The Happy Kitchen cookbook is more than a cookbook – it also belongs in the self help genre as it is all about Good Mood Food and how to prepare it. It is a book to settle down and read in order to absorb all the inspirational advice, explaining the science behind the results, whilst also giving you some recipes to help you along the path to a happier existence.
Mental health is at last a topic of conversation and people like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry are working hard to make people aware of how many people there are who need help and support. So out of this has come a swathe of people who, because they have suffered from depression or similar mental health problems, have, in the past, had to find a way to try and help themselves and now are sharing their secrets with us. I was therefore fascinated to read about Rachel Kelly, a journalist who has had two breakdowns and regular bouts of low mood, insomnia and exhaustion but whilst much of this has been dealt with through regular medicine she came to understand that a lot of her mood swings could be regulated by what she ate, as well as how she ate it.
Rachel has put all of this knowledge into a cookbook, The Happy Kitchen, having collaborated with nutritional therapist, Alice Mackintosh, and extensively researched her initial findings. She has divided foods into five food groups and produced a cut out list at the back of her cookbook which you can pin to your fridge door. The five Mood groups she has called, Fab, Very Good, Good, Treats and Low Mood Foods.
Of course none of it is new information because we are all so much more aware of what we put into our bodies in the way of foods however Rachel helps one to understand why eating healthily works. So, whilst I do not suffer from extreme mental health issues, I, like most people, do suffer, on occasion, from anxiety, broken sleep patterns and forgetfulness all of which Rachel talks about as ailments that can be helped with the right diet. She confirms that whilst this has helped her and she has become calmer and more content obviously the way our bodies react are individual so she is not saying that these are rules that have to be adhered to. Personally I found it useful to stop and take stock of what I eat and by reading The Happy Kitchen I began to understand so much more. I have followed the recipes for the past week and both my husband and I have found them tasty, nutritious, easy to prepare and we have definitely felt more positive and energetic.
Rachel talks about the ‘gut’ being the key to many of our health problems i.e. get that in balance and it will help with the rest of the body. I won’t go into the detail but it is worth reading the opening introduction to the book on this subject as there is so much out there about products such as Live Kefir and this explains it all.
The 70 recipes that Rachel and Alice have collaborated on are varied and once you have bought the store cupboard staples i.e. swapped your white flour for spelt or wholemeal flour and your white rice for wholegrain rice, if you haven’t already done so, then you are away. The preparation and cooking time is minimal and whilst most of the recipes are for everyday such as the Omega-3 kedgeree or the Creamy Chicken and brown rice soup there are also a few recipes for supper parties. I am about to try the Saffron chicken with Quinoa and Cauliflower Tabbouleh as dinner for my beloved this weekend.
Each chapter of the book is targeted at a particular symptom giving you the relevant recipes and meal plans. Plus Rachel explains the importance of laying the table and sitting down to enjoy what you have cooked. How any of us eat on the ‘hoof’ which cannot be good for you on any level. Rachel injects the pleasure back into cooking so that you can enjoy the preparation as much as the results.
I do believe that even in a week of not putting anything ‘white’ or processed into my body my husband and I do feel more energised and for me personally I feel more enthusiastic about the time I spend in my kitchen creating all my Good Mood Food!
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