I haven’t cooked a meal for myself since last October, which sounds strange considering how much I used to love cooking and trying out new recipes in the kitchen. In fact, I used to try a new recipe every week. On top of that, every Sunday I baked homemade bread and breakfast muffins. I was a regular Betty Crocker. Since October, though, the thought of having to cook something overwhelmed me.
A lot of that stemmed from the major depressive episode I was in. In severe depression, everyday activities like doing the dishes or taking a shower or throwing a burger on the George Forman grill seem like major obstacles to overcome so you don’t even try. I avoided doing dishes by using paper plates, forks, spoons, and cups. The cookware that did land in my sink was limited to empty plastic containers from when my Mom sent meals home with me. Those containers would sit there for weeks (sometimes a month) at a time.
Typically, after an episode, that all goes away as your life returns back to normal. And, for the most part it did go back to normal for me. Except in the way of cooking. Even now, I’m subsisting on Mom-made meals and bags of frozen vegetables and cans of soup and tuna. But on Monday night, when I was combing through my pantry trying to decide between a bag of popcorn or a bowl of cereal for dinner, I had a sudden urge to cook. I was even willing (gasp) to go to the grocery store.
Settling on a recipe was fairly easy since I have an overloaded Pinterest board of recipes to try. I settled on the first one that popped up though because if I sat there long enough, weeding through every one, I probably would have lost interest. It just so happens the first one that popped up was Shepherd’s Pie.
Usually I make modifications to recipes like adding things here and there or taking away things I don’t like. I don’t really care for the taste of lamb so I switched it for ground turkey. I also added some mushrooms and lima beans to the veggie mix and cumin for flavoring. Cumin is my go-to spice and I seriously think it makes everything taste better. Put it all together and you get this:
I also tried a new take on mashed potatoes that I picked up from SkinnyTaste. I was slightly hesitant to try it because I rarely use lighter versions of comfort foods I love (fat-free cheese, sour cream, milk, etc.). Surprisingly, though, I actually like this version better. Milk was replaced with fat-free chicken broth and instead of using butter I chose a lighter version of sour cream. Even though it’s lower in calories, I thought it had a richer taste. I loved it so much I even made a separate batch to store in the freezer!
I was too excited to eat that I forgot to take a picture of the final product, but this one from Google images looks close enough, right down to the Paprika on top.
After dinner, I stood at the kitchen counter hand-washing dishes, hips swaying to the sound of Norah Jones, and I felt an emotion that I can’t remember the last time I felt: contentment. I write about this particular venture of mine only because what is a small victory to otherwise mentally healthy individuals is a big victory for me.
Now to decide what to cook next week!