Confident that my vast consumption of chickpeas and garlic will turn me into a slab of hummus one of these days, I find it quite odd admitting that I used to dislike cooking. And no, the feeling did not stem from laziness. I won’t lie; I had the absolute bejaysus scared out of me after seeing my first MasterChef advert back in the day. For years it had me reducing cooking to an unpleasant chore, despite how much I loved eating.
It took until my late teens – while searching for new ways to deal with my stressful lifestyle – to start seeing it as something different: A calming and enjoyable therapy. And the more I stirred, crushed, baked and simmered, the more convinced I became. As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one who saw it in this light- it has largely been thought for years that preparing meals can help enhance our emotional wellbeing just like how eating the right ones can!
Maybe it’s because preparing and sharing food with others is a primal task ‘central to who we are as human beings,’ according to clinical counsellor, Ms. Tafoya, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, or maybe it’s because following a recipe helps us to subvert negative thinking while we focus on achieving a goal.
Whatever the case, many occupational therapists and counsellors see cooking or baking as a way of boosting confidence in their patients as well as helping them overcome depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. A sense of accomplishment can even be gotten from baking a loaf of bread.
With this in mind, I’m delighted to be delivering a second food blog to you guys! You’ll find some of my most recent recipes. I’ve injected them all with a bit of quirkiness and my main aim, as always, was to have them as tasty, healthy and universal as possible. If anybody is curious as to why I put so much effort into preparing them, the answer is simple: It makes me so bloody happy to do so.
The veggie vista
Mason jar lunches are my current obsession. If you were to casually stroll past me in the NUI Galway canteen, I’d most probably be forking the contents from one of these guys. The way I see it – and hopefully the below image will back me up here – is that if you’re going to make something that turns out looking as vibrant as this, you’d be silly not to show it off! Hell, you’d be silly not to flaunt it like a trophy
- Quinoa (I used organic from Evergreen) (Good for protein, heart health and antioxidants)
- Good4U nutrition super sprouts (antioxidants)
- Low-fat Halloumi cheese (protein, calcium)
- Tin of chickpeas (fibre)
- Broccoli (promotes eye health)
- Asparagus (removes energy-draining toxins, strengthens immune system)
- Large carrot (aids digestion, promotes good eye health, powerful antioxidant)
- Hellmann’s Honey And Mustard Salad Dressing 235Ml
- Olive oil (source of energy)
- Smoked paprika (source of vitamins)
- A large Mason jar or lunchbox
- A medium sized pot
- A large frying pan
- A carrot peeler or small knife and some skill
- Sieve water through a tin of (preferably organic) chickpeas.
- Place chickpeas onto a baking tray, drizzle on some olive oil and shake on a tablespoon of smoked paprika.
- Mix well and bake at 180℃, for 25 minutes.
- Add one part quinoa and two parts water to a small pot and bring to the boil.
- Cut up the Halloumi cheese into nice, thick slices. Pre-heat the frying pan with some olive oil (recommended but not essential), move to a medium heat and fry the slices for four minutes on each side.
- Place broccoli florets and asparagus together into a pot; make sure they only take up about half of it.
- Pour enough water into the pot to cover the veggies.
- Bring the water to the boil and leave for 10-15 minutes, depending on how tender you want your veggies.
- Drain the water and allow the veggies to cool for a few minutes.
- Wash a carrot and peel until you have a nice vibrant bunch of peelings.
- Get creative; add your ingredients layer by layer into your Mason jar or lunchbox.
- Finish off by topping it with some gorgeous honey mustard, or any dressing of your choice.
- Carry it around like a trophy!