46 Fresh Market Foods for August

46 Fresh Market Foods for August

In August, there are so many types of foods ripening in the fields and on the trees, I am just like a kid in a candy store when I hit up my local Farmers Market.

Have you been to the market lately?

I truly believe that we need to support our farmers and shopping at your nearest market is the best way to do that. More of the cash goes in your farmer’s pocket, and you get the freshest food available to you, that you can’t or won’t grow yourself.

The following is a breakdown of what foods are in season in August in most parts of the United States.

August Farmer's Market Guide Infographic

Note: This list will vary depending on where you live!

August Farmer’s Market Guide

 

APPLES

Health benefits: Vitamins A and C, beta-carotene, fiber (well-reputed for keeping doctors away)
What to look for: I could tell you to buy apples that are firm and free from bruises, but you already knew that. Give your apple a sniff. A good fresh apple will smell like a good fresh apple.
Tip: Yes, apples are available all year long, but they are at their absolute best when you get ‘em fresh off the trees. Buy organic apples when possible because of how heavily sprayed this tree fruit is.

Click here to read more about apples.

APRICOTS

Health benefits: Vitamins A and C, potassium, copper, fiber, antioxidants
What to look for: Choose apricots with rich, orange-colored skin. They should be soft to the touch and smell like apricots.
Tip: Try drying your own apricots in the oven or food dehydrator. (If you turn your oven on its lowest setting and prop the door open, it will dehydrate your halved apricots in about 8 hours.)

ARTICHOKES

Health benefits: Cancer prevention, antioxidants, fiber, liver health, digestive aid and hangover cure.
What to look for: Squeeze the leaves. Fresh artichokes have squeaky leaves. Choose small artichokes for the sweetest hearts.
Tip: Best enjoyed steamed for 15 or 20 minutes

AVOCADO

Health benefits: Anti-inflammatory, carotenoids, vitamins B6, C, E, and K, magnesium, potassium, folate, fiber
What to look for: Gently squeeze the ends of the avocado. If you have some give, the fruit is ripe. If it’s very soft, it is probably overripe. If it’s hard, it’s underripe and needs more time on the counter before slicing into it. Also, you can pull off the little stem to check the color—it should be greenish, not brown.
Tip: To store your avocado once it has been opened, squeeze fresh lemon juice on the exposed flesh and store it in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap. It should be eaten within a day or so.

BEETS

Health benefits: Magnesium, Vitamin C, fiber, folate
What to look for: Choose beets that are heavy for their size, with no surface cuts or nicks.
Tip: Enjoy beets raw in juice or salads, or you can cook them in a variety of ways: steamed, stir fried, or roasted. (They are best with a squeeze of lemon juice and some butter.)

BEET GREENS

Health benefits: Vitamins A and K
What to look for: Select beet greens that are a bright, deep green and fresh looking. They should not be wilted and limp.
Tip: When you get your beet greens home, give them a good rinse before chopping them into bite-sized pieces. I like them steamed with a squirt of vinegar. They are delicious with a serving of fresh fish.

BLACKBERRIES

Health benefits: Antioxidants, fiber, folate, anti-inflammatory, vitamins C, K, and E
What to look for: Choose blackberries that are black in color, which is an indication that they’re fully ripe. Sniff the berries. If they are too sweet smelling, they’re overripe. If they don’t smell like berries, they are underripe. They should smell slightly sweet.
Tips: When storing blackberries, don’t use containers more than 5 inches deep because the berries at the bottom will be bruised. A 9×13 inch pan does the trick!

BLUEBERRIES

Health benefits: Fiber, Vitamin C, manganese, antioxidants
What to look for: Look for blueberries with a deep blue or purple black color and a nice silvery sheen.
Tip: Do not wash your blueberries before you store them. For easy freezing, spread blueberries onto a cookie sheet and pop in the freezer. Store them in containers after they’re frozen.

BOK CHOY

Health benefits: Vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, antioxidants
What to look for: Baby bok choy is better in my opinion than the bigger bok choy, so get the little ones if you can. Leaves should be nice and crisp.
Tip: The green leaves should be separated from the big white stalks as the leaves take very little time to cook and the white takes a little longer, so cook the chopped stalks first, add the leaves at the end of cooking.

BROCCOLI

Health benefits: Fiber, folate, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, phytochemicals and vitamins A, C, K, B-6, and E.
What to look for: Choose heads with tight green and brightly colored buds. Yellowing is a sign of broccoli past its prime. Stalks should seem young and tender. Look for moisture where the broccoli was cut at the stem. That’s a sign it was just picked.
Tip: Enjoy broccoli in stir fries, eaten raw with other veggies or added to soups and salads.

CABBAGE

Health benefits: Vitamin C, fiber, folate, manganese, omega 3 fatty acids
What to look for: Cabbage should be brightly colored and firm to the touch.
Tip: Cut your cabbage in quarters before cutting up to use (unless you’re making cabbage rolls!). Having the cabbage quartered makes it easier to slice. Store by wrapping plastic wrap around the cut pieces. Use up within a few days to prevent too much vitamin C loss.

