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I love food, I love cooking (after all I was training to be a pastry chef before I had to drop out because of my health). Granted, these days, I couldn’t be happier than with an afternoon of cooking shows (hello, James Martin makes everything better). There’s nothing that beats actually cooking real food that doesn’t just exist on my TV-screen, though. Most of the time, I make pretty boring ‘I have to do this to eat’ things, smoothies for a couple of days, green juice for the rest of the week.
Eggs, two, fried, for dinner. A slice of melon and a cup of iced latte for breakfast. Yoghurt and a squeeze pouch of strawberry-banana puree for dessert. Pretty mundane stuff that isn’t very creative, to say the least. Boring but still taking up energy. Sometimes, especially before getting regular IV saline (and this summer when I didn’t have a useable vein left in my body) I have to get someone else (A.K.A. my mom) to help me. Going from spending a day working on a bazillion tiered cake or a boatload of chocolates was hard but I’ve been able to find ways to help me save energy and even make things just because I want to.
1 – Do everything in a certain way. I know it’s boring. It just saves so much energy when you don’t have to think about the way you’re going to do something when you’re actually doing it. This can apply to anything, not just cooking. The way you get dressed, brush your teeth, wash your hair … It’s also a big help if brain fog is a problem, you can even write it out and stick it somewhere you’ll see it.
2 – Think about where you put everything in your kitchen. Do those pans you use every day really need to be in that awkward spot behind a bunch of other things in that far away cupboard? Put the things you use most often in easy to reach places, close to where you’re going to use them. Pans near the stove, glasses and mugs near the water pitcher/cooker. Think about putting tea or coffee supplies in the same cupboard as a couple of mugs (or put a mug near your coffee machine).
3 – Use machines. If you’ve got them or can afford to buy them, use them. Use a blender or a stick blender to mix things. You can even make pancakes and warm sauces with a blender if you’ve got a high-powered one (like a Vitamix or a Blendtec). Use a food processor to do everything from making dough, to slicing and chopping vegetables. Stand mixers (like a Kenwood or a Kitchenaid) are great for whipping up cream, kneading or making meringue. Use them for anything that needs whisking for more than 10 seconds. You can even use a stand mixer with the paddle blade attached to shred chicken in about a minute. Use a slow cooker if you won’t be able to keep an eye on what you’re cooking the entire time. Chop and peel all the ingredients, add them to the slow cooker, turn it on and leave it for at least 4 hours.
4 – Consider the utensils you use when you’re cooking. Can you get a lighter pan? I like a simple stainless steel pan for pretty much everything. Cast iron pans work great. They’re a good idea if you could do with a bit more iron in your diet, but they’re a lot heavier and more difficult to lift. You want something you can actually, safely lift off the stove when it’s filled with something hot. Same goes for knives and chopping boards; can you get lighter versions of both if that would help you? You can always keep a chopping board on the counter, that way you don’t need to start dragging it across the kitchen when you’re ready to start cooking.
5 – Break the recipe up. Find moments in the recipe where you can take a break and come back to it, later. Print the recipe and read it through, are there ways to break it up in smaller pieces? How much time will you need for the recipe? Can it be done in a reasonable time frame (however long that is for you)? Can you prepare some things beforehand? Things like chopping and peeling vegetables or defrosting something to go in the recipe, can be done a day beforehand, for example.How to save spoons while cooking plus a free checklist. Click To Tweet
6 – Freezing the basics. Spend some spoons preparing basic recipes like tomato sauce, soups, stews, bone broth, and freeze them in small containers to have a meal (or part of it) ready, quickly. Smoothies and juice freeze great as well.
7 – Bonus tip: You don’t have to stand up for any of these tips; you can sit down or even lay on the couch while peeling vegetables, etc. Pull up a chair next to the stove when you’re making something that needs stirring. Sit on a good level next to the stove so you can see inside the pan. That’s also to make sure you won’t tip a hot pan of whatever it is you’re making, onto yourself.
To sum things up: Do everything in a certain way, use machines, consider the utensils you use when you’re cooking, chop the recipe up in different parts, freeze basic recipes, and take a seat.
Sarah is an integrative nutrition health coach from Belgium. As a result of living with gastroparesis, dysautonomia and gluten intolerance, she now uses her health coach and pastry chef training to share recipes, tips and tricks to help others live as well as possible despite their own dietary restrictions.
Thanks, for the post, Sarah! I bet this will help loads of spoonies who love to cook but hate to lose energy for an entire day in the process. You can find Sarah here. I’m currently recovering from my infusion, but I’m still on Twitter! And if you follow me, you already have one entry to enter to win $500 in cash. Enter here!Check out our sponsor!