Instant Pot®: Yay or nay?

Last Black Friday, I jumped on the bandwagon and bought an Instant Pot®. Yes, I had to find out for myself what the craze was all about, so I actually bought in. And Instant Pot® is a programmable pressure cooker that is supposed to speed up cooking considerably. This week, I want to share what I’ve done with my Instant Pot® and how I’ve made it work for my family.

What’s the best part about an Instant Pot®?

First and foremost, what I absolutely love to make in my Instant Pot® is hard-boiled eggs. You may be asking, aren’t eggs bad for you? Despite their occasional negative portrayal, eggs are a fantastic protein source, as long as you aren’t going overboard with the number you eat.

I typically hard-boil about eight to 12 eggs a week for our family of five. The Instant Pot® makes it super-duper easy to do so. Here are the instructions:

Megan’s Hard-boiled Eggs

  1. Put one cup of water and however many eggs you want into the pot.
  2. Program five minutes of pressure, followed by five minutes natural release, followed by 5 minutes cold water bath.

I don’t shell them right away, but put them in a bowl in the fridge to stay fresher for longer. We shell them as we eat them.  

What else can you use the Instant Pot® for?

I also have made a whole chicken with my Instant Pot®, although this is not something new to me. I usually buy whole chickens when they are on sale and freeze them. Typically, I’ll thaw the chicken and put it in the crockpot with all the seasonings I want—by the evening, we’ve got chicken. I’ll shred the leftover chicken and freeze into patches so we can use it for subsequent meals, such as chicken spaghetti, chicken tacos, white chicken chili and BBQ chicken.

How does the Instant Pot come into play? One time, I forgot to thaw the chicken the night before. I placed the whole frozen chicken in the Instant Pot® with the seasonings and a little water. In no time, the chicken was cooked. This is a definite plus of having the Instant Pot® around.

What are some of the lesser-known features of the Instant Pot®?

My last favorite I’m going to talk about today is burrito bowls. When making this recipe, I use more than just the pressure cook feature. You can make the whole burrito bowl meal in the Instant Pot® and not dirty another dish, thanks to the fabulous sauté feature.

Megan’s Burrito Bowl for the Instant Pot®

  1. Put oil, peppers, onion and garlic into the pot.
  2. Use the saute feature to cook, and then add beans, salsa, chicken, rice and low-sodium chicken stock.
  3. Close the lid and pressure cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Quick release and ladle out. Add some fresh cilantro, cheese and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and serve.

This is always a fun, full meal for my family, and it leaves behind great leftovers.

Instant Pot®: Yay or nay?

There are some great features for the Instant Pot® outside of pressure cooking. It has a learning curve, and it’s a little difficult to use and get used to. Sometimes when recipes say “10 minutes,” it’s actually longer because it takes time for the pressure to build. And, I will be honest, it takes up a lot of space if you don’t have much in your kitchen. All that being said, the Instant Pot® can be right for a lot of people and would be a good addition in your kitchen. Happy Instant Potting!!

Instant Pot image from https://instantpot.com/

 

Recap: Try a “Non-Resolution”

It’s Throwback Thursday and the first anniversary of making a “non-resolution.” You may or may not be anxious to hear how my January went, but I’m going to share anyway. So here’s a little recap about my non-resolution.

STEP 1: COME UP WITH THE DEFINING WORD OR PHRASE FOR YOUR YEAR.

I encouraged you to come up with a 2018 goal for yourself—in a word or phrase—and break it into a 12-month SMART goal(s).

MY 2018 word is PEACE. I chose this word as there has been a lot of disorder and mayhem in my life affecting my health.

STEP 2: TRANSLATE YOUR WORD OR PHRASE INTO ACTION.

My January action was to meal plan. My specific meal plan action:

1st week goal: plan three dinners, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday

2nd week goal: plan four dinners, Monday through Thursday.

3rd week goal: plan five dinners, Monday through Friday.

4th week goal: plan again for five days.

