking homemade meal and I suspect this has a lot to do with the Instant Pot’s popularity. Right now, the Instant Pot has thousands of glowing reviews on Amazon with an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars and plenty of ALL CAP enthusiasm and love for the multifunctional pressure cooker. Though pressure cookers have been around for a while, the latest electric models, which include the Instant Pot as well as the Breville Fast Slow Pro and others, have safety features and other functionality that bring these kitchen appliances to the next level.
The appeal of warm, wintery Instant Pot recipes can’t be denied, so I’ve rounded up seven of the most creative ones I found that just so happen to be healthy as well.
To be honest, I was surprised by the variety of foods and recipes you can create using the Instant Pot, and this homemade ricotta definitely caught me off guard. I’ve been eating and recommending ricotta for years because it’s a protein-packed pick that goes a long way toward satisfying hunger. Whether incorporating it into dessert, Italian dishes or even just topping toast, a serving provides 14 grams of this nutrient — more than two eggs. With an Instant Pot and a couple of kitchen staples (milk and vinegar), you can make your own ricotta for a fraction of the cost of what you’d pay in the store—just $.07 per ounce to be exact! What a bargain!
I’ve always loved the idea of cooking oatmeal in steeped tea — a way to add flavor and a touch of health promoting plant compounds. Though green tea gets much of the fanfare, both green and black (as well as oolong and others) come from the same bush, the Camellia Sinensis. The difference between the teas has to do with how the leaves are processed. The manner in which tea is processed can change the varying amounts of antioxidants present, but all teas coming from the Camellia Sinensis plant have compounds that may protect against cancer and heart disease, according to a recent review.
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Though the recipe calls for rose water, a lovely aromatic upgrade, it also suggests substituting vanilla extract for an everyday version. Note that the recipe also calls for up to 2 tablespoons of sweetener, though I suspect you could get by with far less.
This vibrant soup takes advantage of some of Instant Pot’s best features: browning onions directly in the pot and the time-saving aspect of pressure cooking. The all-in-one meal has a lot health benefits going for it, too: Turmeric, an Indian spice, has been shown to relieve inflammation and swelling in people with arthritis. Though these results were found with supplements, why not add flavor and anti-inflammatory polyphenols to your food? Fiber-rich ingredients, like sweet potatoes and chickpeas will fill you up, and the garnish that includes fresh parsley and mint adds extra zip.
When I read that this hearty dish — with beans and whole wheat pasta — cooks in just 5 minutes, I had to do a double take. Yes! Quick and easy comfort food is probably a big part of the Instant Pot’s devoted following, and this recipe is a perfect example of both. The mix of beans and cheeses and warming spices scream comfort. Though the ingredient list looks long, you’ll see that most of the foods require little to no prep (very little chopping!) so this is a great way for busy cooks to get a healthy homemade dish on the table any day of the week.
My Instant Pot recipe search revealed many soups and stews, but this take on egg rolls was truly unique. Why not combine all of the egg roll flavors you love into a satisfying bowl-based meal? The Instant Pot whips up this dish in just 12 minutes, but thanks to genius shortcuts like bagged coleslaw mix and pre-shredded carrots, the prep time is also super speedy. The total time it takes to create this dish is under 20 minutes—faster than Chinese delivery. Plus, thanks to the bagged cauliflower mix, this dish puts cruciferous veggies on your plate. This vegetable family, which includes not just cabbage, but also cauliflower and broccoli, contains compounds that have been linked with lower levels of inflammation. And unlike ordinary egg rolls, this dish is gluten free.
In her blog post, Chelsea admits that this adorable pancake recipe was an epic fail. She was going for a giant pancake — not the mini version you see here. But what I love about this is the presentation. I think it adds elegance to an ordinary pancake and would be fun to serve with other fare at brunch. I also love that these are made with a blend of whole wheat flour and almond flour, which bring good nutrition to your average pancake. I call this a win on so many levels.
On my quest to find better-for-you Instant Pot recipes, I couldn’t overlook dessert. This chocolate cake —made with zucchini — caught my eye. It’s a great way to add veggies to dessert. Though the recipe calls for all-purpose flour, white whole wheat flour—which contains the fiber and goodness of whole grains, is often a good substitute that can make desserts even healthier. I started doing this years ago — in everything from baked donuts to quick breads — and I haven’t looked back. For those looking for simple swapping parameters, King Arthur Flour has a handy substitution guide on their site. Replacing refined grains for whole grains is totally worth it. A 2017 scientific consensus statement (code for lots of scientists agree) found strong evidence for several key benefits of whole grains over refined ones, including a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, as well as improvements with weight control. It reminds me of that old cliché: have your cake and eat it, too.