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/

 

Food Battles: Part 1

Life is always full of options. Do you wear black or navy pants today? Should you run, lift weights or go to a yoga class? Do you go out to eat or cook at home? Many of our decisions involve food and this concept has been made very popular with the “Eat This Not That” book series. Consistently making healthier food choices can lead to improved wellness. In the media it seems like one day a food is great for you, and the next day it’s the worst thing ever. Today I provide some insight on commonly asked food questions. Remember, no single food or single supplement makes you magically healthier; rather you should always focus on your diet as a whole. (Also see Part 2)

Coconut Oil vs Canola Oil

Winner: Coconut Oil

For many years, canola oil has been one of the most popular oils found in American households. It has been blessed by the American Heart Association for its low saturated fat content and high portion of monounsaturated fats. Canola oil is derived from the rapeseed plant. A problem many have with rapeseed is that it often contains GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and the process of creating canola oil requires many steps and refinement. On the flip side, coconut oil has been long known as one of the “worst” oils because 91% of its fat is saturated. However, we now know this saturated fat comes primarily in the form of MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) which have been found to be very beneficial for metabolism and helping the body burn more of its own fat. Coconut oil is extremely versatile and can be used for almost all cooking methods, including baking.

potatoes_03C06516Sweet Potato vs. Regular Potato

Winner: Sweet Potato

For the most part, sweet potatoes and white potatoes have many similarities, including their carbohydrate, fiber and potassium content. However, sweet potatoes (70) have a much lower glycemic index compared to white potatoes (82-111), making them a healthier option for controlling blood sugars. While they share the same “potato” name, sweet potatoes are actually part of the morning glory family whereas potatoes are in the nightshade family. If you are someone who suffers from chronic aches and pains, you may want to consider limiting nightshade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, bell peppers). Be sure to consume your sweet potatoes in an unprocessed form and without added sugar. Unfortunately, items like sweet potato chips may sound healthier, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that they are still a processed starch.

Regular Soda vs Diet SodaPouring a glass of cola

Winner: Neither

I know this isn’t the answer you were hoping for but here’s the reason why. They are both bad for you and whether you choose one over the other, they’re consumption should be limited. Regular soda is full of liquid sugar calories, most often in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). If you have been told that you have a fatty liver, then HFCS is definitely a substance you want to avoid in the diet. Liquid forms of sugar digest in a matter of seconds and can cause an immediate blood sugar spike, so regular soda should really be avoided in diets of persons with diabetes. In diet sodas, the sugar is replaced by non-nutritive sweeteners, most commonly, aspartame. While diet sodas contain no calories or carbs, they still contain an enormous load of chemicals. Research supports that consuming sugar substitutes and products are helpful in controlling caloric intake, controlling blood sugar levels and managing weight. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2014).

However, I educate my patients that chemicals like non-nutritive sweeteners simply don’t “disappear” when we consume them. They still can have effects in the body—whether they are positive or negative, we are still unsure. A question I like to ask is, “do you want the food that you eat to be more chemical-based or food-based?” This still does not make regular soda the right choice because even regular soda is chock-full of chemicals. Besides, when was the last time you saw a can of Coke growing from a tree?

Next read Food Battles: Part 2

Parmesan Pork Roast - Slow Cooker Recipe

Let’s Get Crockin’

Parmesan Pork Roast - Slow Cooker Recipe

Parmesan Pork Roast – Slow Cooker Recipe

One of my favorite kitchen utensils is my crock pot. Previously, the thought of something being plugged in and cooking all day scared me. However, after witnessing it’s time-saving powers and delicious aromas that permeate the kitchen, I don’t know how I ever lived without one. Over the past several months, I have been experimenting with new recipes. Some of them have been grand slams while others were total flops. The first time I made this recipe, my husband thought I had brought home a pizza. Not only did it smell delicious, it tasted phenomenal too. I typically serve it with some roasted sweet potatoes and a side salad.

Honey Pork Roast

1) Spray crock pot with non-stick cooking spray and place pork roast in pot.

2) In a small bowl, combine the cheese, honey, soy sauce, basil, garlic, oil and salt; pour over pork.

3) Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours.

Nutrition: Serving Size: 4 oz. Calories: 228. Fat: 6 gm. Carbohydrates: 12 gm. Protein: 30 gm. Sodium: 423 mg.

Recipe compliments of sixsistersstuff.com. I omitted the gravy in my version.

Photo Courtesy : sixsisterstuff.com