CANTALOUPE

Health benefits: Vitamins A, B, C, and K, copper, potassium, folate, fiber
What to look for: To choose a ripe cantaloupe, start by picking cantaloupes that are heavier than they look. When you have a good heavy one for its size, tap it and listen for a deep, dull sound to indicate that it’s ripe. If the sound is hollow and high, it’s probably not quite ready to be eaten yet.  When you press the stem end of a ripe cantaloupe with your thumb, it should give away a little bit. If it feels squishy, it’s probably overripe.  Smell the bottom end of the cantaloupe, and if it smells like a cantaloupe, it’s probably ripe. If it smells extremely sweet, it’s past its prime. No scent at all? It’s not ready.
Tip: If you purchase an underripe cantaloupe, you can keep it on the counter at room temperature for a day or two, but only if it’s whole and intact.

CARROTS

Health benefits: Vitamin A, beta carotene, fiber
What to look for: Choose stiff and unbending carrots. If carrots are limp, they’re not fresh. If the tops are attached, they should be fresh and bright green.
Tip: Remove the greens when storing carrots. Keep carrots wrapped loosely in plastic in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer. New carrots need only be scrubbed and eaten raw or steamed until tender.

CAULIFLOWER

Health benefits: Cancer fighting abilities, digestive aid, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, B vitamins and Vitamin K.
What to look for: Choose cauliflower with creamy white curds and firmly attached, bright green leaves. Avoid cauliflower with loose sections or brown spots.
Tip: Take the stem off your cauliflower, and keep the cauliflower in an opened plastic bag in the fridge. It will last a good week or longer. Best enjoyed raw or lightly steamed.

CHERRIES

Health benefits: Anti inflammatory, fiber, vitamins A, E, and C
What to look for: Choose fruit with the stem still attached. The stem should be nice and green and not wilted. A fresh looking stem is a sign that the fruit was picked recently.
Tip: Cherries bruise easily, and they are very perishable. Cherries will only stay fresh in the fridge for a few days, so eat them shortly after bringing them home.

CORN

Health benefits: Manganese, B vitamins, fiber, antioxidants
What to look for: Choose ears that feel plump. The silk coming from the top of the husk should be pale golden yellow and slightly sticky.
Tip: Only buy corn if you can find it organic. You’ll notice farmers bragging about their organic, pesticide-free grown corn. Organic=GMO free, fyi.

CUCUMBERS

Health benefits: Anti-inflammatory, magnesium, manganese, silica, cancer prevention, vitamins C, K, and B5
What to look for: Choose firm cucumbers with no soft spots.
Tip: Enjoy sliced into salad or chopped up and served alongside spicy curry dishes.

EGGPLANT

Health benefits: Folate, fiber, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, calcium, B vitamins, Vitamin A
What to look for: Don’t purchase eggplants with bruises or tan patches. A ripe eggplant will be smooth with shiny skin. It will be heavy for its size, and when you gently press its skin, your finger should leave an imprint.
Tip: Sprinkle your cut eggplant with salt and let it sit for an hour, to cut bitterness. Of course rinse the salt off before using. The skin of an eggplant is edible, but it may also be removed.

FIGS

Health benefits: Vitamin B6, potassium, manganese, fiber
What to look for: Fresh figs are extremely perishable, so buy them the day before you need them. Choose figs that are free of bruises, plump and that smell mildly sweet. When shopping for dried figs, make sure they’re soft and watch out for mold.
Tip: Keep ripe figs in the fridge on a paper towel-lined plate. Do not cover them or they will dry out. If you’ve purchased under-ripe figs, store them on a plate at room temperature and don’t set them in direct light.

GARLIC

Health benefits: Rich in vitamins, lowers cholesterol, good for heart health, lowers blood pressure, antiviral and antibacterial, prevents cancer, and aids in iron absorption.
What to look for:
Choose smooth, blemish-free garlic bulbs with no sprouting or signs of decay.
Tip: Garlic burns quickly, so when adding minced garlic to your cooking, add it in closer to the end, and never toss right into a hot pan or it will turn bitter.

GRAPES

Health benefits: Vitamin B2 and K, copper, antioxidants
What to look for: Ripe grapes are nice and plump. They should be firmly attached to their stems.
Tip: Give your grapes a rinse and freeze them for a nice summer treat.

GREEN BEANS

Health benefits: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, folate, potassium, manganese, fiber
What to look for: When shopping for green beans, to make sure they’re fresh, snap one in half. If it breaks when bent, the bean is fresh. If it bends along with you, it’s old!
Tip: Don’t boil green beans for more than seven minutes or they will turn a brownish color on you. Four or five minutes in the boiling water should be enough to cook fresh young green beans.

