Recipe ideas that are hardy but healthful, easy to prepare, and not budget-breaking- all in one pot!
Cold months tend to make people crave heavy comfort foods. That's great for your taste buds—but not so much for your health! Warming, hardy foods can be healthful, and the easiest way to make them is in one pot.
Whether you choose a pressure cooker, crock pot or Dutch oven, you can create simple meals for your family that are mostly hands-off, meaning that you are free to go about your day or evening as they cook.
With that in mind, here are some one-pot meal basics, along with a few new recipes to test out.
Crock Pots (aka slow cookers)
These allow you to put food on in the morning that will be ready for the evening. The slow cooking method makes for very tender end results.
These give you slow-cooked texture and taste in only about an hour of time. They're an excellent option for making a quick meal that tastes like it took all day to cook.
Dutch ovens can be used stove top or in the oven. They're made of heavy cast iron and have tight fitting lids, and unlike pressure cookers or crock pots, because they don't have their own control system you can change the heat as you go. Some Dutch ovens come enameled to protect against rust and other wear, but non-enameled iron pots have an extra health boost—since there's no enamel to hold the iron in, cooking food in bare cast iron pots will allow iron to seep into the food, boosting your meal's iron potency by more than 15%!
There are several important factors for one pot meals; following them will help you use the below recipes as a springboard for inspiration as you swap out your own favorite ingredients.
Meat: Choosing cuts of meat on the bone will yield a richer broth and more flavorful meat than ones off the bone.
Beans: Beans should always be dried, otherwise they'll turn your meal into a mushy mess. It's best to soak them beforehand, but if you don't have time for that, don't worry! Just add 15 minutes to recipe cook times.
Veggies: Root vegetables hold up better during this type of cooking. Examples of root vegetables include carrots, beets, potatoes and hard squashes. If you want to add greens, choose ones that can withstand long cooking, such as kale or collards.
Now that we've covered the basics of cooking methods and base ingredients, let's get one-pot cooking! Serve any of the below with a simple salad to round out your meal.
Bean and Beer Chili
You won't miss the meat in this dish, as the beer (which loses its alcohol content once cooked) provides a strong and earthy flavor and the mushrooms have a meaty texture. Portobello mushrooms also add choline (which supports energy and brain function) and multiple forms of vitamin B.
- 1 cup black eyed peas, soaked if possible
- 1/2 cup kidney beans, soaked if possible
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 2 cups portobello mushrooms, chopped
- 1 cup dark beer such as porter or stout
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
1. Add all ingredients to a pot
2. Pour in beet, then add enough water to cover ingredients by about 1 and 1/2 inches; stir briefly
3. Cover and cook until tender: 1 hour in a pressure cooker; 8 hours in a crock pot on high; or 3 hours in a Dutch oven
Lemon Chicken With Baby Potatoes
Bright citrus flavor gets toned down through long cooking, resulting in a tangy flavor that isn't sour or acidic. Small potatoes are easy to work with and require no chopping, making this a meal with very little prep time. Chicken bones have been proven to help with immunity, making this dish as beneficial as your mom's chicken soup!
- 8 bone-in chicken thighs
- 2 lbs baby potatoes, washed
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
1. Brown chicken on both sides, skin side down first
2. Drain fat from pot
3. Add remaining ingredients to pot, then add one inch of water to pot
4. Cook until potatoes are tender and chicken falls off the bone: 45 minutes in a pressure cooker; 4 hours on high in a crock pot; or 1 and 1/2 hours in a Dutch oven
Ham and Greens
This Southern favorite is easy to make healthier by a simple change of the ham to greens ratio. A big plate of this is full of delicious smoky flavor, as well as magnesium and vitamins A and C.
- 1 tbsp neutral oil such as grapeseed or avocado
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cups tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cup cooked ham, chopped
- 1 ham hock
- 4 bunches collard greens
1. Heat oil until glistening
2. Add onion and cook for five minutes
3. Add garlic, tomatoes, and chopped ham, and cook five minutes
4. Add ham hock, collards and three cups of water
5. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer until tender: 30 minutes in a pressure cooker; 2 hours in a Dutch oven; or 4 hours on low in a crock pot
6. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving, if desired