I know it took me months, but after starting with what I eat for breakfast, lunch, and snack time, now I’m taking a look at what I eat for dinner and dessert – and sharing some of my favorite recipes, too.
Though the pandemic literally set my mental health journey back about 2 years in the span of just a few months, it did force me to broaden my culinary horizons. Random food shortages thanks to people panic-emptying the grocery store shelves (and fear of even going to the grocery store at first) meant stretching the big shop from our normal one week to last two or even three weeks.
This meant trying recipes with a lot of frozen and canned vegetables and things I could find in bulk like frozen shrimp and quinoa, and I managed to create a handful of dishes that became staples even when things started to calm down. This garlic shrimp dish in particular is still one of my favorites, especially when I pair it with quinoa that I combined with canned roasted tomatoes, corn, canned beans and fresh cilantro. Now, of course, I omit the corn, but it’s still a tasty dish that makes tons of leftovers and can even be a lunch option too.
I also discovered homemade poke bowls, after one of my favorite Bake Off winners, Nadiya Hussain, was given a Netflix show last spring where she shared her favorite quick recipes for lunch and dinner. Sushi-grade tuna was hard to come by the first time we made ours, but I gave the salmon a quick sear in the frying pan and fell in love with this super-fresh, crisp bowl full of veggies and rice and protein. It’s a great option when we’ve got a bunch of stuff in the fridge that’s about to go bad – just whip up some protein and toss that delicious sriracha sauce on it and boom: everyone’s happy.
The crock pot isn’t just for winter cooking in this house, either. I regularly break it out for things like chicken tacos (combine a pack of chicken breasts and a jar of salsa and ta-da) or my favorite ground turkey chili. Other staples include:
- chicken marsala with brown rice and roasted Brussels sprouts
- butter chicken with jasmine rice and broccoli
- Beyond Burgers on gluten free buns
- tilapia Thai green curry with white rice and veggies
- Gluten free frozen pizzas (from everywhere, we’ve tried a lot of them and have found plenty we enjoy)
Now that we’ve committed to that gluten free life, I’ve become a big fan of baking more at home. But an interesting side effect of that is that I also don’t feel the urge to plow through 5 cookies in one sitting when I’ve baked them myself. Maybe it’s because they take longer to make, butthe flavor is just that much more intense and they’re so much more satisfying one at a time.
Some of my favorite recipes – which I simply substitute Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour in – include:
I also can’t quit my favorite Reese’s mini cups, and always have a stash of them on hand at all times. Thanks to my new medication, I’m finding it much easier to avoid eating the entire bag in one sitting and often forget they’re even in the house for a few days at a time now. It’s nice to know they’re there if I need them, though.
Bonus: Beverage Time!
In addition to watching my gluten and corn intake, I’ve also focused on how much alcohol I drink, too. At the start of the pandemic, I fell into the trap of opening a bottle of wine every few days and “treating myself” to a glass or two (or three) after work almost every day, because it was what everyone else seemed to be doing on social media and what else were we doing?
After months of that, I realized I was unhappy – and likely packing on the pounds with each bottle, given that I also wasn’t exercising as much as I used to. So in September I put myself in wine time out and ended up not having a drop until Thanksgiving. And while it was delicious when I finally had some again, I realized that I didn’t need it as much as I used to. I slept better without drinking so much, and my skin and head were more clear without it. So I now have a glass or two maybe every month, with the occasional splurge on a Zoom date with friends.
I also discovered the joy that is Aviation gin, and my eyes have been opened:
Yes, it’s Ryan Reynolds’ gin, and yes, I’m not ashamed to admit that I love it. I’ve tried other alcohols with varying degrees of success but none have checked all the boxes like gin does for me. It takes less gin for me to get a similar buzz to wine, so it’s lower in calories than my usual 2-glasses-of-wine evening, and it doesn’t give me headaches. It’s also given me the opportunity to try other mixers, like flavored sugar-free seltzers and fresh fruit.
Keep in mind, with my new medication, I’m not drinking almost at all – it’s not a bright idea to mix a depressant like alcohol with an anti-depressant, after all – but red wine and gin in moderation are what I go for when I do.
And that about does it! How about you – what go-to’s are on your daily menu? Share your favorites and hook me up with some new things to try!