New Year, New You with Healthy Instant Pot Recipes: An Interview with Astoria local and #1 bestselling author Jeffrey Eisner
We spoke with the #1 bestselling author of the Step-by-Step Instant Pot series of cookbooks, Jeffrey Eisner, on some healthy and delicious Instant Pot recipes to help you start 2024 off right. An Astoria local, he recently celebrated his 20th anniversary of moving to Astoria and says, “it is without question the best neighborhood in NYC.” He loves the wonderful food Astoria has to offer and the unique neighborhood feel: “it’s just dripping of authenticity and charm with none of the pretension. I can walk to multiple supermarkets, restaurants, green spaces, museums and locally owned shops in minutes while still being a 15-20 minute subway ride from catching a Broadway show or exploring anywhere else in the city.”
Jeffrey’s Step-by-Step Instant Pot Cookbooks include: Super Shortcut, The Simple Comforts, Lighter, and the original Step-by-Step Instant Pot Cookbook. Jeffrey’s cookbook Lighter, is full of healthy recipes, and when it comes to his favorite healthy recipe he says, “it’s all in the name with Jeffrey’s Favorite Chicken. Loaded with artichokes, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes in a creamy, dreamy, yet light sauce, it’s basically a Cheesecake Factory-style dish but without the guilt.” He also recommends his rendition of a Chinese chicken congee (porridge), Crispy Carnitas, Cacio e Pepe, Spaghetti Squash, Beef Bourguignon and Saffron Seafood Risotto. Jeffrey emphasizes, “There’s something for everyone in this book spanning inspiration from various cuisines of the world.”
January is also prime soup season. Soup is a great option for those of us trying to be healthy since as Eisner says, “literally every and any soup recipe can be healthy. If one calls for cream, you can just as easily sub half-and-half, milk or light cream instead. Or try a nondairy milk such as unsweetened almond, soy or coconut. If a soup calls for meat and/or cheese and you’re vegan? Use a plant-based one instead or just leave it out. I particularly love the soups in this book because they give all the flavor while remaining light.” A few of his favorite soup recipes in Lighter include the Cream of Cauliflower, which he says, “can even turn the staunchest of cauliflower haters to realize it’s a whole new game in soup form (I know this because I’m one of them).” Be sure to also check out the White Chicken Chili and the Mexican Pozole.
Eating healthy often means cutting out desserts, but if you have a major sweet tooth and need a healthy alternative to sugary treats, Jeffrey has you covered! His go-to is the gluten-free Banana Bread recipe. Not only is it gluten-free, it’s also sugar-free. Jeffrey says, “it’s so good, even my picky niece and nephews eat it!”
For those who don’t consider themselves home cooks and are looking for tips on how to get started Jeffrey’s tip is to “always prep before you step. Do what the French call mise en place, meaning line all the ingredients up in the order it’s called for. It will save SO much hassle and stress to just have it all ready to go so there’s no scrambling. It’ll also make you feel more accomplished. As for prepping meals ahead of time, I’d just say to get some reusable to-go containers and divide into portions. Many of my recipes can be frozen so that’s always a plus.”
When it comes to where to get the best ingredients in Astoria Jeffrey cannot recommend Food Bazaar on Northern Boulevard enough. “Not only do they have the best prices in this rapid-rising inflation game, but their selection is second-to-none. It combines the best supermarket (with the best produce section and meat section ever) with huge amounts of international aisles as well! If you ever need an ingredient for some seriously delicious Asian, Italian, Indian and Spanish cuisine all in one place, this is the market to go to,” according to Jeffrey.
While cooking at home is a big part of eating healthy it is always nice to eat out or order in every once and a while. Luckily, as Jeffrey notes, “Astoria (and Queens in general), offers the best cuisine of all the boroughs of NYC. It’s such a melting pot of cultures.” His favorites include Seva, Bund on Broadway, and Aliada. He notes that “all places offer up healthy options as well as some that are bit more indulgent.” But on a cheat day Jeffrey’s guilty pleasure is “The Bomb from Sal, Kris & Charlie’s Deli. Loaded with every quality deli meat, cheese, and condiment in the joint, there simply isn’t a sandwich more satisfying or Instagrammable on earth. One can feed 4 (ask them to cut it in 4 pieces).” And for cheat day classics he suggests Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company, which according to Jeffrey is the best bagel ever, Retro Pizza “because it’s fantastic and the most fairly priced (not to mention you’ll get that classic New York-style experience),” and Andrew Bellucci’s “for more artisan/high quality-style pizza.”
Be sure to check out Lighter, and all of Jeffrey’s Step-by-Step Instant Pot Cookbooks. For more information check out pressureluckcooking.com.