3. Jul, 2018

Farm chicken rice and vegetables: Arroz de frango do campo e legumes

This posting is both in English and Portuguese

Is cooking the recipe for mental wellbeing?

Take mindfulness, creativity and a dash of focus. Fold together gently, bake in a slow oven and watch your spirits rise. Yes, your time spent in the kitchen can enhance your mood and promote mental wellbeing. While cooking is clearly a means to satisfy the body’s need for food, it’s increasingly being recognised as a way of nurturing the mind. A study in the International Journal of Humanities and Social Science looked at the therapeutic qualities of cooking as a hobby, including its reported ability to cause a dimmed sense of time and an altered sense of consciousness. The researchers found that the act of cooking improves a person’s wellbeing and is associated with life satisfaction. Additionally, they discovered that cooking was the best predictor of subjective happiness. For some, time spent in the kitchen engrossed in baking and cooking may be exactly the recipe needed for greater happiness and mental wellbeing. I feel gratitude for what I have in this life. I seek love, give love, ask for love and in cooking for those I love, I am giving them my appreciation, compassion, happiness, peaceful thoughts and love as ingredients. When I’m cooking, the world is a peaceful place, and my kitchen is where I want to be. Nonetheless, I’ve earned timeless lessons in patience to cook certain foods slower or at lower temperatures for optimal nutrition and flavour, discipline in cooking with ingredients that are better for our bodies and constructive criticism when the food just doesn’t come out the way I had expected. Cooking is my own form of free therapy: I’ve made some rather original and tasty meals with my continuous practiced craft, I love seeing everyone enjoy a freshly homemade meal: I get so used to cooking, that I sometimes forget “how good” some dishes really turn out, the smiling faces of my family or friends tell me that I’m doing something right. I’ve gotten much better at staying within a budget when grocery shopping, and understanding the value of purchasing more fresh and local products. By taking the steps to grocery shop, meal plan, and cook fresh for each meal, I’ve learned to be more responsible with my spending habits, seeing the value in everything: Seriously, I do see the value in every-thing. This is what makes me happy. It’s not just the eating. It’s the decision making, often spontaneous while I’m shopping. It’s the prep. It’s the doing, the chopping the slicing. It’s the aroma. And then, finally, it’s the eating. Between Luisa and I, we cook most of the food we eat, in our kitchen. By cooking food to nourish my body, I feel a connection keeping my spirit balanced, thus being more in tune with my purpose in life (I’m managing to be better and feel healthier).

Taking photos is a hobby of mine, and especially of delicious food: I guess by now, you should know that I am what you would call an “amateur photographer”. Something about visuals that just make my soul happy. I can always look back and remember the smells and feelings of how it was like cooking and eating any particular dish. When you look at a beautiful, vibrant garden, does it make you feel a certain way? Does it make you feel better than looking at a drought ridden garden? Do you feel more fluid and free when you are near an ocean? Does a home filled with endearing smells of fresh food, feel better than walking into one that is stale? Just think about these for a moment.