HONEY DEW MELON

Health benefits: Vitamin B6 and C, potassium
What to look for: When you’re shopping for honeydews they ought to have a smooth, almost velvety surface and feel heavy in weight. And don’t forget the sniff test–a ripe melon will tell you it’s ready to refrigerate by its smell!
Tip: Honeydew is a great snack to include in your diet if you’re trying to lose weight. Add a little string cheese and you’ve got salt and sweet together; very complimentary and satisfying.

KALE

Health benefits: Fiber, iron, vitamins C and K, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, liver health, calcium, sulfur, digestive aid
What to look for: Leaves should be brightly colored and crisp with no signs of wilting.
Tip: Toss kale leaves into salads, stir fries, and soups. Juice it, braise it, and make it into chips. Kale=love.

LEEKS

Health benefits: Vitamins A, B6, C, E and K, manganese, copper, folate, iron, fiber, magnesium, calcium, omega-3 fatty acid
What to look for: Leeks should have nice long white stems. Look for crisp-looking leeks with their stem attached.
Tip: For optimal health benefits, let your chopped leeks rest for at least 5 minutes after you cut them, before cooking.

LIMA BEANS (BUTTER BEANS)

Health benefits: Vitamin B1 and B6, fiber, copper, manganese, folate, phosphorus, protein, potassium, iron, magnesium
What to look for: It’s not easy to come by fresh lima beans, so if you find them at the market, buy them! Look for firm, dark green beans that are free of blemishes.
Tip: Because they’re so hardy, lima beans make a perfect soup bean.

NECTARINES

Health benefits: Vitamins A and C, antioxidants, fiber
What to look for: A ripe nectarine will smell good enough to eat! Gently press the fruit with your thumb and if there’s some give to it, the fruit is ripe.
Tip: Enjoy nectarines raw in salads or grilled for a delicious treat when served with Greek yogurt.

OKRA

Health benefits: Vitamins A, C and K.
What to look for: Choose small, bright green and unblemished pods that are crisp and firm to the touch.
Tip: Okra is normally prepared by cutting away the crown and tip and cutting the rest of the pod into circular bite-size pieces.

ONIONS

Health benefits: Vitamins B1, B6 and C, manganese, copper, fiber, phosphorus, potassium, folate
What to look for: Buy onions that have crisp, dry outer skins. They should not have sprouting or dark patches.
Tip: Cut onions should be stored in a sealed container and used within a couple of days, before they start losing their nutritional benefits.

PEACHES

Health benefits: Fiber, vitamins C and A
What to look for: Use your whole hand to gently check if the flesh of the peach has some give to it (the pressure of your fingertips might leave bruises). The skin of a ripe peach will look creamy yellow or golden in color.
Tip: Peaches are good for sweet or savory dishes. They can be eaten out of hand, chopped into salads, or served atop pork chops.

PEARS

Health benefits: Vitamin C and K, fiber, copper, antioxidants
What to look for: Pears should not be hard, but they should be slightly firm to the touch. Look for smooth skin that’s free of bruises. And don’t buy pears with puncture wounds.
Tip: Sliced pears are perfection on top of a salad.

Click here to read more about pears.

PEAS

Health benefits: Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, manganese, protein, fiber, folate, phosphorous, magnesium, copper, iron, potassium, zinc, omega 3, blood sugar regulator, vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, and K
What to look for: Choose peas with velvety pods that are smooth and firm. Avoid peas with pods that are yellowish or light green in color. You can tell how full the pods are by shaking them. If there’s a rattling sound, there’s probably too much empty room in that pod.
Tip: I enjoy peas raw, but they are also delicious in soups or steamed and served as a side dish.

PEPPERS

Health benefits: Vitamin C, beta-carotene
What to look for: Choose firm peppers that sound hollow and are free of wrinkles.
Tip: As the pepper gets more ripe, it not only has a better taste, but it also gets more nutritious. Enjoy peppers raw, roasted, or in a stir fry.

PLUMS

Health benefits: Vitamins A and C, fiber
What to look for: Look for smooth-skinned plums without discoloration.
Tip: Eat them while they are at their ripest because not only will they be as sweet as can be, but they’ll also be at their max for antioxidants. Also, refrigerate your ripe plums. The coolness will be refreshing in the heat, and they’re juicier when cold.

Click here to read more abut plums.

POTATOES

Health benefits: Vitamin B6 and C, potassium, fiber, antioxidants
What to look for: Look for clean, smooth potatoes that are firm to the touch with no cuts, bruises or discolorations.
Tip: Because of how heavily sprayed potatoes are, you should only buy organic.

RADISHES

Health benefits: Fiber, vitamins C and K, cancer prevention, folate, B vitamins, manganese, potassium, iron, magnesium, calcium, copper, zinc, sodium
What to look for: Choose radishes with medium-sized firm, crisp roots. Smaller is better when it comes to choosing radishes. Leaves should look crisp, be in tact, and be of good color. Radishes should not be soft or wilted.
Tip: Radishes are delicious sliced into salads and eaten raw, but they also add a nice spice to a pot of vegetable soup. You can roast radishes for another unique spin. Radish sprouts are amazing in a salad, giving it a nice peppery heat. Store your radishes in the crisper drawer of the fridge for no more than one week.

