Pressure cooker: Kuhn Rikon

One of the best things that has helped me to keep focused on maintaining a healthier lifestyle is planning. On Sundays, like today, I like prepare a few things ahead of time for the week to come. For example,  I used my amazing pressure cooker this morning to make black beans.

Last year, I had my blood pressure taken and noticed it was a little higher than it had been in the past. I found out that as some of my sisters have gotten older, their doctors have put them on blood pressure medication. Realizing that it might be a family trait, I wanted to see what I could do through my diet to try to prevent me from having to take medication.

I decided to start making my own beans and broth to cut out any unnecessary sodium. Having a pressure cooker is such a time saver. What used to take hours or overnight, because of the need to soak the beans, I can get done with the pressure cooker in less than an hour from start to finish. The beans taste great — even better than canned. I add a number of aromatics, such as garlic, onions, celery, bay leaves and leeks to enhance the flavors.

I no longer buy canned chicken broth. Instead, I save any chicken parts I have through the week — or if we have a turkey, save the carcass and any innards — and make stock.  This of course is superior to any canned broth that you can buy, and I am able to control how much sodium is added. I have a freezer full of stock and when I need it, we just put it into the microwave to thaw.

One of the other things I started doing is baking a batch of sweet potatoes, so during the week we can just reheat them in the microwave in minutes. Sweet potatoes have been included on the list of the 10 super foods. They are high in cancer-fighting antioxidants, loaded with energy boosting carbs, plus vitamins, manganese, and potassium. We both love them, and sometimes I find myself eating them cold right out of the fridge as a quick snack.

I feel that preparing several things ahead on one day helps me make better choices throughout the rest of the week, and keeps me on track.

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