Instant Pot Easy Pumpkin Chicken Curry

Left with half a can of pure pumpkin after making pumpkin chia pudding, I decided to add it to a Chicken curry I was planning on making that evening. The result is a generous boost of carotenoids and a nice thickening of the curry sauce. Take it a step further by adding 1 lb. of fresh pumpkin or butternut squash, diced to 1 ½ -2 inch chunks, to the Instant Pot before cooking.

1 small onion, halved and sliced lengthwise
2 zucchini, sliced into half-moon chunks
1 red pepper, cut into chunks
2 lbs chicken thighs, skinless/boneless, cut into chunks
1 cup bone broth or chicken stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp. red curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen brand often)
½ cup full fat coconut milk
7 oz. canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix; use 100% pure pumpkin)
10 oz. frozen spinach, defrosted & squeezed out liquid
2-3 tbsp plain dairy or coconut yogurt

Blend coconut milk, pumpkin puree, stock, curry paste, tomato paste in blender.
Put in Instant Pot with chicken, onion, and pumpkin chunks. Set to manual for 12 minutes. Once completed, release pressure immediately. Stir in spinach and then serve with a dollop of yogurt.

STOVETOP:

Blend coconut milk, pumpkin puree, stock, curry paste, tomato paste in blender and set aside. In a large sauté pan, sauté onions and chicken in oil of your choice until chicken is seared. Add red pepper, zucchini, and curry sauce to the pan. Cover and simmer on medium for 10-15 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Stir in spinach and let sit for a couple moments to warm through. Serve with a dollop of yogurt, if desired.

Carrot Top Chimichurri

Chimichurri is this amazing flavor enhancer that goes well on pretty much everything. A Argentinian staple, this recipe deviates from the original by replacing the parsley with carrot tops. This is by far my favorite way to use delicate carrot fronds. Chimichurri puts a touch of sparkle into eggs, chicken, pork, salad dressing, steak, roasted vegetables, and black beans (among other things I’m certain). Add a dollop to tacos, an omelet, your salad, or hummus and prepare for a flavor explosion! Thanks to rosemarried.com for the idea!

Cilantro & Carrot Green Chimichurri

  • 1 large handful of cilantro
  • Carrot greens (from 4-5 carrots)
  • 1 serrano chili, stem and seeds removed
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • The juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

To assemble the chimichurri, pulse the garlic cloves and serrano chili together in a food processor or a Vitamix. Add the carrot greens, cilantro, salt, pepper, and lime juice and process while pouring the olive oil in a steady stream. Blend until the mixture is well combined. (I prefer my chimichurri to have a little bit of texture, so I’m careful not to over-blend.)

This also makes an excellent marinade! Enjoy!

Slowcooker Vegetable Soup

Slow Cooked Vegetable Soup

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, halved and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved and sliced ½ inch thick
  • 1 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 cups frozen artichoke hearts (one 9-ounce box), thawed
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1 15-18 ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, with their juice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 bouillon cubes (vegetarian or beef)
  • 1 tsp. rosemary, dried or 1 sprig fresh
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 2-inch piece Parmesan cheese rind, plus finely shredded Parmesan for garnish (optional)

Directions
Pour oil into a large ovenproof pot (about 6-quart) and arrange potato slices in an even layer over the oil.
Sprinkle with ¾ teaspoon salt. Layer in zucchini, leeks, celery, mushrooms, artichoke hearts and ¼ cup parsley; sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Pour tomatoes over the vegetables and nestle Parmesan rind into them, if using.
Stir in bouillon and spices, crushing rosemary between your hands before adding to soup.
Add water (the vegetables will not be completely submerged), cover, and slow cook on high for 2 hours or low for 3-4 hours, until vegetables are soft but not soggy.
Garnish with additional parsley and parmesan, if desired.

No Slow Cooker? Bake Soup as Directed:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Pour oil into a large ovenproof pot (about 6-quart) and arrange potato slices in an even layer over the oil. Sprinkle with ¾ teaspoon salt. Layer in zucchini, leeks, celery, mushrooms, artichoke hearts and ¼ cup parsley; sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pour tomatoes over the vegetables and nestle Parmesan rind into them. Add water (the vegetables will not be completely submerged), cover and bring to a boil over high heat.
Once boiling, transfer the pot to the oven and bake, covered, until the vegetables are tender, but still firm, about 45 minutes. Season with pepper and serve garnished with parsley and Parmesan, if desired.