RASPBERRIES

Health benefits: Cancer fighter, fiber, potassium, calcium, lutein, zeaxanthin, folate
What to look for: Choose fully ripe raspberries—those that are slightly soft, plump, and deep in color. Avoid overripe raspberries that are very soft or mushy.
Tip: Raspberries go moldy quickly, so you should eat them the day they’ve been picked. Important: Do not wash raspberries until you’re just ready to use them. You can also freeze them to enjoy later.

Click here to read more about raspberries.

RUTABAGA

Health benefits: Fiber, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, Vitamin C and cancer prevention.
What to look for: Choose rutabaga with purplish skin. Avoid bruised or blemished rutabagas. If there are green shoots coming from the rutabaga, it’s overripe.
Tip: Enjoy rutabagas in soups, baked (rutabaga fries!) or mashed with sweet potatoes.

SNOW PEAS

Health benefits: Vitamins A, B6, C and K, fiber, iron, folic acid, niacin, thiamin
What to look for: Buy snow peas that are bright green, fresh looking and crisp.
Tip: Double up on the snow peas next time you make a stir fry. Eat them hot for dinner one night, refrigerate overnight, and recycle them into a salad for lunch the following day. They’ll have a completely different feel and you’ll get a two-fer; cooked once, eaten twice in two different ways!

SPINACH

Health benefits: B vitamins, vitamins C and E, omega 3 fatty acids, beta carotene, glutathione, and an endless list of additional minerals and phytonutrients. Fights heart disease, macular degeneration, cancer, and cataracts!
What to look for: Dark green leaves that are not bruised, wilted, or slimy. The smaller the leaf, the tastier the spinach.
Tip: Get more leafy greens into you by adding a couple handfuls of organic spinach to your morning smoothie.

STRAWBERRIES

Health benefits: Potassium, iron, calcium, Vitamin C, flavonoids, antioxidants, fiber, folate
What to look for: Choose organic red berries with no signs of bruising or mold.
Tip: Freeze strawberries to have on hand for smoothies.

SUMMER SQUASH (yellow squash and zucchini)

Health benefits: Vitamins A and C, folate, fiber, magnesium, potassium
What to look for: Choose zucchini or yellow squash that are less than eight inches long and firm, with bright skin. Organic is important for yellow squash!
Tip: Enjoy summer squashes grilled, steamed, roasted, or raw. Fabulous chopped up in stir fries, or try them grated as well—raw and cooked.

Click here to read more about zucchini.

TOMATOES

Health benefits: Cancer fighter, lycopene
How to choose: Choose deeply colored tomatoes that are firm and free of wrinkles. Tomatoes should smell sweet.
Tip: Tomatoes can be eaten raw, roasted, grilled, or sauteed. Freeze these summer beauties for later cooking use in the middle of winter.

TURNIPS

Health benefits: Fiber, calcium, potassium, digestive aid, anti-inflammatory, manganese, antioxidants, and vitamins A, C, and E.
What to look for: Choose turnips free of scars or soft spots. Choose small turnips that are firm to the touch with fresh leafy green tops.
Tip: Add chopped turnips to almost all of your different salads: chicken salad, tuna salad, apple fruit salad, etc. They can also be easily added to most stews and soups.

VIDALIA ONIONS

Health benefits: Vitamin C and chromium.
What to look for: Choose onions that are firm with no visible signs of decay. Skins should be dry, and the onions should not be sprouting.
Tip: Vidalia onions should not be eaten raw.

WATERMELON

Health benefits: Potassium, Vitamin C
What to look for: Choose a blemish-free specimen with a creamy yellow underside (this is the side it was growing on). The melon should feel heavy—remember, it’s about 90% water.
Tip: Cut leftover watermelon into chunks (removing seeds and rind), place in a blender, and blend till pureed and smooth. Freeze the juice in ice cube trays and add to lemonade for a refreshing and colorful drink!

 

Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup

Print Recipe
Chicken Soup
orange enameled stock pot on a wooden surface next to carrots and rosemary
Course Soups & Stews
Cuisine Paleo
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Soups & Stews
Cuisine Paleo
Servings
servings
Ingredients
orange enameled stock pot on a wooden surface next to carrots and rosemary
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat; add next 9 ingredients (carrots through crushed red pepper flakes).
  2. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until vegetables soften.
  3. Stir in tomato paste then top with chicken.
  4. Pour broth and water over chicken.
  5. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  6. Remove chicken to a cutting board and shred with two forks.
  7. Stir shredded chicken into soup.
Why you should try dino kale (+ a recipe)

Why you should try dino kale (+ a recipe)

