Holiday Giveaway: Meal Mentor Instant Pot® Lux 60 6-in-1 Pressure Cooker Enter to Win

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. CONGRATS TO MISTY WICKETT

A pressure cooker (or Instapot) is one of those tools that helps a lot of people cook at home and eat healthier.

If you’re already cooking rice and beans from scratch yourself, you’ll love how a pressure cooker can help you multitask.

It’s also great for cooking potatoes, corn, squashes, and other vegetables in the background.

Pressure cookers won’t save you as much time as you think… when you factor in the time it takes to get to pressure and then release the pressure, it’s about the same time as cooking on the stove BUT an electric pressure cooker does not require your active attention, which is the real beauty about them imho.

I, and several of our wonderful homecook customers, use a pressure cooker every day to help us eat more plant-based meals at home.

Is your Instapot still sitting in the box?

Signing up for a month of pressure cooker-friendly meal plans will make you finally use it.

Enjoy 4 weeks of Instapot inspiration…

Start your first month of membership right here.

And if you’ve been using your Instapot (or pressure cooker) to cook beans, grains, potatoes and other vegetables… but you know you’re not using it to it’s full potential…

You’ll really love the legit pressure cooker recipes in the weekly plans.

The whole meal is made IN your Instapot.

All of the weekly plans will have Instapot recipes this month!

Start your meal plan subscription right here.

The simple healthy meals you love now made in your Instapot.

Regular stove top directions are also included :)

Imagine how happy you’ll be to finally get a full range of use out of your pressure cooker!

This week’s pressure cooker recipes are:

  • Instapot Tortilla Soup
  • Indian-Spiced Potatoes (my favorite!)

Other meals on the plan this week:

  • Winter Rice Salad
  • Smoky Zucchini Cakes
  • Italiano CousCous (new)
  • Pho-ghetti
  • Moroccan Shepherd’s Pie

Like me, you probably thought buying a Instapot would make your life easier…

But it didn’t come with directions for how to make it fit your life.

These meal plans with pressure cooker recipes will show you how to do just that.

Start your first month of membership right here.

Enter to Win an Instant Pot® Lux 60 6-in-1 Pressure Cooker

For a chance to win, leave a comment below sharing how you integrate cooking into your week.

Do you batch cook on the weekends? Prep on the weekends? Cook after work most nights? Eat beans and rice or cans of soup? Rely on a spouse or parent to prepare your meals?

Starting a cooking habit and is the biggest hurdle for most folks.

I’d love to hear how you did it so I can help others get started.

This giveaway is open to anyone in the US (except Alaska, Hawaii) and Canada and over 18 years of age. Limit 1 entry per household. The giveaway will be open on Thursday, December 7 and will end at midnight Pacific time. The winner will be announced here December 8.

To get multiple entries, signup for our free newsletter and follow Meal Mentor on Instagram and Twitter. You will get an additional entry for every location you follow. This is completely optional, however, it will increase your chances of winning.

If you already have an Instapot (or other pressure cooker) but it’s still sitting in the box, this week’s meal plan will help you get started. Pressure-cooker recipes included!

Sign up for your first month right here.

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Don’t quit. 8 Nice ways to Say “No” To Food Pushers

Does any of this sound familiar?

"Oh come on, it won't hurt to have a bite."

"You should enjoy yourself - don't be so strict!"

"Live a little! It's the Holidays for crying out loud!"

"But your Grandmother made this for you, do you really want to hurt her feelings?"

Before we enter the combat zone, there needs to be a little clarification:

When we think about 'food pushers' we assume they are trying to sabotage us (and sometimes they definitely are) but that's not always 100% true, especially with family or friends.

Sometimes your loved one just wants to please you because they care about you. The ‘pushing’ is coming from a place of affection and they are wanting to build a connection with you on a personal level — all of which completely changes how to deal with the food pushing situation.

