recipe roundup

7 Creative Ways to Use Your Instant Pot

The Instant Pot is all the rage for busy home cooks! Today I’m sharing 7 creative ways to use your instant pot beyond the usual soups, meats, beans and grains. Also just a heads-up that there are affiliate links in this post meaning, at no cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thanks for reading!

7 Creative Ways to Use Your Instant Pot

What’s the Deal with the Instant Pot?

I think it’s pretty well established that the Instant Pot has turned into somewhat of a cultural phenomenon in the last few years. Even if you don’t own one, most of us can attest to their insane (seemingly overnight?) popularity. The sheer volume of recipes on Pinterest is crazy. Every time I search for something, I swear an IP variation pops up too!

I love the instant pot for simple and fast weeknight cooking with minimal cleanup (i.e. one pot meals). For example, you can throw in frozen chicken breast, a couple of cans of tomatoes, beans and broth plus seasonings and vegetables of choice and make a solid soup in less than 30 minutes. The saute feature allows you to get your onions and garlic started before dumping everything else in without having to dirty another pan, which is pretty cool too.

I’ve mentioned this before, but the IP also makes cooking for a crowd a breeze because you can perfectly cook large cuts of protein in a fraction of the time that you can in the oven or crock pot. I’m talking shredded, fall apart style Korean Beef or Carnitas as the perfect centerpiece for a BYO taco bar.

If you follow a plant-based diet, there are plenty of options for you too! A friend of mine recently recommended this Thai & Butternut Curry and it was another winner. Additionally you can use it for large batch dried beans which is great because honestly, I never think about soaking and prepping them in advance so I much prefer making them in an hour, pressure cooker style.

When I was writing this post, I remembered that I actually made an Instant Pot video tutorial last year for a cooking challenge that I facilitated. Check it out below if you’re interested in a more visual explanation of how the IP works or feel intimidated by all of the settings and buttons - I cooked a small batch of brown rice in this one.

Creative Ways to Use Your Instant Pot

All of the examples I mentioned above are pretty mainstream uses for the Instant Pot but did you know there’s a ton of creative, more non-traditional ways to use it too? I wanted to round up seven creative recipes (that I’ve found) to use the Instant Pot to share just how versatile it is. Many of these I’ve tried, some not. Hopefully this list gives you some new ideas and inspiration!

Hard-Boiled Eggs (Omnivore’s Cookbook)

These have become somewhat of a weekly staple in my house. I prefer my eggs on the jammy side, so I follow the 4-minute version and they turn out perfect every time and are SO easy to peel. Let me tell you, hard-boiled eggs were always so frustrating for me until I discovered this method. I’m not sure it was the altitude or what, but every time I made them on the stove they would be either impossible to peel, overcooked or a combination of the two. This method is quick and hands-off!

Cinnamon Roll French Toast Casserole (Fit Foodie Finds)

This French toast casserole recipe involves placing an oven-safe bowl on the trivet inside of the Instant Pot so that steam can cook it on all sides - genius! Just to clarify, the trivet is a small metal insert that’s included in the box for when you need to lift ingredients off the bottom of the pot.

I love this dish for brunch entertaining because it’s unique, but simple to throw together and really delicious. It’s a crowd-pleaser!

Coconut Milk Yogurt (Stephanie Lee Nutrition)

I have to admit that I haven’t ventured into the yogurt-making setting yet but this coconut milk version is really intriguing! There’s a yogurt button to make the whole process faster and smoother than trying to figure it out on your own. This specific recipe is great for anyone who needs to/chooses to avoid dairy (plus less expensive than buying from the store).

Instant Pot Coconut Milk Yogurt

Sweet Potatoes (Sweet Peas and Saffron)

Baked sweet potatoes are a great staple to batch cook and keep handy for quick lunches and dinners throughout the week. You can stuff them with all of your favorite fillings (actually, here’s three ideas!) for a super satisfying 15-minute meal or mash the inside for a side dish. Using the instant pot cuts down the cook time by about half and frees up your oven for other items, which is especially helpful if you’re making these as part of your weekend meal prep routine.

