Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pressure Cooker Experiment Results

Sorry for the lack of post on Wednesday. Blogger was acting up and though the post was written I couldn’t upload it. That means there will be two posts today with the second one later today.


This week the gym is still on a somewhat wonky schedule and wasn’t scheduled to open until 11am on Tuesday. Needless to say there was no morning at the gym for us. Since Dan had gotten home late from work last night we also got into bed late which means we slept in a little.

Dan had his usual green smoothie for breakfast with: kale, frozen bananas, walnuts, cinnamon, powdered ginger, stevia to taste and water to process.

Since I was exercising later at home I started my morning with green tea with peach and a little ascorbate C to increase the bioavailability of the EGCG. Then I did some knee friendly cardio and strength training on the TRX.

My late breakfast/early lunch was two small russet potatoes topped with some of the favas and mushrooms from yesterday, some fresh parsley and a splash of red wine vinegar. Changing the spud, acid and adding fresh herbs made it taste like a different dish. I love doing things like that with leftovers.

For a snack I had my recent usual orange and two Brazil nuts.

Once I stopped cooking with oil I had to give up pressure cooking my beans. For those that don’t own a pressure cooker you should know that oil is required to keep the beans from foaming and clogging the pressure release valve. Some types of beans foam more than others and lima beans are one that foam a lot. Tuesday I knew I needed to make more beans and was lamenting not being able to use my pressure cooker when I had an idea. What if I refrigerate the cooked beans to make it easy to remove the cold hard oil which would rise to the top? It sounded like a decent plan to me. Since I had used this technique for years with sauces and soups with meat I thought it would work but didn’t know how well. Today I decided to try that experiment and here is what I did:

Pressure Cooked Lima Beans
Serves 6


1 pound large lima beans
6 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil (to prevent beans from foaming and clogging the pressure release valve)
1 head of garlic, smashed and peeled
1 large red onion, peeled and diced
2 bay leaves


Combine all the ingredients in your 6 quart pressure cooker. After the garlic and onions have sat for 10 minutes lock the lid on the pressure cooker and turn the heat to high. When the cooker has reached pressure lower the heat as far as you can while still maintaining high pressure and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pressure to reduce naturally which took 20 minutes for me. Now cool the beans and refrigerate until cold. This will cause the oil to rise to the surface making it easier to remove. I was able to remove 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of oil so the nutritional stats reflect only the 2 remaining teaspoons of oil.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 287.06
Calories From Fat (6%) - 18.24

Total Fat - 2.1g
Saturated Fat - 0.34g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 22.58mg
Potassium - 1336.02mg
Total Carbohydrates - 52.01g
Fiber - 14.86g
Sugar - 6.5g
Protein - 16.91g


The beans were meltingly tender and had a nice subtle flavor. They texture and flavor reminded me of potatoes. I think they would be good drained and pureed like potatoes, or with potatoes. I will be trying that sometime in the future (assuming I remember that is).

What I wasn’t thrilled with was the amount of oil that was left. I was hoping I could remove more of it than I actually did. I may try to make beans one more time to see if I can remove more fat. I could always place the cooked beans in a colander and give them a quick rinse and drain. I may try that next time. I was actually surprised that I didn’t like the texture of the oil that was left on the beans. I suspect that is to be expected after eating food without oil for so long. Oh well, I had to give it a try right? At least the flavor and texture were both good.

Since I had the pressure cooking out I decided to break out of my usual habits and make a veggie dish. I looked up the cooking time on cabbage and used that to decide how long to cook the dish. This is a combination of my prior recipes for sweet and sour cabbage and caponata. Here is what I did:

Sweet and Sour Cabbage in the style of Caponata
Serves 4


1 large red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 head of garlic, smashed and peeled
½ head green cabbage, thinly sliced (about 8 cups)
32 ounces canned tomatoes (no salt) or 2 – 15 ounce cans
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
2 scoops (individual serving size) stevia, or to taste
1 teaspoon fennel seed
freshly ground black pepper (maybe ¼ teaspoon), to taste
½ cup golden raisins
Hot crushed peppers (wet hots), to taste (I used about 2 tablespoons because I wanted a subtle heat)


Allow onions and garlic to stand for 10 minutes before heating.