STEP 3: EVALUATE YOUR GOAL EACH MONTH.

Once the week or month is over, look back at your goal and see how well it did or did not work. Did you achieve this goal?

My mantra is PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION. My January did not go as planned. I had set a S = Specific, M = Measurable, A = Achievable, R = Realistic and T = Time-specific goal. Thus, I can look back and see how it went.

1st week of January – my grandfather was in the hospital and passed away, I was hardly home, so no meal planning happened as we didn’t know where we would be when.

2nd week of January – I planned two meals, as once again I was hardly home, helping to take care of my grandmother.

3rd week of January – I planned three meals.

4th week of January – I planned four meals.

STEP 4: START AT A TIME THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU.

So when should you start? Any time that’s right for you. Make sure you have a fresh mind and are more rejuvenated than you may be on the first of the month.

As you can see, I had planned to start the first of January, however life happened and I was not able to begin when planned. But the key is, I didn’t let the month slide by. I picked up when I could with my meal planning. While working on the meal planning I found a tool to better help me.

It is the “Knock Knock What to Eat” pad that I found on Amazon for about seven dollars. Is this something you have to use if you plan to meal plan? Absolutely not. But, this is the tool I found to help me with my goal. You can also use our free printable!

NOW WHAT?

I’m going to continue my meal planning and then focus on my SMART goal for February: REST!!!

For the month of February, my goal is to set a bedtime. The specific goal is to be in bed by 10:30 p.m. four nights out of each week, Sunday through Thursday. This is technically 5 days. So, if one of these days doesn’t make the 10:30 p.m. cut, then I have another day to work with. By setting a bedtime for myself, this should allow for a minimum of seven-ish hours of sleep for myself.

Although my goal didn’t go quite as planned for January, I made it work. And I know you can too if you let your goals slide a little bit. How did your SMART goals go for January?

Breakfast: It Really IS the Most Important Meal of the Day

Mornings are busy. Whether you’re headed off to work, trying to get the kids to school or both at the same time—trying to start your day can be hectic and stressful. Something that often suffers when mornings get too busy is breakfast. But there are some very good reasons why you shouldn’t skip the most important meal of the day.

The key to starting the morning off right—and giving you enough energy and focus to get you to lunch—is eating within one to two hours of waking up. Eat your breakfast!

What’s the Deal with Breakfast?

Eating breakfast is important because your body has gone the longest it does in a 24-hour period without eating. The key to starting the morning off right—and giving you enough energy and focus to get you to lunch—is eating within one to two hours of waking up.

Eating breakfast helps stave off illness (including serious ones like heart disease or diabetes), improves brain function and is an important step in healthy weight loss. And, it’s easier to pull off than you may think. Try this breakfast burrito recipe below: It’s good for eating right away or making on a Sunday and freezing for the whole week!

Breakfast Burrito
Yields 1
The egg and sausage in this burrito are good sources of protein. A high-protein breakfast will fill you up and give you plenty of energy to start your day!
Write a review
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 chicken sausage link
  2. 1 whole wheat flour tortilla
  3. 1 egg
  4. a dash of milk
  5. cheddar cheese
  6. 1 tablespoon of salsa
  7. a drizzle of salsa picante or hot sauce (if desired)
Instructions
  1. Shred a tablespoon-size amount of cheese. Set aside.
  2. Crack the egg into a bowl, and then add the dash of milk. Whisk until mixed thoroughly.
  3. In a small skillet, pour the egg mixture and cook until fluffy.
  4. Add sausage and salsa to the eggs. Stir until all the ingredients are warm.
  5. Lay a tortilla out on a plate, fill with the egg mixture, sprinkle cheese, drizzle hot sauce and roll up burrito.
  6. Serve immediately or freeze for later.
Notes
  1. If freezing, place in a plastic freezer bag, and then stick in the freezer. Store for up to one month.
  2. To thaw: Remove from plastic bag, wrap burrito in a paper towel, and then microwave for 1.5–2 minutes or until warm.
Something to Chew http://somethingtochew.com/

5 Shortcuts to Mealtime

You’ve done your meal planning but the day has still fallen apart, now what are you going to do for dinner? 

