ActiFry, Instant Pot or Slow Cooker?

ActiFry, Instant Pot or Slow Cooker?

One Big Pot!

Dieting is tough. If I don’t have the right food on hand, I’m going to eat the wrong food, right!?! Bulk cooking is a way to ensure that we always have a meal in a container. And if we’re lucky, it’s a meal that meets the dietary requirements for our current regimen. When it comes to bulk cooking, I want to make the maximum amount of food, with the minimum of fuss. And as little mess as possible. That usually means that I pull out my big 50 gallon pot. Or one of my one-pot wonders … the ActiFry, my Instant Pot, or my most recent acquisition, the slow cooker.

The benefit is that we can toss a bunch of stuff into any one of these things & hit go. Depending on which one gets fired up, we’re eating half an hour later. Or maybe we get to enjoy the cooking smells for 6 or 8 hours before we dig in. It’s our choice.

If speed is important, you just can’t beat the Instant Pot. It is fast, clean & efficient. The only drawback, & the failing in mine not the Pot’s, is browning. I don’t want to dirty another pan, so I brown my meat in the Instant Pot. I never deglaze properly &, as often than not, I get that burn warning when I close the lid. Forcing me to open it up, scrape the bottom of the Pot, & restart. For that very same reason, thickeners are better added at the end. That aside, this thing will turn old boots into melt-in-your-mouth food in double quick time. Depending on which model you go for, it does all sorts of other tricks. One of my favorites is the yogurt button. I like high fat yogurt & this thing does an amazing job with a no-boil yogurt. Though the cost for my preferred ingredients means that store-bought is probably still cheaper on sale. Since the pot liner is removable, cleanup is a breeze. This is a great little cooker.

Having ignored slow-cookers most of my life, I recently succumbed to peer pressure! With all day cooking times, having to think this far ahead was a little alien for me. But I found it surprisingly easy to get into the rhythm. Turns out that, as a morning person, it suits me. Toss a bunch of the appropriate foods into the crock, hit go, & come back later. Much later. I’m tired by the end of the day &, rather than cook, I tend to make poor choices with whatever is more readily available. If this baby is doing its thing all day, the cooking smells have me drooling by dinner time. And then it delivers! There were a couple of surprises here. The evaporative losses are minimal. So you wind up with almost the same amount of liquid at the end, as you started out with. This requires a little post processing if you want to thicken the sauce. The other surprise is that meat is tenderized to the point of falling apart. Yet the potatoes remain whole. How does that happen!?! Like the Instant Pot, browning may improve results. But you’ve got to do it on another pan. And that’s really the only downside. You don’t have to brown, but it does make the dish taste better. And look better.

The T-fal ActiFry is a well-used machine in our house! Diet or not, I like fried food. The first thing I did when I got this little beauty was toss out the little green spoon! You know the one? The instruction book tells you to limit yourself to two little spoonfuls of “heart-healthy” fat to make your French fries. Forget that! Hide that spoon & you will feel no guilt! I’ve tried everything in this. With & without the paddle. With & without the optional rotating basket. If you put enough fat in there, they all taste great. I generally use coconut oil or olive oil. But I’ve done bacon in the thing. And then used the bacon fat to cook French fries! Or mushrooms. Mmmmmmm! If you can stop fish sticking to the basket, that’s a great meal too. Other than the power cord getting a little hot during cooking, this little beast is great. I really like the flavor of the food coming from it.

My big pot! The good old fashioned saucepan. It’s a big thing with a small handle on either side, like little ears. You can beat this thing with a hammer, stir & scrape it with a metal spatula, or toss it outside the back door when the sink is full. The only downside is that you do need to sit it on the stove. For speed, it falls between the Instant Pot & the Slow Cooker. And, whether you need to or not, you’re going to come by to stir the contents every now & again. You can brown in it, but it too requires deglazing. Though it’s not as fussy as a lidded device. Its one big advantage is that liquids evaporate & the sauce thickens. Because you’re stopping by every now & again, it gets stirred & tasted. For a cook-by-feel person, that’s a plus. The other big plus of a plain old pot is its ability to release the flavors from spices. For me, that is mostly done by cooking the spices in hot oil for a few minutes, ahead of dumping in the major ingredients. By the time the cooking is done, this makes for a better blending of flavor than when you just add spices to the liquid in the pot.

So which one is best?

With the lidded-pots, you have to work a little harder to match the flavor of the regular old pot. But for convenience, you can’t beat these set-it-and-forget-it style pots. Fast or slow? Really depends on the day. The ActiFry is a totally different beast to the others. And it can be used by the low-fat & high-fat folk. Each one wins in a different way. But if you were to strand me on a desert island with just one, I’d probably have to stick with the trusty old pot.

Thankfully, I don’t have to choose. And they all have their place & space in my kitchen.

