Jill Nussinow, Vegan Under Pressure


jill2Jill Nussinow, MS, RD, a.k.a. The Veggie Queen™, is a Registered Dietitian who has been teaching vegetarian cooking at Santa Rosa Junior College, in Sonoma County and throughout the country since 1985. She is the author of three award-winning cookbooks, The New Fast Food: The Veggie Queen Pressure Cooks Whole Food Meals in Less than 30 Minutes, Nutrition CHAMPS: The Veggie Queen’s Guide to Eating and Cooking for Optimum Health, Happiness, Energy and Vitality and The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment and stars in the DVD: Pressure Cooking: A Fresh Look, Delicious Dishes in Minutes. Her next book Vegan Under Pressure will be released later this year.You will find her frequenting local farmers markets weekly. One of her favorite things is to see what she can cook up in her pressure cookers with what’s fresh at the market. Jill also loves mushroom hunting and teaching fermentation classes. Jill’s goal is to see everyone leading a healthy, happy life through better eating and cooking. She loves to share the passion and joy of great food, especially when using the pressure cooker for personal and planetary health. Her website is www.theveggiequeen.com. You can see her in action on You Tube at TheVQ.


Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody, hello everybody, I’m Caryn Hartglass. It’s time for It’s All About Food when we talk about my favorite subject, food…and this is a time where we tune in love. Tune in love with me. Whether you’re listening now or sometime in the future, which is what I love about these podcasts, you can take it in when you’re ready and when it’s right for you. Tune in love. There’s a lot of crazy stuff going on in the world today and on this program, I like to think we talk about things that are happy, joyful, delicious…we have a lot of answers that are easy and good for you and good for the planet and good for everybody. So, let’s just have some fun and maybe you’ll learn something along the way. I know I always do. Let’s do some tuning in love now with my first guest Jill Nussinow. She is the…known as the “Veggie Queen”. She’s a registered dietician whose been teaching vegetarian cooking at Santa Rosa Junior College in Sonoma County and throughout the country since 1985. She’s the author of three award-winning cookbooks – The New Fast Food: The Veggie Queen Pressure Cooks Whole Food Meals in Less Than 30 Minutes, Nutrition Champs: The Veggie Queen’s Guide to Eating and Cooking for Optimum Health, Happiness, Energy and Vitality and The Veggie Queen: Vegetables get the Royal Treatment – and we will be talking about a new book, Vegan Under Pressure, because it’s about pressure cooking. Jill, how are you doing today?

Jill Nussinow: I’m great, Caryn, thank you.

Caryn Hartglass: You’re welcome. Are you ready to tune in some love with me?

Jill Nussinow: I was just going to say, I love love.

Caryn Hartglass: I love love. Who doesn’t love love? What’s not to love?

Jill Nussinow: I agree. I’m there.

Caryn Hartglass: Good, and you know, those of us like you, like me, who have been doing this for so long, we know, we just know how good it feels, how delish it is, how we’re not deprived of anything at all and we just want to share this good feeling, this love because it feels good and why shouldn’t everybody feel good?

Jill Nussinow: Well, I think everybody should feel great.

Caryn Hartglass: Feel great! Exactly, Okay now we’ve talked about pressure-cooking before. I know you’re quite the pressure cooking expert. I love the title of your book, Vegan Under Pressure. I have to tell you, I am one of those people who have never ventured into the pressure cooking world. Reading your book makes me a little more comfortable and curious about it. And you give a great deal of information about pressure cooking, so I guess we should talk first about why people, if they know anything about pressure cooking, why they might be cautious about it.

Jill Nussinow: Well, I think there’s a big myth, and some of it is not myth, around pressure cooking. There was a time, and I have to say, it happened to me, with my mother’s pressure cooker, where the pressure cookers either weren’t watched and actually a scene in Holly Go Lightly, I think, where the pressure cooker explodes, so people have this image in their head of exploding pressure cookers, but I’ve been using a pressure cooker for more than twenty years and I’ve never had that happen and I give my students at the junior college where I teach about five minutes of instruction and they’ve never had that happen either, so that…there’s a big fear around what could happen and I think, recently, because of these pressure cooker bombs, people are really freaked out about it, but I use pressure cookers for food explosions, not for killing anyone. So I think that that’s really the fear and there is a fear of doing things wrong or maybe their mother or grandmother used the pressure cooker and the food all came out like mush, but that is not what needs to happen, so I think that because it’s so new and the way that I like to explain it in the book is it’s like driving. Before you started driving, you know, you might have gotten like, been like, oh how do I do all those things, but after you do it for a while, you become very comfortable. And it is a whole new skill and I think that’s where people kind of get…have another fear…because a lot of people are like, well I’ve been cooking for forty years, I ought to know how to do this. And it’s not an intuitive thing, necessarily, so there is a learning curve for sure.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, so then people would ask, if it takes effort, then why would I want to do it?

