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Can I Use the Instant Pot on GAPS?
This is a question that comes up a lot for me, so I thought I would address it in a blog post. Let's begin with Dr. Natasha's official response to a similar question regarding pressure cookers:
Question: “What are your thoughts about using an old-fashioned pressure cooker to expedite preparation of meat stocks?“
Dr. Natasha's answer: “I don’t recommend pressure cooker, as it destroys food to a degree. It is better to cook food slowly on lower heat.”
Notice exactly what Dr. Natasha says: “I don't recommend pressure cooker, as it destroys food to a degree.”
She doesn't actually say, “It is illegal to use a ‘pressure cooker' on GAPS.” I recognize that she is suggesting cooking food slowly on lower heat as the recommended alternative.
Instant Pot = Pressure Cooking (NOPE)
The beauty about the Instant Pot is that you can use it to replace several appliances in your kitchen. If you feel very strongly about interpreting Dr. Natasha's words as saying “It is illegal, do not use a pressure cooker,” you can still use the 7 in 1 Instant Pot in six other ways.
#2 Replace your slow cooker
Yesterday I pressure cooked a batch of Roasted Chicken Meat Stock Broth on high for two hours, strained out the broth, then put the bones and bits back into the Instant Pot to slow cook overnight. I was playing around with the timer and discovered that I can slow cook for up to 20 hours, and then the Instant Pot automatically goes to warm and stays there for 10 hours (that's on automatic warm, it can be set to manually stay on warm for 99 hours).
You may or may not have heard that some ceramic based inserts are being found to contain lead? No worries there with the Instant Pot since the insert is stainless steel.
You can use your Instant Pot to do the slow cooking the Dr. Natasha recommends.
#3 Replace your yogurt maker
You're making your own yogurt using raw milk, right? Because GAPS yogurt needs to be made in a specific way in order to be “legal”.
The 7 in 1 Instant Pot has a yogurt setting and you can set it for the recommended fermenting time for GAPS yogurt of 24 to 29 hours. Actually, I discovered you can set it for up to 99 1/2 hours on the yogurt setting.
If you need more information on making your own, here's a blog post from my friend Patty from Loving Our Guts who can tell you more about it: How to Make GAPS Yogurt.
“So for GAPS yogurt, the recommendation is to ferment it for 24 to 29 hours. This will eliminate enough of the lactose to prevent digestive problems and yet leave a trace behind for keeping the colony of beneficial bacteria alive until it is consumed. In just a cup of properly prepared GAPS Yogurt (236ml) you’ll get 708 Billion beneficial bacteria. (source) That is a lot of beneficial bacteria. Bio-Kult Probiotic, for example, has just 2 billion CFU (cell forming units).
“Since it takes 24-29 hours to make this yogurt it may be tempting to make up a whole bunch at once and then dole it out over time. This isn’t such a great idea, however. The beneficial bacteria in yogurt don’t last very long and after 2 weeks have nearly all died. You can only expect GAPS yogurt to last 3-4 weeks in the fridge at the most but past 2 weeks it isn’t really a probiotic food, just a lactose-free dairy food.
If you're interested in reading someone's experience making yogurt in the Instant Pot, go to this post at Team Yogurt.
#4 Replace your vegetable steamer (and no more worries about burning veggies on the stove top)
In doing a bit of research, I discovered that the steamer feature does use some pressure in the steam mode when the lid is engaged. The way around this is to use the special glass lid with a vent hole that fits the Instant Pot insert.
In my kitchen, I have two different lids, both have vent holes, and they fit my Instant Pot insert so I don't think there's a need to buy a special lid (if you have one that fits already). Of course, you'll leave the big pressure cooker lid sitting on the counter when you use a different steaming lid.
I like using the Instant Pot to steam vegetables while I have a roast in the oven. I can pretty much forget about it, since I can set the timer to steam my vegetables for the amount of time I wish, then the Instant Pot automatically switches to warm mode. If I am making steamed vegetables on the stove top, and happen to forget about them, the water could boil away and start burning (ask me how I know).
#5 Sauté Foods
If you're doing Intro wait until you get to Stage 4 before you sauté. Otherwise, you can sauté (brown) meats in the same pot as you'll be cooking them. For example, if you're making a beef stew you can sauté the pieces of meat in a little fat before adding the rest of the ingredients.
