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Crohn’s Cooking and Me: Air-fryer honey garlic chicken to kick off a year of healthier eating

Debbie Hamilton enjoying a bite to eat.

How many of you have set New Year resolutions? And how many have stuck to it? I haven’t even started mine yet. I was full of good intentions and was going to get up early on the January 2 and start running again, but it is safe to say it hasn’t happened yet.

Yet being the important stand out word here.

I’m currently making arrangements with my cousin to start an exercise programme in February. That way I have someone that I will be accountable to if I start to feel like I want to give up.

Summer bodies start in winter as they say so I am going to try to keep that in mind as I try to shift the weight I gained while on my steroids for all those months.

Reflecting on a challenging time

Thinking about the past four weeks has been a real rollercoaster. As things were ramping up with the latest Covid variant, I was struggling with those old fears and anxieties and my health really was a bit of a mixed bag.

I desperately wanted to get to Christmas Day safely so we could spend it with extended family members in a bid for a bit of normality, but it seemed that all round us Covid was closing in and it was beginning to feel suffocating.

Debbie Hamilton waiting for her vaccine.

Then mum guilt was kicking in as my anxiety must have been becoming more obvious to the kids as I fretted each time they left the house.

I think everything just came to a head on Hogmanay. I was bedded with the never-ending cold that had been flooring so many people and was spending too much time thinking about everything that had happened over the previous four years. The illness, the numerous out-of-hours hospital visits, hospital stays, doctors appointments, scans, tests, diagnosis then trying to get back on your feet and starting to live again.

While trying to come to terms with all of that my dad had a stroke, then the pandemic hit, then shielding and then the final blow of losing my dad to Covid.

Suddenly I had this overwhelming feeling of total and utter fear wash over me, I couldn’t control it.

I tried deep breathing, I tried to distract myself with my phone, reading, listening to music, podcasts just anything to calm me and get rid of this feeling of dread.

Debbie out walking her dog.

Once again my husband came to the rescue, he hugged me, spoke to me and calmed me until the feeling passed. That was my rock bottom moment.

I feel that I have really went on a massive emotional journey these last few years, with massive ups and even bigger downs, but this one really hit hard.

I would defy anyone who has went through a similar journey to not be affected both physically and emotionally.

It was time to put myself and my emotions first and really start to take account of what I had become and what I needed to do to get back on my feet again.

A new year brings new plans

2022 is the year of me. Finding myself again, accepting everything that has happened and moving on from it, and allowing time to find closure and acceptance.

It will take time, but it will happen I am learning to say no, I am learning to deal with situations head on instead of hiding from them if I feel they are too difficult.

This is the year to make plans for me, my friends and family to fill it with positive experiences and create a lot of incredible memories. This will be the year that I will fill with laughter to counteract all the tears that have been shed. I will do all this with my dad close to my heart and never far from my thoughts.

I have plans for Crohn’s, Cooking and Me as I am hoping to team up with  fantastic local food producers to highlight some of amazing ingredients and create delicious dishes with them. I hope that I can become a real champion for Scottish produce as I raise awareness for Inflammatory Bowel Disease and hopefully other autoimmune conditions, too.

Longing for comfort food

As we are still in winter I want some real warming comfort food. I am dipping my toes in the waters of a healthy, realistic weight loss diet while still maintaining that much-needed warm hug that those calorie-laden hearty winter dishes give you.

Soups are a go-to for lunch just now. There’s something about a warming bowl of homemade soup on a cold day that heats your whole body up. A firm family favourite is my spicy parsnip soup – it usually makes an appearance on Christmas Day. It is one of the simplest and quickest soups to make and packs a punch in flavour thanks to the cayenne pepper.

Pasta and risotto are great for those quick midweek meals that are filled with flavour and homemade goodness – they keep you away from processed foods that are both quick and convenient. My favourites so far have been Pasta aglio e olio which is a quick four-ingredient dish of loveliness that will guarantee to make you smile and asparagus risotto which is filled with creamy goodness without the calories of cream itself.

Crispy chilli beef.

But it was in the air fryer where I made my favourite dishes so far this year. The first one was crispy chilli beef served with noodles – slightly crispy steak strips served in the most amazing Chinese style sauce featuring honey, garlic and soy. A winning combination.

The next was honey garlic chicken served with rice and spring onion. Wow it was delicious.


Air-fryer honey garlic chicken

Serves 4

Honey garlic chicken.
  • 200g of cornflour
  • 3 skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • Good pinch of black pepper
  • Quarter tsp of ground ginger
  • Quarter tsp of ground nutmeg
  • An eighth of a tsp of ground thyme
  • An eighth of a tsp of ground sage
  • An eighth of a tsp of paprika

For the sauce:

  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 250ml honey
  • 60ml soy sauce
  • 1 tsp of black pepper

Method

  1. Put the cornflour into a bowl with the seasoning and mix well, then add your chicken pieces ensuring that each piece is well coated.
  2. Cook the chicken in an air fryer according to your own manufacturers guidance, mine is around 15 minutes at 190C.
  3. Meanwhile in a medium saucepan add the olive oil then warm under a low heat. Once your oil is just hot add your garlic to soften, stirring regularly ensuring it doesn’t burn.
  4. Once your garlic is soft add the honey, soy sauce and black pepper and allow it to simmer slowly for around ten minutes. Keep an eye on the pot incase the sauce foams up.
  5. I serve this with rice and a sprinkling of chopped spring onion.

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