In the pot place onions, garlic, cabbage, tomatoes, vinegar, water, stevia, fennel seed, pepper and golden raisins (in that order, don’t stir) and clap on the lid. Bring to high pressure and cook for 3 minutes.

Place the cooker under cold running water to reduce the pressure quickly. Remove the lid away from you to avoid being burned by the hot steam and taste for tenderness. If the cabbage is too firm cook for a few minutes on the stove top not under pressure. Now add the hot crushed peppers to taste.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 103.89
Calories From Fat (5%) - 5.19

Total Fat - 0.62g
Saturated Fat - 0.09g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 25.82mg
Potassium - 680.81mg
Total Carbohydrates - 24.39g
Fiber - 4.73g
Sugar - 11.28g
Protein - 3.44g


This dish actually blew me away. I loved the intensity of flavor and the little bit of heat and sweet. I will definitely be making this again. Tuesday night we had the sweet and sour cabbage over the beans and it was a very good combination. Wednesday morning I used the cold beans and cabbage to top a big green salad and that also worked. This dish would also be good on top of potatoes, polenta or brown rice. Can you tell how much I liked this? ;-)

After dinner Dan had his favorite dessert of strawberry banana soft serve. Now you know why we buy bananas 12 to 15 pounds at a time. We consume a crazy amount of frozen bananas in this house.

Dan ended up working late Tuesday night so it was another late evening at our house. Since my knee was a little wobbly on Monday we decided to sleep in Wednesday morning which meant we weren’t getting up early so staying up late worked out fine, other than getting us off schedule again. Both of us are night owls which makes the morning trips to the gym that much more odd.

I find that when I work out at home alone I tend to be more aware of my knee. Basically I am less gung ho in the cardio department and that is good when you are injured.

Thoughts on Fruit:

A few days ago Laura asked why I was trying to reduce Dan’s banana intake and was I concerned about fruit sugar. Sorry it took me a few days to get back to responding to this. Since I knew my answer wasn’t going to be brief I thought it was best to write about it in a post rather than in the comment.

Fruit is higher in natural sugar than vegetables and for that reason I try to no over consume it. However I also don’t avoid fruit because it does contain many micronutrients. Dark berries are my fruit of choice due to their micronutrient content particularly ellagic acid which may keep cancer from spreading, and causes cancer cells to die (apoptosis). This is the reason I was trying to reduce Dan’s banana consumption and increase the wild berries in his diet. Now you know why you see wild frozen berries turn up every other day for breakfast.

While I think fruit is a good choice I am not crazy about fruit juice. This has to do with the removal of the fiber and the impact of that on the Glycemic Index (GI)/Glycemic Load (GL). When you look at the chart in this link you can see for example that an orange has a GL of a whole orange is 5 but the GL for orange juice is 13. That may not seem like a big difference but if you drink it often it can be. My preference is to eat my fruit whole unless I am using it to sweeten vegetable juice or make a smoothie to make it palatable.  My tendency to avoid fruit juice goes back to my idea to eat food as unprocessed as possible. This idea has limits since I also want my food to be interesting and flavorful. But in general the closer to nature an item is the better it is for you.

Laura also asked about dates which you can see have a GL of 42 which happened to be the highest item on the list. I think dates in moderation are probably okay if you aren’t diabetic or concerned about blood glucose. When we have them I like to combine them with other foods (like nuts butter) which reduce the overall GL of the item being consumed.

I hope that gives you something to think about regarding fruit and gylcemic load.

