Food Series

Cooking for the Heart

Whatever your current diet may look like, it’s important to indulge now and then. Most days I eat a balanced diet —  all the foods I’m “supposed” to eat. But eventually, there comes a time when I find myself caving into my cravings. How can we make craving (usually unhealthy), healthier? Allowing yourself to eat something you want, psychologically, can help give yourself the break you deserve. Some cravings stem from boredom. Don’t fall for that! Read a book, drink some water, watch TV, and distract yourself. But, for the days that you are craving something because you accomplished something amazing, or you are just feeling like it’s one of those days where you can’t win — I want you to listen to your heart. Cooking and eating for the heart are what I’m all about. And don’t worry — I’ll help you figure out how to make that very unhealthy craving, into something that you won’t feel guilty about later. 

First things first — no matter what you are craving, you have to make sure you are equipped to make it in your kitchen. Yes, fried chicken, mac and cheese, oreo ice cream, tteokbokki, biriyani. WHATEVER. Cravings are spontaneous — so know yourself. What are you usually craving? Lo mein? Pizza? Make sure you have those ingredients at hand at all times. Given that it’s currently a pandemic, we probably don’t have the luxury to go out and buy ingredients as needed. If that’s the case, stock up! You can fill your cabinets, closets, pantry areas with a ton of non-perishables (pasta, flour, oats, etc), and buy fresh ingredients as needed. I find that if you schedule your indulgence, you can plan better, and probably won’t have that many spontaneous cravings. Either way, knowing your tastes can make sure you can prioritize what you do buy and always have everything you need to whip up something great.

So what do I do? I love love love chicken. In what way, you ask? ANYWAY, but for cravings, there is a secret Indian chicken fry recipe from my mom. I know that on any day this chicken dish hits the spot. Every time I go to the store I’m always mindful that I need to have some amount of chicken stored away for the days when the craving comes knocking at my door. The ingredients for this recipe are so basic, that it’s likely I already have everything I need to make it at home. Read this article Making Grocery Shopping Fun and Efficient (coming soon) for more tips on how to make sure you are stocked to make complete meals and are not looking for life hacks to help feed yourself (please learn from my mistakes!) 

Time to time, I also crave chicken tenders — since it’s been a little difficult to order them from my favorite restaurants, I had to figure out how to make them myself. With some practice, a couple of adjustments through trial and error, I found my perfect go-to recipe to help me get creative in the chicken tender/wings realm. The process of cooking and eating touches on the two aspects of food therapy. In both cases, having flour/breadcrumbs and eggs at home prove to be enough to pull it off well enough (for me).

Here are some Buzzfeed Tasty’s recipes that I love to refer to for assistance:

Lastly, let’s talk about dessert. Baked goods cravings are no stranger in many of our lives. Having a sweet tooth just means you have a lot of love to give (or at least that’s what I tell myself)! I want to emphasize how important it is to make your baked goods. Supply and demand force some restaurants to take shortcuts in their cooking, allowing them to mass-produce goods with very little/cheap ingredients. If eaten consistently, this can be damaging to your health in the long run. At home, you can show your body a little more love, by being more mindful of the ingredients you use.

Let’s talk about my favorite desserts – brownies and banana bread. The process of making these two (and of course so many other goodies), is a calming experience. It is all about the care in handling the ingredients, the exact measurements, the sounds of the ingredients mixing, etc. Dessert main ingredients, like flour, sugar, extract, cocoa powder, butter, etc, are really easy to stock up. For me eggs are not a staple in my diet — so oftentimes I don’t have them in my fridge. Eggs are a must for most baking recipes. I’ve found that buying liquid egg products (or similar egg substitutes) tend to last longer than eggs, and are easier to store in my fridge. I honestly can’t tell the difference, and it makes my life so much easier that I don’t have to go to the store for two eggs or wait until I go next. 

Long story short… if you know yourself, know your tastes, and always have the bare ingredients, you can make a healthier version of your worst cravings — allowing you to eat as much as you want, giving yourself that well-deserved break. Enjoy your delicious food! 

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