Here’s an example: When I was on vacation with my husband recently, I noticed a clearly marked "vegan chocolate muffin" for sale at the cafe I'd popped into for coffee.

I immediately thought of my husband who loves chocolate, and muffins, and vegan treats in general.

I started to imagine how excited and happy he would be when I surprised him with the muffin back in our hotel room. How he'd put his arm around me, kiss me on the forehead and say, "You're the best love!"

Point is, I wasn’t trying to ‘sabotage’ my husband with the muffin. I definitely don’t want him to gain weight (ask him, I’m more invested in his diet, weight, and overall health than he is) — I love him. I wanted to make him happy. Food/gifts are my love language. I frequently show my love by cooking for people or by buying food for them. (I even buy a surprising amount of food for my assistant's parents, which is a little odd when you consider I've never even met them--but I want them to know how much I value their daughter and sending a fruit basket feels less awkward than saying “you raised a good one” I suppose).

Circling back — when food pushing happens:

Identify whether the food pusher is doing it out of love.

If it IS out of love, your job is to communicate to them how they can make you happy (without food).

Remember these people WANT to make you happy and please you (that’s their motivation) they just don’t know how to do it.

If you haven’t expressly communicated to them what you want (or you have and they forgot), it will make them guess and no one likes to guess.

They don’t want to risk getting it wrong either, so they default to food because food a sure thing. Food is easy. Everybody likes food. Everybody needs to eat.

AND better still, they’ve personally observed you eating at one time or another so they KNOW what you like—NO guessing! Feeding you becomes the easy “guaranteed” way to please and show their love.

The solution is simple:

Give them an alternative.

It can also help to reaffirm that you DO feel loved by them and that you have a personal connection.

Here’s another example: I thought my assistant was doing an epic job at work, so I kept buying her all these little treats I knew she loved and left them on her desk. It was such a thrill to see her smile when she found them. I knew then that she knew I appreciated her...

But after the third bar of chocolate, she told me to stop buying her treats — she didn’t need any more sweets in her life and was trying to cut back.

Initially I was hurt until I realized I was being a food pusher -- one with love in my heart, sure, but I could have just as easily given her a gift card, an extra day off, or straight-up told her how much I valued her as an employee. You know, use my WORDS.

To put this in full perspective: My job is to help people eat healthy and lose weight for a living... the very last thing I should have been buying her was chocolate bars, but I became that disconnected.

I wanted to make her happy and please her and connect with her so much that I "forgot" or failed to see how ironic (hypocritical?) I was being in my please-you pursuit.

This next part is difficult to admit:

"Buying" people's love is something I know I try to do, and while that is a whole other can of worms I won't get into right now, I think this mentality and practice is something EVERYONE can relate to in some capacity…

There's also a selfish component with food giving.

We get immense pleasure out of giving other people treats... ("Simple Gifts" and "It's Better to Give than to Receive" are great Holiday songs that confirm this).

Grandparents are a great example. I've noticed grandparents in my family love giving their grandchildren food their parents do not permit. It's almost like a grandparent identity…

I’m not all that different, though, if I’m entirely honest. I do think some of my buying was to get a "contact high". I'm not only getting a jolt of pleasure by providing them pleasure, I often buy for them the very thing I desire for myself but won’t allow myself to have… very much that "Have one for me!" mentality.

How to Deal with MALICIOUS Food Pushers

This is the most important piece of advice in this entire post:

Whatever you do DO NOT BE A PLEASER AND TAKE/EAT IT.

Two reasons:

  1. If you keep taking food you're not eating they won't ever learn your habits.
  2. They will push harder next time you resist, looking for your new breaking point.

You're not doing ANYONE a favor by not standing by your values, most especially yourself.

That's not to say there can't be any compromise (and what "compromising" looks like is different for every family) but just make sure YOU are not the only one compromising.

Here are some of my favorite “comebacks” (that are nice)

"Oh come on, it won't hurt to have a bite."

