Instant Pots, slow cookers, pressure cookers, multicookers — home cooks are having a love affair with countertop cooking appliances lately. How else can you get home from work and have a hot dinner ready and waiting (or just 15 minutes away)?
All these culinary gizmos are perfect for healthy cooking because often healthful ingredients like beans, barley bone broths and super-lean cuts of meat take a lot of time to prepare. A low and slow hands-off stretch in a slow cooker or a short, pressurized sesh in a pressure cooker makes those lofty ingredients easier to eat on a regular basis.
Skinnytaste blogger and cookbook author Gina Homolka, an Instant Pot fan who has eight years of pressure cooker recipes on her blog, decided to feature the fast and slow cookers in her second cookbook, Skinnytaste Fast and Slow (Clarkson Potter).
The book is devoted to the gadgets as well as easy meals that come together in 30 minutes or less. Don’t worry if you don’t have a slow cooker — she provides a chart that can take you from slow cooker to stovetop and back again.
There are chapters for Healthy Mornings; Chilis, Soups and Stews; One-Bowl Meals; Zoodles, Squashta, Pasta and Sauce; Taco Night; Poultry Mains; Meat Lover Mains; Fish and Seafood Mains; Meatless Mains; On the Side; and The Sweeter Side — so you’re covered from sunrise to sunset. And every chapter is broken down into Fast and Slow, depending on whether you want to slow cooker or whip up a dish in real time.
Like her first cookbook, there are color photos to go with every recipe, and nutritional information is provided by her longtime collaborating registered dietitian Heather K. Jones.
In addition to the 140 recipes, there are tips on meal planning, pantry and fridge stocking, streamlining your cooking game plan, and there’s also a four-week meal plan if you really want to automate the process.
The recipe that follows is a great, less carby twist on a burrito that basically empties the contents of a burrito into a bowl so you can up the vegetable content and use brown rice instead of a big floury tortilla.
- 1 1⁄2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1⁄2 cups store-bought chunky medium salsa
- 1 1⁄4 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 1⁄4 cups frozen corn kernels
- 1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- Pico de Gallo:
- 1 cup chopped tomato
- 1⁄4 cup chopped scallions
- 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1⁄2 fresh jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 cups cooked brown rice
- 2 cups shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend
- 2 cups finely shredded romaine lettuce
- For the chicken: Season the chicken with the salt, put it in a slow cooker, and top with the salsa, black beans, corn, garlic powder, and cumin.
- Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours. Transfer the cooked chicken to a large plate. Shred with 2 forks and return to the slow cooker. Add the cilantro.
- For the pico de gallo: In a medium bowl, combine the tomato, scallions, cilantro, jalapeño, lime juice, and salt. Refrigerate until ready to eat.
- To serve, place 1⁄2 cup brown rice in each of 8 serving bowls. Top with 2⁄3 cup chicken, 1⁄4 cup shredded cheese, and 1⁄4 cup shredded lettuce. Divide the pico de gallo among the bowls and serve.
Do you use a slow cooker or pressure cooker? Which one is your favorite? —Gail