Healthy Foods You Can Make in an Instant Pot

With the help of an Instant Pot, healthy cooking is easier than ever before. Multi-purpose and incredibly fast, this electric pressure cooker also acts as a rice cooker, slow cooker, and yogurt maker. Here’s a look at seven good-for-you foods to prepare in your Instant Pot today:

1
Beans and Lentils

Chickpea curry
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Also known as pulses, high-fiber foods such as beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils are one of the smartest solutions for a healthy diet. And with an Instant Pot, it’s amazingly easy to prepare dried pulses (a low-cost, low-sodium alternative to the canned variety).

While traditional cooking methods require you to soak your dried pulses overnight, you can often shorten the soaking time (and often skip it altogether) when you cook them in an Instant Pot. 

Loaded with nutrients, foods like beans and lentils make a fantastic addition to salads, soups, rice bowls, and countless other dishes. Look for recipes like chickpea curry, white bean dip, beans and rice, and meat-free chili.

Research shows that increasing your intake of pulses may help lower your cholesterol, boost your heart health, and even promote weight loss.

2
Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Steel-cut Oatmeal
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Although steel-cut oats typically take about a half-hour to cook on the stovetop, an Instant Pot can get the job done in just minutes without requiring constant stirring.

Another top source of fiber, oats are known to keep cholesterol in check. In addition, a report published in Nutrients in 2015 suggests that oats may help improve blood sugar control and, in turn, aid in the management of diabetes.

To make two servings of steel-cut oatmeal, combine 1/2 cup of steel-cut oats and 1 1/4 cups of cold water in the Instant Pot. Make sure the oats are covered in water. Secure the lid, select Manual, and cook at the high pressure setting for 10 minutes. Use a natural release for 12 minutes, then release any remaining pressure. Open the lid carefully.

To bump up the nutritional content of your oats, try adding protein-packed nuts and seeds, spices like cinnamon, or antioxidant-filled fresh fruit.

3
Yogurt

Yogurt
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A fabulous sidekick to steel-cut oats, homemade yogurt is a snap if your Instant Pot has the yogurt-making function. You can even make super-creamy Greek-style yogurt simply by using a cheesecloth as a strainer.

One of the healthiest ways to increase your calcium consumption, eating yogurt on a regular basis can help keep your bones strong as you age. Indeed, a study published in Osteoporosis International in 2017 found that high yogurt intake was associated with greater bone mineral density and better physical function in older adults.

Yogurt is also full of probiotics, a type of beneficial bacteria found to stimulate the immune system, enhance digestive health, and fight inflammation.

4
Hummus

Hummus
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If you’re seeking a nutritious snack on the cheap, try whipping up your own hummus in an Instant Pot. The perfect dip for veggies or edamame, hummus contains fiber-rich chickpeas, heart-healthy olive oil, and plenty of garlic (an herb found to boast numerous health benefits).

You can also use hummus as a sandwich spread, salad dressing, or substitute for mayonnaise in foods like chicken salad and deviled eggs.

5
Sweet Potato

Sweet potato
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Sometimes referred to as a “super starch,” sweet potato supplies precious nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin B6, beta-carotene, potassium, and magnesium.

Add 1 cup of cold water to the Instant Pot and place sweet potatoes (peeled or unpeeled) on the steam rack. Secure the lid. Under the manual high pressure setting, cook the sweet potatoes for 15 minutes (add 2 to 3 minutes if the sweet potatoes are large). When the cooking period is over, use a natural release for 10 to 11 minutes. Release any remaining pressure.

After preparing sweet potato in your Instant Pot, try using the extra-tasty root vegetable in soups, dips, baked goods, and casseroles. When sweetened with cinnamon and maple syrup, it’s also an ideal pairing for yogurt.

6
Poached Chicken Breast

Sliced chicken
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Another versatile ingredient, poached chicken breast is a favorite among health-conscious Instant Pot chefs. Once you’ve prepared your poached chicken, you can slice it and use it in sandwiches and salads, or try shredding it for tacos.

Like fish and vegetable protein, chicken contains significantly less cholesterol and saturated fat compared to red meats. To keep healthy, the American Heart Association recommends sticking with a three-ounce portion of any type of meat (an amount roughly the size of a deck of cards).

7
Hearty Soups and Stews

Lentil curry
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For a heart-smart overhaul of your everyday eating habits, use your Instant Pot to create healthy yet hearty soups and stews. From black bean soup to veggie chili, Instant Pot meals based on pulses and vegetables can supercharge your health in more ways than one.

For starters, choosing hearty soups and stews can greatly increase your vegetable intake and help you hit your recommended nine daily servings of fruits and veggies. Further revealing the health power of plant foods, a 2017 report from the International Journal of Epidemiology found that a fruit and vegetable intake above five-a-day may considerably lower your risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer, and early death.

Focusing on hearty soups and stews may also help you slim down. In fact, a study published in Food and Nutrition Research in 2016 found that meals based on beans and/or peas may be more satisfying than those based on animal protein sources. 

Whether you opt for pozole or minestrone, Instant Pot soups and stews also let you load up on herbs and spices packed with health-enhancing phytochemicals, such as turmeric, cayenne, rosemary, basil, and oregano.

Sources:

Aune D, Giovannucci E, Boffetta P, et al. “Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality-a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies.” Int J Epidemiol. 2017 Jun 1;46(3):1029-1056.

Hou Q, Li Y, Li L, et al. “The Metabolic Effects of Oats Intake in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Nutrients. 2015 Dec 10;7(12):10369-87.

Kristensen MD, Bendsen NT, Christensen SM, Astrup A, Raben A. “Meals based on vegetable protein sources (beans and peas) are more satiating than meals based on animal protein sources (veal and pork) - a randomized cross-over meal test study.” Food Nutr Res. 2016 Oct 19;60:32634.

Laird E, Molloy AM, McNulty H, et al. “Greater yogurt consumption is associated with increased bone mineral density and physical function in older adults.” Osteoporos Int. 2017 Aug;28(8):2409-2419.

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