Answer: “That’s true, but I can tell that is going to be so delicious I won’t be able to stop so it’s better if I don’t start.”

"You should enjoy yourself - don't be so strict!"

Answer: I am enjoying myself. I’m so glad we are getting to spend time together. I really missed you. Tell me more about [something in their life]

Or if that doesn’t fit the situation try, “I need to be more conscious of what I eat right now but you should go ahead, it looks amazing.”

“We have too much food left -- take more / take leftovers”

Answer: Thanks for the offer but I’ve already made all my meals for the week so it’ll go to waste, but now you won’t have to cook for a few days either.

"Live a little! It's the Holidays for crying out loud!"

Answer: “Trust me I have. I’ve already way overdone it this season and need to rein it back in”

Or if that doesn’t fit the situation try, “I’ll be able to celebrate more holidays with you in the future if I stick to this health plan I’m on. I really want to be around so we have many more years together.”

"But your Grandmother made this for you, do you really want to hurt her feelings?"

Answer: I’ll apologize to Grandmother and tell her how much I appreciate her thinking of me like this. I’ll explain I can’t have [specific item] doctors orders. It’s my fault I should have told her about my special dietary needs. I’ll take more care next time.”

“It’s your favorite!”

Answer: I’m so touched you remembered.That definitely was my favorite, but I overdosed on it and I can’t eat it anymore. I appreciate you thinking of me. You are so thoughtful.”

“You have an eating disorder”

Answer: I appreciate your concern. It makes me feel good to know you care about my health. My doctor is happy with my health and I’m pretty happy to. It can also help to reaffirm that you “really like eating this way” that you “love vegetables” and you definitely don’t feel like you’re missing out and that they should go ahead and enjoy themselves.

"But this is my speciality. I'm FAMOUS for this, you MUST try it"

Answer: It looks really good! I wish I could! Why don't you tell me more about this dish. How did you develop the recipe? When did it become your speciality?

Finally, for the half-compliments such as "you don't need to change, you look great as is" or the faux concern comments such as “you’re putting in too much effort”

Remember that you can work on yourself as much as you want and you are the sole judge of whether or not you want to change your health or your appearance.

Most likely they’re just jealous.

To summarize: Most food pushers are often coming from a place of love. They aren’t trying to sabotage you, they want to please you. Tell them how they can. Give that alternative. If they aren’t coming from a place of love, it’s best not to engage and shift the focus back on them by asking them a question or telling them to go ahead and enjoy, slipping in something that reminds them you appreciate them and that you have a personal connection, because even with malice in their heart, they probably are still looking for that connection to you -- otherwise they wouldn’t talk to you at all. It’s rare to be jealous of someone you truly hate or don’t care about (think about that).

Finally, above all:

Honor yourself and don’t do things to please other people, especially when they don’t return the favor.

Please share your thoughts—I’d love to hear your experience and opinions below!

Also check out this post of Thanksgiving FAQs—How to communicate your diet, deal w/ judgment, Get back on track & more. Read it here.

P.S. We're having our FINAL blowout sale on Cyber Monday! ONE DAY ONLY! 85.8% savings!

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I’ve changed my position on oil (and here’s why)

Yep, you read that right.

I’ve changed my position on oil.

But before you jump down to leave a comment – read the next few lines okay? Please?

I’m still sick of nutrition elitism. Success is more important than ideology.

The plant-based community puts a lot of pressure on being perfect.

There’s this attitude that if there is anything wrong, it’s your fault for not being perfect.

If you weren’t losing weight, for example, it’s because you weren’t being perfect. You were eating oil, or sugar, or too many nuts, or not enough greens, or cheese.

But here’s the truth: Being perfect doesn’t guarantee you’ll lose weight.

Or feel superhuman.

Eating a healthy diet might tilt the scales in your favor or make those outcomes more likely, but there’s still no 100% guarantee.