Happy Thoughts:

Tuesday was another good day and here are my happy thoughts:

• I am thankful that my knee is recovering, though slowly, and that I seem to have learned not to push myself when I am injured. This is big for me since I have always been someone that pushed through the pain causing it to take me much longer to recover than I should.

• The weather has returned to normal. While it is our characteristic brown winter which tends to be a little blah at least our high temperature on Tuesday was a nice tepid 45 degrees. I appreciated being to walk to the store without needing to bundle up like an Eskimo.

• The cabbage dish I made was a real winner. I loved the flavor of that dish. I think I will be making more veggies using these same seasonings going forward.

• I have gotten a chance to cross more items off my to-do list this week which is very good. The holidays had me too far behind schedule but now I am gaining ground on the list if you know what I mean. ;-)

• The week is moving along very quickly for some reason. It doesn’t feel like it is Wednesday Thursday already. However it is nice to know we are more than half way to the weekend. I love my weekends because I get to spend more time with Dan.

• I am happy to have Blogger be cooperating with me this morning.

Signing out:

Time for me to wind down and get ready to turn in for the evening. I hope you are having a good week. Talk to you again tomorrow. Obviously I woke that last night before I found out Blogger wouldn’t let me upload my post. Dan has left for work and it is time for me to moving on my tasks since there are always things to do. I will have another post for you this evening, assuming Blogger doesn’t act up. I hope everyone has a great Thursday! Talk to you again soon.


  1. The cabbage dish looks fantastic. Love the idea of those flavors. I have never used my pressure cooker for anything other than jarring. Nuts huh? Hope you're having a good Thursday!

  2. Hi Ali,
    I get a kick how you sneak raisins in with your dishes. I’ve seen them show up in African and now in your Capanota. I really have to remember to sprinkle them on for a sweet zip. The cabbage is a great dish and I’ve wanted to reincorporate cabbage. Isn’t it funny how you forget about certain foods? I used to love stuffed cabbage so I’m thinking of what to use in place of turkey. Any ideas?

  3. Heather,

    Thanks I really loved the cabbage dish and think it would also be fabulous over rice or potatoes.

    I have a big pressure canner too but that only gets use a few times a year. The pressure cooker I used this time is a 6 quart model. Since you are comfortable with a pressure canner you would love a pressure cooker I think.

    I hope you are having a good Thursday too!

  4. Jill,

    Raisins are used a lot in Sicilian cooking and that influence most likely came from North Africa. I like the little pops of sweetness they add to a dish.

    Cabbage is one of those things I use in spurts but I don't know why that is.

    I would probably use minced mushrooms in place of the turkey. You could combine the mushrooms with bulgur and get something meaty tasting and chewy. Wheat berries could be used in place of bulgur if you have that on hand.


  5. These dishes look so amazing. Im here at work and now im hungry again although ive already eaten! haha. mmm.

  6. I am scared to death of pressure joke I have images of roofs blown off and faces destroyed, lol
    So if you do not add fruit juice to your smoothies do you always use water instead? I do not add any artificial sweetner or stevia to mine as I like to use whole foods and I feel that stevia is slightly strange tasting to me, any advice? Perhaps a whole orange?
    Your food sounds appealing!
    Hugs, B

  7. the cabbage dish sounds great...i think i'll try that today as i try to clear my csa produce before tomorrow's delivery : )

    and i love the word "wonky" : )

  8. Konrad,

    Thanks and sorry to make you hungry after lunch. ;-)


  9. Brandi,

    I used to be afraid of pressure cooker but they are very easy to use and incredibly quick which is a huge bonus when you are busy. I have black beans in the pressure cooker now.

    I do only add water to my smoothies. I never added fruit juice but have used almond or soy milk in the past as well. But now it is just water or brewed green tea.

    I did a lot of research on sweeteners and stevia is the only one we use now and not more than two servings in a day in Dan's food. I don't use it in my food but Dan thinks he needs the sweetener. It does have an overpowering taste if you use too much. Maybe you can start with 1/2 serving and see if that works better for you. My taste buds adapted to the lack of added sweetener in about a month. Other than waiting it out I don't have any advice. Sorry. =(

    The cabbage worked out really well. I think you would like it.


