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Give the Gift of a Quick Meal

While the hustle and bustle of the holiday season can keep you too busy to think about cooking anything but the next potluck dish or a heaping batch of cookies, it can also make you appreciate the value of time and health.

Let that appreciation influence your gift giving this year with one of the hottest trends in cooking and wellness: the electronic pressure cooker.

Save time

An electric pressure cooker, more commonly marketed under the Instant Pot® brand — and nicknamed instapot, for short —, has surfaced in kitchens everywhere. Its popularity soared once people realized just how much time they could save while cooking.

There are recipes for everything you could want — meat dishes, soups, stews, rice, vegetables, pasta, and even desserts. Each is ready in a fraction of the time it would take using a more traditional method. For instance, chicken breasts take 8 to 10 minutes versus the 25 to 30 they would take to bake in the oven.

Making healthy food healthier

Pressure cooking works by sealing in steam and not letting it escape until it reaches a preset pressure. It requires little effort for a delicious meal: Put the ingredients into the pot, set the cook time, and the pressure cooker does the rest.

Besides being quick and easy, instapot may also retain the nutrients in certain foods better. One study found that boiling and steaming caused broccoli to lose up to 34 percent of its vitamin C content, but more than 90 percent of broccoli’s vitamin C was preserved with pressure cooking.

Heather Beard, RD, LD, CDE, dietitian at Methodist Richardson Medical Center, offers these tips to make those meals even healthier:

  • Use low-sodium broth instead of regular
  • Add more vegetables than originally included in a recipe for soups and stews
  • Substitute light canned coconut milk for heavy cream in curry recipes.

Should I spend the money?

When gift giving, budgets can be tight, and electronic pressure cookers can range from $40 to upwards of $300.

“Keep in mind that making meals at home saves you money,” Beard says. “Home cooking also lets you have more control over your salt, sugar, and fat intake.”

Plus, you can’t put a price on someone’s health. An electronic pressure cooker could be well worth the investment — and might even earn you a dinner invite!


Kick off your healthy eating New Year’s resolution in style with your own instapot! Go to and sign up for our monthly Shine e-News by Dec. 31, 2018, to be entered to win.

Healthy Holiday Recipes

Erin Clarke is the creator of Well Plated by Erin, a popular food blog offering readers an array of delicious, healthy dishes. Take a look at some of her hearty recipes that will keep you nice and warm this holiday season.

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese: This tasty and healthy recipe puts a slight twist on a traditional dish by adding cauliflower. Erin says after all the ingredients go into your instapot and the pressure builds, the dish will be done in about four minutes!

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Photo courtesy of Well Plated by Erin

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice, Cranberries, and Chickpeas: Some of your favorite holiday flavors will be found in this recipe. It’s also vegan, so it’s dish that can be enjoyed by many a dinner guest.

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice, Cranberries, and Chickpeas

Photo courtesy of Well Plated by Erin

Lentil Soup: Money can be tighter during the holidays, especially if you’re buying gifts or traveling to see loved ones. Luckily, this lentil soup recipe only costs about $10 to put together! The best part is that you can freeze your leftovers and eat this yummy dish later on in the year.

Lentil Soup

Photo courtesy of Well Plated by Erin