I have been a yoga-goer for most of my adult life. I love the way it makes my muscles and joints and mind feel after a great session. I like sun salutations, restorative yoga, savasanas. I like the mudras, pranayamas, and even the pretty mats and blocks. Of course, I like the leggings, and own way too many in a rainbow of colors. (By the way, where do you get your leggings? I used to do Lululemon but their quality has deteriorated so much.)
But I have recently discovered pilates, and I am a total believer. In my mind, pilates is a bit more building strength of muscles (legs, core, arms) than improving flexibility, but it accomplishes both. Most of the moves don’t require anything but your body and a mat – variations of crunches, leg lifts, a bit of cardio/plyometrics warm up, push-ups.
I have just been following Youtube videos from Blogilates – Cassey Ho. She’s super peppy and encouraging and talks through all the videos, while playing fun songs in the background. She also releases a calendar each month where she compiles five videos per day for you to search on Youtube and complete, usually with a theme (Booty Time or Core Strength, for example). It’s just enough to keep me motivated and excited about doing a fun workout, and I usually feel it the next day.
Do you have a preference, yoga or pilates? I think it would be great for me to incorporate both. And the BEST PART is that I can usually throw my meal in my Instant Pot and head to the living room to do my pilates class without having to babysit my food.
What is an Instant Pot, you ask? (: I’m sure many of you have heard the term before, but some of you might not know exactly how amazing this device is. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you need to buy one ASAP. No, they didn’t sponsor this post. My mom gifted me an Instant Pot (IP) when, after a really tough bout with bacterial and viral infections, I was diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS – all the acronyms!), which meant my heart rate would jump from around 60 resting to 115-130 just from standing. Along with that came dizziness, anxiety, shortness of breath, etc. And yes, I saw cardiologists and my EKGs/home monitors otherwise looked fine.
ANYWAY, you can imagine that daily life became incredibly difficult for me. We lived in an upstairs apartment, and one flight of stairs would almost make me pass out – I’d have to lie down for ten minutes. Just weeks before, I was bounding up those stairs and going for long walks, no problem. The simplest things in life became nearly impossible. Some days, my goal would be to walk down the stairs to the mailbox and make it back up, and that felt like an incredible accomplishment, like I just ran three miles. I had a breakdown when I was googling “chair yoga” and “bed stretching” because I was desperate to work out somehow, and walking/running/yoga was out of the question. (I am happy to say that I am now improving and am able to actually do those pilates classes I mentioned above)
One day, I was trying to make some of my favorite green juice – I refused to give up and eat convenience/processed/easy food because I knew it wouldn’t help my body – and I had to sit down FIVE TIMES just making the juice, and THREE TIMES cleaning the juicer.
I was miserable. Cooking on the stovetop required too much standing, stirring, and babysitting. Roasting trays of veggies was a great option, but I needed something more than that. And thank the lord for the supportive people in my life who tried to make it easier for me, even if they lived across the country and couldn’t come help out. Cue Instant Pot.
This little electric pressure cooker honestly changed my life. I know that sounds extreme, but it did. Even if you’re not sick… if you are busy, sick of being in the kitchen, have kiddos, want to cook healthy food fast without spending the entire day doing it – this is for you.
Some of my favorite foods to make in the IP are whole chickens, butternut squash soup, chicken veggie soup, ANY soup, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, steamed broccoli/brussels/cauliflower, green beans, sweet potatoes, hardboiled eggs, applesauce, chili, 4 minute homemade mac and cheese, dried beans, potato salad, bone broth, rice… With the 7-in-one, there’s a yogurt function which I haven’t tried yet, but I plan to make coconut milk yogurt.
Even though I’m healing and feeling a bit better, I still use it at least once a day, if not three or four times.
You COULD get rid of your crockpot, your rice cooker, your giant stovetop pressure cooker (unless you are a canner – IP doesn’t can), and probably some other kitchen devices with this guy. I’m an appliance hoarder, so I didn’t (: Yet.
And like I said, the best part is that you can throw a bunch of ingredients into it, set it, walk away, and do pilates. Or work on homework, answering e-mails, calling clients, feeding your kids, whatever hundreds of things you have to accomplish in a day. It will automatically set to “Keep Warm” when the food is done cooking.
To be honest, I was a little terrified to first use it. I watched probably six videos and got enough courage to do the water test, then made hardboiled eggs, then sweet potatoes. Then I was hooked.
And for just $100, it has paid for itself hundreds of times over.
Click the photo below to snag yours on Amazon.