SERVES 4: 3.5 – 4 vegetable servings per bowl

Loaded Cauliflower Soup

This recipe, inspired by one I saw here, serves one person and provides a whopping 4 servings of veg per bowl. Blending vegetables makes it easy to add extra servings in! Save yourself time by purchasing pre-cut cauliflower, using leftover roasted cauliflower from earlier in the week, or raiding the salad bar for ready-to-steam florets.

from Eatingwell.com
  • 2 cups cooked cauliflower florets
  • ⅔ to ¾ cup chicken broth, divided
  • 1 dash garlic powder
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. solid fat from can of full-fat coconut milk
  • ⅓ cup full fat coconut milk
  • 2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon snipped fresh parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
  • Salt to taste
  1. In a blender or food processor, combine cauliflower, ⅔ cup broth, garlic powder and pepper. Cover and blend until smooth.
  2. Transfer to a small saucepan. Bring just to boiling over medium heat. Whisk in coconut fat and milk with enough of the remaining broth to reach desired consistency; heat through.
  3. To serve, top soup with bacon, parsley and lemon zest.

Slow Cooker Banh Mi Rice Bowls

I found this recipe on the Lotus Foods website when looking for menu ideas for Forbidden Rice, a dark purple rice varietal that is loaded with polyphenols that protect the brain and heart and feed beneficial flora in the gut. I’ve adjusted the ingredients a bit to suite my palate, but the original recipe is here. Kudos to original author Kate Kordsmeier for such a delicious dinner!

(Note: There will be leftover pork; it freezes well)

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

For the pork:

  • 1 large organic pastured pork shoulder or butt (roughly 4 pounds)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • ½ tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup fish sauce (Red Boat has no added preservatives or sugars)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ¼ cup coconut aminos or tamari
  • 1.5 tablespoons raw, unfiltered honey 
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves (typically at international markets – they freeze well; alternatively, you can use 1 tablespoon of lime zest)
  • ½ cup bone broth (or any broth of choice)

For the pickled veggies:

  • 3 cups assorted veggies diced and sliced (such as cucumber, carrot, jalapeño and red onion)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • ½ lime juiced

For the bowls:

  • 3 cups cooked rice (Forbidden Rice® is rich in polyphenols which support beneficial bacteria in the gut and provide a boatload of antioxidants for brain and heart health)
  • ¼ cup chopped herbs (mint, cilantro, and Thai basil are recommended here)
  • 4 cups shredded romaine lettuce

Optional:

  • drizzle with sriracha and/or hoisin sauce

Instructions

  1. Liberally season the pork butt on all sides with salt and pepper, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. Add the pork to a large slow cooker.
  2. Evenly pour the fish sauce, lime juice and soy sauce over the pork butt. Drizzle honey over the pork and throw the kaffir lime leaves into the slow cooker. Pour bone broth over top, cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours, flipping the pork halfway.
  3. Meanwhile, dice and slice your veggies of choice. In a medium bowl, combine sugar, salt, vinegar and lime juice and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add your veggies and toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (you can go as long as you like!).
  4. When the pork is done, shred it apart with two forks.
  5. OPTIONAL STEP: place the shredded pork onto a baking sheet. Pour half of the remaining juices over the pork and broil until crispy. It should take 5-10 minutes, and it helps if you toss halfway through and flip the baking sheet so all areas are crisped equally. Pour the remaining juices over the crispy pork.
  6. In individual bowls, add ½ cup cooked rice. Top with pork, pickled veggies, lettuce and chopped herbs. Drizzle with sriracha and hoisin, if desired. Enjoy!

Recipe: Instant Pot Apple Crisp

This is one of those recipes that emerged from beginning one thing and discovering it could not be done. I set out to make wine stewed apples, only to discover that the leftover wine had been poured down the sink. I wasn’t about to open a fresh bottle, since we have been struggling to get through a bottle of wine without it going bad for months now. So instead, I took all the apples I had already had and crafted an apple crisp from a conglomeration of recipes found online and my own flavor preferences. Here’s the result; tell me what you think!

