Meal planning is an important piece of preparing for the week ahead for me. I create a plan for our meals based off our family calendar. The meals I choose will create a grocery list. And I am all for the ease of grocery shopping, I utilize the drive up grocery services. This service not only saves me time but it also ensures that I stick to the list and budget.
Recently, our family calendar has gone from full to empty. And local grocery stores are out of many items requiring substitutions. Adjustments to my weekly rhythms of meal planning were required. Instead of doing things the way I have grown accustom to, I have had to get creative.
Is this creativity is an opportunity?
I think it just might be!
Over the last two years I have been learning and improving in the kitchen. I still classify myself as a beginner cook. I am not fearless in the kitchen. But I allow myself to feel the fear and do it anyway. My feelings do get hurt by my kids opinions from time to time. We all have critics. It is our critics that keep us working to improve. For now, I will remind myself that I have a good base. And if that fails me, I have Google to help me along the way.
Currently, we are dealing with many changes n our daily lives because of COVID-19. The spread of this virus has brought us all to a stop in one way or another. Anyone else running low on toilet paper?
But changes come in other ways too. Maybe you are experiencing a change in life from new health diagnosis. Your doctor just told you have a gluten allergy. You will need to change your diet to avoid all foods with gluten. Or, your blood work came back with an elevated A1C. You will be following up with your physician in a few weeks for a treatment plan. The chest pressure you have been feeling for weeks finally brought you to the hospital. It turns out it isn’t just indigestion. The cardiologist and nurses instruct you make changes to your diet to prevent further disease progression. Or, your primary care physician has the hard discussion about your weight trending up at each visit, changes are recommended to your diet.
The thought of change can be intimidating and overwhelming, especially when we are discussing changes in food. I have had several patients, at different times express there frustration with recommended change in their diets in these words: “Its too much,” “I don’t know how,” “It would be better to die.” The last statement is a little extreme, but the hopelessness is real.
This is a moment where we get to choose to move forward by adapting to our new circumstance or allow the hopelessness to take over. Moving forward is an opportunity. The intimidation and the feeling of being overwhelmed will still be there, but those feelings will have less control if we choose to do it anyway. This is the space where we learn and grow.
Two years ago, I was overwhelmed with learning how to prepare whole, nutritious foods for the benefits of my health. But I made the choice to not allow my feelings to control my actions. I continue to learn each day as I go to the kitchen to prepare dinner. I have become fascinated with what food can become when prepared in different styles and forms. Two years ago, I didn’t know I would be limited to what food was available at the local grocery store. But learning through doing and my fascination has allowed me to be creative in my current circumstance.
How can you be creative in your current circumstances?
Stick with flavors you, enjoy!
Most people believe healthy food means the food is bland and earthy (dirt) flavors. But healthy cooking has great flavors! Each ingredient compliments the other ingredients in the meal to create full, complex flavors. Herbs and spices are used to enhance the flavors. Cooking with herbs and spices allows meals to be nourishing and full of flavor. This is where Google search is helpful. Simply think of your favorite flavors, type the flavor along with a protein, vegetable, herb, or spice that is already in your home. You can even include words like quick, easy, 5 ingredients or less. Google will find recipes that meet your search!
Not only do I use this with flavors that I enjoy, but also with flavors I want to try. I received an in-home herb garden (Aerogarden) as a gift. One of the herb pods included with the garden was Thai Basil. I had no idea Thai Basil existed. I assumed this herb would be best used in Thai food because it has Thai in the name.
For the plant to continue to flourish, I had to prune the leaves and stems. As I trimmed the plant, I decided to taste a raw leaf. Thai basil has a black licorice taste. This could be interesting. I don’t really like black licorice. I have never tried Thai food. And I am a beginner cook.
I opened my phone, clicked on my internet app. I Google searched: Thai Recipes using Thai Basil
Multiple results appeared from my search. I was able to find a recipe that used mostly whole fresh ingredients. Of course we didn’t have all the ingredients, so I did another search in Google for substitutions.
Google: substitution for chili paste. Results informed me that crushed red pepper, hot sauce, cayenne pepper and ketchup, or tomato paste combined with chili powder are all substitutions for chili paste.
Google: substitution for fish sauce. Results show Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce can be substitutes for fish sauce.
From this information, I created Thai Basil Chicken with Shirataki noodles. This meal was healthy and made with fresh ingredients. From my search I was able to prepare a meal that was full of flavor and used what we had here at our house.
Thai Basil Chicken with Shirataki noodles was a hit with the above 30 crowd at our house. The 8 and under crowd did not wish to participate in the trying new flavors. The 9 years to 30 years demographic was unable to be tested due to the lack of presence in our house.
Change is an invitation to learn, to grow, to be creative. As I make adjustments, I can accept my limitations and look to others with knowledge and resources to help me along the way. As I am reminded that I am a learner, I am able to see the opportunity in the change. It is an offer to do something new!