You’ve done your meal planning but the day has still fallen apart, now what are you going to do for dinner?

 

Here are 5 Shortcuts to get a meal on the table in no time…

  1. Have fruits and vegetables already prepped and ready to go. Have these fruits/vegetables washed, cut and in individual containers. Put a dry paper towel on top before you put the lid on to help soak up the moisture. Do this on a day that works best for you. For some it may be the weekend and for others it may be a weekday/weeknight.
  1. I have priced cauliflower this time of year and buying the already cut up cauliflower is about break even with a head of cauliflower. My family loves cauliflower and there is so much you can do with it: Fresh, steamed, roasted and mashed. When you have it already cut up you can do any of the above in a short amount of time.  Don’t be afraid to look around in your fresh produce section to find easy time savers to keep on hand.
  1. Keep staples on hand:
  • Buy meats in bulk and freeze in family portion sizes
  • White/sweet potato
  • String cheese
  • Applesauce
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Freeze bread
  • Yogurt
  • Tortillas
  • Cottage cheese
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned fruits & vegetables
  • Low Sodium canned soup
  • Italian dressing (liquid or dry)
  • Canned Beans
  • Whole Wheat Pasta (any kind)
  • 5-10 minute rice
  • Oats
  • Chicken broth (98% fat free)
  • Cream of … (98% fat free)
  • Canned fish/chicken
  • Frozen chicken
  • Eggs
  • Vegetable/Tomato Juice
  1. Keep frozen steamer bags of vegetables in the freezer. I love that they don’t go bad, you can take it out of the freezer and within 5-7 minutes in the microwave you have steamed vegetables. Honestly, this can be quicker than going through the drive through.
  1. Ziploc Zip’n Steam Bags: these are fabulous. You can cook vegetables and protein in them.  You can actually make a whole meal in minutes in them.  I always keep baby carrots on hand, so in a pinch I throw some of the baby carrots in the bag, look at the cooking directions and usually in a few minutes you have a side.  But you can also cook fish/chicken in these fresh or frozen.  FABULOUS!!  Get them in the baggie aisle.

Simple Meals

These are quick and simple meals, with no special ingredients and would primarily be using staple ingredients that you already have on hand. I recommend keeping 5-10 recipes in your ‘back pocket’ for when you need a meal on the table in just a short amount of time.

  1. Thawed chicken with either Italian dressing or BBQ sauce on top and bake
  2. Soups – chicken noodle soup, you can make any canned soup better with your own ingredients added to it
  3. Breakfast for dinner: whole wheat pancakes/waffles, omelets with vegetables,
  4. Salad with all the toppings
  5. Roasted chicken from the store
  6. Quesadilla/tacos/spaghetti
  7. Cubed chicken/canned chicken with cream of chicken soup and frozen veggies, mix together. Top with stove top and bake ~30 min.
  8. 7 can soup (add 7 cans of whatever you want to make a soup), simmer on stove till warm.
  9. I’m a realist mom here – chicken nuggets, fish sticks – ITS WHAT YOU PAIR IT WITH
  10. Always remember the #plategoals to make your meals balanced. Even in a pinch, you can make it happen!

plategoals

 

Megan Klemm

 

Meal Planning 1-2-3

Meal planning was a hard concept for me to start doing. I honestly never really meal planned until I had kids, because let’s face it, it didn’t matter if dinner was an hour late. The kids need to be fed by 6:00pm so there is time for bath, jammies, books, prayers and bed by 7:30pm.

Most nights we don’t even get home till 5:30-5:45pm so meal planning is most certainly part of my vocabulary. Additionally, when I heard the following statistic it changed my thought process for planning meals, “60% of Americans don’t know what they are having for dinner by 4:00pm, and 66% of Americans are overweight”.