  • 5 medium sized apples, chopped into chunks (peel first, if desired)
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp Chinese five spice
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil or butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup gluten free rolled oats (NOT instant)
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free flour
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1/4 cup sucanat or date sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Place apples in the bottom of the instant pot.
    Add spices and maple syrup and stir to mix. Drizzle water over apples.
  2. In a small bowl, add oats, flour, sweetener, ginger, walnuts, salt and melted fat. Mix well, then spoon on top of apples.
  3. Set Instant Pot on manual for 5 minutes. Let pressure release naturally and sit for about five more minutes, so sauce can thicken.
  4. Serve warm, with ice cream if desired.

Serves 4-5

Every Day Bone Broth

Bone broth is a staple in our home. I save bones from meals out, roast chicken, and bone-in cuts of meat we enjoy at home and it all gets thrown into the Instant Pot for a nutrient rich, homemade staple that gets used in rice, for soups, or even as a hot beverage when the temperature dips below 30 degrees. I always keep a stash of broth in the freezer for quick thawing and use in the kitchen.

Bone broth is rich in minerals and collagen and, while research is not definitive, historically and anecdotally we witness bone broth as being nourishing and restorative for those who are ill, helpful in healing the digestive tract, nourishing for autoimmunity and beneficial in injury or surgery recovery. I boost the mineral content further by adding seaweed or nettles to my brew, but these aren’t necessary if you do not have them on hand. Here are some other uses for bone broth:

  • Sauté cauliflower rice in bone broth for extra flavor
  • Drink it on cold days or when you are fighting seasonal illnesses
  • Make a quick gravy whenever you feel like it!
  • Braise meats and veggies with broth instead of water
  • Use instead of water for savory quinoa or rice dishes
  • Replace chicken or beef stock from the store with homemade bone broth when making soups
  • If you have a dehydrator, try dehydrating broth to make your own bouillon powder.
  • Add it to mashed potatoes or other mashed veggies

Bone broth is rich in collagen, making it an essential food for healthy skin and bones. I drank it throughout my pregnancy and my stretch marks were minimal, despite putting 60 pounds on my 5’2″ frame in my mid thirties. I attribute this mainly to the bone broth, as I’m the oldest in my family to deliver their first born and emerged with fewer stretch marks than those in the family who had their first children between 20 and 30, and gained less weight than I did. This experience has made me a lifelong fan!

Cooking bone broth in a pressure cooker several hours or a slow cooker for 24 hours or longer will soften the bones and allow minerals such as calcium and iron and other minerals as well as amino acids that may benefit gut, skin and joint health to enrich the broth. If using a chicken carcass, I simmer my broth until I can crush the bones with my hands. This can take 18-24 hours in a slow cooker (add water once or twice throughout the simmering period) or 1-2 hours in an Instant Pot.

Over time I have deviated from the recipe below and now just add kitchen scraps (onion skins, celery, zucchini ends, etc) that I store in the freezer with leftover bones and random herbs, but the recipe below is a great place to start if you are introducing yourself to making your own broth. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Homemade Bone Broth

 

  • 1 pound of scrap bones (soup bones, chicken carcass, marrow bones, etc)
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 carrots, sliced lengthwise and coarsely chopped
  • 2 parsnips, cut lengthwise and coarsely chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, leaves included, coarsely chopped
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, sliced
  • 1/2 onion (no need to peel or chop)
  • 3 pieces of wakame (OPTIONAL: this sea veg is rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and other trace minerals)
  • 6-8 peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 8 cups of filtered water
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar (critical – it’s acidic nature is key to pulling minerals from deep within bones)
  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce (adds a nice depth of flavor)
  • Salt to taste

Slowcooker Instructions:

1) Crush garlic and set aside.

2) Place veggies and bones into slow cooker pot. Add sea vegetables and spices.

3) Cover with water, vinegar and fish sauce.

4) Set slow cooker on low for 18-24 hours.

5) Strain broth, discarding vegetables. Bones may be saved and reused once if desired.

Makes 2 quarts of broth.

 

Instant Pot Instructions:

1) Crush garlic and set aside.

2) Place veggies and bones into Instant pot. Add sea vegetables and spices.

3) Cover with water, vinegar and fish sauce.

4) In Manual mode, set Instant Pot to pressure cook for 1 hour.

