Quinoa is a relatively quick-cooking grain, but the Instant Pot makes it even faster. It’s also a very hands-off, heat friendly method—I don’t turn on my stove or oven unless I have to in the hot, hot summer. The IP makes quick and easy work of healthy quinoa without heating up my kitchen. Score.
Instant Pot Quinoa
1 cup rinsed and drained quinoa (any color)
1 1/2 cups water or broth
1 teaspoon oil
1 big pinch salt
Combine all ingredients into the Instant Pot and shake the inner pot to level the quinoa and make sure it is all submerged. Secure the lid and cook at high pressure for 1 minute. Use a natural release and fluff with a fork.
Black rice (also known as forbidden rice) has come into vogue lately, and for good reason. It has a nice nutty flavor, a toothsome but tender texture, and it’s packed with nutrients. It also looks very, very cool.
Luckily, it’s also very easy to make in a pressure cooker (such as an Instant Pot). I have a recipe for Forbidden Rice With Grapefruit and Jalapeno in my new book (out May 1), but until then, here’s the basics of how to cook black rice:
Pressure Cooker Black (Forbidden) Rice
makes about 3 cups
1 cup black rice, rinsed and drained
1 1/4 cup water or broth
1 teaspoon oil
1 pinch salt
For electric pressure cookers: Cook at high pressure for 23 minutes. Use a 10-minute natural release followed by a quick release.
For stovetop pressure cookers: Cook at high pressure for 20 minutes. Use a 10-minute natural release followed by a quick release.
I’ve recently added wheat berries to my diet! Pretty exciting stuff. You can find them relatively easily in Whole Foods or another health market, and even though you can easily spend $200 in a health food store, wheat berries are pretty affordable. Here’s some stuff to know if you want to add them to your life:
Hard wheat berries, also labeled hard red wheat, are the most nutritious. They are chewier than the soft variety, but not too chewy (if you ask me). They also take the longest to cook, and often call for soaking, but it’s no big deal in a pressure cooker.
Soft wheat berries, sometimes labeled soft or pearled white wheat, are lightly processed for easier cooking and eating. They are more tender and take less time to cook.
To cook wheat berries: Add 1 cup of rinsed and drained wheat berries, 4 cups of water, a pinch of salt, and a glug of oil to an electric pressure. Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes (for soft berries) or 40 minutes (for hard berries) and use a natural release. Drain.
Serve as a grain in soups, salads, or other savory dishes. Make a breakfast bowl with yogurt and fruit. It’s all goooood.
You guys! Did you know you can make steel-cut oatmeal in your electric pressure cooker in a mug? This means you can 1) make oatmeal for just one or two people, 2) flavor each individually however you like, and 3) it’s so easy and there’s basically no clean-up. Magical.
Just do this:
- Pour 1-2 cups of water into your pressure cooker pot and add the trivet.
- Add 1/4 cup steel-cut oats, 3/4 cup water (or part water and part milk), 1 pinch salt, 1 teaspoon butter or oil, and any flavorings to a mug (you can also add flavorings after you cook it). Stir.
- Set your mug (or mugs—most pressure cookers will hold two) on the trivet. Secure the top and cook at high pressure for about 20 minutes.
- Use a natural release! Trust me.
- Carefully remove the mug(s) and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Stir and add any mix-ins. EAT IT.
Note: Make sure your mug is heat-proof and ceramic. Glass will work too, but it must be tempered.
Here’s a quick, one-dish dinner that’s pretty easy, pretty quick, and pretty healthy. Also, it tastes good. I mean, what else do you want from me?
Vegan Roasted Broccolini, Tomato, and White Bean Spaghetti
1/3 package whole wheat spaghetti
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more
1/2 small onion, large diced
1 small bunch or package broccolini, cut into 1″ pieces
salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves, peeled, plus 1 clove, minced
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/3-1/2 cup almond or soy milk
1/2 small lemon, juiced
1/2 cup white beans, rinsed and drained
1. Put a large pot on the boil per the spaghetti’s instructions. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Prepare the broccolini and onion. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil on a large baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Toss the 3 garlic cloves in a small amount of olive oil and seal up into a little package in a piece of aluminum foil.
3. Place the foil satchel next to the broccolini on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.
4. This is a reminder to add the pasta whenever the water starts to boil and set a timer per the package instructions.
5. In a small skillet, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for one minute. Add the flour and nutritional yeast, whisk, and cook for two minutes more.
6. Meanwhile, after the broccolini has baked for 10 minutes, add the tomatoes and 1/2 tablespoon more oil and seasoning. Give it all a toss and slide it back in the oven for 10 more minutes.
7. To the skillet, add the mustard and season with salt and pepper. Add the almond or soy milk and whisk until well combined. Cook, whisking occasionally, until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Add more milk if needed. Remove from the heat.
8. Carefully remove the garlic from its foil packet. Use a knife to mash and dice it and add it to the sauce. Add the lemon juice and whisk together.
9. Drain the pasta and add it back to the pot. Add the white beans, sauce and roasted veggies. Toss together and serve.
As with every new year, my husband and I are trying to eat healthier after the cookie massacre that was the holidays. One struggle is always snacks–eating enough but still eating healthy. When I have time (and really, you don’t need that much time) I make homemade energy bars. That way I can control the ingredients, sugar content, flavors, etc. If you like Larabars, you’ll like these. They’re even better, totally customizable, and cheaper. They also freeze perfectly. Note that you’ll need a food processor for these, I can’t figure out a good/reasonable way to make them without one.
Almond, Cashew & Cherry Energy Bars
makes 16 small bars
½ C raw, unsalted almonds
¼ C raw or roasted cashews
1 C pitted dates
½ C dried cherries, plus a few extra for the top
3 T freshly ground flax (optional)
½ tsp almond extract
1 pinch salt
- In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the almonds and cashews until the largest chunks are the size of peppercorns.
- Scrape down the sides and add the dates, dried cherries, flax, almond extract, and salt. Process until very well combined and the mixture sticks together when pressed. Stop and scrape down the sides once or twice while processing.
- Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and spray lightly with nonstick spray. Carefully dump out the mixture onto the paper and press and form into an even square, pressing a few whole cherries into the top.
- Refrigerate for an hour and then cut into bars with a sharp knife.
- Store individually wrapped or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
While continuing my lifelong struggle to prep easy lunches ahead of time, I returned to a recipe I’ve been making version of for close to 10 years now. I’ve since lost the original, but it combined couscous, tomato, edamame, chickpeas, and feta. In the past I’ve mixed it up by using other, healthier grains, adding other veggies, and leaving out the cheese. The iteration I made today is pretty similar to the original (from what I can remember) and is full of protein. It will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge, and tastes equally great hot, cold or room temperature.
Chickpea and Edamame Quinoa Salad
1 1/2 cups quinoa
3 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can diced tomatoes, no or low salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can chickpeas
1 cup frozen edamame, defrosted and shelled
salt and pepper
1/2 cup feta or queso fresco cheese, crumbled
- Combine the quinoa and the water in a medium pot and cook according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, Add the olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the edamame and cook for a few more minutes, stirring.
- Add the cooked quinoa to the skillet and stir. Season to taste. Add the crumbled cheese and stir. Serve hot or chill and serve cold. Keeps for up to 5 days in the fridge.