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More Pressure = Less Pressure with Meal Planning

Pressure cookers became popular during World War II because they saved on fuel with the food cooked in less time. (Some of us might remember a version of the traditional stovetop pressure cookers that caused some safety concerns with no locked lids!) Pressure cookers work on a simple principle: in a sealed vessel the liquid boils and steam is trapped, which builds pressure and allows temperatures to rise up to 120 degrees Celsius (instead of the usual 100), which cooks food a lot faster.

The Instant Pot is like an electric pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, and yogurt maker all in one appliance. It can help send an overwhelmed cook into a joy-filled kitchen machine. And it can be very healthy!

Instant Pots have been hugely popular for home cooks since they hit the market in 2010. They essentially work like this: the cook puts the ingredients into the inner pot and specifies the pressure-cooking durations, and the Instant-Pot does the rest!

It would be best if you decided to fully commit whether you are going to buy Instant Pot or start using the one you already have in your kitchen. A lot of meals are ready to serve in 30 minutes, and side dishes can be prepared in 5 minutes.

What can you cook in an Instant Pot:

You get to choose from a variety of foods because dishes like soups, stews, vegetables, chickens, pork, beans, rice, quinoa, and desserts are just a few dishes that do great in an instant pot.

It sounds easy enough to figure out right, but honestly, it can be a little intimidating like many kitchen gadgets.

Here are some things to remember when starting:

  • Place the lid on your Instant Pot and lock it in place. You will know it is locked because you can't lift it off.

  • Make sure the valve that is on your Instant Pot is in the sealing position.

  • It sounds easy enough to figure out right, but honestly, it can be a little intimidating like many kitchen gadgets.

What are your 2 different types of pressure releases?

  • With the natural release, the valve stays in the sealing position, and the pressure releases naturally and usually takes a little longer, but you don't need to be there.

  • With the quick release or the manual release, you carefully move the valve into the venting position (mine says immediate release), and the steam shoots out to the top, releasing the pressure.

Tips and tricks to make the process easier:

  • You can set the Instant Pot to Sauté mode and add oil or other fat and brown your chicken, pork, or beef.

  • You can set the Instant Pot to Sauté mode and add in your garlic, onions, or other aromatics that you want to sauté.

  • After you sauté, you can hit cancel and tap manual, followed by pressure. It will be on the low pressure, so tap again if you want high pressure (your recipe will tell you). Select your time.

  • Always add the right amount of liquid. Usually, your recipe will let you know.

  • You can choose liquids other than water such as broth, juice, or sauces to boost the flavor.

  • It is not a great idea to cook protein from frozen. You can, however, cook other foods from frozen - you will need to add in extra cooking time.

  • Save hours by changing a slow cooker recipe into an instant pot recipe.

  • Try Smart Cooker Application on your phone.

  • Try Instant Pot Community on Facebook for great inspiration.

Don't know where to begin? Here are some great recipes to check out

Brandy Lane Hickman, NBHWC

2B Well Integrative Health Collaborative, Owner Inspired Nutrition, National Board Certified Health Coach, Living Light

Board President, Missouri Nutrition Alliance Non-Profit


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