#6 Porridge/Rice Cooker
You won't be making rice or typical grain-based porridge on GAPS, but here are a few recipes to help you use your Instant Pot to make porridge while on GAPS. The first recipe is actually an Instant Pot recipe, and will cook your porridge in just eight minutes so it does use pressure. If you wish to avoid pressure, I would suggest making these recipes using the slow cooker setting. I would try the recipe during the day first, and keep an eye on it to see how long it will take. Check after 4 hours, then 8 hours, etc. When you know how long it takes, you can then set your Instant Pot to cook your porridge overnight using the slow cooker option.
- Apple Delicata Squash Instant Pot Porridge
- Paleo Porridge (the chia and flax seeds should wait until you have had plenty of time for your gut to heal)
- Pumpkin Pie Porridge
- Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Porridge
I've mentioned the warming feature of the Instant Pot. I actually haven't used the manual warmer yet, and that's mostly because it hadn't sunk into my head, that “warmer” is one of the features! I will definitely consider using this option when I need to warm up leftovers.
Does Pressure Cooking Destroy Food?
The next thing I want to talk about: does pressure cooking really destroy food? If you were paying attention, the question asked mentioned “old fashioned pressure cookers“. The Instant Pot is not your mother's pressure cooker.
My mother owned and used a pressure cooker. The old fashioned kind. I can remember it rattling and hissing. Hers was actually made from aluminum! I bought my first pressure cooker in my 30s, but it was stainless steel as I already knew about the dangers of cooking in aluminum.
So, does pressure cooking really destroy food? Well, according to a report in the Journal of Food Science, an investigation was performed to learn how much Vitamin C was retained in broccoli when cooking by various methods.
Guess what? Boiling and steaming caused losses of 34% (boiling) and 22% (steaming). So the retention respectively for each method: 66% and 78%.
Microwaving (I'm not going into microwaving here, but I can say I don't own one of the things and haven't for over a decade) and pressure cooking had more than 90% retention.
“Boiling, steaming, microwaving, pressure cooking, and the combined use of pressure and microwaves were the cooking methods investigated. Boiling and steaming caused significant vitamin C losses, 34% and 22%, respectively, while with the other treatments more than 90% retention was observed.” Source: Wiley Online Library
While the retention amount isn't huge, it does point toward pressure cooking actually being less damaging to food. I think that people equate home pressure cooking with commercial pressure cooking… think canned green beans. Or canned spinach. Ugh.
If you are interested to read a few more opinions, here are a few more articles on the topic:
- Dr. Andrew Weil: Is Pressure Cooking Healthy?
- Wellness Mama: Do Pressure Cookers Destroy Nutrients?
- Food Renegade: Is Pressure Cooking Healthy?
- Hip Pressure Cooking: Pressure Cooker Nutrition Myths
We Do a Lot of Cooking on GAPS, Give Yourself a Little Break
Hopefully I have soothed some of your concerns about using the Instant Pot.
Being on GAPS isn't easy, there's a LOT of cooking, and a LOT of dishes. My husband and I have lived the life of eating out and eating fast food. There are a lot less dishes to clean when you eat out a lot.
GAPS produces a lot of work.
Even if pressure cooking DID damage food “to a degree” wouldn't it be worth it to regain some of time by needing to babysit food cooking on the stove? Time we could be spending with our families. The dishes will always be there, but the Instant Pot can even help in that regard, if you're sauteing. 😀
You Shouldn't Be on GAPS Forever
Finally, one day you won't be doing the GAPS Diet. Dr. Natasha does not recommend staying on it indefinitely. I personally have discovered that I feel better sticking with the full GAPS list of foods, but eventually, it will be okay to lighten up a bit on the restrictions. So maybe you'll feel okay to use the pressure cooking option of your Instant Pot then.
Crushing on the Instant Pot
Hopefully, I have soothed some of your concerns about using the Instant Pot. Even if you don't want to use the pressure cooking part, there are so many other ways to cook with it. You might clear some space in your kitchen cupboards!
My Instant Pot has a home right on my counter top because I use it quite often.One of the best parts is that you can truly set it and forget it. Slow cookers have advertised that for years, but the Instant Pot goes a step further because you can customize the time you wish to cook, and it automatically goes to the warm feature. Can you tell I love that feature?
When I made that broth I mentioned earlier? The one that I pressured cooked for two hours? Well, I didn't get back to taking care of it until six hours later. The Instant Pot just kept it warm. And really, it's not just “warm” but hot enough that there is no chance the food is going to spoil. And after it slow cooked for eight hours… it was another six hours on “warm” before I got it strained and chilled and in the fridge.
The more I use my Instant Pot, the more I love it.
I'd love to hear from you in the comments. Do you have an Instant Pot? Do you want one?