With weight-loss, for example, you can eat as perfect as possible but sabotage yourself with your behavior like I did. (You can read how the plant-based diet made me an overeater here.)

In fact, if I learned anything from researching Shortcut to Slim, it’s that behavior modification is the MOST effective strategy when it comes to weight-loss. That’s why I only teach behavior modification and cognitive therapy as part of the Slim Team Training Program (Meal Mentor’s official weight-loss program). There is literally no “diet plan” because you can’t be on a diet plan forever, but you can definitely learn to sit down when you eat.

But I’ve digressed...

Here’s my deal with oil:

A member having difficulty losing weight asked if it was because of the hidden oils, saying she used store-bought hummus and whole-wheat tortillas that contained oil.

Here was my reply:

"Oil doesn't do you any favors, but it's more likely that the hummus and tortillas you are buying are very high in calories, cutting away at your caloric deficit – the one and only thing you need to lose weight. You might want to try buying whatever is the lowest in calories."

A few years ago I would have told her yes. I would have told her using items that contained some oil or not being “100% WFPBNO” was EXACTLY why she wasn’t losing. But now I know that’s NOT true.

Here’s the truth: You could lose weight on any diet, even an all tequila and cupcake diet, so long as a calorie deficit exists.

Granted, you might feel like garbage, and your 'diet' might put yourself at a higher risk for other health issues like hypertension or cirrhosis, which is why I still advocate a whole foods, plant-centered diet. (Might as well stack the odds in your favor...)

Then, too, not all calories satiate the same way or “absorb” the same way or have the same nutritional quality, so it’s not a straight calorie math formula anyway (more info here).

We all know a home-cooked meal is healthier than take-out or convenience foods.

Knowledge isn’t the problem, it’s the application. We can know and want (really, really want!) but we still have to DO.

Success with the plant-based diet is more important than ideology.

Taking one step toward the finish line is more important than taking no steps at all because we can’t run the full 26.2 miles today.

We have to stop beating ourselves over the head for not toeing the line perfectly.

We have to stop beating each other up for not toeing the line perfectly.

THIS is why I preach “Progress not Perfection.”

Success is defined as doing the very best you can in the circumstances you are in.

Do what you can… “Make it Work.”

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Please, please, please…

Don’t hold someone else to your personal standards of perfection.

And please, please, please don’t set standards for yourself you can’t reasonably live up to.

It’s great to have goals, but your goals shouldn’t be a moral measuring stick.

You shouldn’t feel bad about yourself when you don’t fly over the bar or when you’re only halfway there because halfway = still on the way.

Change, even good-for-you change, is really, really hard for most folks.

It is incredibly difficult to switch to a plant-centered diet.

It is incredibly difficult to start new routines and new habits like cooking for yourself.

Worth it? Absolutely! But that doesn’t make it less difficult to change the way you live in every way or to uproot habits that have been cemented for decades. It’s still hard!

Sometimes you need to take shortcuts.

And I’m here to tell you that it is OKAY if it’s helping you get where you want to go.

Like learning to ride a bike with training wheels.

And sometimes you need a little help or direction.

Like wearing a flotation device when you’re not yet a strong swimmer.

I struggled to the point of tears trying to do it all, all at once. I burned out, failed, then started the cycle over. And over.

I finally hit my stride when I started using the meal plans. I need the directing and the variety.

I also could never give up the pure convenience of never having to plan our meals or make lists again...that helping hand has been worth its weight in gold.

Whenever I try to “wing it”, I always end up more stressed and overwhelmed. This has been true with EVERYTHING in my life. Changing my lifestyle and diet was no different.

If you’ve struggled to change your diet or be 100% plant-based or vegan or just clean up your diet and eat better, you are definitely not alone.

It is incredibly difficult (and having a solid direction to move in definitely helps).

Set a specific goal like “I will cook 1 meal for my family this week” and then do whatever it takes to make that happen.

If “getting there” this week means you make a vegetable wrap with a white tortilla, store-bought hummus, and a conventional bell pepper, you’re doing fabulous.

