How cooking helps to beat the winter blues

This is some bit of research I found on the internet that is of interest and relevant to cooking and wellbeing*. If after all the stress of Christmas cooking you are fed up with the whole thing and want to forget that the kitchen exists; think again as cooking is an activity that can also help you beat the traditional January winter blues.

How can this be? Simple, by changing your attitude to cooking you can become happier. Cooking is an activity that can help you to reduce stress because it can help you:

  1. Connect with others - when you cook for and with your family, you are automatically doing what we have been doing for millennia, we are interacting with our friends and family, we are keeping up with all our activities, we feel part of a group. Get your friends to set the table or to help you with preparing ingredients, if everyone has a chore, then we become part of a group experience and will feel proud of our efforts.
  2. Cooking helps you to concentrate and live in the moment - of course this means putting the mobile down and concentrate on what you are doing. Cooking is a completely sensory experience and this means that in order to create something tasty you need to put an effort in what you do, feel the food, taste, play with colours, smell. If you aim to work in order and in peace, cooking focuses your mind and this is extremely relaxing, you can still interact with others and share the experiences, if you all work in order towards a common aim, then this is collective bliss! 
  3. It keeps you active. Cooking gets you walking, bending, stretching and although at 170 calories spent per hour, it is not a massive workout, it does still keep you moving about.
  4. Helps your brain as it keeps you learning. Learning is obviously very important in a child's development and this is why we offer so many classes for children at our school.  Learning new things through life help improve our mental wellbeing as we become more confident. Come to our cookery school to learn techniques, recipes and meet other people.
  5. Makes you feel part of a group or community. To do something for other people makes us feel good so even if you are on your own you can always invite friends, or you can cook for an elderly neighbour or relative. You can feel part of the community by making a cake for someone, by creating some edible presents like fudge or biscuits, by inviting friends or family to dinner, by cooking a special meal to your other half, by cooking in a group at home where you all contribute to make a feast or take part in street parties by making something for others.

Our cookery school clubs and classes do all of the above, they really can help you feel better as you achieve something new, as you meet other people and of course by learning new things. Just grab a calendar from our noticeboard at St Luke's or check our calendar online.  Our classes are a massive bargain for EC1 residents, so go on, join us for a happy 2018!

And if that was not all, we are also giving you a recipe for a simple pasta dish that uses ingredients rich in nutrients that help you beat that winter blues. So all in all: cooking is a 100% positive and happy experience.

A simple recipe packed with winter blues buster foods: Cavolo nero and chickpea pasta


100 g or a large handful cavolo nero, or kale

100ml/3½ fl oz olive oil

lemons, zest only

½ lemon, juice only

200g/7oz cooked chickpeas

500g/1lb 2oz fresh tagliatelle pasta


freshly ground black pepper

100g/3½oz pecorino or other hard cheese, finely grated


Bring a deep saucepan of water to a rolling boil and boil the cavolo nero for one minute. Drain well, and when cool enough to handle, chop finely.

Heat the olive oil in a wide pan and fry the cavolo nero in it for a few minutes, over a moderately high heat, stirring constantly.

At the same time, bring a pot of water to a boil and drop in the pasta to cook for two or three minutes until just tender.

Drain the pasta and stir it into the kale with the lemon zest and juice, the chickpeas and half of the grated pecorino. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve the pasta in deep bowls with more cheese scattered over.

This is rich in omega-3, vitamin D, Vitamin B12, folate, zinc, iron or selenium, all of which may help to banish the winter blues

*The main body of this article comes from BBC iWonder

For more information on beating the winter blues through food, go here