Too tired to cook – so what can we eat?

The answer could be in a new cookbook by Sarah Rainey, Three Ingredient Baking

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Warning!  Many of the recipes are fattening, and contain massive amounts of cream, Nutella, chocolate etc.  However, there are those made with eggs, wholemeal bread, smoked salmon and lots of fresh vegetables that are easy, quick and nutritious, like

Rise and Shine Pancakes 

1 large egg  1/2 tsp ground cinnamon  1 red apple  (see – ONLY three ingredients!)

Beat egg, stir in cinnamon and peel apple and grate flesh into egg mixture.  Rest for 30 mins covered with clingfilm (to stop apple turning brown).  Heat knob butter in frying pan, drop in the batter in to pan in blobs a few centimetres apart, and cook over medium heat until the pancakes are lightly browned underneath (2-3 mins).  Turn over and cook for another 2-3 mins, then serve.

This recipe can be made in advance, by you or a carer, stored under clingfilm in the fridge, then cooked when you are ready to eat.

Sarah Rainey suggests you could use mashed banana instead of apple;  if your stomach can’t tolerate cinnamon then substitute 1 tsp desiccated coconut or 1 tsp instant coffee:

This recipe shows the style of the cooking, and the book even has a recipe for Irish soda bread that is crusty, but doesn’t need yeast, so is really easy to cook – and served with some cheese and tomatoes it has the basics for a good meal.  And if your stomach can’t tolerate the vinegary-taste of sourdough, this soda bread is a good alternative.

Why is it so difficult to eat now?

When we are faced with a cocktail of drugs in our stomach, but treatment makes us too tired to stand and chop ingredients in the kitchen to prepare a meal, it can be difficult to decide what to cook and eat to keep healthy.

Ready-meals can upset the stomach;  most seem to contain preservatives and E-numbers which are bound to go to war with whatever drugs we are taking,  Most are fattening, and may contain ‘hidden’ sugars. I learnt to search out the basics to keep me going, and then devise the quickest and simplest meals using ingredients that I can cook.

One of the Sunday supplements recently had a Michelin-starred chef write up ‘suitable recipes for cancer patients’.  I pounced on this, only to find them a massive disappointment.  Each recipe contained at least a dozen ingredients, and many of these were hot spices.  I was tired just reading what was needed to make a dish, let alone take at least an hour to prepare and cook it.

i remember ‘falling out’ from the critic A. A. Gill’s fan club when he had a rant about restaurants listing very ingredient in a dish;  for me this is a life-saver when eating out, so I can see what dishes to avoid.

So, eating at home I tend  to rely on boiled eggs, my staple roast chicken which will keep in the fridge for at least 4 days (can get boring) and tinned meaty Baxters soups.  I did eat healthily though, with a weekly order from a farm shop that delivered, so I managed to have my five-a-day, calcium in lots of fresh milk, yoghourt and cheese, so people said “you do look well”.

Ready meals

Recently I landed up in an NHS ward after fracturing bones.  As I was wheeled up to the ward, I was looking forward to meals cooked by someone else for the next few days  Bliss!

I drooled over the menu.  Ordered, waited eagerly – but when the meal arrived it somehow just didn’t have much appeal.  But having been brought up ‘waste not want not’ I ate it up (well, at least half of it), and spent the next few hours being violently sick. Same thing happened after the next meal. The hospital meals were prepared off-site 24 hours in advance, so obviously contained preservatives galore which my stomach did NOT like.

So the only way to keep hunger away was for kind friends to organise food from their kitchens.  They came in with lovely things to tempt me, but after four days I longed for a hot meal.  Asked Sister if I hired a nurse, could I be looked after with injections and things at home? Sister agreed.  So a lovely ‘proper’ nurse arrived from an agency, took one look at me and said “you look malnourished”. She proceeded to cook me very simple but delicious meals, and I recovered by leaps and bounds.

So Sarah Rainey’s cookbook could be a blessing, provided we realise that not all the recipes in Three Ingredient Baking are suitable. Some are low-sugar or gluten-free, but as Sarah says, “this is more a happy accident than deliberate choice. Most are indulgent goodies which should be eaten in moderation – especially two of those you can discover today, my zesty ginger lemon freezer cake and my chocolate praline brownies which, I’m almost ashamed to admit, contain a whole tub of Nutella”.

But look through the recipes carefully, and in amongst the truly-fattening dishes, there are those that are not only easy-to-cook, but also healthy.  Bon apetite!

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