Chronically Ill Cooking with The New Southern Cookbook

Living life with chronic illness often gets in the way of writing about life with chronic illness. Exhibit A: this blog has sat dormant since March. Some probably doubted I’d ever return to it…heck, I even thought that sometimes.

Unlike this blog, I have not sat dormant. It’s been a wild summer. I’ve been working a new job that I love, learning a lot; lost a dear relative who I am still mourning; and dealt a lot with blows to my health. Chronic sinuses have been the biggest issue. Luckily I don’t need surgery, I just found out, but I will need a new specialist, an allergist. So that’ll be 3 new specialists in just a few months…

With all of this, it’s hard to fit daily responsibilities into my life and navigate new illness challenges at the same time. One of the things I haven’t done most of the summer is cook. My microwave is my best friend. We ate a lot of raw fruits and vegetables, and a lot of microwave staples. The freezer aisle has definitely come a long way with healthy choices! Still, I never thought of myself as someone who could fit cooking for my family into my regular life. But sometimes a positive change just takes a kickstart from a good friend.

I am so thankful for the chronic illness friendships I have made on this crazy connective tissue disorder/postural tachycardia/Chiari/the list goes on journey.

One of my closest chronic illness friends, the wildly talented Brittany Wattenbarger, and her equally talented mother, Pam Wattenbarger of Simply Southern Mom, have written a cookbook, The New Southern Cookbook.

They sent me a copy of the book to review, and let me tell you, this is definitely a cookbook you should run out and get (even if you cook as little as I do). They clearly poured their heart into each page: every recipe, from the barbecue shrimp to the fried chicken comes with a personal family story of the dish. It’s definitely a book that focuses both on Southern heritage and on farm-to-table, produce/whole food focused goodness. As a family with food allergies, there are also tips to make each recipe allergy-friendly, and many of them vegetarian.

Of course, it probably wouldn’t be a proper review of a cookbook if I didn’t…umm…cook something. So after looking for the most chronic illness friendly recipe–limited chopping, limited standing over the stove–I settled on “My Dad’s Favorite Chili.”

I got all my ingredients ready, and employed my 4 year old daughter, who loves to cook with me, to help. Laying out all the ingredients first definitely helps me as someone with chronic illness. No reaching for stuff mid recipe and accidentally missing a step. I also used frozen chopped onions instead of fresh, which Brittany actually advised. They’re a Godsend…I truly hate chopping onions. It’s one of the worst tasks on my joints!

The recipe came together super easily, as you can see below. The steps were consise but still thorough.

Here’s the chili simmering on the stove! Almost done!

I served it with some zucchini, prechopped, and some green beans, mushrooms, and onions, all which I got on sale that day. Pre prepared veggies are a lifesaver for me and really encourage me to cook. My daughter requested the zucchini: it is her favorite.

I cannot underscore how truly delicious this chili is. I’ve had a lot of good chili, but this is far and away my favorite. I’ve since then made a double batch! Even my husband, who has never liked chili, loves it, and it’s totally kid friendly too. My daughter gobbled it up both times I made it!

I would definitely recommend this cookbook to my fellow chronic illness readers who are trying to get into cooking again. I love how it got me back in the kitchen!

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