A Celiac's Creative Cooking Tips: How to Escape a Gluten Free Food Rut

Have you ever reflected on your last two weeks of meals and realized you've been eating the same handful of recipes? It can be easy to slip into a routine of eating, especially if you have celiac disease, food allergies or a certain dietary lifestyle (like paleo or vegan). I know from experience; as my Instagram shows, at least 85% of my body is probably made up of smoothies, snack plates, granola and stuffed spaghetti squash

As much I love routine and am addicted to these fan-favorite recipes, though, I still sometimes crave change - especially now that I have some extra time on my hands. So what's a celiac to do? Break out of her food rut of course!

A Celiac's Creative Cooking Tips: How to Escape a Gluten Free Food Rut

If you're ready to embrace more experimentation in the kitchen - even with a "restricted" diet like gluten free, vegan, paleo, etc - here are five tricks anyone can use to break out of a food rut! 

1. Commit to a certain amount of new recipes per month - and keep it realistic.

Have you given up on making New Year's resolutions because you can never make them come true? Don't apply the same mindset to experimenting more in the kitchen. Research shows that people are more successful reaching goals - in various aspects of life, from weight loss to education - when they establish a set goal. Writing down your goal seems to push the odds in your favor even more! 

So, before you even start thinking about new recipes, decide what you're striving for - and keep it realistic. Instead of committing to two new recipes a week and feeling overwhelmed, start more conservatively - like four new recipes every month. Base your goal off of your time commitments, cost for ingredients and how much you really want to change up your diet in the first place. 

A Celiac's Creative Cooking Tips: How to Escape a Gluten Free Food Rut
Or even write it in your planner!
Write down your goal, stick it on the fridge and move on from there. And, who knows. If you fall in love with experimenting, you can always increase your target number of new meals after a few weeks!

2. Reflect on what you actually like about your staple meals

What is it about your go-to meals that makes them, well, almost too delicious to not make? Looking at my favorite recipes - like smoothie bowls topped with granola and raisins or nacho spaghetti squash with homemade chips - I've realized they all have a common variable: lots of different textures and flavors. I'm not a "one-pot dinner" kind of gal - and that's OK. It just means I probably shouldn't try a ton of new one-pot dinners, since they usually aren't my favorite. 

Now it's your turn to analyze your favorite meals. Do you like spicy or just spiced? Vegetarian, vegan or lots of meat? High carb, high protein or high fat? Classic American comfort food or tastes from all over the globe?

A Celiac's Creative Cooking Tips: How to Escape a Gluten Free Food Rut
I'm all about that creamy/crunchy/chewy combo!
Sure, the goal is for you to expand your diet with new dishes. However, by keeping some aspects of your meals the same, you're increasing the odds of actually liking your edible experiments. And what could be better than cooking a new dish and having it become a new favorite? 

3. Look for inspiration - on Instagram, in food magazines or from your favorite blogs.

Even if you're the most creative person on the planet (or even just in your house), you can run out of culinary ideas every once in awhile. That's when outside research can come in handy. 

As a food blogger, I read my fair share of other food blogs. Want to know a secret, though? I only follow a handful of recipes step-by-step. Typically, I'll see a recipe - like one for black bean hummus - and I'll use it as a jumping off point to make smashed black beans served with a BFree Food's pita bread, roasted veggies and avocado. Or, I'll be scrolling through Instagram and see a killer plate of enchiladas - and I'll make some sweet potato Mexican nachos instead. 

A Celiac's Creative Cooking Tips: How to Escape a Gluten Free Food Rut
My latest addiction...
The point is that you don't need to look for the "perfect" recipe that sounds just like you; you can just skim recipes until you find one that you can easily adapt or one that sparks your culinary creativity. At the same time, you can also find inspiration in activities that have nothing to do with food. According to the shower effect, sometimes people's best ideas come when they aren't expecting them. Studies have also found that creativity can be triggered by taking a walk or simply doodling. So, if you really want to come up with a killer new meal, you might want to get out of the kitchen! 

4. Get organized and create a list of prospective recipes you want to try.

I don't know how many bookmarked recipes I have on my computer, but I'd guess I'm way past the 1,000 mark. As a result, looking for a new dinner can take a long time and feel so overwhelming, I just give up and bake a potato. To make experimenting easier, I created a new folder: Recipes to Try ASAP. Whenever I find a recipe that calls my taste buds' name, I (digitally) throw it in there. 

A Celiac's Creative Cooking Tips: How to Escape a Gluten Free Food Rut
What my list looks like lately...
Regardless of how you find your recipes, you can - and, in my mind, should - adopt a similar strategy. If you set a goal to cook four new recipes every month, spend 15 minutes on the last day of each month to find some recipes that sound like you. Bookmark (or pin, print out, etc) around 10 of them, preferably ones that provide plenty of variety. This way, if you get home from work early or wake up in the mood to cook, you can scan your short list of possibilities, find one that meets your cravings that day, and get cookin'! 

5. Realize that eating the same meals is OK - and don't pressure yourself to change.

I've eaten the same dinner for three nights in a row this week: leftover pizza on my fave homemade vegan crust with a side of avocado, green beans and lettuce. And you know what? Even though part of me thinks I should make something new for dinner tonight (if only just for Instagram), I'll probably have the exact same thing.

A Celiac's Creative Cooking Tips: How to Escape a Gluten Free Food Rut
'Cause why wouldn't I eat this four nights straight?
And why should I feel like a "bad" food blogger or foodie because of that? Some people hate leftovers; some people (AKA me) thrive on them. And, if you're in the latter camp, don't feel obliged to completely change your ways. 

Getting out of a food rut can be as complex as trying to make a souffle for the first time...or as simple as putting BBQ sauce and pork on your sweet potato sliders instead of salmon and pesto. Experiment in the kitchen because you love food and want to expand the meals you regularly enjoy - not because you "need" to eat a more "interesting" diet or "need" to be a "true" food blogger.

The truth is, I'm a creature of habit - in my daily activities, my sleep schedule and, yes, my food. Sometimes, though, I want to taste something a little different or add another recipe to my revolving menu - and that's where breaking out of a food rut comes in handy.

A Celiac's Creative Cooking Tips: How to Escape a Gluten Free Food Rut

And, as hard as adding some dietary variety can feel at times, the taste of a new, delicious meal makes the work 100% worth it


What are some of your staple meals? Do you repeat the same meals or do you love making and trying new recipes? Tell me below! 

Comments

  1. I love the practicality of your tips. I think it is really important to make it as easy as possible while still enjoying interesting food.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Easy and delicious are always my top-two requirements. Variety is a bonus!

      Delete
  2. If a recipe looks particularly interesting, I'll print it out and add it to the stack. Once in a while I'll look through the stack and move things that strike my fancy the top of the stack.

    We've got a number of repeating meals, but continue to try new things from time to time, and sometimes find a keeper.

    Sometimes a favorite side dish drives the meal-- tonight it was German potato salad that my wife made this afternoon. So I got out some smoked sausage from the freezer and rounded out the meal with some fried apples I'd made this afternoon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a great way to find some new recipes! I think I'd be tempted to just shuffle all of the recipes I've printed out and pick that night's dinner at random! And that potato salad sounds DIVINE!

      Delete
  3. Great tips! I totally get stuck in a rut sometimes, especially when I'm really busy. I don't mind as much but my partner gets sick of the same foods constantly so I have to try to keep things interesting. Your food photos are kind of making me drool a little.. I'm definitely going to have to check out some of your recipes! Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can totally relate to being able to eat the same foods all the time - but I try to shake it up every once in a while!

      Delete

Post a Comment