The COPD Kitchen
I have always had a love of cooking. Collecting cookbooks and recipes, particularly from the colonial era, was a hobby. Weekend mornings were a time for watching cooking shows even before the popularity of The Food Network. I love different types of foods, specialty products, and farmer’s markets. Imagine my dismay to discover how much energy I did not have to cook or how food would affect my breathing. Even though I keep telling my husband I no longer want to spend time cooking, there is still a part of me that is on a quest to find ways to keep this enjoyment in my life.
I have never been a big fan of a lot of fancy gadgets. I like the old-fashioned way and it provides me with a sense of satisfaction. However, there are some I find invaluable, particularly now that I have COPD.
The crockpot is in constant use in my kitchen. Soups are a favorite of mine. They are nutritious, inexpensive to put together, and freeze well for later use. I like to make my own vegetable broth for sipping on during the afternoon or using in other recipes. It doesn’t require much work, little chopping, and no peeling. I will put all the vegetables in the crockpot overnight and let it do its work while I am sleeping. I do the same for chicken broth.
A stand mixer also saves an incredible amount of energy and oxygen and isn’t just for baking cakes. I cook chicken in the crockpot overnight, then shred it with the dough hook in the morning. The same with pork for pulled pork or beef. It takes only minutes to shred a large batch, now ready to freeze in individual servings. Beat a dozen eggs for a baked frittata in seconds, or whip potatoes. I have also used it to mix meatloaf or meatballs. I can make large batches. Meatloaf can be made into small loaves and frozen and meatballs can be baked on a sheet pan, then frozen in individual servings.
Sheet and muffin pans
Sheet pans and muffin pans are other favorites. Individual egg frittatas or meatloaf can be made in muffin pans. From mini tacos and mini shepherds pie to baked spaghetti and meatballs, there are many recipes that go beyond the traditional muffin. I like the size of them because it keeps me from overeating, which causes me to be short of breath. I use sheet pans for an all-in-one dinner. Pieces of chicken, seafood, or sausage, an assortment of bite-size vegetables, mixed with a little olive oil and seasonings of choice, a hot oven to roast, and dinner is ready.
There are certain items I keep in my pantry to help me. A container of dried vegetables is one of them, which I usually buy in bulk from Amazon. They provide extra nutrition and flavor to egg dishes, soups, rice, meatloaf, and many other recipes. They lose little of their nutritional value in the dehydration process and last a long time.
A few containers of a good, organic broth, usually chicken and vegetable, are often on-hand. If I am not feeling well, I can heat this up with a handful of shredded chicken and dehydrated vegetables for a simple soup without the high sodium.
Individual meal containers for the freezer are also stacked in my pantry closet. By making use of my crockpot and stand mixer, I can cook in large batches and freeze meals. I am always extremely grateful for those meals on a day I’m not feeling up to cooking.
Something I love
How I cook may have changed, but I have not lost my love for it. I also have not lost my love for eating good, homemade food, but I had to find new ways to prepare it. By making use of the appliances I already had and discovering new ways to use them, I can keep doing something I love.
Like many of you, I do most of my cooking in the morning when my energy level is higher. I prepare and chop at the kitchen table. I have found hundreds of recipes for sheet pans and muffin tins on Pinterest or searching Google. Air fryers, instant pots, and rice cookers also make life in the kitchen easier. I don’t have these appliances but would love to hear tips from anyone in the community that uses them.
Do you still cook? What energy and breath-saving tips do you have to share?
Editor's Note: We are heartbroken to share that Carol passed away in February of 2022. Carol's storytelling and advocacy will be deeply missed, but her legacy lives on through her articles and in all the people she inspired.
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