Chicken SoupThere are so many amazing health benefits you gain from eating dino kale. One cup of this wonderful Italian variety of kale gives you a walloping nutritional punch, providing 100% of your daily recommended amount of Vitamins K and A along with 88% of the Vitamin C you need in the run of a day. A great way to eat dino kale is in my great Kale Chicken Soup. And here is the recipe.
Serves 4
Ingredients:1 tablespoon olive oil,
2 medium carrots, diced,
2 medium stalks celery, diced,
1 small onion, sliced
1 bunch dinosaur kale, de-stemmed and chopped,
2 cloves garlic, pressed,
1 teaspoon curry powder,
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger,
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin,
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes,
2 teaspoons tomato paste,
4 (6-oz.) boneless skinless chicken breast halves,
3 cups low sodium chicken broth,
2 cups water
Instructions:Heat the oil in a large soup pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat; add next 9 ingredients (carrots through crushed red pepper flakes). Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until vegetables soften. Stir in tomato paste then top with chicken. Pour broth and water over chicken. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken to a cutting board and shred with two forks. Stir shredded chicken into soup.

If you and kale have an on-again, off-again relationship, there’s a good chance that you just haven’t met the right kale yet. (It’s not kale, it’s you.)

Some types of kale are better for some things than others and all varieties of kale have a slightly different taste and texture.

There are so many amazing health benefits you gain from eating kale that I strongly suggest you find one that you can incorporate into your diet without too much pain!

If you’re not a fan of curly kale, you might really like dino kale. This dark kale with long, flat, textured leaves is also commonly referred to as tuscan kale, black kale or lacinto kale. Many believe this kale to be more versatile, more delicious, and easier to work with than other kale varieties.

Dino kale has a pleasant texture that holds up to a little bit of cooking, but it’s also nice and earthy-sweet when eaten raw.

One cup of this wonderful Italian variety of kale gives you a walloping nutritional punch, providing 100% of your daily recommended amount of Vitamins K and A along with 88% of the Vitamin C you need in the run of a day. A member of the brassica family of plants, tuscan kale is a fabulous source of sulfur compounds that have shown to prevent cancer.

Now, that you’re willing to give dino kale a chance, I’ve got a trick, a tip, and a recipe for you!

 

A Dino Kale Trick:

Buy the freshest dino kale that you can because the older it is the more rubbery the texture! Plus, the taste starts to get bitter after a while so buy it fresh and eat it up.

Your Tip:

Dino kale is one of the easiest things to grow in your garden! If you plant your own tuscan kale, it can grow up to three feet tall or more. This variety of kale looks very interesting when it grows and it will give an almost prehistoric look to your garden (it is called dino kale after all!). Kale likes lots of sun and rich soil. Kale loves the cold so don’t worry if you’re in a cooler climate.

And your Recipe:

Print Recipe
Chicken Soup
orange enameled stock pot on a wooden surface next to carrots and rosemary
Course Soups & Stews
Cuisine Paleo
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Soups & Stews
Cuisine Paleo
Servings
servings
Ingredients
orange enameled stock pot on a wooden surface next to carrots and rosemary
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat; add next 9 ingredients (carrots through crushed red pepper flakes).
  2. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until vegetables soften.
  3. Stir in tomato paste then top with chicken.
  4. Pour broth and water over chicken.
  5. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  6. Remove chicken to a cutting board and shred with two forks.
  7. Stir shredded chicken into soup.

 

Instant Pot Dos and Don’ts

Instant Pot Dos and Don’ts

It’s Back to School season and it’s time to get “regular” with our routines again!

Even if you don’t have to pack lunches for the littles anymore, there’s nothing like shifting with the seasons and getting back to a regular routine after a nice, lazy summer.

My partner Mark has fond memories from his childhood of his mother in the kitchen, cooking a family meal.  He said because they had a large family, she was probably always in the kitchen, either planning and preparing a meal, cooking it, or dealing with the aftermath until the kids were old enough to help with the cleanup.

We had 3 kids in my family, but there was indeed a lot of time spent in the kitchen by my working mom–a lot!

If the Instant Pot existed back then it seems like moms in the 70’s would have been a lot easier. Sure, there were pressure cookers, but we were generally scared of them. We saw what happened when Lucy tried cooking with one after all…disaster!

When it came to convenience, we did have the crockpot (in lovely avocado green or harvest gold) but it was nothing compared to an Instant Pot!

It can truly change your life and your cooking experience, not to mention the simplicity of cooking with just one instrument, simplifying the cleanup process dramatically!  However, there are certainly some things to be aware of to make your cooking most enjoyable, and here are my favorite Do’s and Don’ts for using an Instant Pot:

My Favorite Do’s:

  1. Read the instructions!  While it may seem obvious to some, this device has features and benefits that you can best understand and utilize if you actually read the instructions when you first take it out of the box.  Guy’s, you are exempt from this step, of course, and please get out of the kitchen and stay away until you do read it. 😉
  2. Understand that Instant is not the same as instantaneous.  “Instant” is in the name but this isn’t Star Trek and cooking will still take some time, so don’t be impatient and enjoy the true time savings once you are using it.
  3. Run a water test (boiling 1-2 cups of water under pressure) to make sure it is working properly and you are comfortable with the operation.  If you are already cooking with it then you are already beyond this, so no worries.
  4. When following recipes and planning your meal, remember to add approximately 10 minutes to account for the initial warmup and pressure sealing of the unit before the actual cooking time counts.  Also, be aware of the extra time needed to depressurize the unit, often referred to as NPR (natural pressure release) or QR (quick release). A 10 minute recipe will not be ready in 10 minutes but will instead require at least 20-25 minutes to get it out of the pot.
  5. Use the “saute” button the same as you would use a skillet.  When it comes to one pot cooking, this will be a real blessing because the pot can be used in multiple ways, including the initial saute of your vegetables.  I generally prefer ghee or avocado oil because of their high smoke points.
  6. Make sure when starting to cook that you place the pressure relief valve in the “sealing” position or the pressure will never build up and your food will not cook.
  7. Make sure the inner silicon sealing ring is in place.  Without that seal you will never build pressure in the pot to cook.
  8. Make sure you have liquid in the pot for every recipe.  It is the steam from the heated water under pressure that cooks your food and without water you are only baking a brick.
  9. Consider getting a 2nd silicon sealing ring.  Some people are sensitive to the crossover of flavors if the ring is used on different foods and having different seals for specific types of food makes a difference.  I don’t know how long a sealing ring lasts and I have used mine extensively, but if it ever fails then you will have to wait for Amazon to deliver a replacement if you cannot find one at your local store.
  10. Learn how to adjust the temperature, pressure, and cooking times.  Rice is a perfect example of how food that seems to all be the same is really quite different.  As a food staple for many, the mixture is generally 1:1 for rice and water, but Jasmine rice will cook in about 3 minutes, Basmati rice will take 6 or more, and brown rice can take 15 minutes.  BTW, for softer rice instead of al dente, add a little more water, up to ¼ cup.

 

My Favorite Don’ts:

  1. Don’t use without reading the operating instructions!  Sound familiar? 😉
  2. Don’t ever cook without adding liquid, at least ½ – 1 cup of water or other liquid.
  3. Don’t add dairy to the pressure cooking.  Add your milk or cream after the pressure cooking is completed or it will likely curdle and ruin your soup.
  4. Don’t add cold dairy to your hot liquid.  When you do add your dairy (milk or cream); make sure it is warmed up first.  If you add cold milk to a hot liquid it can also curdle or separate and ruin your recipe.
  5. Don’t add any thickeners (corn starch, flour, arrowroot, potato starch) to your recipe until the pressure cooking stage is done.
  6. Don’t use the quick release (QR) option when cooking soups or other dishes that can have foam on top.  If you do release pressure quickly there will likely be spitting and spraying all over your kitchen, so let it drop pressure naturally, or carry the pot outside first and stand upwind.
  7. Don’t use the quick-release (QR) when cooking most meat as it will reduce the moisture content and tenderness that results from a slow pressure release.
  8. Don’t ever cook without using the inner pot.  (I know, this seems obvious, but there are stories out there.)
  9. Don’t use the “timer” button for cooking time; it is used for delayed cooking time, not actual cooking time.
  10.  Don’t place a towel over the pressure release valve when doing a quick release (QR) as it can mess up the controls and proper operation of the pot.
  11. Don’t put your hand in the steam as it is released as it can cause severe burns.  Perhaps this is also obvious, but some cannot resist the urge to test it, especially children when they are around.
  12. Don’t place your pot under your kitchen cabinets because the release of steam will likely damage them.
  13. Don’t place your pot on a stove because a burner could be accidentally turned on and will melt your unit.
  14. Don’t ever try to open your pot if it is still under pressure.  Although there are safeguards built in to the unit, if you were to try and open the pot while there is still pressure built up you can have an eruption all over your kitchen, and possible injuries.
  15. Don’t store your Instant Pot with the cover on.  Instead, remove the silicon ring or store it with the cover upside down so that the silicon ring doesn’t get “fatigued” over time and maintains it’s spongy properties for a good seal when cooking.  It is sort of like storing a classic car in the garage, when you put it up on blocks instead of sitting on the ground and flattening the tires. (OK guys, you can come back in the kitchen now that we are discussing classic car storage.)

