Over the last few months, I have had to make major changes in the way I eat and therefore the way I cook. Initially, I felt a little overwhelmed at the growing list of foods that I could no longer eat and for the first time in my life, cooking seemed stressful. It was then that I had to return to my basics and go back to some of the basic lessons that I had learned across my lifetime. One being that cooking is like meditation. When I stop, relax, and focus on being at one in the moment and with the ingredients, my creativity would kick in and the answers to what and how to prepare would flow like a river.
Learning how to create healthy dishes for my family and I that had that comfort food appeal but were low fat, low carb, and low calorie was the challenge. I was to do so using no grains and simple carbohydrates, like those found in fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts. One of the ingredients, which has become a staple in my pantry are egg whites. As I can no longer eat the yolks, buying containers of egg whites has made life easier. I have learned to appreciate egg white omelets and have learned that I can fill those omelets with a small amount of reduced fat cheese and salsa, fresh herbs, finely diced vegetable, or any other “approved” low fat, low carb item.
I have learned that not all flours are equally carbed. So out with the white and wheat flours and in with the coconut flour when I needed flour for what I wanted to make. For example, I made a low fat, low carb version of chicken French the other day using arrowroot powder. It thickened the sauce which I made with freshly squeezed lemon juice, white cooking wine, 1 tsp butter and chicken broth. I also dredged the chicken cutlets in the arrowroot powder and then dipped them in the egg whites before frying them in a hot pan coated with olive oil spray.
As I have focused on experimenting with these new ingredients I have remembered that practice makes perfect. Missing sausage to go with my eggs I learned how to make chicken sausage patties. I have to admit that my first attempt at these patties was less than stellar, primarily because I think I cooked them longer then they needed. However, the flavor of them was great, so the next batch I cooked them in the saute pan rather than in the oven and they turned out a bit moister. The next time I make them I might make my ground chicken out of chicken breasts and thighs as the dark meat is naturally a bit moister.
Another lesson I have learned in this journey is that we, like starfish, are ever growing and evolving. Even when we lost something, which seems like an inherent part of us, we have the power to recreate ourselves and regrow, that which was removed. With this newly emerging cooking vision, I am open to inspiration and new ingredients. I have come to remember that while what I used to cook was good for a season in my life, I am on a new phase of my journey where those old ways of cooking no longer belong.
In many respects, this has been like my spiritual life, ever changing, evolving, transforming, and growing. Like a starfish, I am in a phase of regrowth and rediscovery. Just glad that I had the chance to be thrown back into the water to continue on in my journey.