Thursday, 13 August 2015

Eat Yourself Happy

I'm a absolute sucker for a cookbook. Reading about food, seeing pictures of perfectly made food, and examining recipes with the intention of experimenting with food, all make me one very happy bunny. Thankfully, living with a professional chef, I have access to a huge number of gorgeous cookbooks, and I'm slowly starting to make my own collection.

I spotted Eat Yourself Happy by Gill Paul when I was birthday present shopping for the bestie. I went into Urban Outfitters which is usually somewhere I avoid like the plague, but I can't deny that they do good gift-books. I liked the idea that there could be ingredients which would act as mood-boosters and the recipes looked simple, fresh and healthy. Granted the title is click-bait for the printed word, but I can deal with that for the tastiness within.

The basic idea behind the book suggests that making wiser food choices can make you happier. Paul tells us that the right kinds of foods can 'synthesise ample supplies of brain neurotransmitters, address vitamin and mineral deficiencies and stabilise blood sugar levels'.

Now I'm a sceptical soul and don't tend to believe in such claims, but I am ready to give this a try. I'm well aware of the positive affects eating well can have on mind and body so I'm keen to see whether eating more of certain foods and perhaps less of others will change my mood as well.

Paul narrows the foods down to a number of superfoods, including:

Turkey | Sunflower seeds | Mackerel | Avocado | Dark chocolate | Live yoghurt | Oats | Bananas | Strawberries | Kale | Brazil nuts | Peanuts | Sesame seeds | Eggs | Wholewheat | Garlic | Asparagus | Watermelon | Ginger | Figs | Barley | Lentils | Artichokes | Grapes

Thankfully most of these foods I already love and eat plenty of (avocado, I'm looking at you), though others (mackerel, watermelon, figs) I very rarely eat. If anything this experiment will at least introduce me to some new foods and allow for a little more variety with recipes.

The book itself is really nicely laid out, with plenty of information at the start and details about the benefits of each food. There is also a quick look through the various causes/types of low mood or unhappiness including anxiety, PMS and sleep problems. This brief overview comes with a handy key and each recipe is linked to the issues it can help with.

All the recipes look supremely tasty, but I decided to start small and try the sunflower seed and banana cookies. I was not disappointed! They're meant to be quite bitesize but I got a little over-enthusiastic with the dough and only made around 10-12 huge ones. No complaints here. They have such a squidgy consistency - exactly like banana bread - with a bit of crunch from the seeds. They certainly cheered me up, but that could just be down to tastiness rather than any benefits from the ingredients.

Interested in the recipe? Here you go:

-200g plain flour
-1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
-2 very ripe bananas, mashed
-125g butter, softened
-100g light soft brown sugar
-1tsp vanilla extract
-125g sunflower seeds (I did also add pumpkin seeds just because I had a few hanging around)

1. Mix bananas, butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl.
2. Fold in the flour and bicarb until mixed well.
3. Stir in the seeds then cover and chill for 1 hour.
4. Place the dough in bite-size chunks on a baking tray at 180°C for 12 mins or until golden brown.
5. Eat them all.

I'll keep you guys informed with any results or changes I see in my mood as I continue to try out these recipes. I'm sure I'll be eating some pretty tasty meals, even if I don't see any significant changes.

Let me know if you try making these cookies!


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