Google+ Allergy-Free Vintage Cookery: How Do You Keep Up Your Enthusiasm For This Constant Cooking??

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How Do You Keep Up Your Enthusiasm For This Constant Cooking??

"If only I had a magic wand!"
We live in the age of convenience ... frozen meals, fast food, and shortcuts at every turn.  Unfortunately, if your family has been beset with food allergies, your access to these modern shortcuts is severely limited.  Once you eliminate the food items that contain gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, and nuts, you're left with about four things to eat, and ice is one of them.  Which means that you, mom, are required to cook 95% of what your family eats from scratch.

And that's fine, if you like to cook.  And you have lots of free time.  And access to a great grocery store that features a wide variety of non-allergenic cooking ingredients.  And a high tolerance for foods that don't quite look or taste like your family is used to (rice bread, anyone?).  And a really good attitude.

It's all well and good when things are going well and life is just coasting along.  But what happens when the spell is broken and a few bumps in the road cause your good attitude to slip down the drain?  You know what I mean... those days when the kids are fighting and you forgot the quinoa flour at the store, and someone spilled the flax meal, and the kitchen is too damn hot, and the baking sheets still have burnt food on them from last night, and you are just so sick and tired of eating GF breaded chicken and oven roasted potatoes.  How do you get back on track?

I have one trick to offer, and I'd love to hear yours.  I find that I get into an endless negative feedback loop if I let myself feel like a failure for not cooking.  I start mentally beating up on myself for not doing enough for my poor, allergic children, then I feel terrible about myself, then I have even less energy and motivation to whip up spiffy recipes.  To stop the cycle, I try to drag my uncooperative self to the kitchen and make one small fun thing.  Something like a smoothie, or a chocolate-covered banana, or a frozen grape rolled in sugar.... anything that the kids will squeal for that doesn't take more than 5 minutes or 3 ingredients to make.  One small fun thing, and suddenly my subconscious (which knows I did this but chooses to forget) starts to tell me I'm a good mom after all.  And the kids say nice things too :)

What do you do when you lose your enthusiasm for cooking?  How do you shake yourself by the shoulders and get yourself back in the game?  Please share your tips in the comments section... we can all use the help!

Shared with Allergy Free Wednesday at Tessa the Domestic Diva and Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop and The Hearth and Soul Hop at Premeditated Leftovers and Fat Tuesday at Real Food Forager and Traditional Tuesday at Cooking Traditional Foods and Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet.

18 comments:

  1. I'm lucky enough that I do enjoy cooking but I do have weekend batch cooking sessions for the freezer for those days I really cannot be bothered. My son doesn't have allergies but I firmly believe in making the majority of his food from scratch because I think we eat too much processed food generally (and kids certainly do).

    I think my turn to recipe to cheer my son and myself up is jelly. I make it from scratch, no sugar, no colourings, no nasties and although it takes a while to set, it takes moments to prepare. Once you've tried jelly made this way I don't think you'd bother having anything else. It's just too nice. Whenever I bring out apple or grape jelly for my son it is greeted by "OOH JELLY!"

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    1. That's just what I would say to jelly too ;)

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  2. Thanks for your honesty. I enjoy cooking too, but with work, I don't get home most days until 6 or later, so time is an issue. And, no gluten, corn, dairy, eggs, nightshades or peanuts can surely cause me to lose my enthusiasm! Right now I'm wandering what in the world I can fix for dinner besides baked or grilled chicken, beef or fish with roasted veggies and a salad! Planning definately helps! Lately, I've been making dairy free, refined sugar free ice cream 3-5 times a week and it's an after dinner treat...with no guilt :-)

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    1. I know - salads are so good for you, but I get so tired of eating them! Ice cream on the other hand.... :)

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  3. I'm right here now! My menu-by-the-month plan helps a lot, but sometimes you just feel like you're in a rut and need something different. I try to remember how much easier it is to be allergic these days, as we have so many options. Can't wait to hear everyone's tricks.

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    1. I admire you for planning a whole month's worth of menus - whenever I attempt that, I end up stopping after a week because of some hiccup (forgot an ingredient at the store, ran out of time, too many leftovers backed up in the fridge) then I lose my momentum and quit altogether :(

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  4. I do fine when I stay focused on feeding my family. When I start having trouble is when I start doing a lot of new recipe development and "sharing" recipes and photos with others. Deadlines and pressure start mounting and I worry if others will like them. Add "photo shoots" to the mix and they whole thing drives me crazy. Cooking for family is fun, cooking as "work" isn't.

