Need to lift those lockdown blues? The kitchen holds the answer! We’re looking at why cooking and baking’s the thing to help stir away the strain of self-isolation. After all, while life’s on hold for lots of us, some stress busting is probably just as well really. Check out Stress Management Society for some great help on what to do if you’re feeling a little stressed.
Food to soothe
Although the comforting sounds of cooking are enough to help us unwind (read more in our Food ASMR blog here), the physical act of putting together a meal has some pretty powerful meditative properties.
Why? Because preparing food is a positive mindful activity that needs your attention. Your mind might start to wander but it soon snaps back when a pot boils over or ingredients need to be measured out.
There’s also something calming about methodically peeling, chopping and stirring your way through a recipe. Cooking is a set of relatively easy tasks combined to produce a nourishing meal that you can enjoy straight away. And that’s pretty uplifting.
Cook it out
So what should you be cooking? First off, choose a recipe that’s not too tricky or overly complicated – a sinking soufflé or a soggy beef wellington will only add to your woes. Pick something that tests your skills but that isn’t doomed to fail, a flavourful Bolognese or a comforting chicken korma for instance.
As supermarkets aren’t always fully stocked right now, be led by the ingredients you have. Search for recipes by ingredient or get creative if you’re missing something, like topping a pizza with cream cheese or coating chicken in cracker crumbs. You might just be onto something!
For extra chill out benefits, pick a recipe that uses soothing herbs like sage, basil or mint. Try this tasty roasted roots and sage soup, baked fish with garlic and basil or these herb-filled lamb koftas with mint and yogurt dressing.
Pounding stuff in a pestle and mortar is just the job if you need to relieve a bit of tension. We recommend this excellent pesto recipe. You could just use a blender but where’s the fun in that?
Bake you happy
Baking can be a brilliant way to easy stress as you lose yourself in a recipe. Spark a little joy by whipping up these colourful funfetti confetti cookie bars or try these deliciously simple 4-ingredient cookies from baker Liz Fox, who uses baking as a way to deal with anxiety.
Pummelling dough is another great stress buster. From easy flatbreads to crusty cob loaves, having a go at baking bread will relieve gripes while filing the kitchen with heavenly smells.
A final tip before you get started – be sure to clean up as you go along. That way a sink full of dirty dishes and a sauce-spattered worktop won’t shatter your blissfully calm state of mind.