As more people are cooking at home during this time and the cold weather is upon us, we might be looking at new ways of cooking, and warmer recipe ideas. A great addition to your household might be a pressure cooker.

Pressure cookers can prepare warm meals such as stews, pastas, soups and meats in less time than other methods of cooking. They are also great for novice cooks since you can have a full meal on the table in less than an hour with minimal preparation needed.

Many people might be familiar with crockpots and slow cookers but not as familiar with pressure cooking. A slow cooker cooks food very slowly, usually taking around 6-8 hours or so to cook most foods. In contrast, a pressure cooker cooks food very quickly, taking only a matter of a few minutes, but it still gives you the same flavorful cooking taste as a slow cooker. They both offer convenient, hands-off cooking. This can be especially useful if you lead a busy life and are looking for a method of cooking that is quick, easy and preserves the nutrients of your food. By cooking foods for shorter lengths of time, pressure cookers preserve the nutrients better, despite cooking at higher temperatures.

A pressure cooker works by producing steam pressure inside the pot. The water used in the cooking is then converted into steam, which raises the temperature of the pressure cooker from the inside. The steam ultimately goes into the food, which starts to make the food tender. This method of cooking can decrease cook time by as much as 70%.

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There are three types of pressure cookers: first generation, second generation and third generation, which are also known as electric cookers.

The first generation pressure cooker works by using a weight-modified valve that suddenly releases pressure and usually only offers a single pressure level.

Second generation pressure cookers use a spring loaded valve that stays hidden from view and allows you to choose between multiple pressure options.

The last and most widely used pressure cooker is the electric cooker. The electric pressure cooker come with an electric course that regulates the pressure and temperature feeding off a power line instead of natural gas as a source. These rely on a spring-loaded valve, provide dual pressure settings and have the ability to keep food warm.

The famous “Instant Pot” that is currently on the market is considered an electric pressure cooker. This device is also a slow cooker, rice cooker and yogurt maker, making it very versatile. According to Robert Wang, the CEO of Instant Pot Co., electric pressure cookers are one of the fastest growing kitchen appliance sectors on the market. Sales have doubled and tripled over the past four years.

No matter which pressure you have, they can be great for making soups and stews, vegetables, rice and tenderizing meats. When choosing recipes to try in your pressure cooker, it is key to choose ones that softness and succulence is the goal. So, the next time you are looking for a warm, winter meal, try out one of these pressure cooker recipes found below.

APPLE CRANBERRY INSTANT POT STEEL CUT OATS

Recipe by Josten Fish, RD, nutrition blogger at Muscle & Manna

Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 3 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes Servings: 4 servings

1 cup steel cut oats

2 cups water

1 cup apple cider

1 pinch salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup dried cranberries

Honey or maple syrup; sweeten to taste

Nuts, extra cranberries, fruit, coconut optional - for topping

Mix steel cut oats, water, apple cider, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and cranberries together in instant pot.

Close the lid and set on manual for 3 minutes. Once it beeps that it has finished the 3-minute cook time, allow to depressurize naturally.

The oats will look liquidy on the top. Just stir and dip into bowls. If you like them sweetened, mix in honey or maple syrup to taste. Top with fruit, nuts, coconut flakes or any other toppings you love.

Instant Pot Beef Stew

Recipe from thesaltymarshmellow.com

Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes Servings: 4 servings

1½ pounds beef stew meat

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tsp salt

1 Tsp pepper

1 Tsp Italian seasoning

2½ cups beef broth

2 Tbsps. Worcestershire sauce

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, chopped

One 16 oz. bag baby carrots, cut into slices

1 lb. potatoes, cubed

One 10 oz. can tomato sauce

2 Tbsps. cornstarch

2 Tbsps. water

Add the olive oil to the instant pot and turn on the sauté function. When the oil starts to sizzle, add the meat and season with the salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.

Cook the meat until browned on all sides.

Add the beef broth to the instant pot and use a spoon to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the Worcestershire sauce, garlic, onion, carrots, potatoes and tomato sauce.

Close the lid and steam valve on the instant pot.

Cook on high pressure for 35 minutes, then allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes before doing a quick release.

Mix together the cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl and stir into the stew until thickened.

Laura Pietig, RD, LD, is a St. Luke’s Clinical Dietitian.
Laura Pietig, RD, LD, is a St. Luke’s Clinical Dietitian.

Laura Pietig, RD, LD, is a St. Luke’s Clinical Dietitian.