5 Perfect Dinners in Your Instant Pot — Under 450 Calories
Committing to a healthy diet is one of the best things you can do for your body, but if you’re like me, you don’t have hours to spend preparing meals. So how do you get a great tasting, healthy meal on the table without slaving over an oven (while trying to balance everything else you have going on)?
You bust out the Instant Pot.
This is one of my favorite tools for meal prep — it’s a one pot solution that allows you to dump everything in, set the timer, and let it do the work for you. It’s great for cooking large batches of protein, and it can even cook meat perfectly from frozen (if you’re like me and constantly forget to pull the chicken out of the freezer the night before).
Check out 5 of my favorite Instant Pot dinner recipes, each coming in under 450 calories. I guarantee they’ll leave you satisfied and help you meet your goals — without spending hours in the kitchen.
Instant Pot Chicken Adobo Tacos with Pickled Red Onions
2 cups (480 ml) red cabbage or coleslaw mix, finely shredded
Directions for pickled onion:
In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of water with the vinegar, salt, sugar and pickling spice. Bring to a boil over high heat. Place the onions in a medium non-reactive container and pour the pickling solution over the top. Let stand at room temperature while preparing the taco filling.
Directions for Taco filling:
In the Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker, combine the chicken thighs, salsa, broth, chipotle pepper and cumin. Lock on the lid, select the pressure cook function and adjust to high. Make sure the steam valve is in the “sealing” position and the “keep warm” button is off. Cook for 8 minutes.
When the cooking time is up, quick-release the pressure. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and chop. Select sauté and adjust heat to high. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water and add it to the pot. Simmer until thick and bubbly, 1 minute. Pour over the chicken.
Drain the pickled onions and discard the whole spices. Serve the tortillas filled with the chicken and topped with cabbage and pickled onions.
Pro tip: To warm flour tortillas, wrap them in moist paper towels and microwave for 30–45 seconds; they’ll become warm and pliable in the moist heat. Alternatively, wrap the tortillas first in moist paper towels and then in foil. Heat in a 350°F oven until warm, 15 minutes.
Serves:4 | Serving Size: 2 tacos, stuffed with 3/4 cups chicken, 2 tablespoons pickled onions and 1/2 cup cabbage
In the pot of an electric pressure cooker, whisk together the broth and tomato paste until the tomato paste is dissolved. Add the pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, rosemary, 1/4 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper. Stir to combine. Place the bell peppers on top of the pasta. Season the chicken with the garlic seasoning and place on top of the pasta mixture, do not stir.
Lock on the lid, select the Manual/Pressure Cook function. Adjust to high pressure and set timer for 4 minutes. Make sure the steam valve is in the “sealing” position.
When the cooking time is up, carefully quick-release the pressure.
Unlock the lid and transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board. Slice the meat into bite-size pieces and return them to the pot. Add the spinach and cheese and stir to wilt the spinach. Serve immediately.
Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups pasta mixture
4 green onions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, chopped
3 cups (720ml) reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 dried shiitake mushrooms
2 (8-ounce/227g) packages tofu shirataki noodles
2 cups (110g) sliced bok choy
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
Shichimi togarashi (optional)
Pour 1 cup (236ml) of water in an electric pressure cooker and place a trivet in the pot. Add the eggs, lock on lid, and cook on HIGH pressure for 3 minutes. Quick-release the pressure and transfer the eggs to a bowl with ice water. When cool enough to handle, peel the eggs. Cut the eggs in half lengthwise and set aside, cut side-up on a plate at room temperature.
Pour out the water and dry the inner pot. Return it to the cooker, add the oil, select SAUTE and adjust to MEDIUM heat. When the oil is hot, season the chicken with the salt and pepper add to the pot. Cook, turning once, until the chicken is lightly browned, 5 minutes. Add the white parts of the green onions, ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Press CANCEL.
Add 3 cups (720ml) water to the pot and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the broth and shiitake mushrooms. Lock the lid and cook at high pressure for 20 minutes. Quick release the steam. Remove the chicken and mushrooms from the pot. Chop the meat into large pieces and discard the bones. Slice mushroom caps and discard the stems. Set aside.
Select sauté and adjust to high heat. Skim off any foam or fat that rises to the surface of the broth and discard. Add the noodles and bok choy and simmer until tender, 3 minutes.
Return the chicken and mushrooms to the pot, stir and simmer until heated through, 1 minute. Add the soy sauce. Divide among 4 large soup bowls and place the egg halves on top of the noodles and sprinkle with the sliced green onion tops and shichimi togarashi, if desired.
Cut the top 1/2-inch (1.2cm) off the peppers and reserve for another use. Scoop out the seeds and white membranes inside the peppers and discard.
Put the oil in the Instant Pot, select sauté, and adjust to high heat. When the oil is hot, add the ground turkey, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is no longer pink, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, 1 minute. Press the cancel button. Add 2/3 cup (158ml) marinara sauce to the pot and stir to combine. Spoon half of the turkey-marinara meat sauce evenly into the peppers, set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir the ricotta, half of the basil and egg together until thoroughly combined.
Spoon the ricotta into the peppers. Spoon the remaining meat sauce into the peppers atop the ricotta, making sure to scrape the pot clean. Sprinkle the mozzarella on top of each pepper, pushing the cheese down a bit so it stays in the peppers.
Pour the remaining 1/2 cup (118ml) of marinara and the chicken broth into the Instant Pot, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Place a trivet with handles in the pot and place the peppers on the trivet, cheese side up. Lock on the lid, turn the pressure valve to sealing. Select pressure cook, adjust to high pressure, and set to cook for 6 minutes.
When the cooking time is up, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, then release any remaining pressure. Carefully transfer the peppers to plates using a large slotted spoon and set aside. Remove the trivet from the pot.
Select sauté and adjust to high. Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, to reduce a bit, about 2 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the peppers, garnish with the remaining basil, and serve.
4 cups (8 ounces/227g) cremini mushrooms, cut into quarters
1/2 cup (38g) chopped onions
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
8 ounces (227g) whole-wheat rotini
1 1/2 cups (355ml) low-sodium vegetable broth
1 pinch crushed red pepper
4 cups (160g) baby kale
6 tablespoons (84g) herb and garlic spreadable cheese (such as Boursin)
Put the oil in the pot, select saute and adjust to high heat. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms, onions and salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms begin to release their juices, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add 1 1/2 cups (355ml) water and simmer for 1 minute, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Press “cancel.”
Add the pasta, broth and crushed red pepper and stir to combine. Lock on the lid and turn the valve to sealing. Select the pressure cook button, adjust to high pressure for 2 minutes. Make sure the evaporation cup is attached to the appliance, as some hot, starchy water will bubble out of the vent as pressure is released.
Drape a towel loosely over the vent and quick-release the pressure. Remove the lid and add the kale and cheese and stir to combine. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes to allow the pasta to finish cooking and absorb the cooking liquid. Serve immediately.
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