What Is a Pressure Cooker?

7 Dec

What is a pressure cooker?  How does a pressure cooker work?  Hungry for a home-cooked meal but lacking in the time?  An electric multicooker, which can act as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker and steamer can help.  Although the Instant Pot is one of the most popular multicookers on the market, there are other good brands out there as well.  How do you get the most out of your pressure cooker?  Keep reading!

Image result for pressure cooker

What is this multicooker that you speak of?  It’s a pressure cooker, utilizing pressure and heat to prepare food evenly and quickly, usually in a fraction of the time of traditional methods.  It can also function as a slow cooker, allowing you to take your time if you aren’t in such a rush.  It can sauté and steam with a built-in heat source at the bottom of the machine.  This means you can use the pot to sear meats, sauté vegetables, steam rice or even simmer liquids for steaming without using a stove top.

Old style stovetop pressure cookers have a gauge on the lid that pops up as the pressure increases, meaning that the inside of the pot has reached optimal pressure. The heat needs to be adjusted to keep the pot’s temperature and pressure constant to avoid over-pressurizing which can burn the food inside, or in extreme cases, explode.

An electric pressure cooker traps steam rising from the boiling liquid within the pot, which raises the temperature at which that boils.  It can work at different pressure levels with a steam valve that allows excess steam to escape, keeping the pressure cooker from exploding.  It will also turn itself off if the pressure or temperature ever rises too high so it’s another wonderful tool to have in your kitchen that you can set and walk away with little worry.

To use your electric pressure cooker, review your recipe to determine the pressure level – high pressure is used for many recipes, but low pressure is used for more delicate items like seafood, rice or eggs.  Some pressure cookers even have a setting for different proteins.  Set your steam valve and once you set your device, it will begin building pressure (pressure cannot build if the device is venting).  Pressure build up can take up to 20 minutes.

Once the cooking time is up, the multicooker will automatically change to “keep warm” function and begin slowly losing pressure.  It can take up to 30 minutes to release naturally.  The longer the pressure cooker has been on and the more food it has in it, the longer the natural release will take.  If the recipe calls for an immediate manual release, carefully move the steam valve to the venting position and the pressure will release in a minute or so, with a burst of steam.  Keep your hand away from the top of the valve – you may consider using tongs or a wooden spoon to move the valve or covering the valve with a dish towel to keep the steam from spraying all over your kitchen.

If you are tight on space, you can replace your slow cooker and rice cooker with a multicooker since it can handle slow cooking, pressure cooking or steaming methods at the touch of a button.

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7 Tips to Avoid Weight Gain this Holiday Season

1 Dec

The holidays don’t mean you have to gain weight!  Try these 7 tips to help you avoid weight gain while enjoying your favorite holiday festivities.

1. Don’t give up on keeping a journal!  Whether you are trying to lose weight or maintain your weight this holiday season, keeping a detailed journal of your food intake is crucial.  By being aware of what you are eating, you’re more likely to stay on track with your goals, and your journal is one of MWLC’s best tools to help you meal plan and achieve success.

2. Listen to your breathing!  When you sigh or begin to breathe more deeply, your body is telling you it has had enough to eat.  Listen to the cues your body gives you and let it be a guide to help you determine when you’ve had enough to eat.

3. Limit alcohol!  Even the smallest amount of alcohol (for example, wine, beer, and liquor) can directly affect our fat metabolism.  Some studies have even shown that our body can burn around 73% less fat after consuming just one ounce of alcohol!

4. Pay attention to portion control!  Put a small portion on your plate, eat it slowly and savor it.  While you fill your plate, focus on seeing the plate and not over-piling the food.

5.  If you feel like you must eat foods off of your meal plan, rate all holiday foods from 1 to 10, ten being your favorite.  Eat only your 9s or 10s, leaving out foods you do not rate highly.

6. Don’t deprive yourself!   Do not stay home – go, have fun and socialize.  Planning ahead will help make you successful and you will still be able to enjoy yourself.

