“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” We’ve all heard that saying. And typically, it reflects my attitude, which is to try and deal the best you can with what comes your way and make the most of what you can with what’s at your disposal.
As you may recall, my year’s been chock full of lemons thus far: a seriously waylaid Operation Laundry Room (remodel of our laundry room that should have only taken 3 or 4 weeks has been going on since the end of January); my beloved falling while trimming a tree limb in our yard on 27-Feb, resulting in a compression fracture of his T12 vertebrae (he was finally released from his back brace on 16-May); having to put down our beautiful, beloved calico of 16 years, Ally, on 21-Apr (Easter Monday); and then…on 30-Apr, while at our home (she’d been planting some flowers in our plant beds for us, as hubby was unable to because of his brace and I simply did not have the time), my mom suffered a heart attack.
ENOUGH with the lemons, already!
I was already feeling overwhelmed and inadequate, but now I had over a week’s worth of daily trips to the hospital (a 45 to 60 minute drive for me one-way, depending on traffic), which has been followed by mornings, afternoons, and/or days spent at my mom’s after her release.
I have never felt more challenged and stretched. Although he was doing much better, my beloved was still confined to his back brace for the first couple of weeks after Mom’s heart attack, which not only restricted his movements and capabilities (no bending, lifting anything over 10 pounds, no pushing or pulling with more than 10 pounds of effort), but also meant I needed to get him in and out of his brace. (By the way, the day my mom had her heart attack, my beloved ended up being in that uncomfortable brace for almost 24 hours straight…and he did it without one hint of complaint. Not once. Yes, he’s a keeper. 🙂 )
With the additional chaos, meals became more challenging: I was too exhausted and worn out, emotionally and physically, to prepare any of my “go to” easy meals, and with my hubby’s restrictions in his brace, he was limited on what he could do meal-wise, as well, as he couldn’t bend to get anything into or out of the oven, nor could even fill a pot with water to boil pasta (it would be greater than the 10 pound limit).
Yes, of course, one can eat out — and I did have to for lunches — but restaurant meals quickly become tiresome, and typically, they aren’t as healthy as meals one prepares at home, and they most certainly aren’t as economical. Ditto for take-out from restaurants.
Often, when I know I’ll have a busy day, I’ll turn to my slow cooker, but I didn’t have the time or energy to plan ahead to prep meals in it, either.
(By the way, folks, if you’ve ever wondered why people tend to offer or bring over home cooked meals to friends or family when they’re undergoing a stressful time, all those reasons above are why. I know when I’ve done that for people, they have appreciated it.)
So, what did I do? I turned more to convenience products and packaged foods, but I did my best to try and “healthy” them up. Here are some of the tips and techniques employed:
- Use a pre-mixed, pre-washed bagged salad and pre-washed prepared fresh vegetables as the basis for healthy but quick sides.
- Adding tinned beans, rinsed and drained, thawed frozen vegetables, and/or prepared meat(s) and cheeses to a bagged salad can make for a quick, easy, but healthy main dish.
- Picking up a main dish from your grocery’s deli, such as already cooked ribs or chicken? Forego the typically fat- and calorie-laden commercially prepared potato and macaroni salads and opt for healthier, but equally easy sides, such as seasoned tinned beans, rinsed and drained, and fresh frozen vegetables (you can steam frozen ears of corn in your microwave in about 5 minutes or so et voila — a healthy but quick and easy side dish!).
- Healthy up “dinner kits” by choosing lighter ingredients and adding in healthy ingredients to boost the nutritional value. For example, one night, exhausted and feeling uninspired for supper, I picked up an Old El Paso Soft Taco Bake Dinner Kit. To healthy it up, I
- Used lean (93/7) ground turkey (93/7 ground beef or ground chicken breast would have worked, also; vegetarians, you could use Soyrizo, vegetarian taco crumbles, or canned beans, rinsed and drained, and/or frozen corn, thawed),
- Spread refried beans onto the tortillas (this added additional fiber and protein),
- Added some green chilies and sliced black olives,
- Added a bit of shredded reduced-fat cheese (additional calcium), and
- Dressed each serving generously with salad greens, diced tomato, and salsa and added a bit of reduced-fat sour cream and guacamole.
- Take a humble sandwich from ho-hum to something a bit more special by making it on a bakery loaf of French bread, sourdough bread, or other specialty bread from your grocery’s bakery section.
So the next time life throws you lemons, if you can’t make lemonade, sing the Lemon Tree song, it’ll make you feel better. 🙂
Despite all this chaos, I have not forgotten about, nor have I abandoned my blog! I have some recipes I want to share with you — it’s just a matter of my finding the time and energy. So keep an eye out for future posts. 🙂
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