One of my very favorite things to do is cook an entire chicken, make it into chicken soup, then immediately use the bones and make a quick-cook 120-minute bone broth. I have histamine issues, so the slow cooking broth doesn’t work for me.
I took my mom’s chicken and rice soup recipe (moms make the best chicken soup, right?) and adapted it for the Instant Pot. Make sure you’ve read your IP directions, watched some videos on safety, and done your water test. I’ll also include the stovetop directions. This is an incredible easy way to have soup for days, and also some leftover chicken for salads and sandwiches. I would honestly do this once a week!
Also, check out this Seville Classics Bamboo Cutting Board with 7 Removable Cutting Mats… I love the little mats you can switch out, depending on what you’re cutting or prepping, then throw in the dishwasher. I am obsessed with it and will never go back to using the same cutting board for everything.
Click this picture to grab yours… it’s only $27 right now!
What You’ll Need:
-Whole chicken, organic/free-range if possible
-3 carrots, diced (I like the tri-colored)
-3 stalks of celery, diced
-1/2 yellow onion
-1/3 bunch of parsley, stems removed
-2/3c white or brown rice: quicker cooking, if possible (15-20 minutes on directions), soaked and drained if you have gut issues (: *Leave out for Whole 30/paleo
-2 containers (8c) chicken stock
-1.5t sea salt
- Take all the organs out of the chicken and rinse the chicken. I place the organs in a pot and put them in the fridge, since I always make bone broth right after making the soup.
- Place your trivet in the pot, along with 5c filtered water.
- Place the chicken on the trivet, breast-side up, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and basil, or whatever spices you normally put on your chicken.
- Close the lid, set the vent to “seal,” and hit Manual – 23. Your chicken will take a while to come up to pressure, since you added quite a bit of liquid, which we’ll use for our broth base. When it’s at pressure, the metal pin will shoot up, and the IP will start counting down from 23.
- Once the IP beeps and the 23 minutes are up, don’t touch anything for 15-20 minutes – Natural Pressure Release. This will keep it moist.
- Now, if your metal pin has released, you can open the pot. If it hasn’t, grab a towel or long spoon and flick the valve from seal to vent. You may have steam shoot up at you, so be really careful and don’t put your hand directly over the vent. NEVER try to open your IP with the metal pin is still up – that means it’s still holding pressure.
- Take out your chicken and let it rest until it’s cool enough to carve. The meat should be easy to remove from the bones. Place all your chicken in a bowl and set aside.
- If you need to strain the broth in the IP, do so, and place it back in the pot.
- Now, chop your veggies if you haven’t already, and add the carrots, onions, celery, parsley, rice, about 1/3-1/2 of your chopped chicken, and spices to the pot.
- Add your chicken stock until you reach the “fill line” of your pot. I added 1.5 containers of store broth. You can also add a little water if your 2 containers aren’t enough. Close the lid and set the vent to “seal.”
- Check your rice’s cooking directions. However long the package says to cook your rice, you’ll cut that in half for the IP cooking time. For example, mine was 15 minutes on the package, so I set my IP on manual to 7 minutes.
- This will take a LONG time to come to pressure, because it’s so full of liquid. Be patient!
- Once the IP beeps, carefully quick release. Check the stock and see if you need to add a bit more salt. That’s it!
- Take all the organs out of the chicken and rinse the chicken. I place the organs in a separate pot and put them in the fridge, since I always make bone broth right after making the soup.
- Place the chicken in a large stock pot. Fill the pot with two containers of chicken stock (8c) and the rest filtered water. Make sure the chicken is completely submerged in liquid, or you could have some raw sections and NO ONE has time for that (:
- Boil the chicken for about one hour, until cooked through.
- Remove the chicken, let it rest, then carve it. Save those bones for bone broth! You can freeze them.
- Add all of your vegetables, spices, and rice back to the pot on the stove, adding a bit more broth if needed.
- Cook until the rice is tender, then add back the chicken (and julienne-peeled zucchini, if you want) for the last five minutes of cooking.
- Test the broth and see if you need to add more salt.
Stay tuned for a post on how to make quick-cooking bone broth in your Instant Pot after you make this soup, utilizing all the bones from the chicken carcass.
I lived off of this soup for about three days, and was so happy I didn’t have to prep dinners during that time. My husband LOVED it, too! I think mom would approve of how her recipe turned out.
Let me know in the comments what your FAVORITE soup is, and also your vote for yoga vs. pilates. Also, I want to know if you have an Instant Pot or have heard of it? AND tell me where you get your leggings! So many questions (:
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