7. Have a plan!  Arrive at holiday parties and gatherings knowing what you will eat and prepare accordingly.  Bring a dish to pass that you can enjoy and still stick to your meal plan.

Happy Holidays!

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Holiday Survival Tips

28 Nov

The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be a challenge when it comes to sticking to a diet.  With this time period being filled with parties, alcohol, and food, here’s some tips to help you survive the holidays!

1. Think and plan ahead. Use a large calendar to record events that will be challenging for you. Schedule rewards for yourself that will enhance your enjoyment for the holidays. (Examples: Manicures, Pedicures, Clothing, Jewelry, Massages, etc.)… No Food!

2. When you do have a party to attend, go there KNOWING what you plan to do about eating (don’t stay home instead of going!)

3. If you are going to a dinner party, ask what is being served (if possible) and plan accordingly.

4. If you will be at a party where hors d’oeuvres will be served, eat before you arrive.

5. Carry an MWLC snack or bar with you at all times (as a back-up).

6. When attending a party, wear clothing that is well fitting (as opposed to loose fitting – comfortable – stretchy).

7. Focus on the friends and/or family that you will be seeing (not the food).  Spend time talking with each and every guest that you know at a party (this will leave little or no time to visit the snacks).

8. If dinner is served “buffet” style, use only one plate and fill it primarily with raw veggies, salad and fruit (foods on plan). Select a small plate if possible. See your plate – don’t pile up or overlap food.

9. Do not eat anything that is served in gravy or sauce.

10. Avoid all food that has been “fried”.

11. Drink at least 64 ounces of water every day throughout the holidays.

Remember that you are making a choice…that you have made a commitment…that you have a plan, and that YOU WANT to be successful!

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WSYM: MWLC Patient – Dwayne

27 Nov

Medical Weight Loss Clinic Lansing patient Dwayne G. joined Bob and Tracy on WSYM’s The Morning Blend to discuss his personal weight loss journey.  He lost 45 lbs in 16 weeks with Medical Weight Loss Clinic!  Congratulations Dwayne on your inspiring accomplishment!

“Discipline = Freedom.  If you can discipline yourself to do what you need to do to lose the weight, you can have the freedom to do what you want later on.”

– Dwayne G.

Book a free consultation today by calling 1-800-GET-SLIM or https://patients.mwlc.com/Book_Your_Consultation.php

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Kitchen Gadgets for Weight Loss

27 Nov

Are you limited on space in your kitchen? Aside from a sharp knife, cutting board and good pan, there are a few other tools that can help you in your quest for food prep and healthy eating.

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Measuring Spoon and Cups
Make no mistake, these aren’t just for measuring ingredients for your recipes. A nice set of measuring spoons and cups will help you practice portion control.

Kitchen Scale For Weight Loss
A kitchen scale is perfect for items that can’t fit into a measuring spoon or cup. A kitchen scale won’t break the bank (less than $40), but it will help you learn how to portion proteins or measure items based on weight instead of volume. Do you really know what 13 ounces of quinoa looks like? The scale doesn’t lie.

Slow Cooker
You may think of it as a tool for busy people instead of a weight loss gadget, but really it’s the best way to ensure your meal is ready when you are. No more grabbing convenience foods the minute you rush through the door. Not to mention, who doesn’t like a nice, hot, home-cooked meal? Soups are delicious and lean proteins are incredibly tender.

Mini Food Processor
Chip, whip and blend – on a smaller scale. It’s still easy and fast, but it takes up far less storage space with the same results.

Collapsible Steamer
Want to know the easiest, fastest and healthiest way to cook vegetables? Steam it! Steaming keeps the nutrients in the food, rather than losing them in the water. For under $10, you can find a collapsible steamer that can fold up to the size of a salad plate.

 

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How to Cook Brussels Sprouts

20 Nov

How to Cook Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts didn’t always have the best reputation, but the ways they are being cooked now would make any vegetable jealous. They are versatile and just as delicious as any other greens out there. Here are three simple methods for cooking brussels sprouts.

