This post is from contributing writer Mary Voogt of Just Take A Bite.
I just got an Instant Pot. Yes, I’m kind of late to the game here. It seems everyone has had one for a while now. (Still unsure if you should get one? Check out Katie’s reasons why you should and 1 reason why you shouldn’t)
But I’ve held out. And didn’t even get one until I got it as a gift!
Why? Because I love my crockpot. It’s one of my favorite kitchen appliances. I use it several times a week. And I’m never disappointed with the food that comes out of it.
It probably helps that I’m a major planner (you can read my weekly meal plans for the last five years!). So I usually don’t have to worry about last-minute meal plans. In fact I prefer to do all of my dinner preparations first thing in the morning!
But sometimes life happens – sick kids, unexpected outings, home school agenda went longer then anticipated. You get the idea. Having an Instant Pot makes an affordable real food dinner possible when days don’t go as I planned.
What Does an Instant Pot Newbie Cook?
I’ll be honest – I haven’t used it a whole lot yet. But so far my favorite thing to make in my Instant Pot is meatballs.
Meatballs are a staple on our menu. With lots of allergies I can make super simple versions. Then have mix and match sides to meet everyone’s needs. Plus I can get the meatballs ready during nap time (or even one handed with a toddler in my arms) and dinner is a snap.
Make your Instant Pot work for you!
The Instant Pot has gotten a lot of hype over the last couple years – for good reason. It really can do just about anything.
Although it can seem a bit daunting to use at first, it really becomes quite simple once you give it a try.
Use the techniques, tips and simple recipes from the Instant Pot Guidebook to get started, and before you know it, your Instant Pot will become indispensable!
One Recipe – Many Diets
I actually came up with this recipe for sweet and sour meatballs years ago when I was on the GAPS diet. It started out as a skillet meal (that my friends and family rave about). Then I got too busy with little kids to stand at the stove before dinner so I turned it into a crockpot meal.
Now I’ve transformed it into an Instant Pot recipe that is not only very allergy friendly and GAPS friendly but also Auto Immune Paleo friendly! It’s pretty much a win for everyone.
I keep spices and seasonings very simple. I have one child with oral SPD (you can read about it here) that can’t handle the slightest bit of spice. You can add your own twist with your favorite spices.
Did I mention these sweet and sour meatballs are loaded with nutrients? They have broth, vegetables and liver!
- Combine the beef, salt, basil and liver. Mix well.
- Roll beef into meatballs (slightly smaller than a golf ball for meals, half that size for appetizers) and place in the Instant Pot.
- Pour the broth, pumpkin and honey over the meatballs.
- Turn on the Instant Pot and set to 35 minutes. Allow the IP to naturally release the steam.
- If desired remove the meatballs, cook the sauce on the sautee setting until it reaches desired thickness. Put the meatballs back in the sauce until ready to serve. Or drain the sauce and cook it in a sauce pan on the stove for about 5 minutes, until it reduces and thickens.
- Serve the meatballs on rice, noodles, cauli-rice, zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash or butternut squash and topped with the sauce.
2 Tools for Real Food Success:
It’s never easy to keep up with real food goals! If my meal isn’t planned ahead and/or I don’t have the right food on hand, it’s SO tempting to give up and grab convenience food!
I have to almost trick myself into getting it right sometimes…like this:
I love my raw milk farm, and they usually have beef for me too – but not all the cuts. And chicken is hard to come by. And pork is hit or miss.
I’m sure you’ve experienced the same sourcing frustrations!
That’s why I’m always grateful that there’s an online source of incredibly high quality meat that I can always count on. A box from Butcher Box is guaranteed to be grassfed/organic/pastured/free range = all the labels important to your family’s health!
If you live in an area (like my mom) where organic local farms are nowhere to be found or have trouble sourcing certain meats or cuts, Butcher Box has you covered.
(free shipping too!)
But if I forget to plan ahead, all that amazing meat just sits in the freezer! Enter Real Plans, an online meal planning software that is probably smarter than I am.
I can enter that cut of meat along with my food restrictions and find the perfect meal, then generate a shopping list, multiply it by 4 if we have company, and enter my own fav recipes too.
Real Plans takes the stress out of meal planning and puts the nourishing food BACK on your table. There’s a plan for every diet type:
Easy Nutrition is My Priority
As a mom my goal is to feed my kids great-tasting nutrient-dense food. These meatballs fit that description perfectly.
The amount of effort it takes to make them is so minimal too. My eight-year old can make them by herself (especially since she’s been learning to cook with the Kids Cook Real Food ecourse). There is about five minutes of hands-on prep time. Then turn on the IP and let it go.
Instant Pot Meatballs – How Did They Do?
I was curious to see how the meatballs in the IP would compare to the ones I make on the stove and in the crockpot. Thankfully they are just as delicious!
The only difference is that the sauce does not thicken while the meatballs cook in the IP. So after the meatballs are done cooking you simply remove them, let the sauce thicken on sautee and then put the meatballs back in for a minute to make sure they’re warm and covered in sauce. You can also thicken the sauce on the stove top. Whichever makes life easier.
My dear friend Wardee at Traditional Cooking School can do just about anything with her Instant Pot – cakes, bread, main dishes, veggies, even “stacking” multiple kinds of food at once!
She’s offering a free sourdough cornbread Instant Pot recipe!
This cornbread is delicious, nutritious, super easy to make, and it only needs 12 minutes of cook time.
Depending on your dietary needs you can serve the meatballs over rice, noodles, cauli-rice (Katie’s IP recipe), zucchini noodles, butternut squash (make it in your IP) or spaghetti squash. I personally love them over some kind of vegetable. Of course we always serve a vegetable on the side as well. So there is potential for three types of vegetables in one meal. That is a great way to make sure you are getting a variety of vitamins and minerals (and help feed your mitochondria too!)
A Quick Party Appetizer
When you need an appetizer for your next party this is the perfect allergy friendly option. Just make the meatballs bite size. Serve in the Instant Pot on the keep warm or low slow cooking function and have a side of toothpicks for guests to serve themselves!
If you’re looking for an easy, nutritious dinner or appetizer that your kids will love this is it! Instant Pot sweet and sour meatballs will soon be a family favorite.