With a little preparation, planning your meals in advance can help you save time and money at the grocery store or from dashing through the drive-thru at lunch or dinner. Developing a meal plan can also help you eat a more nutritious, well-balanced diet that includes nutrient-rich foods from each of the food groups. You may find that you can better manage your weight and health if you plan and prepare meals at home more often. 

plategoals

Meal Planning 1-2-3

  1. Use the #plategoals image above as a guide.
    •Start with the main dish/protein and work from there.
    •Sometimes this main dish may already include a starch.
              •When I say starch, I’m thinking grain, bread, fruit or starchy vegetable.
    •Think about the color choices of your meal and try and color the plate.
  2. Start by planning 3 meals per week.
    •You can always slowly work your way up to more, but even planning 1 meal a week is better than not planning at all.
    •Print of our free Weekly Meal Plan template here!
  3. Spend no more that 1-2 hours total prepping and cooking these meals.

Here are a couple more tips for meal planning:

  • Don’t be afraid to get the family involved with the meal planning, especially the kids!
  • Try to avoid selecting different recipes that don’t fit together or else you’ll be buying a lot of different ingredients. Select one, look at the ingredient list and let that help you select recipe #2, and so on.
  • Save yourself some time and write your grocery list while you figure out your meals–and don’t forget to jot down quantities for each ingredient. Before you head to the store, take a quick inventory of what you have on hand and cross off the ingredients you don’t need to purchase.
  • By portioning your plate like the picture, you are getting in the food groups you need, but also portioning your plate correctly. This will help to fill you up without all the calories. Also, this almost guarantees for leftovers!

Megan Klemm

7 Ways to Reduce Food Waste

This past summer, the American Chemistry Council stated that the American household wastes $640 on average per year in food without even knowing it. Just think of what we could do with an extra $640! Tons and tons (literally) of food get thrown away each year and this is often due to purchasing too much at the store or cooking meals that are too large. This also happens when dining out; we try to watch our portions when going out to eat, and sometime we forget our to-go baggy. Restaurants throw away guests’ leftovers and it adds to the pile of wasted food.

The average American household wastes about $640 of food each year. Save time, money, and food with these 7 tips!

Here are 7 tips for reducing food waste:

  1. Meal Planning. Plan ahead for upcoming meals. It’s helpful to choose recipes that have overlapping ingredients. This helps to reduce the amount of food purchased. Avoid buying or making too much food by preparing only 1 or 2 recipes each week. If a recipe calls for a rare or expensive ingredient, swap it out for something you have on hand or an ingredient you will use regularly.For information and tips on meal planning check out this previous blog post!
  2. Rotate Produce. Use the “first in, first out” policy. After going to the store, rotate “old” foods to the front of the fridge or pantry so these foods will be eaten first. The “new” foods that were just purchased go to the back of the fridge or pantry, unless of course these ingredients are needed immediately.
  3. Stretch the life of your fruits and veggies. Fruit that is past its prime can be used in breads or smoothies instead of being thrown away. Vegetables can be used to make stock and stale bread or crackers can be used in casseroles or to make croutons.
  4. Send home leftovers. If inviting guests over for a meal, send them home with leftovers. They get a nice meal the next day and this helps reduce food waste!
  5. Freeze it! Most leftovers will be just fine reheated. This includes meat, vegetables, fruit, and casseroles. Make sure to put leftovers in tightly sealed containers or wrap tightly in plastic wrap to prolong freezer life.
  6. Donate. Food banks are always grateful for donations. Canned items within “use-by” or “sell-by” dates are perfect contributions, but many food banks will also take produce or packaged items that have not been opened or tampered with.
  7. Compost! Food scraps can be composted and used to enhance your garden. If this is not something you want to do yourself, ask a neighbor or co-worker if they do this or know where scraps can be taken locally.Check out the infographic below from Craftsy!infographic on compost

 

Alana Scopel