One of the perks of being in this position of bringing you plant-based fitness news is being extended some lovely courtesies.
Such was the case not long ago when the kind crew at Instant Pot – (also instant fans of Fit Quickies: 5 Minute Targeted Body Shaping Workouts!) - offered to send their electric pressure cooker to me to review for my fine readers, the plant-based fitness enthusiasts. And just to let you know right off the bat, I’m passing on any commission on Instant Pots in favor of scoring a discount for you – $45 off as a matter of fact. See the full scoop at the end of this article.
Not a pressure cooker virgin
I was raised on the rattle of the ‘little man’, as my sisters and I so lovingly called the shaking pressure valve that was perched on top of my mom’s old heavy-as-an-iron-stove pressure cooker. Of course as a young bride I was given a pressure cooker for use in my own home, and have been through only one other incarnation since then. But I’d heard about the ease of electric pressure cookers from my friends Chef Aj (Unprocessed) and Jill Nussinow (the Veggie Queen) and it had my interest peaked. Especially as it meant I could even pressure cook in the summer without heating up the house. Plug it in on out on the deck and let her rip.
This puppy’s a winner
Long short, I am thrilled with this new kitchen toy and promised the Instant Pot people to tell you why. Plus, I’ve some pictures from my kitchen to drive the point home. Thus far I’ve made lentil soup, steamed greens, potatoes, butternut squash, and acorn squash in my Instant Pot. Here are all the juicy details.
This was easy – I simply used my Simple Slimming Lentil Soup recipe for the ingredients, pinch hitting red lentils for the orange. The red lentils take longer to cook, so I cooked them according to the instructions in the Instant Pot booklet first, limiting pressure time to about 10 minutes as I knew they’d finish cooking when I made the soup.
Adding the rest of the ingredients, I then programmed the Instant Pot to cook under pressure for two minutes – that’s ALL it ever takes under pressure to get the carrots, kale, and onions just right. The nice feature about the Instant Pot is I can tell it how long to cook under pressure, and then when time’s up – time’s up! The beeper goes off and I know if I don’t want it to cook any longer as the pressure comes down (and in this case I don’t, as it would overcook) I can just flip the valve on top to the ‘steam’ mode and all the steam pressure is released in a minute or so. The Instant Pot stainless steel pot – in 5 and 6 quart sizes – easily lifts out of the electric assembly for transporting it’s cargo (see image left)- and easy lightweight was. I just pop it into the dishwasher. My kind of cooking.
I kid you not – I washed an entire five pound bag of organic red potatoes, stacked them whole (along with a couple of giant sweet potatoes chopped in half – they’re the gold in the picture) on a steam rack inside the Instant Pot, added 1.5 cups of water (as designated in the instruction booklet) and set the timer on pressure for 15 minutes. Five pounds! Fifteen minutes! The Instant Pot knows when to start counting down on the 15 minutes – it makes sure things have come to full ‘pressure” before the countdown begins. When the timer goes off, once again it’s just a simple flip of the pressure gauge on top to ‘steam’ to let the steam release. Each potato came out perfectly and evenly cooked – in spite of variations of size of the potatoes cooked. Then it’s an easy leap from the potatoes onto our dinner plates, with plenty of leftovers for storage in the fridge.
You can also mash these potatoes – the steamed condition makes them moist enough yet they are solid enough to keep great shape, unlike boiled potatoes.
Door #3 for my venture into Instant Pot land was to steam an entire bunch of greens. I simply followed the instructions in the book; however it did say “3 – 6 minutes” which is a pretty broad range when it comes to greens. I opted for the 3 minutes under pressure, as I cook my soup with only 2 minutes under pressure and the greens are part of that. I simply chopped the bottom 1/2 inch of the stem off of a giant bunch of kale, placed it on the steam rack inside the Instant Pot, added 1 cup of water and set it on manual under pressure for three minutes. As soon as the timer beeps done, I simply release the steam. It was perfectly done, though I must admit I appreciate kale far more when part of a soup than as a big pile of greens on my plate – even when seasoned with a nice balsamic. Just so you know, you can love your greens from a slight distance as they present themselves in a soup – no need to embrace the straight stuff, though many people swear by it.
Butternut and Acorn Squash
I don’t know about you, but I tend to get enthused about winter squash in the market, toss a few in the cart, and then they call to me for days from the big platter on my countertop. Problem is, as much as I love butternut squash, I’m a lazy cook and it is a tough nut to crack: peel, chunk, steam….oy! Acorn is a little bit better, as I can cut it in half and pop into the microwave. But it seems to take major muscle to cut her in half.
This is where the Instant Pot has been a prayer answered. Plop the whole think in, add water, steam under pressure for 8 minutes, and I’m done. Just to show you how they fit, I’m including photos. Notice that I cooked the acorn squash on my deck – perfect for hot weather cooking as I can just steam the whole thing in minutes right outside my studio.
In a perfect world, this baby would fold up to the size of a lunchbox and slip into a drawer. But for a work horse as powerful as this one, you need a bigger stable. My solution is to place “IP” on the table right outside my kitchen door in the garage. Conveniently, that also happens to be a location where I can fire her up to do a job because I have an electric outlet right nearby. With my cookt op pressure cooker, I used to be able to get things heating up while I chopped and prepared the veggies to go in for the ride. Instant Pot doesn’t allow you to push the ‘on’ button unless the top is closed and sealed into place. A safety precaution, I’m certain of it. And the only other thing I’m still getting the hang of is taking the lid on and off. It drops clearly into a groove, then you twist it into place. I’m getting better at it!
I’m passing on the commission so you can Save $45
The Instant Pot company offered to create an affiliate account for me as they knew I would be saying such great things about this item – but I asked them if I could, as an alternative, pass on the commission and simply pass a discount code along to you. They came through with a $45 coupon for me to give to you! Sweet!
To take advantage of the Fit Quickies $45 discount on Instant Pot:
Go to the Instant Pot store here. To get $45 off (the retail price is $151 – $159, so you take $45 off of that),, enter this code in your order form:
In response to several questions about the steam basket I use, you can see it in the picture with the butternut squash – and here it is all by its lonesome – see photo right
P.S. Fitbreak Instant Invigorator! It will take 3 minutes, tops. Click here: What your calves are dying to tell you!