Peach Jam (Marisa Moore Nutrition)

This simple jam recipe will definitely happen in my house once peaches come back into season later in the summer. In the meantime I may even try it with frozen peaches to see if it works since those are always available.

I’m always looking for new ways to incorporate Colorado peaches into just about everything (I’m kind of obsessed actually) and this comes together in just 20 minutes! In addition to spreading on toast, I can see this being a great way to add flavor to grilled fish and chicken. And how amazing is that color?

Instant Pot Peach Jam

Chicken Pho (Nom Nom Paleo)

HELLO. Did you know that not only can you cook an entire chicken in the IP, but you can then take it one step further and turn it into a delicious pho? This was actually one of the first recipes I attempted when I bought mine (ambitious? yes.) and it turned out great, although it’s definitely on the more time-intensive side than the others on this list.

Compared to traditional, “simmer on the stove all day” pho it is faster. Just note that the total time listed is 1.5 hours because you first have to cook and shred the chicken, then do a second cook.

Raisin Bread (The Foodie Dietitian)

Last but certainly not least, I am really excited about this raisin bread by Kara aka the Foodie Dietitian!

While this raisin bread doesn’t use the Instant Pot for the actual cooking process (you’ll need the oven for that part), it creatively utilizes the yogurt function for the rise which is so clever and something I would never think to do.

I’ve not tested this yet, but it’s on my list because it looks insanely delicious with butter slathered on top and there isn’t any kneading required, which cuts down on a step and saves time. Shortcut homemade bread? I’m in.

Instant Pot Raisin Bread

Which Instant Pot Model Should I Buy?

Now if you don’t currently own an Instant Pot and are interested in purchasing one, this is the one I have and love.

It’s a good size and has all of the features I’ve needed at a really affordable price point. I’m not sure if it’s temporary, but the price is actually significantly lower now than it was when I bought it.

Many people don’t realize, but this is actually a 7-in-1 appliance so in addition to the pressure cooker setting, it can also be used to cook a variety of ingredients with several different methods. If you do end up purchasing it, I hope you love it as much as I do!


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The Ultimate Guide to Valentine's Day by Dietitians

If you haven't heard, Valentine's Day is on Wednesday. Totally kidding - I know you know. 

In lieu of a recipe I decided to do a beast of a blog post round-up sharing some content from other dietitian bloggers who already have a plethora of mouthwatering creations on their blogs. I like a fancy date night out on the town as much as the next person but I also LOVE (see what I did there?) making something fabulous and special at home and passing on the crowds and overpriced wine in the process. Plus then I get to wear my comfy clothes. I wanted to make sure that if you feel the same way, you are fully armed with recipes, no matter what your preference. 

Whether you are looking for festive red breakfasts, special occasion worthy dinner ideas, or desserts, I've got you covered. And as a bonus, many of these also have some sort of heart health component or nutritious twist which makes celebrating all that more fun. I love the creativity that went into these (especially the desserts!) yet none of them look like they are lacking in flavor because let's be real, that's the most important part. 

Oh and I also threw in some articles and "just for fun" resources at the end including a podcast on why you should eat more chocolate (sold), a link to some free Valentine's Day card printables, and a list of alternatives to treats if that's not your thing.

Without further ado, I present to you my ultimate guide to Valentine's Day by dietitians. I hope you find it useful and if you do, share away my friends!

photo credit: Grateful Grazer ( www.gratefulgrazer.com )

photo credit: Grateful Grazer (www.gratefulgrazer.com)

Breakfast

Valentine's Day Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie by Lively Table
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Granola by Empowered Nutrition
Red Velvet Smoothie Bowl by The Foodie Dietitian
Sweetheart Fruit Salad by Jenny Shea Rawn 

Dinner

How to Make a Healthyish Snack Board by Leanne Ray Nutrition
3 Herb and Arugula Salad by Food Pleasure and Health
Fish and Lemon Mustard Caper Sauce by Food & Nutrition Solutions
Sweet & Spicy Turmeric Roasted Carrots by Leanne Ray Nutrition
Lentil and Sweet Potato Chili by Food & Nutrition Solutions
Hearty Beef and Vegetable Stew by Jessica Levinson
Apricot Tomato Chickpea Vegetarian Stew by Champagne Nutrition