Jill Nussinow: Well, if you love beans and you love whole grains and you want to get those foods on your table in a fairly short time, that would be the reason to do it. If you soak beans and you cook them, like black beans, pinto beans, white beans…they’ll cook in four to six minutes at pressure, which is probably a total of, you know, fifteen to twenty minutes from beginning to end. And what I like to say is, you can’t get in your car, or travel to the store, and buy a can in the time that you could cook them at home and you know exactly what you have.

Caryn Hartglass: Well, everybody’s definitely into doing things as fast as they can. That’s for sure. And I can understand if you want to pair healthy eating, and that means whole foods, definitely legumes, which are at the top because they’re so nutritious…the best way to do it is to do it yourself, soaking the beans if you have the time and then cooking them, pressure cooking definitely takes a lot of time off and when time is precious that makes a big difference.

Jill Nussinow: And I also give tips for if you…about how, you know, to do the beans if you forgot to soak them, you can do a quick soak, which is three inches of water above the beans and then you bring it to a boil and leave it for one minute and drain that off, or you can actually soak them, drain them, freeze them and label them and then you don’t even have to remember to soak and then since I wrote the book, I have what’s called the quicker soak, which works with the instant pot pressure cooker which has a zero setting and can be done on the stove top or other electric cookers where you basically use a low pressure, bring it to pressure and then turn it off and that takes about twenty-five minutes instead of the hour sitting if you boiled, so you don’t even have to remember to soak. And then there are a lot of people, but I’m not one of them, who like to cook from dry and do no soak and that works too. I just find better cooking if you do soak but many people don’t even bother soaking. And you can still cook your beans in thirty minutes or so at pressure.

Caryn Hartglass: You’ve taught a lot of people how to use pressure cookers. Now most of these people, I imagine, were curious and wanted to use the pressure cooker. For people who are really hesitant and then invested the time and the knowledge to get the experience, what have been like your favorite responses when they got to the other side and they’re just in love with pressure cooking?

Jill Nussinow: Well, I think it’s pretty much the same, it’s like why did I wait so long? I see this every day. Actually, there’s a few Facebook groups. There’s an instant pot vegan recipe group and many other groups and people are like…and I actually have a video on YouTube about taking it out of the box, which is kind of just a short, little funny video like “It will be okay.” But really, people just…I don’t know what it is…they’re like “Oh, it’s big, I don’t know how to use it” and it may be, you know, more fear than like, your new computer or your new Blu-Ray video or you know, the new TV thing, but we do have a little bit of fear about new things but really people are like, I just can’t believe I was afraid to do this or I didn’t do it. I hear this…I’ve heard this hundreds of times.

Caryn Hartglass: I remember in college, this was a long time ago, a friend of mine got a slow cooker, which I’m going to ask you to explain the difference after I tell my little anecdote, but she wanted to try it out with me her very first time and she didn’t clean it out of the box and she made this bean dish and afterwards we were both feeling a little nauseous and our tongues were solid black. There was obviously some residue in there that she should’ve washed out, so that kind of adds to my resistance, these memories that I have, but I know it’s not the same thing. What’s the difference?

Jill Nussinow: Well, a slower cooker…what I say is the pressure cooker is a slow cooker on steroids. So the slow cooker, and some of these electric pressure cookers now do have a slow cook function, so you can slow cook if you want to but I rarely do that because I am not patient enough to slow cook and the other thing is, you have to think about slow cooking before it’s dinnertime and I’m one of those people that it’s like, “Oh, it’s five o’clock, maybe I ought to think about dinner.” So it just is so much faster, it’s a different process and I think the food, for me, the food turns out way better in the pressure cooker than in the slow cooker. The slow cooker, I think, tends to mush the food all together and the pressure cooker tends to give you very vibrant, beautiful food that still has a lot of texture and color and flavor.

Caryn Hartglass: For those of you who remember your chemistry lessons, I remember the law PV = NRT, which is pressure times volume equals a constant times temperature and temperature goes up, pressure goes up so if you keep the volume the same and you raise the pressure, you’re able to cook at a higher temperature and that’s how this works, right?

