introduction | getting to know your pressure cooker | cook & compare
meal-in-one
| fast food | presto: a party | pressure pointers | study questions

Objective: Students will be able to demonstrate the proper use of the pressure cooker, state the differences between foods prepared in the pressure cooker and those cooked by conventional methods, and explain the nutritional advantages of pressure cooking.

Equipment and Supplies: Pressure cookers and pressure cooking instruction manuals (one for each student group) · Various cookbooks · Food · Timers (one for each student group) · Copies of the "Cook and Compare" worksheet.

The Lesson: Lead a class discussion on the increasing awareness of nutrition in this country and the connection between diet and health. Have students list the basic rules we now know are important for healthy eating: more fiber, more complex carbohydrates, more fresh and minimally processed foods, less saturated fat, less sugar, less sodium, and less cholesterol.

Ask students to suggest ways they can improve their diet. Do they think they have to give up their favorite foods to eat well? Do they think cooking "healthy" takes more time and effort? Do they think they do eat "right"? If not, why not?

Nutritionists agree that the most successful method for improving eating habits isn't drastic changes, but a change in the overall approach. A diet based on a wide variety of minimally processed foods affords the best chance of a healthy diet . . . emphasizing whole grain breads and cereals, legumes, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, fish, skinless chicken, turkey, and lean meats, and cooking them from scratch. That's where the pressure cooker can really help. It's fast enough to make cooking from scratch a lot less time consuming. And it's ideal for cooking up hearty, filling, satisfying meals made from wholesome ingredients.

Divide the class into cooking groups. Assign each group to prepare a food using the pressure cooking method and another cooking method. (If time and budget permit, you might want to conduct a series of comparisons.) Distribute the worksheet "Cook and Compare" for students to fill in.

Foods you might want to include are:

  • Fresh vegetables
  • Stews and fricassees using inexpensive cuts of meats*
  • Roasts and poultry*
  • Desserts (crisps, custards, puddings)

*Note: Preparation of meat and poultry by other cooking methods may take longer than a class period.

In order to make fair comparisons in flavor, the recipes should contain similar ingredients. It is suggested that students first consult recipes designed for use with the pressure cooker. These have been thoroughly tested. Using the same ingredients, they can adapt the recipe for other cooking methods. They should consult cookbooks to adjust liquid and cooking time.

Each class member should taste and compare all of the foods prepared and discuss their findings. Afterwards, the class can compile a list of the advantages of the pressure cooking method.

Follow Up: Students can create a display which compares cooking times of foods prepared in the pressure cooker with foods cooked using other methods.

Worksheet: Cook & Compare: Worksheet

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