Now how about a recipe? 🙂 

Print Recipe
Instant Pot Spiced Shredded Chicken Tacos and Quick Pickled Onions
A super easy and delicious recipe for tender and flavorful shredded chicken for tacos or salads or whatever you want!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 90 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 90 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place sliced red onion in a strainer and boil a kettle of water.
  2. In the jar you're using to store the pickled onion, place vinegar, salt, honey, garlic, and peppercorns. Stir until salt and honey are dissolved.
  3. Once water boils, slowly pour water over the sliced onion. Blanching them so their slightly tender.
  4. Give the strainer a little shake to help get rid of excessive water, then add onion to the jar with vinegar mixture. Press into jar until onion is fully submerged. Seal and place in refrigerator for AT LEAST 2 hours before using.
  5. In an Instant Pot, pour half the jar of salsa and make sure bottom is evenly coated.
  6. Place chicken on top of salsa, then onion on top of chicken.
  7. In a small bowl, combine spices (salt through coriander). Season onion and chicken evenly, then top with remaining salsa.
  8. Seal Instant Pot, then select "Meat/Stew" setting and cook for 90 minutes. Once it's done, let rest for 5 minutes, then release the vent for the steam.
  9. After the steam settles, remove lid and, using two forks, shred the chicken!
  10. Serve on tortillas with pickled onions and other toppings! You'll find some of our topping favorites listed above but we encourage you to add whatever your favorite toppings are!
  11. DIG IN!!!
Recipe Notes

TO MAKE PALEO: use lettuce leaves instead of tortillas (iceberg lettuce is nice and sturdy and will have a good crunch!) and OMIT any dairy (so no cheese or sour cream as a topping)

TO MAKE KETO, aka HOT MELT: follow Paleo instructions above AND make sure to had a generous serving of avocado!

Want more recipes like this one?  Get our One Pot Recipe Collection, available in Classic, Paleo, or Low-Carb.  This collection includes 100 one-pot recipes to make dinner a breeze! Click here for more information.

Don’t Be a Sweaty Betty

Don’t Be a Sweaty Betty

Summer+hot flashes.

FUN!

According to a Harvard study, hot flashes and night sweats can go on for up to 11 years post-menopause.

Double fun!

That means your coping mechanism for dealing with these highly inconvenient and uncomfortable events is multiplied in the middle of a heatwave—your hair is frizzy and standing up like a bush in your garden regardless of the last half hour you spent styling it. And forget makeup—whatever you put on is running down your face and you’ve taken on the raccoon look with your mascara betraying your eyelashes and settling into the fine lines under your eyes.

Can you relate?

 

But How Do You Fix This Mess?

There are ways around this menopausal mountain—some of them involve out of pocket medical expenses. There are integrative doctors who can save your sanity with bio-identical hormone treatments—patches, pellets, creams and more.

I’ve done them all—they do work, but they’re just not for everyone.

Cost is an issue and for some people, it’s just not medically appropriate—but you can discuss that with your medical professional.

 

The Coffee Culprit

One thing for sure, caffeine exacerbates hot flashes.

I know, I know…I haven’t given up my coffee either, but I dramatically changed my coffee habit and made only enough for one, maybe two cups in the morning and only in the morning.

Caffeine isn’t a bad thing—it’s been shown in studies to boost metabolism, power brain function and coffee drinkers have a dramatically lowered risk for type 2 diabetes—18 studies, 450,000+ participants showed that for each cup of coffee consumed, the risk of diabetes went down by 7%.

Obviously, you don’t want to be consuming a lot of coffee, but caffeine as a whole, isn’t a bad thing, to curb the hot flashes and night sweats, you need to be mindful of its consumption.

That goes for any hot beverage as well—coffee and tea may have the extra edge of caffeine (unless you choose a decaffeinated type of herbal tea), but hot beverages can also ratchet up the incidence of hot flashes and night sweats.

 

SOS On The Stress

I can speak from experience on this one—handling the stress with certain meditative techniques and breathing exercises.

I’ve heard lots of people say, “But I’m not stressed out!”

And I will argue with you—yes you are!

We all are—even if no stressful events are happening in our lives.

We still all deal with the hustle and bustle of life—whatever that looks like. We’re living in a toxic world which puts additional stress on our bodies (hence your wacky hormones giving you the gift of hot flashes and night sweats) and that adds up to a body that is stressed.

So don’t deny the stress—it’s there.

Instead, learn to meditate and breathe through these episodes.

I have found daily mindfulness and meditation help tremendously, as do some simple breathing techniques.

Daily mindfulness means finding and declaring your purpose (setting goals), being thankful (keeping a journal with gratitude) and working with your hot flashes, not against them.

I know it sounds weird, but hear me out—I’ve done it and it’s been great.

You can feel them coming on—when they start, they work their way up your body. By the time they get to the top of your head, you’re stressed out—maybe not freaking out (unless you’ve just had your hair and make up done for your daughter’s wedding—true story!), but you know what you’re going to get hit with.

As soon as you feel it, the minute you think you have one coming on, do this: close your eyes, and breathe deep.

Breathe in and hold it—feel the breath fill your lungs.

Breathe it out and allow it all to come out slow through your mouth. Draw in another deep breath—repeat this process three times.

While you’re doing this, picture in your mind your body relaxing, the hot flash leaving peacefully and that there’s calm and peace in the place of the hot flash.

I don’t know why exactly this works, but it’s amazingly effective.

Try it!

 

Supplemental Help

Here is a list of supplements that can help with symptoms as well:

Chaste tree berry—specifically for hot flashes and night sweats.