Jill Nussinow: Yes, it works by actually, by taking the liquid and turning it to steam and so you’re not…people like want to do this thing with their beans. They cover them with water. It’s like no, you’re not boiling, so you don’t need to do that, so yes you’re cooking with steam, which is almost 250 degrees versus 212 for boiling. And a lot of people get that part wrong. It’s almost funny, people just want to get to the recipes so they skip the beginning part of the book, which is actually the part that I think most people need to read where I explain that. So yes, it’s all about the pressure and the temperature and the fact that this pot is sealed and most people, unlike you, do not remember anything about science and they’re just like “Oh!” like they…you know, there’s a lot of explaining that. I like science, I’m a little geeky in that respect, which is why I think I really love pressure cooking because it is all…it’s about science and math, so there’s a whole thing about the ratios that you use and the science, you don’t even actually need to know, you just need to learn a little bit about the timing because timing in pressure cooking is the big difference between a success and a failure. So people say, “Well I thought that fifteen minutes would be fine” and it’s like fifteen minutes in pressure cooking time is like an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes in real time. So, you don’t cook your carrots for fifteen minutes. You only cook your carrots for like, two minutes. So there’s a lot of these little things that people like, they’re just like…people just want to…I’ll just say this, people want to wing it with their pressure cooker and it’s fine if you’re making a soup and you don’t care and everything is OK if it’s mushy but you don’t wing recipes when you’re pressure cooking if you want people to eat them. But, with that said, for every pressure cooker, what I would call a failure or semi-disaster, like if you overcook your beans, I give ways to take those and turn them into sauces, soups, dips, burgers…so there’s no real failures, it’s just like you wouldn’t want to put those beans on a salad.

Caryn Hartglass: You know, that’s good to know. People need to understand, and have permission…I mean, aside from charring something and cooking it so that it’s black, there are many ways to rescue recipes when they don’t come out exactly the way you wanted them and sometimes that may lead to a new wonderful recipe that you never thought about.

Jill Nussinow: completely agree with you and I don’t think…I mean, there are times when food can get ruined, but you know, ruined is just a matter of how you look at it. I mean, sometimes it is inedible, but a lot of times there is a way to take it and just turn it into another dish. My sister jokes with me that I’m the person that could take like one dish and turn it into five things so it started out as regular quinoa, then it became quinoa salad, then it became quinoa soup and then it became, you know, quinoa burgers, you know, I think it’s just food and It’s like, I like to make individual ingredients and then kind of combine them to turn them into dishes that I think work.

Caryn Hartglass: Well we recommend that all the time, especially for people that want to save time. If you’re working full time, or whatever your schedule challenge is, you’ve got kids, whatever it is, you take the day off that you have, or a moment where you have some time and you make the basics. You make a big pile of beans, you make a big pile of grain and then you do like Jill does and every day you make something different out of them and it’s fun.

Jill Nussinow: It’s great, and the other thing I love to do and I really, I talk about it a lot in the book is to freeze things. I mean, I freeze a lot of dishes and then what I say is because I do the cooking, I just say sometimes I’m so busy and I just pretend that somebody loved me so much that they left exactly what I wanted in my freezer so I could just pull it out and eat it and it’s just, like, a beautiful thing. I was like “Wow!” and then I go, “It was me! I loved me so much that I left that for me,” you know? And it just really works, but I do freeze beans, I freeze grains, I freeze mixed dishes, I freeze soup. If it can be frozen, I will freeze it. And it’s just an easy way, I mean I don’t think, you know, I think people think I probably spend all my time in the kitchen cooking, but I don’t have time to do that, so I just do what other people do and encourage other people to do what I do, which is make your life easier by cooking a lot at once and, and just having what you need. With that said, I really do love to cook fresh vegetables, you know, three, four, five times a week as opposed to, you know, cooking a big batch. Like somebody just asked me about cooking 2.4 kilograms of broccoli at once and I was like, well I think I’d rather cook, you know, broccoli and have it for a few days and then cook another batch but, you know, for me it’s like having the basics and then adding the fresh stuff with it and then it all seems fresh.

Caryn Hartglass: I just have to take a moment and say, for those of you who listen regularly, it looks like the Mister Softee truck is coming around the block in my neighborhood. It’s now autumn in New York and I don’t think the ice cream truck got that message yet, that it’s time to go to the parking garage for another few seasons until summer comes back. It’s like my theme song, almost. Anyway, I also wanted to mention I really should be curious, and really get started with pressure cooking. Number one because I love math. I was a mathlete in high school and my background is in chemical engineering, so it seems like a, a perfect appliance that I should have in my home.

