Am I the only one who used to roll my eyes at people when they suggested I eat my favorite "comfort foods" to cope with my loss? As if mac & cheese was going to bring back my loved one or fill the empty hole in my heart. I wasn't hungry....ever. Even more, I did not want to spend my time and energy slaving over the stove for hours to cook something that I wasn't even wanting to eat.
Most people experience changes in their appetite when they're grieving. Some people overeat, and some people have absolutely no appetite- I'm personally the latter. When I was grieving, I had zero appetite so I would rarely eat, which was very unhealthy due to the lack of nutrients/calories-- not eating left me feeling even more tired, and ended up sending my body into starvation mode, making me feel much worse.
To make matters worse, it can be incredibly difficult to do chores like cooking after you lose someone, because the emotional toll on your body seems to absorb all of your energy. Fatigue is a proven physical symptom of grief (read more on this topic here), so some widows and widowers resort to eating frozen meals or unhealthy take-out. To combat this, I wanted to combine a list of easy, fast & healthy recipes for all grieving individuals to try.
1. Black Bean Quesadilla's
These are so easy & quick, and they only have 3 ingredients: Tortillas, cheese & canned black beans. They take ~5 minutes to cook on the stovetop, so from start to finish (including heating up the stove) these take less than 10 minutes to make. These don't even need a recipe: take one tortilla, pile on some cheese and black beans, fold in half and cook in a skillet over medium heat with a bit of oil. These have fats, carbs, protein & nutrients like calcium, iron magnesium & more from the black beans. You can even add in other veggies, like corn, tomatoes, onions, peppers, avocado...the possibilities are endless.
2. Microwave Recipe: Baked sweet potatoes with warm black bean salad
Potatoes are very easy to make in a microwave & the black beans & tomatoes add nutrients, flavor & texture to the meal. It's as easy as zapping the potato for 8-10 minutes & mixing the canned ingredients in a bowl. Full recipe can be found here.
3. Easy Yogurt Parfaits
Top your yogurt with blueberries, strawberries & blackberries, add a handful of pre-made granola, and you have an easy 30-second snack. Greek yogurt is healthy & the addition of fruit will add tons of nutrients.
4. Pasta Alfredo with Chicken
Boxed pasta is easy, cheap & quick to prepare. To add some protein, bake some chicken breast and shred into the pasta. This recipe is ideal because you just let everything sit and the time spent actually cooking is very minimal. You can add some veggies in (like frozen peas, spinach, mushrooms, bell peppers or zucchini) for extra nutrients and flavor.
5. Garden Salads
Salad's are easy to prepare-- it's easy to add things like cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, beans or other things that require minimal preparation. You could even cook up some chicken or boiled eggs & cut-up some additional veggies, like cucumber, red onions or carrots to throw in (or purchase already-prepared-and-chopped ingredients). Grocery stores usually sell pre-packaged salad options for even easier preparation. Salad's are very light, so they're perfect for when you don't have much of an appetite.
6. Canned Chili
Healthy canned chili is easy, fast & can be healthy. Look for versions that are low-sodium, low-fat, include a lot of veggies & use turkey instead of beef. This is easy to throw into the microwave to heat up, and is a better alternative to fast-food (or no-food). Alternatively, you can look into different types of healthy canned soups & stews-- these can be lighter than solid foods,
and easier on your stomach.
7. Veggie Scramble
Chop up some veggies and add them into a skillet with eggs. If you're really not feeling up for cooking, you can always look for a microwave-mug recipe for omelets. You just crack the egg into a mug and zap it-- this means fewer dishes and less effort, which can be a win-win.
8. Overnight Oats
These oats don't require any cooking, and only need a few ingredients. Just mix oats with milk & fruit, set in the fridge & it will be ready to eat the next morning. Blueberries are high in antioxidants, bananas are high in potassium, and other berries offer fiber.