5) Strain broth, discarding vegetables. Bones may be saved and reused once if desired.

Makes 2 quarts of broth.

Instant Pot Detox Mashed Fauxtatoes

Image may contain: food
I’m so excited about these mashed fauxtatoes! The CSA box delivered Jerusalem artichokes (also known as sunchokes) and a cauliflower that was wasting away without purpose finally found a home. The result? MAGIC.

Winter’s sunchokes and cauliflower pair together for a subtlety sweet, satisfying replacement for mashed potatoes…PERFECT for when winter has you craving all the carbs.

Sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem artichokes) are a root vegetable, similar to yams, sweet potatoes and carrots. At first glance, they look a lot like ginger, as they are much smaller than most root veggies and knobby, just like ginger is. Sunchokes are filled with a special fiber called inulin which feeds beneficial bacteria in the gut (like Lactobacillus species) and contributes to production of short chain fatty acids like butyrate, which also improve the quality and integrity of the gut walls while also providing food for the cells that line the intestinal wall. Increasing your prebiotics can even help you absorb more minerals from the food you eat by supporting a healthy bacterial milieu.  Did you know that the gut is the second most prolific detox organ?? By supporting gut health,  your liver has an easier go of it.
Speaking of detoxification, cauliflower is one of the wonder foods in this area. Like its other cruciferous cousins, it’s rich in sulfurophane which helps the body render toxins like xenoestrogens and BPA harmless enough to leave the body and also breaks down bile acids and some hormones and neurotransmitters.

This excellent side dish supports gut and liver health and is a great addition to any winter detox or post-holiday cleansing diet. I added a little ghee for richness, but olive oil, coconut oil, or flax oil could be incorporated here if you prefer.

Ingredients

1 pound sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem artichokes)
1 small head cauliflower
1 cup water
1 steamer basket
sea salt and pepper, to taste
(optional: 1-2 tbsp. ghee, butter, or non-dairy substitute)

Directions:

  1. Scrub sunchokes with a stiff brush under water to remove any soil. Leave the skins on, as they contain fiber and beneficial antioxidants.
    Cut the cauliflower into large chunks.
  2. Pour water into the bottom of the instant pot. Add the steamer basket and then layer the sunchokes in the basket. Add the cauliflower on top.
  3. Turn on the Instant Pot and set to Manual for 8 minutes. Let the InstantPot release pressure naturally.
  4. Remove sunchokes and cauliflower and place in a Vitamix or food processor. Pulse on low to mix, adding hot water if needed to thin the mix. If using butter (or a substitute) add it here, as the solid fat will melt quickly and incorporate into the fautatoes well. Add salt and pepper and pulse once more, then remove and pour into a bowl.

No Instant pot?

Steam sunchokes on the stove for about 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower florets and continue steaming until cauliflower is very tender. Proceed with Step 4.

Serves 4-6.

 

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Resources:

Abrams S. Griffin I. Abstract number 821:Calcium absorption is increased in adolescent girls receiving enriched inulin. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. 2000; 31: s210.

De Preter, V., Joossens, M., Ballet, V., Shkedy, Z., Rutgeerts, P., Vermeire, S., & Verbeke, K. (2013). Metabolic profiling of the impact of oligofructose-enriched inulin in Crohn’s disease patients: a double-blinded randomized controlled trial. Clinical and translational gastroenterology, 4(1), e30.

Van den Heuvel EG; et al.: Nondigestible oligosaccharides do not interfere with calcium and nonheme-iron absorption in young, healthy men. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1998 Mar, 67:3, 445-51.

Lacto-fermented Chard Stems

I really must thank my friend and colleague, Abra Pappa of Abra’s Kitchen for the idea of pickling chard stems. This recipe is inspired by her, and modified by my desire for fun flavors in my pickled veg.

Save your chard stems and give this a try – given that 2 large bunches of collards cooks down to about 6 cups of greens, this can be a great use for leftover stems after Sunday batch cooking.

