Last week my mom, sister, and I reunited in Disney World! (If you missed it, be sure to catch my first post in the Magical Mondays series). As we were waiting in line for Toy Story Mania, I let it slip that I had been eating onions and chicken coated with barbecue sauce as a lazy stir fry. “With rice?” my mom questioned. I replied that I seemed to be “too busy” or “too lazy” to even boil a bag of rice. Their response: And you’re the one with a food blog?
First, I should clarify that first and foremost, I aim to blog about celiac disease and food allergies. But, since our current treatment is food, I tend to blog a lot of recipes too!
Now, I usually cook full meals, or I at least manage to include rice in my stir fry. However, with the beautiful summer weather, I seem to find myself captivated by beautiful hiking trails, which limits my cooking time. And, as my schedule fills up, my meals slowly begin to slip in quality.
It doesn’t seem like a big deal. I mean, I’m just cooking for myself, right?! However, following this lazy cooking phase, I went to Disney World and ate my heart out. My meals were delicious because the chefs are much better at cooking than me. Plus, we all know that having someone else prepare a meal makes it taste ten times better.
But, there was something else… something delicious about eating full meals, rather than grabbing a handful of blackberries to make sure I eat enough fruit in the day. I might not be the most sophisticated chef, but even I can make a basic spinach salad with fresh fruit in two minutes.
So, here’s what I learned this week. Everyone needs to cook. For those of us with food allergies and celiac disease, we’re going to cook a bit more since it’s not quite as easy to eat out. Therefore, whether we like it or not, we’re going to be in short on time in the kitchen some days. And on those days when we’re simply throwing ingredients together, there are two steps to keep in mind to ensure an optimal quick meal.
Step 1: Think About the Flavors You’re Combining.
You might be limited by your pantry, but look and see what goes together. Which vegetables would go well with the sauces and starches you have available. It doesn’t need to be sophisticated, but taking just one minute to plan can help you avoid a gross combination. Be sure to stay away from using plain ketchup as your stir fry sauce! (Don’t worry, I haven’t been that lazy yet!)
Step 2: Make it Look Like a Meal!
So your presentation doesn’t have to be beautiful. The one above took me less than two minutes, and it made me pretty happy. Making it look as though your eating more than a pile of food helps more than you think. You’ll feel as though you just ate a full meal, rather than an on-the-go snack, which lifts your mood for quite some time. Lesson Learned: When you enter the kitchen, slow down, and take a minute to plan out your meal. Those extra touches will keep your gut happy in the hours to come.
Of course, in reality, a good strategy is to meal prep and keep a stocked freezer, but I managed to let mine run low this summer! At least, I think I’m finally learning how to cook without a recipe. I know I’ve make some progress because I haven’t set off the fire alarm yet this summer. 🙂
How do you prepare quick meals with a limited pantry and time, especially when you don’t have a go-to recipe on hand?
P.S: If you haven’t seen this awesome YouTube clip about celiac disease, check it out! It’s to the tune of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Cecelia.” I promise you’ll enjoy it. 🙂