When there's no energy left to cook: New P.E.I.-based group shares simple recipes

Meal planning and execution can be an energy-intensive household chore, and can be even more challenging if you have mental health problems or a disability. That's where Islander Jesse Macmillan got the idea to start his new Facebook group Cooking Without Spoons.

The spoons in the title aren't literal — the spoon theory is a theory that disabled people have a certain amount of "spoons," or energy, each day. Daily activities like waking up, showering, and going to work and school can use up spoons and some days there's no energy left for cooking.

On the page, members share recipes that require less energy to make, for when you are low on, or out of, "spoons."

"I thought, I'm not the only person going through this," said Macmillan, a 23-year-old journalism student who lives on his own in Charlottetown, after struggling to come up with recipe ideas.

Macmillan suffers from depression, anxiety and Attention Deficit Hyerpactivity Disorder (ADHD), and needs a lot of time to recharge, he explained.

'It's been really great'

He founded the group in December, and in just two months nearly 600 members have joined Cooking Without Spoons from all over the world, including Central America, Europe and Australia.

"It's been really great," he said, admitting he is surprised how quickly the group gained interest. "Everybody really takes care of each other.

"Everybody's really nice, they want to help each other out … they just want to share with other people who are struggling."

Not 'lazy'

Anyone can join the group, but Macmillan has a few rules, including respecting people and what they eat, and avoiding the word "lazy."

"If you're using these recipes because you're lazy, that's fine, but a lot of people are here because of low spoons and having your disability equated to laziness sucks," he wrote on the page.

Low-spoon recipes can also be great for students or families who don't have a lot of time or money, he noted.

Easy, peasy

Macmillan's favourite advice from the group is a cleaning tip to listen to audio books or podcasts while cleaning.

"I can get lost in a story … I don't even realize how much energy I'm using, because I'm also enjoying myself, just listening," Macmillan shared.

Macmillan's favourite recipe suggestion is baked chickpeas, which can make either a meal, a topping or a snack, contain lots of protein and keep well in the fridge.

To make them, rinse a can of chick peas, put them on a baking sheet lined with tinfoil, bake them at 425 F for between 40 minutes and an hour, keeping an eye on them to make sure they don't burn. Toss them in a bag with some spices — garlic powder and onion powder are his favourites — and shake 'em up.

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