For the times when cooking feels too daunting, it helps to have some ADHD-friendly healthy recipes at the ready. Learn more about the challenges of cooking with ADHD and get a few simple, quick recipes for culinary inspiration.
Cooking Struggles with ADHD
Have you ever wondered how other home cooks make it look so easy? It may not be a case of your culinary skills not stacking up against those of others. Instead, it could be that your ADHD is adding extra challenges to the process.
ADHD affects the brain’s executive functions, which are necessary to complete complex tasks. These functions help with everything from motivation and focus to planning and execution. Cooking just so happens to place demands on multiple executive functioning skills at once. Some examples include:
- Planning: Choosing a recipe, determining which ingredients you need, and shopping for those ingredients
- Following instructions: Completing the tasks in order while referencing the ingredients list with measurements
- Focusing: Staying on top of each task to ensure ingredients are cooked properly
- Multitasking: Switching between different parts of the recipe as needed while cooking ensues
- Time management: Setting timers and trying to have all the elements of the meal ready at the same time
All these different elements demonstrate just how complex a task cooking really is. That’s why individuals with ADHD shouldn’t be too hard on themselves when they struggle with it. However, you still need healthy meals to eat, which is why you’ll want to learn a few go-to recipes.
ADHD-Friendly Healthy Recipes
What makes a recipe ADHD-friendly? First and foremost, it should be relatively simple to make since complex tasks are harder for ADHDers to manage. Next, it shouldn’t be too time-consuming. People with ADHD typically have trouble maintaining focus and managing their time, so the quicker it is to make, the better. And finally, it should be nutritious as a healthy diet can help to reduce some of the symptoms of ADHD.
Below, you’ll find a few healthy recipes that are favorable to an ADHD mind. Each one offers nutritional benefits without being too complicated or time-consuming.
Slow cooker vegetarian black bean soup
The slow cooker is one of the best kitchen gadgets for individuals with ADHD. It only takes minutes to get all the ingredients for this black bean soup in the pot early in the day, and when you’re hungry later on, you have a warm, delicious meal that’s ready to eat.
- 1 pound dried black beans
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Chopped cilantro
- Greek yogurt
- Put all of the ingredients in a 6-quart or larger slow cooker.
- Stir to combine.
- Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, until beans are tender.
- Add toppings if desired.
- Making this in large batches provides plenty of leftovers for future meals.
- Use frozen diced onions and peppers and jarred minced garlic to make preparation even easier.
Chicken and vegetables sheet-pan meal
Using only one pan makes this chicken and veggie sheet pan dinner easy to prep and streamlines the cleanup process after eating. It also features a short ingredient list that’s easy to memorize for last-minute grocery shopping.
- 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2 bags (12 oz each) frozen garden vegetable medley
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Line a sheet pan with cooking parchment paper.
- Cut the chicken in half diagonally, then season with salt and pepper.
- Add the chicken and frozen vegetables to the pan.
- Drizzle oil over the chicken.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Don’t forget to set a timer and check that the chicken has cooked thoroughly to 165°F.
- This is a versatile recipe, so you can make it over and over without getting sick of it. Swap in different seasonings and vegetables or replace the chicken with sausage for different flavor profiles.
Cauliflower gnocchi with asparagus and pesto
Simple store-bought ingredients make up this healthy yet hearty cauliflower gnocchi recipe. Plus, the meal is easy to prepare in only about 10 minutes, including cooking time.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 (10 ounce) bag frozen cauliflower gnocchi
- 8 ounces asparagus spears, trimmed
- ⅓ cup basil pesto
- Heat the olive in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
- Add gnocchi and cook, stirring frequently, until heated through and golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
- While the gnocchi cooks, put the asparagus in a microwave-safe dish with ¼-inch water. Cover tightly and microwave on high for about 2 minutes.
- Drain and cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces.
- Add the asparagus and pesto to the gnocchi and toss to combine.
- If you tend to get overwhelmed by multitasking, get your asparagus ready in the microwave safe dish before you start cooking the gnocchi.
- Other vegetables and sauces can be used to create different flavor profiles.
- This recipe works with fresh or frozen vegetables.
Baked salmon packets
Salmon is a healthy dinner that’s easier to prepare than you might expect. This baked salmon recipe only takes a few minutes to prep and is bursting with juicy flavors.
- 2-pound side of boneless salmon
- 5 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 small lemons
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and roughly chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Line a baking dish or rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Lightly coat the foil with baking spray, then place 2 sprigs of the rosemary down the middle.
- Cut one of the lemons into thin slices and arrange half the slices down the middle with the rosemary. Place the salmon on top.
- Drizzle the salmon with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with the chopped garlic.
- Top the salmon with the remaining rosemary and lemon slices. Pour the juice from the other lemon over the top.
- Fold the sides of the aluminum foil up and over the salmon until it is completely enclosed. Leave a little room inside the foil for air to circulate.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the salmon is almost completely cooked through at the thickest part.
- Open the foil and broil for about 3 minutes. As soon as it flakes easily with a fork, it’s ready.
- Salmon is rich in omega-3s, which have been linked to decreases in ADHD symptoms.
- You can bulk this meal up with easy sides like frozen vegetables or instant rice.