In a perfect world or your utopia, you may have bought whole-wheat or made your own oil-free hummus or grew the bell pepper yourself in an organic garden, and you know what? That’s wonderfully aspirational but not possible today!! What you did TODAY was 1000x better than stopping at McDonald’s or eating a frozen vegan burrito.

“Just keep swimming” as Dory says. Progress not Perfection.

Admittedly, I lean on a lot on convenience items like canned beans, jars of sauce, store-bought hummus, pre-diced onions, and bottled enchilada sauce because it's better I do that to make the meal plans and batch cooking realistic, than give up and order take-out every night.

I'll never likely get to a place where I can grow my own vegetables and make everything from scratch. (And I’m not sure I’d WANT to do all that anyway! Sorry!)

I am hugely inspired by DIYers and I’ve definitely become better about making a lot of stuff from scratch myself, but most days it’s just a struggle to find time to take a shower.

I’m doing the best I can, and sure, I want to improve and I believe with time I will. I have 10 years behind me to prove that truth. It’s very much a PROCESS.

Do the best you can. Work your Progress not Perfection.

Get good food on the table – even if it has a little oil and requires “semi homemade” shortcuts.

When we eat healthier we feel healthier, and when we feel healthier we are more likely to keep making good choices. So do whatever it takes to get you to make more good choices.

When I stopped thinking about eating differently “someday” and actually did it, I noticed changes everywhere.

You absolutely deserve to feel incredible too.

But here’s the real deal: You can’t ever wait for the perfect time or the perfect moment or until you get your ducks in a row. They’re ducks, they don’t toe the line either.

There is never a “good time” to start anything, just the time you start.

It’s hard as hell, but try anyway. And don’t apologize for doing whatever it takes to get you to the party. It just matters that you showed up. You can take a different route next week.

Finally (because I always feel I have to be super clear) I don’t cook with oil or have it in my home. And if an oil-free brand is an option, I’ll buy it, just like I’ll choose “no salt added” over regular, and I’ll buy organic if it’s offered or within my budget. I'm not pro GMO or pro conventional food, or pro carrageenan, or pro BPA, or pro oil. If I'm pro anything, I'm pro people eating better, whatever that looks like for them.

I’m not here to judge and you shouldn’t be either.

"It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing, because you can do only a little."

P.S. Annual Meal Plan Premium Memberships are on sale Wednesday, September 7th for ONE DAY ONLY! Get on the free newsletter to get the reminder

Updated: The meal plans are definitely not changing, nor are my recipes. They'll still be plant-based, oil-free. I'm just letting you know I want you to do whatever you can to change your life and eat better. I say with zero hesitation that the very experts who promote WFPBNO are not 100% compliant themselves. Of course they are not, they are human. That's life. They do their best. But if they can't do it 100%, then let's stop pretending it's easy for everyone else. It's not.

Lastly, several comments have said "thank you, I felt bad for buying whole-wheat pitas with oil" or "I feel bad my marinara had salt and sugar" or something to that extent. I used to feel that way too and that's a problem. I should NOT feel bad about buying whole-wheat bread at the Farmers market. I should not feel bad about buying pasta sauce in a jar when I'm going to make spaghetti lasagna with three kinds of vegetables but need the sauce to make it happen INSTEAD of going to Chipotle that night. I should be proud of myself, and I finally am. I hope you are too.

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Plant-Based Diet Issues: Why does total cholesterol go UP on a plant-based diet?

The Co-Pilot podcast is temporarily back this week with a special episode!

Dr. Greger author of How Not to Die and founder of NutritionFacts.org joined me to talk about some (hush-hush) plant-based diet issues.

For example, WHY total cholesterol might go UP on a plant-based diet?

Dr Greger

Or what should you do if your blood pressure is too low? Should you increase your salt? How low is too low for BP anyway?

