Thursday. 17.30. Long day and empty stomach. You are driving back home in no mood to cook. That fried chicken place is too tempting. Let’s do it. This will save you some time, doesn’t it? Maxi chicken combo. Big drink. Extra big fries. Slow traffic. Why not to devour it right there in the driver’s seat. Crumbs on your trousers. Ketchup stains on your shirt. Feeling a bit bloated and greasy you arrive home. Disgusted with yourself.
Saturday. 15.30. Sofa and food magazine. Gorgeous recipe in page number 16. Let’s do it. Relaxed visit to the grocery picking delicious ingredients. Apron on. Music on. Fresh air through the open window. Steering with a wooden spoon. Try a bit. Taste delicious. Nice table and cloth napkins. Glass of wine. Laughs. Long interesting conversation with you both feeling full and pretty happy.
Can food make us feel happy? It certainly can. But it can also make us feel completely unhappy. Everything depends on what, where, when or even how or with who we eat.
So, how can food improve our moods? It all comes down to the brain.
I have extracted the following from Make Everybody Happy. Is so good I have to share it with you!
“ […] Eating is one of the great sensual pleasures in life, tucking into a juicy steak or a delicious bowl of ice cream can be a real joy and something that makes life really seem worthwhile. Food effects the pleasure and reward centres in our brains in the same way drugs do and this can lead to people experiencing the same problems with food as they do with drugs.
Unhappy people very often turn to food to fill the hole in their lives and this can lead to a downward spiral of obesity and dependence. A quick fix of ice cream makes you feel good for a while but very soon you are back to feeling worse than before, so you need more ice cream to correct the balance. There is a classic pattern of peaks and troughs leading to greater amounts of fatty sugary foods to try and balance our moods.
Food effects behaviour too, research done with prisoners and schoolchildren (not at the same time!) has shown that eating a diet which doesn't cause peaks and troughs and contains more fresh fruit and vegetables can radically improve behaviour. Jamie Oliver found that when he persuaded school kids to eat better, behaviour in the school was much improved. If it works for kids it can work for their parents, they just need to learn to cook.
Cooking too can be a great source of happiness. It can be really therapeutic to chop vegetables and turn them into something tasty. I get to enjoy the food twice! Too many people nowadays are eating ready meals and take always because they feel that they haven't got the time to cook but they are losing something very precious.
One of the reasons for this rise of the ready meals is the mark-up on these products, it's much more profitable to sell ready meals than the raw ingredients and a lot of marketing goes into persuading people to buy them. Imagine if we put as much effort into promoting cooking healthy food from scratch! It's a problem of the market place that it will always try and sell us the most profitable thing rather than the thing which is best for us. […]"
Cooking is easy too but a lot of people are scared to do it. I was one of them. And then I discovered it was relaxing, exciting, funny and rewarding. And that you don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen to prepare a healthy and delicious meal.
Food is a fundamental part of our lives and a great starting place for us to make everybody happy. It's a shift from a fast empty life to a long healthy happy one.
This week recipe is one of my biggest fears: meringues. I love them, but they seem so fragile, delicate and soft I thought I wasn’t going to be able to prepare them.
And I must admit I needed 3 attempts, because this time I have followed a recipe (my mistake!). And the recipe I’ve followed had an intruder ingredient (eeek!) that made the meringue to spoil. But dead dogs don't bite. So after repeating without the evil ingredient, the result is just amazing.
WHAT DO YOU NEED
2 Egg Whites
A pinch of salt
2 Cups Icing Sugar
A packet of After Eight
WHAT DO YOU DO
Preheat oven to 180C.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites, salt and food colouring if desired on medium speed until soft peaks form.
Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Tip: cover the bowl with a kitchen towel to avoid your kitchen looking like as a snowy landscape. Beat on high speed until stiff glossy peaks form and sugar is dissolved. Gently fold in After Eight pieces. Tip: be patient. Don’t try to rush the meringue by turning the beater speed too high or by dumping all sugar at once. Just go slowly.
Fill a piping bag with the meringue and twist top of bag to seal. Tip: don’t use a nozzle, just make the hole at the bottom of the cone around 3cm / 1 inch big to allow the chocolate pieces to come out.
Cover an oven tray with a non-stick baking paper and squeeze bag to pipe meringue into puffs about 3 cm apart.
Just before putting the tray in the oven turn it off and bake for 2 hours. Immediately remove meringues from the baking paper and place on wire racks. Cool completely and let the meringues melt in your mouth.