  10. Wow, this cabbage dish looks amazing! I will put cabbage on my grocery list. Glad to hear your knee is feeling better.

  11. Your sweet and sour cabbage looks very yummy. I have half a head of cabbage in the fridge. I think I may have to try this!

  12. Looks very good!
    Hubby, Chandra cooks with a pressure cooker, but I am a little scared of it!
    Great post, per usual!

  13. I pressure cook beans almost every day and never use oil in them. The only beans I've had trouble with have been soybeans, so what I do with them is bring them up to full pressure for several mintues, turn them down, bring them back up .. I do this several times over 30 minutes and it works well. I've also cooked beans in pressure cookers in restaurants with no foaming issues.

  14. Oh my goodness, where have I been? I didn't even know you were supposed to put oil in with beans in the pressure cooker. Good thing the pot hasn't exploded on me yet! Thanks for posting about your new technique!

  15. Aimee,

    Both Dan and I liked the cabbage dish. If you are a fan of caponata and cabbage I think you will like this.


  16. Stephanie,

    I hope you like this cabbage as much as we did. Both of us thought it was winner and something we would be happy to eat often. That is saying something given my "no repeats rule". ;-)


  17. Michelle,

    We enjoyed this a lot I hope you do too. :-)


  18. Teresa,

    I used to be afraid of the pressure cooker too because I remember my mother having "an incident" years ago. But she can hardly boil water so I thought what the heck. Once you start using it you become hooked. I don't think there is much to be afraid of.


  19. Melo,

    *happy dance* You have seriously made my day! Thank you so much for sharing that. Every pressure cooker book I have said you have to use oil because of the foaming so I did. I am going to try no oil in the next batch.

    Thank you for sharing! :-)

  20. Sarah,

    I don't know if you saw the comment above yours but apparently oil isn't necessary contrary to what the books say. I will be trying that in the next few days when I need to make more beans. Of course I will post the results. It is comforting to know you aren't using oil either. I can't wait to try this. My pressure cooker will get much more use if I don't need oil. *woo hoo*


  21. Thanks for talking about fruit and juice. Wow, an orange has a GI of 5 and a date has 42! That's a huge difference. But since we're only eating one or two at a time, and almost always after a meal, they're probably okay. Dr. Greger said that Halawi dates are healthier than Medjool, but I haven't found Halawi here.

  22. The cabbage dish sounds great. I love seeing you come up with new ideas so often. I think I'm getting anxious to getting back to cooking at home.

    Interesting point about the fruit juice, too. I've heard similar thoughts but never looked into the details.

  23. Let me clear up the oil mystery when pressure cooking beans...

    Only manufacturers of first-generation pressure cookers (the ones with the weight-modifyed valve that goes up and down or jiggler that dances) which need to expel vapor while cooking under pressure, recommend using oil in the pressure cooker with beans.

    If you have a more modern, second generation pressure cooker, that only expels vapor when building pressure AND cool down your beans by natural release method (not letting vapor out of the valve) it does not matter whether you add oil or not because the liquid or foam will not enter the valves.

    Pressure cook book authors need to cover any eventuality from First, Second and even electric pressure cookers so they all recommend adding oil -assuming the reader cannot accurately tell what kind of pressure cooker they have to avoid damaging their cookware.

    To be sure check your user manual. The manufacturer WILL tell you if need to add oil.

    Sorry to be overly technical, I hope the above made sense!

    Ciao & Happy New Year!

    hip pressure cooking
    making pressure cookers hip again, one recipe at a time!

  24. I've never tried (or thought to) remove the oil in my pressure cooker beans. Do you do this because you prefer low-fat dishes? I actually like the flavor and consistency of the beans. That cabbage looks DELISH!


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