These days many families are busy and constantly on-the-go which makes it difficult to eat healthy. I work long hours, travel frequently and attend events all over the city so having appliances that can make quick, delicious meals is imperative for getting my daily dose of vitamins, protein, dairy, grain, fruits and veggies.
The last thing many of us want to do after a long, hectic day is spend hours in the kitchen and less time with our loved ones which is why Montel’s 6 quart pressure cooker is handy to have. Admittedly this was my first time using a pressure cooker but being able to create mouth-watering dishes in minutes is very convenient.
The appliance is a bit bulky (which is common) but it is large enough to cook a complete meal for the family which makes it functional. The cooker has 12 preset cooking cycles including: soup/stew, canning, slow cooker, beans/lentils, fish/steam vegetables, chicken/meat and keep warm. You simply turn it on, select your cooking mode and adjust the timer if need be. For a newbie like me, having preset options is helpful but you can’t start the cooker without first choosing one of the cycles even for dishes that don’t quite fall into any of the categories. With a little experimenting it becomes easy to determine how long to cook each meal.
The device is user friendly in terms of it's settings but I did initially have issues with the locking mechanism on the cover since it doesn’t click into place as tightly as expected and getting it on properly takes a bit of patience. While cooking there was steam escaping from the lid no matter which way I attached it (which may be how it was designed to work) but the easy pressure release button is a great feature. There are also a variety of safety features that prevent mishaps or misuse which is much better than older models. The cooking pot is deep and non-stick which makes it easy to clean and the modern LED screen displays the timer which beeps when the dish is ready and automatically stops cooking. The device also comes with a spatula, measuring cup, steam tray and recipe book with Montel’s family recipes.
At first I found the water ratio a bit difficult to understand. You have to add water to all dishes because as pressure builds, steam (aka water) is released to keep food succulent. If it dries out, seasoning and other substances can burn at the bottom of the pan so the dish I made actually required more fluid than the recommended amount for poultry. Once you understand how much water is required in relation to pre-heat and cooking time, the process is relatively simple.
Unfortunately some of the time you save cooking is cancelled out by the 15-17 minutes it takes for the device to generate enough pressure, heat and steam to start the timer. I made a pack of boneless, skinless chicken breast which only took 15 minutes of actual cooking time + 17 minutes of pre-heating for a total of 32 minutes. The best thing about the device is how well flavor is accentuated and infused into food and you don’t need cooking oil which is much healthier! All ingredients and nutrients are locked in, absorbed and enhanced so everything is delectable and moist. The chicken tasted like I had marinated it for hours which my family loved!
My first pressure cooker dish was sweet and spicy chilli garlic teriyaki chicken with garlic and herb potatoes and steamed broccoli. I used a few of my favorite dry seasonings in combination with a blend of 3 marinades, onion and some diced tomato. I love that I can just put everything in, close the lid, set the timer and get other things done while dinner is cooking. The flavor you can achieve is outstanding which is why this device is definitely worth having in the kitchen. It retails for $99.99.
Smoothies are a great way to incorporate a lot of fruits and veggies into one drinkable meal that you can take on-the-go. I like adding things like dates, almonds, kale, spirulina, moringa, protein powder and natural honey. A breakfast smoothie boosts your energy for the day, satisfies your hunger and revs up the metabolism.
To emulsify frozen fruit and dense ingredients you need a sturdy blender and Montel’s has 1200W of power. There are 6 cycles including: puree, crush, soup, clean mode, and single serve plus 4 speeds: low, medium, high and pulse which are great for making marinades, salad dressings and baby food in seconds. The removable parts are dishwasher safe and it can also crush ice and grind.
I love that the blender also comes with a smaller travel cup with drinking spout so you can blend your drink in it, pop on the lid and go.
The plunger functions to push down and dislodge food but I find that stopping the blender and stirring the contents is more efficient. Although the device is powerful it is also very loud and sometimes it lags and pulses on its own which may be due to overheating or the sheer force of the motor but it is easy to control the texture of your food so smoothies are rich and creamy.
I can’t attest to the longevity of the blender since I've only had it for a few weeks but so far it has been working well and handling everything I put in it. I also like that the base has suction cups that adhere to the counter and stabilize the unit.
Strawberry banana smoothie with peach, strawberry yogurt, honey, dates and almond milk
Blueberry yogurt smoothie loaded with antioxidants
Green smoothie: mango, peach, pineapple, kale, strawberry, banana and spirulina with almond milk and peach yogurt
The Blender retails for $149.99 and these appliances can be purchased at livingwellwithmontel.com