Is January the month that we need to talk about dieting? I don’t diet anymore. Yes, I used to, but with no success like so many. Over the years I found it more beneficial to focus on eating less, a bit more healthy, and to move every single day. I do exercise most days, whether it’s a run, Peloton session, or my elliptical trainer, I exercise, and get sweaty almost every day. I do it for my brain as much as my body because it helps invigorate me, and wakes me up in a way that nothing else does. Cooking gives me a similar feeling, but not in the same way, so first I move, then I cook.
Adding vegetables in recipes where you might not expect them is how I think you stay healthy. Greens are a big part of my daily diet and I try my best to insert them into every meal. If you’re going to pick a vegetable that packs a punch, go with broccoli. It has all the vitamins and minerals you need, and it can be added to so many dishes. Whether you buy a full crown of broccoli, and slice it up into florets and the stalk into coins, or buy those pre-packaged florets that are ready-to-use, broccoli is as versatile as a pound of ground beef.
I decided to go green with my mac and cheese recipe, and I also lightened it up. Using my Instant Pot as my cooking vesicle was very appealing, so that my meal was done in under 10 minutes, and it cooked the ingredients, until the broccoli softened, and collapsed into the noodles beautifully. My cheese of choice was ricotta, which I folded into the pot after cooking elapsed, which gave it a different mouthfeel than classic macaroni and cheese. The results are a warm bowl of pasta with the right amount of cheesy flavor, yet healthier from the addition of broccoli, while still tasting delicious.
1 crown of broccoli, cut-up or 2 1/2 cups florets
1 clove garlic, minced
8 ounces macaroni noodles
2 cups chicken stock
zest of 1 lemon + juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
2/3 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese for dusting
- In an Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker, add broccoli, garlic, noodles, stock, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
- Place lid on top and cook on high pressure for 6 minutes. Let Instant Pot release for 2 minutes, then manually release pressure to lift lid. Stir immediately to loosen noodles from bottom.
- Add ricotta cheese and lemon juice, stir. Add 1/4 cup hot water to create a creamier sauce, if necessary.
- Serve into bowls and dust with Parmesan. Serve with any remaining lemon wedges. Enjoy!