Jill Nussinow: I think you’re correct, Caryn. You would get this very, very quickly. It’s the people that don’t understand math that really have a problem doing it and I actually have little charts, a couple little charts in there for how to do things because what happens is, with grains I use an algorithm to, to increase how much you…how much liquid you add each time and it’s not a straight number.

Caryn Hartglass: But we don’t want to scare people away that only mathletes or chemical engineers…

Jill Nussinow: No. It’s fine. Yeah, it’s fine.

Caryn Hartglass: Everybody can get it.

Jill Nussinow: And I actually spell it out and if you double the liquid and you have a little too much, that’s why they make slotted spoons, so…

Caryn Hartglass: Oh. Very good. A slotted spoon doesn’t hold much soup.

Jill Nussinow: There you go.

Caryn Hartglass: Now you had mentioned to me before we agreed to do this show today that a lot of pressure cookers are being sold.

Jill Nussinow: Oh, you know, there are so many pressure cookers being sold that the instant pot, which is probably the most, I would say well-loved and most sold pressure cooker. It’s an electric pressure cooker that has many functions. You can make soy yogurt in it, which is very cool. They sold 214,000 of them on Amazon Prime Day and that’s a lot of pressure cookers. Now most, I would say the majority, of people are not following a plant-based or vegan-based diet, but a lot of them are, and so that’s huge. And there’s also other pressure cookers, I also love the Thager Lux, which has many of the same functions and so, they’re selling like crazy. And I’m guessing that probably, at least 80% of the people are taking them out of the boxes and using them. And so this is new, and it’s not new because I’ve been teaching it for twenty years, but now it’s finally catching on so I feel like I’m kind of getting in with the pack instead of being ahead of the pack. Somebody told me if you wait long enough, the wave will catch up to you and I kind of feel like it’s getting there. So yeah, they’re selling…they sell so many of these and I have noticed within the last couple of years, my books are just kind of really flying off the shelves because of this and I saw it with The New Fast Food, which some people call their pressure cooker Bible, which I’m like “Wow!” but people have said, because I don’t say it, but people have said that I have the best pressure cooking timing charts that are out there and I kind of think that they’re really good because I’m pretty meticulous about these times because that’s what makes the difference between something good and something not so good and I want everyone to have success when they use these pots.

Caryn Hartglass: Is there any pressure cookers out there that are easier in terms of math and science?

Jill Nussinow: Well no, not necessarily, although the thing with the electric ones is you don’t have to do any kind of adjustment on the stove, so if a recipe says to cook it for four minutes, you set the pot for four minutes, it will beep when it’s done and then you’re…you know, you do either one of two things…it’s called a natural pressure release and that means you just wait until the pressure drops, or the other thing you do is called a quick release and this is when people start jumping high in the air because the steam comes out and they’re terrified and the thing that’s interesting about that is that, that’s what you need to do if you’re cooking vegetables because you need to stop the cooking. But no, you can take the…you can take the math out a little bit by just setting the pressure cooker and the…following the time and you don’t have to really do much about the science part. That’s kind of taken care of for you with the electrics.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, so let’s talk about your cookbook, Vegan Under Pressure and how is it different from your other book that people are calling the pressure cooker Bible?

Jill Nussinow: Well I say that The New Fast Food has more basic recipes in it and Vegan Under Pressure has what I would call pressure cooking 2.0. I do things in there that I didn’t do in the other book like show people how to make cheesecake and cake and, you know, steamed things in there like doing whole squash, which people love, so kind of like the next step but still doable for most people. So it’s just got more, I would say, inventive and creative recipes than the first book, but they’re all doable once you get the basics down and I do have basics in Vegan Under Pressure.

Caryn Hartglass: Now, you talked about cooking with a dish inside of the pressure cooker and then you show how you can devise a handle to remove that dish.

Jill Nussinow: Yes and so it’s called pot-in-pot cooking and there’s something that came out since then, which is so cool. It is a silicone sling and they make these from a company, and I get them myself on my website, and they’re called…I just call them silicone sling helper handles and you can use those instead of foil. They are totally reusable. The foil still works fine but it’s just a little harder to get the dishes out and the thing that’s really important with that is those dishes are damn hot, so you have to be really careful. But that’s how you do cake and that’s how you do like apple crisp. That’s how you do cheesecake. But yeah, that’s what you call pot-in-pot cooking. A lot of people use it to reheat dishes in the pressure cooker, which you do with steam, so you put in a cup of water, a rack, your dish and then you set it at pressure for maybe five minutes and you can heat up whatever you’ve cooked. But you do need to get the dish out and so you can either make a foil sling or you can get these helper handles and either one works.

