I often find myself daydreaming about having a live in chef. You may be thinking, aren’t you a dietitian that shares recipes? Listen, I like to cook, I actually REALLY like to cook. I like to experiment and think about new combinations, but having a family and a business that centers around food there are still times that I don’t want to cook and need some dinnertime inspiration.
Have you found yourself in this dilemma? Your stomach says Pinterest-worthy meal, but your brain is on overload, here are few of my favorite tips to bust through that cooking funk and rediscover dinnertime inspiration:
Dig through the freezer
I hate to have my first tip require cooking, when we’ve already established that this is when you have no desire to cook. However, preparing extra meals that you can keep in your freezer for days that you lack dinnertime inspiration, because we all know they will come, prevents you from being at the mercy of whatever package frozen foods you find in your grocery store. One of our favorite meals to make and freeze is Freezer-Friendly butternut squash enchiladas . There are also several places in Kansas City that offer freezer meal exchanges and cooking classes so you can make freezer meals in bulk and just pull them out as needed.
Avoid imposter syndrome
Up until recently the weeknight dinner table was one of routine. It wasn’t uncommon to have spaghetti every Monday night, or meatloaf once a week. It’s true, in general, there was a lot less variety and meals had a lot less hype. (Imagine how boring those Instagram feeds would have been). If you are lacking inspiration or motivation sometimes the answer isn’t to turn to Pinterest or Instagram but instead to shut those off. Perfect Pinterest or Instagram dishes can make you feel like a failure if you are serving your family boring old tacos AGAIN! Going back to the basics and not always viewing food as something needing improvement or perfection may be just the thing to help your dinnertime inspiration. Plan out your meals with a simple schedule like this:
Monday – Sheet pan veggies
Tuesday – Tacos
Wednesday – Breakfast for Dinner
Thursday – Spaghetti with Banza Pasta
Friday – Pizza
Try a cook-it-yourself meal prep service or a meal delivery service
Although we are an e-mail driven society, we all still love getting snail mail. Imagine getting dinner delivered in your mail box. These subscription programs package all the food and supply the recipe too. All you have to do is the final cooking step. These would be companies like Sunbasket, Hello Fresh, or Blue Apron. Here is another dietitian’s review on some of the top meal delivery services.
Try a no-cook meal prep or meal delivery service
No-cook meal prep services come in individual packages and are portioned and fully prepared. These types of services aren’t just for individuals wanting a whole week of meals, this can be a great option for someone that wants a few meals a week to take a break from cooking but doesn’t want to always eat out or eat convenience foods.
I tried three different Kansas City based services and there really is something out there for everyone. If you haven’t heard of Evolve, Brookside Holistic Solutions, Rawsome Nutrition or Fitstyle Foods let me introduce you and help you narrow down which one might be a good fit for you:
From Riverside to Olathe and Blue Springs to Bonner Springs it doesn’t really matter where you live in Kansas City there is a location that is convenient for you. FitStyle Foods has seven locations across Kansas City, including Brookside Holistic Solutions in Lee’s Summit where I got mine. Rawsome Nutrition is also available at Brookside Holistic, so you place one order and can pick up both at the same time.
Evolve has 4 locations in Kansas City: Overland Park where I got mine, Briar Cliff, Liberty, and the Crossroads. Plus for my non-Kansas City readers it is also available in seven other midwest cities in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Arkansas, and Iowa.
Special Dietary Requirements
Vegetarian/Vegan: If you follow a vegetarian or a vegan diet Rawsome Nutrition has some amazing varieties. I loved the nacho “cheese” and “meat” crumbles, they have a great authentic texture and traditional vegan taste. If you want to experiment with more plant-based options these are the meals for you. I will warn you that if you are trying to trick a friend or family member into thinking there is meat or cheese these substitutions, while very tasty, are not similar enough to fool the meat-lovers palate.
Paleo/Gluten-Free: For those following a Paleo diet, or needing to be gluten-free, Evolve’s chef prepared meals are the way to go. Although you do a quick heat up of most of these meals you will feel like you’ve had a chef in your home. The Evolve meals were my favorite out of the bunch with many unique varieties to pick from including Asian Ahi Tuna Salad and Chicken Fried Chicken.
Macros: Both FitStyle Foods and Evolve help those wanting to count their Macros by providing the macro content of each dish both on their website and right on the container.
With all these ideas I’m feeling inspired, how about you? How do you come back from a lack of inspiration?
One of my friends jokingly suggested that I should open a healthy donut food truck. I guess I’m trying to expand my offerings. I’ve already shared my veggie lover’s donuts, and my chocolate lavender donut, and now I’m bringing you your springtime favorite gluten free carrot cake donut with amazingly simple cream cheese frosting.
Often when baking gluten free donuts they can become tough and dense because gluten is what provides the structure. One of my favorite additions to this recipe is the cream of tarter, it is optional, but it makes the texture of these donuts so rich and fluffy you won’t want them without it. If you aren’t familiar with cream of tarter, you can find it in your spices aisle. The only thing that makes these better is the simple cream cheese frosting made of cream cheese, honey and a little unsweetened almond milk.
Half of the fun of these donuts is decorating them. We toasted extra shredded carrot and some coconut to get that nest like texture. Then we topped them with some chocolate egg candies. What ways can you dream up to decorate them?
Did you know that we eat with our eyes? It’s true! They did research with a group of sommeliers, basically professional wine tasters, (what a job!) to determine how much this is true. These professionals received white wine that was dyed red to taste and describe. Shockingly, they described the wine the way in which one would describe a red wine as opposed to a white wine. Even experts taste with their eyes.
Scrambling around making dinner last week, I decided to grab a shot of my crispy chicken fingers, one of my family’s favorites. This less than perfectly curated picture was meant to just share the story of my dinner on social media. I shared it to give the “hack” of using a wire cooling rack when baking crispy chicken fingers to get that perfect crunch on both sides that usually only comes from frying. I thought, like usual, my crispy chicken fingers would get a few likes and comments but I didn’t expect the response that I received. The people have spoken, this picture is real life, and apparently you think it’s real awesome. This recipe is truly one of my favorites so it is so exciting to have it finally on the website. I promise to provide some updated pictures soon, but in the meantime, here is that killer recipe you all have been asking for!
A couple of things that make this recipe unique:
The breading is egg-free which is great for those needing to avoid eggs. It also has flaxseed in it, which provide extra fiber and gut healing benefits in an other-wise gut neutral dinner entree. I usually thin out the reserved sauce with a little olive oil and use it to dress my salads.