According to experts at University Health New Daily, “In terms of menopause symptoms, chaste tree berry significantly decreases the frequency and severity of hot flashes after eight weeks of treatment compared to a placebo.”

Black Cohosh has been shown in another study, to help women decrease their hot flashes by up to 70%.

Magnesium is helpful as well. If you can take a warm (not hot) Epsom salt bath each night as part of your evening ritual before bed, you can do some breathing exercises in the tub and feel good going to bed.

*Incidentally, the research also shows that we sleep better nude—if you’ve been having trouble sleeping and wake up hot and sweaty in your PJ’s, try sleeping in the buff and see how you like it.

Primrose oil is another supplement used to help with women’s hormone fluctuation. It can help with the severity of hot flashes, but the studies are not conclusive how far it can help with the frequency.

As with any new supplement, work with your healthcare provider regarding dosage and if these particular supplements are right for you.

 

Sign Of The Times

Menopause is a part of life and for some women, it’s more than just “the change”, it’s a complete upheaval.

Children leave the nest, you’re suddenly dissatisfied with the path you’re on and feel like it’s “now or never” to get to where you want to go—I get that, big time.
There is an emotional connection to this big change happening in our bodies and I believe it’s on purpose.

Rather than mourn the change, it’s imperative that we embrace it and look forward to this transition, much like we did when we were having a baby.

There’s pain and discomfort involved, but if you can dig into the emotional side of what you’re facing and too, with your path in life—you can start to see a new path, a new future and one that is a little more independent (your kids are out of the house), and one that is ready for a change-perhaps it’s time to travel some more, start a new career or (gasp) a new relationship!

 

But Menopause Can Get Complicated

When I was in the height of menopausal symptoms, I was also dealing with a completely out of control autoimmune thyroid condition, Hashimoto’s.

I had 3 huge nodules on my thyroid, my weight had ballooned (as common with thyroid issues) to 237 pounds, my skin was ravaged by rosacea and I had plantar fasciitis—so bad, I could hardly walk across the room to get to the bathroom in the morning.

Menopause and Hashimoto’s. YIKES!

 

Here’s What I Did And Do Now

I was a complete mess—and felt hopeless.

I didn’t know where to begin—I just knew I had to do something!

Here are the exact things I did:

1) I started with the breathing (lifesaver!) just to get through the next hot flash. I still use that technique to help me fall asleep at night and right before I begin meditating.

2) I turned to daily meditation. I use an app called Brain.FM and for 15 minutes, I allow this app to give me a moment to just drift every morning before I start my work. I keep a notepad handy in case my brain decides to kick in—it helps me dump the thought and go back to meditating.

3) I worked on my sleep. Those Epsom salt baths I mentioned were a godsend, coupled with an early bedtime and a cool, dark bedroom. Hugely helpful.

4) I gave up dairy. My face was a MESS—I didn’t have the overly pink cheeks type of rosacea, I had the crusty kind, the disfiguring, nothing can hide it kind. I gave up all dairy except ghee for cooking and slowly my face started to heal.

5) I drank an anti-inflammatory collagen-rich smoothie every single morning. Not only did it help cool the inflammation I was dealing with (and the l-glutamine I added helped heal my gut), but it also helped me drop a lot of that thyroid weight I had gained because it kept me full and satisfied. Here’s how I get all that wonderful collagen in my smoothie.

6) I gave up the stressful exercise. And no, I didn’t take up yoga—I found yoga too stressful, LOL! But I did take up barre and I loved it. It provided stretching, strengthening, lengthening of the muscles and made me feel good—and my barre class had some yoga stretches in it so I’m sure those were helpful, too.

7) I hopped back on the water wagon. I drank a lot of water every single day—at least 100 ounces. There are a hundred things I can say about how this simple habit helped—I’m betting you know a lot of them, but suffice it to say, water helps cool inflammation and it worked well.

8) I ate an anti-inflammatory diet: lots of greens, clean, lean protein and good healthy fats like avocado, nuts, and olive oil. I made sure to eat wild salmon at least once a week.

9) I took fish oil. Not all fish oil supplements are alike, but ours is pretty impeccable. Within a few weeks, I could see the difference! Omega 3 fatty acids have been studied endlessly and they are proven to help hydrate and repair your skin AND cool inflammation—wouldn’t be without them.

10) I added fermented foods into my diet daily. I ate either sauerkraut or real fermented dill pickles for my gut—a critical component for anyone interested in optimal health. Read more about fermented foods here.

 

Making Menopause Meaningful

I think that’s a tough one for a lot of women who are in the throes of what seems to be, a merciless taskmaster when you’re dealing with menopause.

Add another condition (like Hashimoto’s) to the equation or just the hot and sweaty summer months, and you’ve got a recipe for misery.

TRY my suggestions! Give them a go—these are tried and true and they work!

And take a moment to reflect and look at your life—it’s changed, just like your body is now.

Now is the time for you to finally make time for yourself. Pay attention to what life is telling you—right now can be your time to flourish and make a new life!