Self-Care Challenge (Day 11): Using a Pressure Cooker

stovetop pressure canner

On day 11 of my 366-day self-care challenge, I explored using a pressure cooker to make meal prep faster and easier.

Before my beloved pressure cooker entered my life, I thought waiting 6 to 8 hours for slightly-tender BBQ ribs was unavoidable. But then I discovered I could get a much better result in just 30 minutes using a pressure cooker. (Sorry, crock pot. I think it’s time I moved on.)

If you’ve shied away from using a pressure cooker because you’ve heard legendary horror stories of kitchen explosions, you may want to reconsider. Modern safety features have all but eliminated the risks – with the exception of human ones, of course. (Read and follow the directions thoroughly, dear friends!)

Not only are pressure cookers faster than other cooking methods, but they also save energy. Under pressure, the boiling point of water is increased, allowing the food to reach higher temperatures before the liquid vaporizes into steam.

Some have claimed these high temperatures destroy more nutrients, but the evidence just isn’t there. In fact, pressure cooking fares better than some of the more popular cooking methods. Because it uses very little water, fewer nutrients are lost. Compare that with boiling, for example, where a large amount of nutrients are leached into the cooking water (the more water, the greater this effect).

The only drawback? It’s not exactly subtle. The forceful whistle of the jiggling regulator atop the steam vent can really put on a show, but I kind of like it. If the noise bothers you, and the Instant Pot*  is another great option.

Planning ahead and using the right cooking equipment can make home-cooked meals much less labor-intensive (and that also means less dependence on take-out and convenience foods). From that perspective alone pressure cookers can have quite a positive impact on our health.

Need healthy food faster? Use a pressure cooker.

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