Desserts

Black Bean Avocado Brownies by Kroll's Korner
Dark Chocolate Bark (2 Ways) by Grateful Grazer
Spicy Chocolate Truffles by Side of Sneakers
No Bake Almond Bars with Berry Chia Jam by One Hungry Bunny
Creamy Lemon Raspberry Bars by Desi-Licious RD
How to Make the Perfect Chocolate-Covered Strawberries by Angelica Lee

On Heart Health

Omega-3 Fats for the Heart (and more!) by Food and Nutrition Solutions
How I Eat for Heart Health by Amy Gorin
5 Heart-Healthy Foods to Add to Your Grocery List by Leanne Ray Nutrition

Just for Fun

Alternative "Sweets" to Valentine's Treats by Family Food Fiesta
Healthy Valentine Ideas + Free Printables by 360 Family Nutrition
Why You Need to Eat More Chocolate by Mary's Nutrition Show

Leave a comment and let me know which one of these looks most interesting to you or how you are celebrating this year. Happy Valentine's Day!

How to De-Seed a Pomegranate + Recipes for Using It

how to de-seed a pomegranate plus six recipes

I love when this time of year rolls around and suddenly it's like pomegranates are front and center in the produce section of the grocery store. I'm not sure if this is really the case or if I just specifically start looking for them more but either way, I'm excited! 

First and foremost they have the most insanely beautiful color and add a fun crunch to just about anything. Secondly, these little seeds are a total nutrition powerhouse (rich in antioxidants along with fiber and vitamin C). It takes a little bit of time to open them up and get the seeds - more formally known as the "arils" - out of the fruit, but once you do you can keep them in a sealed container in the fridge and conveniently take out spoonfuls as you need them throughout the week. 

Have you ever been intrigued by a pomegranate but passed it up because you didn't know how to prep it? You're in luck, because I made a video to show you how.

Once you learn how to open and de-seed one of these, you'll probably need some direction on how to start incorporating the arils into your meals and snacks. Most of the time I just eat them straight up or use them to top oatmeal or yogurt, but there are so many more creative recipes out there that are just begging to be tried. Here's a little round-up from some other dietitian bloggers as a starting point.

Arugula, Blood Orange & Honey Goat Cheese Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette. This salad by The Gourmet RD has my name written all over it. How gorgeous are those blood oranges? These two fruits together make the perfect match and I love the idea of using pomegranate dressing to bring out the flavor even more. 

photo credit: Julie of thegourmetrd.com

photo credit: Julie of thegourmetrd.com

Pomegranate Pistachio Chia Breakfast Pudding. What a fun way to get creative at breakfast! If you're a chia seed pudding lover, try this variation from Amy Gorin that also incorporates pistachios for double the crunch factor and an extra dose of heart-healthy fat.

Apple Pomegranate Bread. If you're anything like me, you love a good quick bread. This one by Ann Dunaway Teh of My Menu Pal feels festive and adds a nice twist on the traditional.

Superfood Peanut Butter. It doesn't take much to sell me on peanut butter, but how cool does this "amped up" version by Nourishing Plate look? I've never thought of adding ingredients to my usual store-bought jar before, but now I might have to give it a try to keep things a little bit more interesting. 

Pomegranate-Cranberry Chicken. The lone entreé on the list, this week-night dinner by Marie Dittmer of Healthy Ideas Place incorporates herbs and spices to make for a really flavorful take on a basic chicken breast. 

Harissa Roasted Carrots & Chickpeas with Pomegranate, Tahini and Dukkah. I'm really intrigued by this non-traditional spin on roasted carrots by The Grateful Grazer. The presentation is so beautiful that I can envision this on the table for a special occasion like Thanksgiving or Christmas!

Have you ever tried pomegranate before and if so, how do you use it?