    When that happens I have to pull back and focus on what is important -- feeding my family. I also like to take some time to leaf through my old favorite cookbooks during these times. That seems to help bring me back to my roots and keep me grounded. I also try to keep prepared food in the freezer so I can take weekends off from kitchen. I've found that to be very important for me.

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    1. I love my old cookbooks too... I'm always amazed at the yummy recipes I"ve forgotten all about.

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  5. luckily i enjoy cooking - it's a stress reliever for me -- but i just put on good music, and it makes it fun:)

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    1. My kids make fun of me when I sing and cook at the same time :)

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  6. I think I could cook all day if I didn't have 3 little ones running around to take care of. That makes it tricky and stressful at times-the whole trying not to burn something while cleaning up spit-up and breaking up fights or trying to chop up veggies with a baby on my hip because he's fussy and wants to be held. It's like a circus act. :) And that is where the burnout for me comes from. More from the juggling act as opposed to a lack of desire to cook. I don't have any answers. I can just relate. :)

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    1. I hear you - when my youngest was a baby I wanted to write a cookbook called "Cooking with One Hand" because he needed to be constantly held! Two of my neighbors were in the same boat, and we would talk endlessly about how we'd write it together, but needless to say, that turned out to be impossible for the same reason -- can't type with one hand either!

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  7. Hi Lisa,

    I had a very long comment typed out and then thought, this is getting out of hand here.

    My point was, I've had several regressions in the last 9 years with my cooking momentum. the biggest one was last year, which is why I started my blog. I did't want to step foot in my kitchen. It was bad. I felt like I lost all motivation for cooking.

    The first thing I changed and realized was that I was cooking too much (I mean for meals). So I simplified things and tried not to be so anal about having a 3 course dinner every night (I was raised by my grandmother most my life, and she lived to cook and every night was salad, 2 side dishes, main dish and dessert - I'm not kidding). I've tried very hard to shake this behavior. I'm getting better. Luckily my Coop has such great allergy-free choices (like GF free range chicken nuggets, healthy baked bean, frozen organic vegetables, DF,GF bars, etc) so this helps on the nights I don't want to cook...and just knowing that there is something out there is comforting. I have two go-to meal I made when I know I don't have any desire to cook a meal.

    I could go on and on and on because I struggle with the motivation. My advice would be to keep it simple, give yourself a break when you need it, use dessert to provide extra calories for the kids (like homemade coconut ice cream), clean and organize the kitchen and fridge every week, keep you kitchen work space fun, clean and inviting, make a weekly menu (with a few rest days), reward yourself, cook in bulk for leftovers, prep/cook in the morning (I find I have lots of energy and motivation right when I wake up).

    I hope these suggestions are helpful. ;-)

    Hugs,
    -Amber

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    1. Thanks so much for the advice, Amber. I can tell you know exactly what I'm talking about. There are days when I am so sick and tired of my own cooking I'd rather eat nothing at all than face another night of GF pasta or plain chicken. I notice (like you) that I'm more likely to cook something nice and interesting in the early afternoon, when I have more energy. That's where the blog comes in for me as well - if I can treat cooking like a creative project, that has to be done for the blog, then it's more fun. But sometimes, after a few failures in the kitchen, I lose my enthusiasm. I made a marmalade chicken last week that was disgusting - we threw it out! That's when I really need a push to get back in there and try again. I like your idea about rewarding myself! Does jewelry work? ;) Thanks again for all the great hints!

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  8. You are right, you can't beat yourself off. When I get off my cooking game, I get back on track by making my super easy dinner recipes and leave the pots on the stove and make everyone serve themselves. It makes it feel like I didn't work as hard if I make everyone serve themselves. :)

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    1. Alea, I tried to get in and edit your comment to say "beat yourself up" but I couldn't do it! Sorry :) But I love your trick of letting everyone serve themselves -- my kids like that too because they feel like it's a buffet!

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  9. I totally feel for you! I'm off eggs and corn now in addition to dairy and gluten... and all my quick suppers are out the door. Lately my husband has been complaining about the quality (and quantity) of the foods i make- lately i havent been cooking so much... Its hard...

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    1. Oh, those husbands! That doesn't help matters much, does it? But I saw on your FB page that you've lost 10 lbs -- so whatever you're doing, it's working! Congrats :)

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