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Buying & Cleaning Brussels Sprouts
Brussels Sprouts can stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week and a half so they are great to have on hand. Look for the cabbagelike buds on a large inedible stalk. They should be tightly closed with green leaves and shouldn’t smell cabbage-y or show any signs of yellowing.
To clean them, trim the ends and rinse them off in a large bowl of cold water. Pat them dry before storing in your refrigerator crisper or vegetable drawer up to a week and a half.

Raw Brussels Sprouts
Raw brussels sprouts leaves can give kale a run for its money. While the raw leaves tend to be a little peppery, they can be thinly sliced for a shredded slaw. Trim the stems off and halve them lengthwise. To thinly slice the entire sprout, lay the cut side down on the cutting board to prevent them from rolling around.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Roasting brussels sprouts may be the best and most delicious way to prepare them. They caramelize when exposed to high heat, soften enough but also become crispy. Half or quarter your cleaned brussels sprouts and distribute them on a rimmed baking sheet. Spray them with unflavored non-stick cooking spray and roast them at 450, tossing every 10 minutes or so until the outer leaves begin to char and the innermost part of the sprout is tender. Toss them with lemon or orange zest and finish them off with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds.

Steamed Brussels Sprouts
Brussels Sprouts may have gained their bad reputation from cooks over steaming them to a mushy army-green death instead of preserving their bright color and tender texture. Fill a pot with 2 inches of water and place a metal steamer basket on top. Bring the water to a simmer, add the brussels sprouts to the basket and cover, steaming for 8-10 minutes or until they are bright green and just cooked through. Add lemon juice and fresh mint or other chopped herbs, chile flakes or ground spices of your choice.

Would you like to see more healthy Brussels Sprouts recipes? If you are looking for some fresh recipe ideas, visit http://patients.mwlc.com/Recipes2016.php

 

 

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5 Ways to Set Yourself Up For a Happy and Healthy Life

17 Nov

The holidays can be an extremely stressful time for people because there is an expectation that you have to be happy and enjoy every minute of it. For many, that is not realistic. A healthy lifestyle with balanced nutrition and exercise can create a solid foundation that can help you bounce back faster when stress occurs – not just through the holidays but on an ongoing basis. Here are 5 holiday health tips.

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1. Sleep
Seven to nine hours of sleep is recommended so set an alarm in the evening to allow yourself time to clear your mind and get ready for a night of quality sleep. It is easier to handle stress and manage emotions when you are well rested.

2. Silence
Many times, stress is not in the present. It can linger in the past or in our thoughts of the future. Practice slowing down your train of thought, take deep breaths and enjoy being the moment.

3. Sweat
Proven to be effective against anxiety and depression, exercising or any kind of movement is a great way to get those endorphins going for positive emotional and physical health.

4. Success
It’s rewarding to set a personal goal and achieve it. Make it a realistic goal such as an eating habit, watching less TV or walking more – then work towards it!

5. Social
Connectedness is an innate need that we all have. Make time for it and surround yourself with people that value and support you.

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3 Things to Eat in November

10 Nov

The month of November offers plenty of fresh harvested produce to aid in weight loss or any health focused goals. Take advantage of these 3 seasonal items while they are in abundance in your local market.

Cabbage
While there are hundreds of varieties of cabbage, red, green and savoy cabbages are the most common cabbages you will find. All cabbage contains high amounts of vitamin C, folate and potassium. Filled with plenty of fiber, it’s a good choice to help keep the digestive system moving. Due to their darker hue, red or purple cabbage also have high levels of anthocyanins, a group of plant compounds called flavonoids which may have powerful antioxidant properties. Slice raw cabbage thinly and use it as a crunchy base in salads or add it to soups and stews. Try our Cabbage Wrapped Beef Shumai!

Pomegranate
These juicy red seeds have gained popularity over the past few years due to the many incredible health benefits including helping prevent cancer and Alzheimer’s. They are loaded with vitamin C and their juice contains higher levels of antioxidants than most other fruit juices. Sprinkle the seeds over a salad or use it as an edible and colorful garnish to any dish. Try our Apple, Grapefruit and Pomegranate Salad!

