I am absolutely loving the food I am preparing in my kitchen lately. But, this has not always been the case. You guys know how it is, there are times when you find yourself feeling really “blah” about meals. Perhaps it is because you have a few go-to staples that are starting to bore you to death. Maybe it is due to the fact that you settle on what’s easiest simply because you do not know any other way to prepare good healthy food. I am guilty on both counts here. Guilty. Guilty.
Meal time has been really challenging for me lately. For the past six months or so, I have been in a major rut in the kitchen. Nothing sounds appetizing which really effects my inspiration for getting in the kitchen and making healthy meals. So what is the answer to this dilemma? You know, when you need to put food in your mouth but have ZERO desire to make anything. Already prepared processed food or going out to eat, of course. Simple right?
Pull the vegan chick’n tenders and fries out of the freezer and pop them in the toaster oven. Open the can of soup and pour it in the pan. I justified this for awhile by telling myself that it wasn’t so bad because I was buying the healthiest versions of the processed food. That motivational self-talk only worked for a little while before the self-loathing set in. Because let’s be real, even though I was eating organic, vegan and non-gmo processed food, these items are still seriously lacking any kind of nutrients that my body needs.
One day, I came to the realization that perhaps I had a problem. What sparked this aha moment was when I found myself “just throwing on” boxes of different flavored rice for meals. Boxed rice really doesn’t save any time. I would stand over the stove for 30-40 minutes preparing the “convenience” rice according to the package directions. Stirring, covering, stirring, uncovering, resting, fluffing. If you think about that for a minute, during that same time period, I could have easily made lots of other things (including my own rice with far less sodium content and mystery ingredients).
Step one is to realize you have a problem, right? Step two is to do something about it. I decided I needed to get my act together and clean up my diet. To shake things up a bit and to force myself to have to cook more, I recently added on a “going gluten free” challenge for myself. This has not been too much of a strech for me because when I do cook, alot of what I do prepare is gluten free, but I really wanted to see how my body would respond if I removed gluten entirely.
I have good news! Thanks to the online plant based cooking class I am taking, my meal enjoyment levels have skyrocketed. When I first heard of the Rouxbe Professional Plant Based Certification course last year, I felt instantly drawn to it. As a self taught cook, I lack some serious fundamentals when it comes to making my way around the kitchen. As I mentioned in this post, I am terrible with my knife work, typically relying on my hubbs to be my sous-chef to speed up my prep time. I also had very little experience preparing anything that was not already processed and packaged…especially anything plant-based. Veggies have never been a part of my diet.
For the past several years, I have been embracing my transition to a plant based diet by experimenting in the kitchen. Like many of you, I find alot my recipe inspiration on Pinterest. I follow my fave plant based bloggers and just try different recipes. I have always been detail oriented, so following a set of written instructions is right in my wheel-house. One thing I have noticed is that my lack of a basic understanding of cooking methods has left me in a pinch several times if the directions were unclear in the recipe.
This class has really inspired me to get in the kitchen and cook again. I am becoming more and more proficient with my knife work. I am learning how to perfectly roast veggies properly every single time. And this week, I learned how to make vegan and gluten free risotto from scratch! Full disclosure, I was quite nervous about this task, because risotto has been the “kiss of death” for many contenders on Top Chef. It just seemed so daunting and not worth the effort. Boy was I ever wrong.
I made this delicious Pea and Carrot Risotto in less time than it would take to make a box of rice and it was seriously one of the best meals I have eaten at home! It was perfectly creamy and tasted cheesy even though there was no cheese or cheese like substitute involved here. What I have learned in my class is that the key to cooking anything successfully is to be prepared before you start actually cooking. Having all of your ingredients prepped and ready to go like in this photo is essential and makes life a heck of alot easier.
Here is the link to the recipe if you would like to make this delicious risotto for yourself. And after seeing this picture, how can you not want to have this on your table in less than an hour???? You totally should make this recipe. It is delicious! Enjoy!