  • 16 oz. canning jar, leftover pickle jar or fermentation vessel
  • Stems from 2 bunches of Chard
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp peppercorns
  • 1-2 shakes of red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 grape leaf (optional – the tannins in the grape leaf keep the stems crunchy)
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 tbsp. sea salt
  1. Trim off the tips of the stems and cut stems 3-5 inches long, so that they can be stacked in the jar yet are short enough to be covered with the brine.
  2. Crush the garlic to allow the juices to ooze out. Place peppercorns, bay leaf, and red pepper in the jar. Stack chard stems upright into the jar and then wedge the garlic in between the stems. If using a grape leaf, lay it atop the chard.
    Fill the jar with brine until the chard and grape leaf are fully submerged.
  3. Leftover brine can be stored in the fridge for 7-10 days – if you are unable to use it to pickle another vegetable (radish, cabbage, carrots, green beans) incorporate it into a brine for chicken or pork.
  4. Close the jar tightly, and set aside on a plate in a cool, dark place to ferment for 5-9 days. If you are using a canning or pickle jar, you’ll need to check on it daily to release mounting pressure as it ferments. Top off the jar with brine, if needed.
  5. When ready, these can be stored in the fridge for up to a year. Top them off with brine before storing to ensure freshness.

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Lemon Fennel Roasting Chicken: an exercise in procrastination

I’m in my final month of grad school.
Our capstone consists of writing a substantial research paper on a narrow, focused aspect of our discipline, like a narrative review. We also have the option to submit a case study, and that includes a shorter narrative review in addition to presenting the case study. I chose the latter, because I have a tendency to take on more work whenever possible, it seems!
Having spent many weeks deep in the literature, my creative juices have totally dried up. I had the opportunity to step away from the paper for a 3 day conference and found that the extra socializing has opened up a side of me long neglected; my Inner Kitchen Witch.

My inner kitchen witch throws random things together and creates some amazing grub. It’s total alchemy and highly intuitive and comes from having a long-standing relationship with food, flavor, and the kitchen stove.

This recipe came to me as I was assessing what veggies needed consuming after being neglected for a long weekend. I love roasting a chicken on top of vegetables; the chicken juices become a flavorful braising liquid for the vegetables to simmer in and the flavor is just a delight and perfect for cooler winter evenings. If you’ve not yet roasted veggies with your chicken I highly recommend it! Cabbage, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, and many other firm vegetables work really well here. Tonight a leek, several lemons, a fennel bulb, and some potatoes were called to serve as a cushion for this soy-free, pastured chicken I found at the Farmer’s Market yesterday.

 

My intention was to use 5 uninterrupted hours to dive back into my paper and tighten up my arguments, research, and ensure the rough draft was ready for submission. However, my kitchen sang a siren song and the urge to put off that bit of drudgery was too compelling to resist. However, staying home studying all day allowed me to use a low, slow bake for this chicken, resulting in a crispy skin and moist interior. Even the wings retained moistness! The meat comes right off the bone easily, and the lemon adds a delightful brightness to the chicken and vegetables. If you have some time in the afternoon, I highly recommend getting a head start on dinner and going for a low, slow bake the next time you roast chicken. This is a great weekend meal that can be roasting away while you tackle laundry, bills, homework, or housecleaning. Leftovers are great for early-week chicken salads, tacos, or pasta.

Ingredients:

1 roasting chicken, 3 – 5 pounds
3 lemons
1 fennel bulb, sliced
6 small red potatoes, chopped in large chunks
1 large leek, sliced into rounds
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp thyme
5 bay leaves
salt, pepper and paprika to taste
oil as needed

 

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F
Pat chicken dry and remove giblets, if included.
Slice one lemon in half, lengthwise, and stuff it into chicken with 1 bay leaf.
Slice 1-2 lemons thinly and de-seed slices. Slip the lemon slices under the chicken skin on both sides and tuck them under the wings.
Slice fennel bulb, leek, and potatoes. Toss with olive oil, garlic, and remaining bay leaves.

Place vegetables in the bottom of a roasting pan.
Slice remaining lemon and set slices atop the vegetables.
Place chicken on top of the veggies and rub oil onto the skin. Season with salt, pepper, thyme, paprika, and a bit of the fennel fronds.

Bake, uncovered, in a 275 degree oven for 3-4 hours. Aim for 3 hours with a smaller chicken (3 pounds or less), 4 for a larger bird (up to 5 pounds).

Let chicken sit for 10-15 minutes before carving.

Serve with mashed celery root, cauliflower mash or rice.

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