This week our cooking columnist Chef Martin Anderson, from Sonder, discusses the link between your diet and your mental health.
As it’s world mental health week I thought I’d do a wee bit of research into cooking and mental health, and about the ways that cooking can help mental health.
Cooking has been used as a therapy for folk suffering from depression and mental illness for a long time now.
“A psychiatrist working in London, Mark Salter, suggests that cooking and baking activities could be therapeutic for patients with depression. They can stimulate cognition, get people working on memory tasks and allow patients to connect with a feeling of nurturing and protection. I’d argue that cooking and baking have another benefit: the possibility of sharing, and the enrichment of interpersonal relationships that occurs as a result ”
Cooking really is good for the brain as well as the belly, it gets you into a daily routine and is great for the memory, I have every single recipe that I use in Sonder memorised, I can tell exactly how many portions we get from each item, when it was delivered etc .
My brain is on hyper mode all the time and when I’m cooking I do a serious amount of thinking not just about what I’m cooking but problem solving, planning what we will do next in Sonder, creating new recipes or specials, all this is done while I prep the food, I’ve come up with some fantastic ideas when I’m slicing onions!
For my own mental health I try not to let others upset me when I’m working , big deep breaths and count to ten , sometimes to twenty !
I’ll be the first to admit being a chef is a stressful job and many chefs have succumbed to suicide or suffer depression from the pressure of their work , many turn to drugs & alcohol to get away from the pressure that is put on them from employers and customers .
One of the most famous is of course Bernard Loiseau who passed away in 2003. Bernard ran a Michelin Star restaurant in France and heard a rumour that he was going to lose a Star from the famous Michelin Guide, rather that suffer the shame of losing a Star Bernard ended his life tragically with a self inflicted gunshot wound after completing a full day in the kitchen . He left a wife , family and a thriving business behind him , a kind-hearted , dedicated Chef who just needed to talk to someone , perhaps if he had have shared his thoughts he might be still with us today .
I get a fantastic rush of adrenaline when we have a busy lunch service, I love being under pressure but it’s not an emotional pressure it’s a good kind of pressure… if such a thing exists!
I have the same routine everyday and to be honest when I get a day off I’m sometimes lost and don’t know what to do with myself .
I firmly believe that it’s when you are alone and sitting watching tv that the brain goes into self pity mode and it begins to wander , this is when I do my best baking or cooking , late at night or on a Sunday evening .
Planning meals also gives you something to look forward too , purchasing ingredients gets you out of the house and into the oxygen . Going to a local market lets you interact with the suppliers and other folk .
Working in a happy environment is very important , if you feel yourself turning to the dark side , seek help , step outside into the sunlight , reach out to someone and seek help , there is nothing that cannot be changed . There is no shame in seeking help , everyone deserves a chance and everyone has a reason to live .
#worldmentalhealthday #lookafteryourmentalhealth .
So this weeks recipe is for your slow cooker or casserole pot . The nights are getting longer and this dish is so easy to make and is always tasty . You may use pieces of shin off the bone but I like the extra flavour the bond gives .
Braised shin of beef, vegetables with thyme and tomato.
Allow 1 piece of shin beef on the bone per person.
You will also need a large casserole pot or heavy bottomed saucepan.
You will need:
Shin beef on the bone.
2 medium carrots, diced.
1 medium onion, chopped.
3 sticks of celery washed and sliced.
A bunch of thyme.
1 tin of chopped tomatoes.
50 g of puy lentil or dried barley.
2 glasses of white wine.
1 ½ pints of chicken stock.
30g of plain flour.
> Preheat your oven to 180c.
> Dust your pieces of beef in the flour and seal in a hot pan in a little oil.
> Place into your casserole or pot.
> In the same pan quickly seal off the fresh vegetable’s with a little garlic paste.
> Add to the meat, add the tomato’s, thyme, wine and hot chicken stock.
> Cover and cook in the oven for 2 ½ hours or until the meat is tender and falling off the bone.
> If cooking on the stove or cooker top make sure in doesn’t flippen burn J .
> When cooked remove the lid and the herbs and serve with some creamy champ potato’s.
You may also use, diced stewing beef, lamb, pork or venison for this recipe, add a little paprika to the flour to give colour and flavour. You may also use a dark beer instead of the wine.Tags: