Friends and clients of mine often express that they get in (what I call) a food-rut. It seems to happen most when we get busy and stop planning our meals. We pick up the kids after work, rush home, open the fridge and say to our spouse “What should I make for supper?”; they reply “I don’t care”. So then we look for a few common ingredients to make any recipe that you can think of off the top of your head: stir fry, chili, mac and cheese….sound familiar?
My first maternity leave I was so overwhelmed by having this new little person to care for that I was not very organized or adventurous with our family’s diet. We still ate healthy and I cooked from scratch, but it seemed to be the same batch of recipes over and over again. We definitely got in a food-rut. My second maternity leave, I vowed to not repeat this, and made an effort to surf the web and watch cooking shows while the boys napped. I didn’t try a new recipe every day, but a few times a week and this seemed to help keep food interesting. It also helped our oldest (Nolan) try new foods, or to try foods that he didn’t like, in a new form.
I try to recommend this to my friends and clients:
- Try weekly menu planning – this helps keep variety in the diet to avoid the food-rut, keeps your meals well balanced, and can save you dollars at the grocery store.
- Pick one day or night of the week that your family is less busy. Use this day to choose one new recipe, shop for the ingredients, and prepare it for the family. If the family enjoys the new recipe, add it to your collection of favorites.
- If you’d rather not venture too far outside your comfort zone, or find it difficult to set aside enough time to prepare a new recipe start to finish then kick-it-up-a-notch! What I mean is choose a family favorite recipe and try a new or modified version of it. This is sure to help keep things fresh but also practical.
- If you find the concept of a new recipe too much, maybe try tackling a new food preparation or cooking skill. Once you have a new skill mastered, recipes will not seem so much of a stretch.
This weekend, my husband and I decided to try a new recipe AND to kick our mac and cheese recipe up a notch or two! Our recipe of choice: Spicy Fish Tacos! We typically do not fry anything in our house, but love to watch Eat St. where food trucks often serve some delicious-looking version of a fish taco. Nolan has never really liked fish other than a tuna sandwich, so I wanted to offer fish to him again in a new way. He loved this fish taco but with mayo and a smaller amount of sauce.
Last night’s delicious find: Spicy Fish Tacos adapted from Allrecipes.com
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 1 cup beer (we used Bud light lime)
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- ½ cup light mayonnaise
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, minced (seeds and ribs removed)
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
- ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper – We found 1 tsp too hot for the kids
- 1-2 cups of canola oil for frying (so there is 1 cm of oil in your pan)
- 1 pound cod fillets, cut into 2 to 3 ounce portions
- 1 package of small whole wheat tortillas – I couldn’t find corn tortillas at our grocery store
- 1/2 medium head cabbage, finely shredded
- 2 hothouse tomatoes chopped
- *Chopped cucumber would also pair nicely with this recipe for a fresh feel
- To make the beer batter: In a large bowl combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Blend in the egg and beer, then quickly stir into the flour mixture (don’t worry about a few lumps).
- To make the spicy sauce: In a medium bowl mix together yogurt and mayonnaise. Gradually stir in fresh lime juice until consistency is slightly runny. Season with jalapeno, oregano, cumin, dill, and cayenne.
- Heat canola oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or cast iron frying pan. The oil is ready when you stick the handle of a wooden spoon in it and little bubbles form.
- Dust fish pieces lightly with flour. Dip into beer batter, and fry until crisp and golden brown. This takes only a few minutes. Drain on paper towels.
- To serve, place fried fish in a tortilla, and top with shredded cabbage, tomatoes, and dollops of the spicy sauce.
Happy Canada Day!