A few years ago, I made the decision to commit to a vegetarian diet.
At the time, vegetarian options at restaurants were sparse and I would usually end up ordering a salad, pasta, or french fries. Although it was a bit disappointing at first, I had no other choices and eventually thought nothing of it.
Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
We were all stuck inside, scared to eat food that we didn’t make ourselves and bored out of our minds. I had this revelation that although I had cut meat from my diet, I wasn’t doing very well at replacing those nutrients with fruits and vegetables.
So, I got really into cooking. I had always liked trying my hand at new recipes and spending time in the kitchen, but quarantine felt like an appropriate time to get really creative and adventurous.
My goal was to incorporate a much larger number of vegetables into my daily diet and so I went onto Pinterest (my go-to place to find recipes) and saved the recipes with photos that made me salivate a little bit.
Then, I made every single one.
As I spent more time in the kitchen, following each recipe step by step and eating vegetables in ways that I would have never thought possible, I found myself falling in love with cooking.
I have always loved food. Food excites me. Some people eat to live (which is totally fine and normal), but I eat for happiness and experience.
All of the associations I have with food are good — laughing with friends while eating burgers and sipping pop, watching family members get drunk off of their wine while eating stuffing and turkey, having some of life’s most precious conversations over tea and coffee, and my grandma never knowing when to stop bringing me more food to eat…
Food is something that brings us together as humans. Being trapped in a tiny apartment with my mom in 2020 meant cooking new things together and singing along to our favourite songs as we chopped and sauteed our ingredients. We loved some recipes, and hated others, but those days are something that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I don’t think food gets enough credit.
(Check out another story all about finding bliss in the kitchen here!)
Throughout my quarantine kitchen journey, I also fell in love with healthy eating. This isn’t to say that I don’t love burgers, fries, pizza, and pop, but I found myself looking forward to eating fruits and vegetables equally as much (which had never been the case prior). I also eventually reached a point in which I was grateful to be eating delicious food that was doing good things for my body at a time when it was difficult to be active.
Making so much food and introducing myself to so many new ingredients is definitely what got me through arguably the most difficult part of the pandemic. I am far from having any skillful cooking techniques or knowledge, but I enjoy cooking new and exciting meals — mistakes and all.
I think one of the most beautiful and important lessons I learned throughout all of this is that you don’t need to be the best at something to enjoy it. Come on, you don’t need to be good at it at all!
What matters is that you’re doing something that’s bringing you happiness. I think nowadays we’re too concerned about being the best at things and not concerned enough about shamelessly doing the things that we love. It’s important that we do the things that make us happy.
In case you’re looking for some new recipes to try, here are the links to some of my quarantine favourites (I still make all of these pretty regularly!).
- Spaghetti Squash
- Crispy Zucchini Bites
- Zucchini Ravioli (Zucchinioli)
- California Sushi Roll Bowls
- Tofu Fried “Chicken”
- Cheesy Baked Broccoli Gnocchi
- Garlic Parmesan Pasta with Spinach and Mushrooms