Recovery Kitchen: Cucumber Salad

Last week when I wrote my first “Recovery Kitchen” post and declared my intention to make this Cool as a Cucumber Salad, I knew I was setting myself up for a challenge. But somewhere along the line I managed to develop a somewhat cavalier attitude toward the whole thing. Cucumber salad, how hard could it be? The only thing I’ll really have to do is chop some vegetables!


It’s that cavalier attitude that brought me all the way to today, nearly a week since I stated my intention to cook, without cooking at all. What this meant was that essentially, I’d backed myself into a corner, and created a situation where in order to make good on my declaration, I had to make this salad tonight. Throughout the past week I’d had a variety of food-related mishaps take place that had all resulted in heightened anxiety and no small amount of frustration (both me being frustrated with myself and the situation, and my fiancé being a bit frustrated with me, which is understandable. It’s taxing to be dealing with someone’s weird behaviors all the time). As you can imagine, I wasn’t too terribly excited about the thought of confronting my fear of being in the kitchen.

I spent all day thinking about cucumbers. What if my fiancé forgot to buy them at the store? (Secretly, I sort of hoped this would happen, because then I’d be off the hook!) What if I just completely freaked out and couldn’t do the salad at all? How silly would I look not being able to put together a simple recipe after writing a whole post about how I was going to do this, and how it would be this big important thing in my recovery? Of course I knew that none of you would be judging me. I also knew, though, that I’d be judging me–and self-judgment is far more harsh than any judgment handed down by others.

And so this evening, I accompanied Nat (the aforementioned fiancé) to the kitchen and got to work. I tried not to think about how many excuses I could come up with as I peeled the cucumbers, and I continued to try to keep my mind clear as I chopped them. As I prepared the dressing for the salad, I realized I was sort of enjoying myself; that it wasn’t the cooking itself that was so bad, but the planning and to-do that always seems to accompany meals and food in general.

The salad took about five minutes to assemble, and is pretty tasty even though I used cider vinegar instead of the rice wine vinegar the recipe called for.

Cucumber salad in white bowl

The difficulty I had with this very gentle return to cooking is a reminder to me of the seriousness of an eating disorder, the extent to which it gets inside your head and penetrates your thoughts. Having finished this recipe, I can breathe a huge sigh of relief; I can also recognize that this was a relatively small feat in some ways. When it comes to my kitchen recovery, I have a long road ahead of me, and one that will undoubtedly be full of twists and turns. The most important thing is to continue moving forward. And so on that note, I’d like to present my recipe for next week: fluffy cottage cheese pancakes! I used to make these all the time before my ED hit so it will be nice to eat them again. Plus, pancakes! Who doesn’t love them?

(I’d also love to hear your recipe suggestions– I’m trying to focus on things that are pretty quick and easy at this point. I’m also a vegetarian.)

By Emilie

Runner, yogini, knitter, Manhattanite in spite of myself. Also blogging at

4 replies on “Recovery Kitchen: Cucumber Salad”

I’m so glad you were able to push through this first step! And those pancakes look really yummy.

Can I ask where you are on eating things like cheese, or using eggs and milk in cooking? I have a few more simple suggestions. I’m not great with proportions in everyday cooking, but my biggest resource for ideas is allrecipes so there will be some version of pretty near anything I suggest on there.

I like portabella caps grilled with spinach and salsa on top as a simple dish. I’ve been known to add some peppers and/or cheese on occasion too.

If you don’t want to do anything too involved with the oven or stove, you could do a coleslaw. It doesn’t have to involve a heavy restaurant style sauce. My stepmom just gets the bagged shredded cabbage and puts oil and lemon juice on it with sliced avocado mixed in.

I second the bread idea too (I think I’m gonna have to bust out your recipe QoB). Or maybe something like oven fries.

I hope next week goes well!

Cheese, eggs, and milk are all fine for the most part. I sometimes get weird about them, but those times are exceptional.

I love the idea of a coleslaw with a light dressing and avocado, and portobello caps sound good too. I think at this point light is probably the way to go, so those things sound perfect.

for something that looks impressive, the recipes here for beer bread and corn bread are delicious (shameless plug,the latter is mine. i would post a link but am typing from my phone…)

also, tempura vegetables are easy and fun.

not sure what your triggers and tastes are though so obviously ignore if they sound awful right now:)

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