Dr. Greger explains everything: why it happens + what you can do about!!

We also talk about depression, his latest "it" food, amenorrhea, decreased testosterone, and so much more! (Including our mutual love of strawberry frosted doughnuts--LOL) Seriously though, I learned a ton in this episode!

You can listen on iTunes or Simplecast (app-free).

P.S. Meal Mentor is having a Massive Annual Membership Sale Sept. 7th!

Download your Free 7-day meal Plan & check it out now

Get first dibs on the massive sale!

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7 New Ways to Cook Potatoes – No Stove! No Oven!

Potatoes are a near perfect food for humans.

They’re also incredibly satiating and versatile.

I love making potato “hot dogs”, “pizza” potatoes and of course, POTATO NACHOS!

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Potatoes also make great snacks on-the-go and you can serve any Meal Mentor meal over a potato instead of in a wrap or on a bun if you want more bulk for less calories (or you’re gluten-free, grain-free, etc).

Point is POTATOES ROCK!!!!

Buuut it’s TOO HOT to bake ‘em in the summer soo…

Here are 7 ways to cook potatoes without a stove or oven!

1. Potato Pocket The Potato Express I LOVE this thing.

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It’ll also keep your potatoes warm FOR HOURS. Great for long car rides, the airplane...

You can also use this nifty tool for cooking corn on the cob + thawing bread

2. Microwave Pierce potatoes multiple times with a fork. Place them on a microwave-safe dish and microwave at full power for 5 minutes. Turn over and microwave for another 3-5 minutes. If the taters are still hard in the middle, microwave in 1 minute intervals until cooked through. (YES! Microwaves are totally safe and often the most nutritious way to cook – read more here.)

3. Slow Cooker Wrap each potato in foil and lay along the bottom of a dry slow cooker. LOW for 8-10 hours.

4. Pressure Cooker Add required water.

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Isn’t this scene dreamy??

5. Campfire Place cubed potatoes with other vegetables and seasonings (such as herbs or soy sauce) in foil with an ice cube (unless you have watery veggies like onion or zucchini included). Wrap into a foil pack and place on the coals or over the campfire.

6. Grill Place slices on the grill and cook until tender, turning as needed. (You can precook the potatoes by boiling them or microwaving so they are faster on the grill or wrap the potato in foil and cook on the grill like you were baking a potato.)

7. Electric Steamer Electric steamers are great for cooking vegetables without a stove. I utilize mine all year when I’m batch cooking. It helps with multitasking because it’s out of your way, doing its job passively in the background while you work on other meals or components.

JUST BE CAREFUL WITH STORAGE

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P.S. Big contest via Happy Herbivore coming up!! Have Potato. Will Travel—Contest! 

Over the long July 4th holiday weekend, post pics of your potatoes to win loot! Make sure to follow @happyherbivore on Instagram and use the hashtag #HavePotatoWillTravel so I catch it.

MM members get a bonus entry for each picture AND if you potato-up a MM meal, you'll get a TRIPLE entry! 

More details on happyherbivore.com/blog June 30th.

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Your Ultimate Travel Food Guide

Are you going on a road trip this summer?

Camping with your family?

Or maybe you travel a lot for work and have difficulty figuring out what to eat beyond a baked potato and salad?

With the help of the Meal Mentor member community, we’ve compiled a list of pre-packaged food items that will help you stay on track on your next vacation or work trip.

Click here to download Meal Mentor’s ULTIMATE Travel Food list.

Speaking of the MM community, there are dozens of threads dedicated to travel food and what to pack for your next camping trip in our private forums.

And don’t forget to follow Meal Mentor on Instagram! We’ll also be sharing tips and travel hacks throughout the summer!

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And what about dining out? See my picks for the healthiest choices at fast food chains here.

P.S. If you’re a member, you also have our exclusive Travel Guide featuring tips for staying on track, what to order at restaurants, recipes, and more! (Download it from your dashboard when logged in.)

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