What’s your favorite?

Results … Month #4

Results … Month #4

This is big. No … it’s huge. Results Month 4

And I’m now a little less huge after 4 months of this DIY hybrid diet!

Only avid students of diet might understand how big this is but let me see if I can explain.

This past month, the 4th month of my weight loss attempt, probably qualifies as one of my top 10 more stressful months. The physiological response to stress inhibits weight loss. And as most overweight people can attest, one of our typical responses to stress is to seek comfort in food. And I did that. I lost weight while under a burden of stress, and I was stress-eating. But I still lost some weight. If I wasn’t so stressed, this would be cause for great jubilation and celebration. Instead, this morning, I am simply grateful.

The other big thing about this is that I lost weight in the 4th month of a diet. Many of my previous weight loss efforts resulted in a plateau far earlier in the attempt. More often than not, the first plateau hits after about two months. Many times, this is justification for bailing on the diet. On those fewer occasions where I successfully made it past the 2 month mark, there is less doubt that a stall would have occurred in the 3rd month. And it was pretty much guaranteed to have happened by the 4th month. But not this time. And I’m not being cocky here, quite the contrary, I’m now stressed about when that stall will finally happen!

My regular reader might attribute this month’s loss to that 4 day fast I did during the 2nd week of the month, but that’s not the case. Whether it was stress, or a reaction to the extended fast, I pretty much binged ’til I regained almost all the losses resulting from that fast. And I then spent the rest of the month getting to this morning’s weight. Which is still slightly above my post-fast weight. I’m not discounting the value of an extended fast for weight loss. But I think I’ll wait for a more serene month before attempting another!

I should also disclose that I didn’t eat particularly well this month. There were more French fry days than I would have liked. I was adding more chocolate, much of it not the dark stuff, to my home made ice cream. And there were more ice cream days than a better planned month might have had. My body was screaming out for something green and I think I had my first salad of the month yesterday! Looking for the positives in all this chaos, the program seems pretty robust. If I can lose weight during times like this, while eating that poorly, this might be a good diet for me. Real life carries on, regardless of our weight loss goals. And we need a diet that can handle real life.

I’m not taking it to the bank yet though, who knows what pitfalls lie ahead. I’m expecting November to match the past month for having to worry about things. Hopefully, some solutions will fall into to place and all will turn out well. But if not, I hope the diet continues to do its thing for the next month regardless.

Wish me luck!

Speaking of luck & diet … I don’t think I’ll go Trick-or-Treating tonight! 🙂

And a Happy Halloween to all!

Printing & Dieting

Printing & Dieting Printing & Dieting

I don’t print very often but when I do, it’s usually for some last minute emergency thing. This is roughly what happens when such an event arises …

  1. Wireless printer connection lost.
  2. Reboot printer, laptop, modem & any other piece of electronics within a 100 yard radius.
  3. It comes alive!
  4. Print a draft copy of aforementioned critical document to see if everything is okay.
  5. Everything looks great, so now print a best quality page.
  6. That doesn’t work, so must change printer cartridge.
  7. Don’t have new cartridge, swear several times.
  8. Go to store & buy new high capacity color cartridge.
  9. Come back, stick it in, & print alignment page.
  10. It doesn’t look right & the scanner can’t scan it. Error!
  11. Twenty minutes later, discover that it was the black cartridge!
  12. No spare black cartridge either. Back to the store.
  13. Leave store, only to realize that all the good paper has been used up testing.
  14. Phew! At least I hadn’t gone back to the office again.
  15. Come back, spend another twenty minutes & a dozen more pages of paper to confirm that everything is working correctly.
  16. Admire first good print. And yes, it’s good!
  17. Go for coffee & cigarette to de-stress.
  18. Now have coffee ring on the corner of the good page! S@#$!!!

Despite how many times I’ve printed stuff over the years, this seems to happen all the time.

My experience with starting diets, & adhering to them, sometimes resembles this process. But it’s particularly difficult to stick with the dietary plan when you’ve got to deal with this printing challenge to kick the day off!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Oops! I Ate This …

Oops! I Ate This …

I’m on the road & I’m suffering withdrawal. From my bathroom scale! It’s like I need that added feedback loop to guide me. While I’m only logging weight once a month, I like the daily feedback.

But that’s probably just an excuse to eat all the wrong things for a bit! Lunch was that breakfast bowl in the pic. I attacked it with such gusto that I’d eaten half of it before I realized I should have taken a pic. I’ll get it right next time. Maybe!

The challenge with these little excursions into the danger zone is managing the recovery. There’s nothing wrong with stepping out every now & then. So long as I get back to behaving pretty promptly. String a few bad choices together & I might be in trouble.

And I won’t know how much trouble … ’til I get back to my scale.

Wish me luck!

PS … Phone post, excuse any formatting errors!