Sweet Potatoes
These tubers are actually part of the Morning Glory family and are different from yams, despite often being incorrectly labeled in some grocery stores. While the Garnet variety of sweet potatoes is most popular because of its deliciously sweet flavor and bright color, sweet potatoes are also available in white and purple. Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin C, fiber and potassium along with high levels of vitamin A – in some cases providing as much as 980% of your daily needs. Mash them and add a sprinkle of pumpkin spice or roast them with brussels sprouts for a tasty fall side dish.  Try our Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie!

There’s no shortage of ways to enjoy these 3 super foods!  If you are looking for some fresh recipe ideas, visit http://patients.mwlc.com/Recipes2016.php

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How to Use an Immersion Stick Blender

9 Nov

How to use an Immersion Stick Blender

You may have seen Chef Bobby use an Immersion Stick Blender to make the Green Onion and Cauliflower Soup from Meatless Monday segment on Fox2.  Are Immersion Stick Blenders easy to use?  Are they worth it?  Yes!

  1. Immersion blenders are compact. They are perfect for small kitchens because they take up very little space.
  2. Immersion blenders are relatively inexpensive. You can easily find an immersion blender for under $40.
  3. Immersion blenders are versatile. You can do so many things with a hand blender – it’s not just for soup, but any time you have a lot of blend-able items to work with such as salsas, shakes, sauces or even baby food.  Make sure the head of the blender is fully submerged in whatever you are blending.
  4. They’re fast. Sometimes, it takes only 30 seconds to create a recipe.  Gently move the blender up and down or in a slow stirring motion. If you are making a hot blended dish or soup, let it cool for 10-20 minutes before blending, as things can splatter occasionally.
  5. Less to clean up. Clean the blender piece in a bowl of warm, soapy water and rinse. The blade of the immersion blender will be harder to clean if you let it sit for too long.

Enjoy this Cherry Popsicle recipe!

Cherry Popsicle

Servings:
2 Fruits
1 Dairy

Ingredients:
9 medium Cherries
2/3 cup mixed Blackberries and Blueberries
1 serving Plain, Non-Fat Yogurt
Juice from 1/2 fresh Lemon
Lemon Zest, to taste
Fresh Mint, to taste

Preparation:
Using an Immersion Stick Blender, blend cherries, blackberries, blueberries, lemon juice, lemon zest, fresh mint, and yogurt in a cup or bowl. Pour mixture into popsicle molds and freeze until firm. Enjoy!

 

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Dietary Tips & Health Benefits of Ginger

2 Nov

Dietary Tips & Health Benefits of Ginger

Ginger is a popular ingredient in cooking, especially in Asian and Indian cuisines.  Fresh or dried, ginger can be used to easily flavor foods and beverages without adding salt or sugar.  Ginger has also been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. Image result for ginger root

Ginger root has been used to relieve nausea, loss of appetite, motion sickness and pain.  The root or rhizome (underground stem) of the plant can be consumed fresh, powdered, dried as a spice, in essential oil form, or even as a juice.  Cardamom and turmeric come from the same family and these spices can be commonly found in India, Jamaica, Indonesia and Australia.  Ginger can also be used to make tea, added to curries and savory dishes or dried/crystallized in sweets and other confections. It contains hundreds of compounds and metabolites, some of which may contribute to health and healing.  6 health benefits of ginger:

  1. Digestion
  2. Nausea
  3. Cold and Flu Relief
  4. Pain Reduction
  5. Inflammation
  6. Cardiovascular Health

 

Recipe Tips for Ginger

When buying fresh ginger, look for a root with smooth, taut skin.  It should be wrinkle free and have a spicy aroma.  Store your fresh ginger in a tightly wrapped bag in the refrigerator or freezer.  Peel and grate what you need prior to use.  In most recipes, one-eighth of a teaspoon of ground ginger can be substituted for one tablespoon of fresh grated ginger.  Try it in homemade salad dressing, steep fresh peeled ginger in boiling water for a soothing ginger tea or pair it with seafood, oranges, melon, pork or chicken.

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