Caryn Hartglass: Right, I’m glad I asked you to find out about that silicone helper handle because…and I imagine as manufacturers discover more people are doing this, they’ll probably come up with some other enhancement in order to do pot-in-pot pressure cooking.

Jill Nussinow: Well, I wish they would, but if they don’t, I’m going to be jumping on it. My husband has been kicking me to do something for years now and I’m like “I’m too busy!” and you know, but there’s things that could really be improvements on the pressure cooker and what you can do it, but the thing about the pot-in-pot that’s great is I have done it with multiple things in the pressure cooker, which makes it really great, so I’ll do rice on the bottom, put in the rack, put a dish on top of that, then put another dish on top of that, so I can do rice, beans and one other thing in there at the same time. It’s pretty remarkable.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes, Okay I’m…I’m…I’m I’m I’m I’m…am I ready, folks, for pressure cooking?

Jill Nussinow: You could be, Caryn, you could be. It’s really…I mean, I bet there are people who don’t know math or science who use it quite regularly.

Caryn Hartglass: Well we’ll see. Stay tuned. If you want to know if Caryn does get her pressure cooker and starts cooking with it, you’ll have to read my daily blog What Vegans Eat and see what happens. Stay tuned. Okay, so in addition to Vegan Under Pressure, which is really very comprehensive, people can find out a lot more about pressure cooking at your website. You mentioned there is a fun video there, I’m sure there is a bunch of videos there and what’s the website people can access?

Jill Nussinow: It’s the www.veggiequeen.com and actually I just discovered yesterday…I guess I should’ve known this…that there is a page that has all of my videos on it and people can look at them there. I’m also on YouTube under The VQ and so, I think a lot of people feel comfortable when they see me actually using it and I think that helps.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, Okay good. Well I’m glad we had this opportunity to talk. It was kind of serendipitous that I had something completely scheduled for today and then it changed and the universe provided some wonderful people to talk to today and that includes the Veggie Queen. I’m so honored to be speaking with royalty today.

Jill Nussinow: Thank you, Caryn and you know, I’m all about pressure, so any time something pops up, I just jump right in because I’m not afraid of the pressure and…nor vegans, nor cooking under pressure.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, thank you! Jill Nussinow, the Veggie Queen with her new book Vegan Under Pressure. Whoa! Awesome. Okay, before we move onto my next guest, I just wanted to take a moment to speak about water, and pure water because it’s important to me and I haven’t talked about it in a while. But, as you may know if you’ve listened to this program for seven and a half years or so, I am a big fan of water distillation and of all of the different types of water purification methods, I personally believe that distillation is the best because you can remove everything. Water distillation with a little charcoal filtration at the end is ideal and I’ve been distilling my water forever. The thing that I love about is every time you distill, you’re getting the same clean water. The thing when you’re using filtration systems is the filter continues to collect more and more contamination, so it becomes ultimately ineffective over time and each time you use it, it becomes a little less efficient. But that’s not true with distillation, so the reason why I’m bringing it up is because the Environmental Working Group puts out reports from time to time water…tap water around the country and there’s a new article today just posted on September 20th where they talked about chromium 6. It’s a carcinogenic chemical and nobody wants a big glass of chromium 6 in their water, right? Well unfortunately, many many regions in the country have high levels of this chromium 6 and there are other things that can be in your drinking water that you don’t want in your drinking water…arsenic and chlorine and fluorides are added to the water, unfortunately, in many places…pesticides and lead…and sometimes they’re there regularly and sometimes there might be a leak that we don’t really hear about and in some areas, it might just go right into the drinking water. Well the only way, I think, we can be safe is by purifying our water at the source. Tap water is great and I’m so grateful in the United States we have access to wonderful water right at our home, so it’s important to have tap water and it’s so much better than bottled water because the bottles…to make the bottles, it takes so much energy and water just to make them…more than what’s in the bottle and then you don’t know what’s leaching into your water from the plastics. It’s not a good thing. Anyway, I recommend distillation, so if you go to responsibleeatingandliving.com, that’s where I live, responsibleeatingandliving.com, I’ve posted a new article about distillation and what we recommend here at responsibleeatingandliving.com. I’ve tried lots of distillers and there’s only one that’s my favorite and it’s made in the United States, so find out more at responsibleeatingandliving.com. Well all right, I should have a glass of water right now to drink, but I didn’t prepare one, so I have to go dry.

Transcribed 12/16/2016 by KC

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