As much as I love eating, I'm not always the most motivated person when it comes to cooking. Playing into the college cliché, you'll often find me heating up bean burritos in the microwave or boiling up some pasta for some nonsense spaghetti. 

But one day I heard one of my favorite vegan YouTuber High Carb Hannah start talking about the Instant Pot and was convinced to give it a go. 

#SpoonTip: Wait for sales like Black Friday or Cyber Monday to get up to 50% off appliances.  

She and her boyfriend developed the Epic Vegan Instant Pot Cooking eBook with the idea that you can create delicious, healthy, vegan meals with minimal effort.

After 80 pages of vibrant pictures, detailed recipes, and helpful information comes the 7 Day Challenge. I decided to take it on to truly see what the vegan Instant Pot life is all about (but for five days instead of seven). 

The Instant Pot may not be for everyone, but for me it might just be the boost I need to get on the path towards healthier eating.


rice, risotto
Samantha Ward

As the name "High Carb Hannah" suggests, this meal plan consists of high-carb, low-fat vegan recipes, so naturally I start the first day with OMG Berry Oatmeal. I'll admit, I haven't had oatmeal in ages (or a proper breakfast for that matter) but it was sweet and satisfying with the frozen berry mix.

Lunch was another simple dish that I prepared the day before: oil-free, refried beans and rice. I was completely shocked by how quick and effortless it was to cook the dry beans. My previous experience was soaking them overnight, cooking them over the stove top for several hours, and still not having them be as soft as canned beans, but there's no soaking required and only 45 minutes using the Instant Pot!

While I had already been using the Instant Pot for cooking rice, this first day I figured out how to do it in 4 minutes instead of 22, and am quite pleased to say the least. 

You know how I said I have a thing for microwavable bean burritos? Well, I caved Monday night, so I needed a moment to recollect myself before continuing on in the challenge.


pork, chicken, rice
Samantha Ward

I slept through breakfast, so my second day started with a lunch of mashed potatoes. Usually I add a lot of milk, margarine, or Vegenaise to make creamy mashed potatoes, but these were just as good without any of that!

Tuesday night, I made Protein Lentil Stew for the first time, and it was then I began to slowly realize that there are all of these basic, healthier dishes that I simply never took the time to try and make.

I usually consider myself a "junk food vegan," because it seems that other vegans I know eat veggies like this all the time. I was certainly eating cleaner throughout this challenge, and my goal was to get some help resetting my taste buds to tolerate healthier food. 

Since the base of this stew is red lentils, just one serving has over 30 grams of protein, and it goes to show that this getting enough protein isn’t as much of an issue for vegans as others tend to believe. 


vegetable, cereal, meat, rice
Samantha Ward

Another breakfast was slept through, and another lunch proved to me that leftovers are a good thing after all. Wednesday's lunch finished off the refried beans, but at this point, I had way more leftover lentil stew than I knew what to do with.

I’d suggest making less than the recommended or freezing the rest for eating after the challenge. Needless to say, Wednesday's dinner was more leftover lentil stew.


rice, egg
Samantha Ward

The Instant Pot is great for making rice, but Thursday I decided to mix it up. I was hesitant about trying Hannah's Mango Sticky Rice because every mango I've tried tasted like pine trees, but the frozen ones were surprisingly pleasant. This was my favorite dish of the week because it satisfied my sweet tooth. 

The lentil stew was still going strong at this point, so I reheated some more for lunch. As much as I loved the richness in fiber and protein, too many of the same leftovers can make meals a bit repetitive. 

chicken, rice, meat, pepper, couscous, vegetable
Samantha Ward

Dinner threw me for a loop. I was expecting to love Asian Style Quinoa because I'm a fan of this ancient grain, and the Asian flavors (garlic, ginger, soy sauce, etc.) smelled fantastic going into the pot. Also, I really wanted it to work for me since it only needed a minute to cook.


Samantha Ward

Friday's breakfast was oatmeal yet again, and I decided to switch things up by throwing in ripe banana slices. 

Lunch was supposed to be leftovers from last night, but I knew that wouldn't go over well. I wasn’t kidding when I said I loved that sticky mango rice breakfast, so I used the rest of my frozen mango to make another bowl for lunch. 

pastry, sweet, butter, dough, dairy product, flour, bread
Samantha Ward

Dinner called for Black Bean Bowl of Glory which sounded, well, glorious. However, I ran into the issue of needing a blender and not having one. So instead, I kept things simple by cooking up the black beans, some white rice, and then adding the recommended spices which included cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, lime, and cilantro. I paired it with some tortillas to make burritos, and ended this challenge on a high note. 

Final Notes

tea, cake, beer, coffee
Samantha Ward

1. While the Instant Pot did making cooking much easier, it did not match the convenience of popping something in the microwave for a minute. However, it is one of the easiest form of healthy cooking I have encountered. 

2. If used for nothing else, it is definitely worth purchasing for the ease of cooking rice and beans alone.

3. It did get a bit annoying cleaning out the same pot three times a day, but in retrospect, I think I did an equal amount if not slightly more washing than I usually do with multiple pots and pans I sometimes use to make meals. 

4. It can be difficult to stick with healthier eating habits if you are new to it, but making things easier for yourself whenever possible, like using helpful kitchen tools, can give you a needed boost. 

I wasn't sure what to expect going into this challenge. Although I've been vegan for over three years now, I was shocked by how many simple, plant based, whole foods meals I had never tried before. The challenge opened me up to a world beyond microwavable burritos.