Book Review: The Happy Kitchen - Good Mood Food
The Happy Kitchen is a very happy book. I ventured upon it recently while researching a story on teenage mental health. Written by London-based journalist and mother of 5, Rachel Kelly who was medically treated for severe depression and anxiety for many years before seeking a more holistic approach.
Over the past five years, Kelly, working closely with registered Nutritional Therapist Alice Mackintosh, drew on the latest nutritional science to show how you can harness the power of food to boost your mental health. The Happy Kitchen is the cheerful outcome - a collection of recipes based on over 140 scientific studies, designed to relieve low mood and comfort troubled minds.
Much of the focus on the book is the essential role of Omega 3 fatty acids (the healthy fats contained in oily fish, flaxseeds, walnuts and green leafy vegetables) in supporting healthy brain development and function. The case for Omega 3 is compelling and is causing a shift in our understanding of mental illness, as some scientists suggest that as depression affects the biology of the whole body, not just the brain, a more holistic approach is needed, with nutrition being top of the list. Incidentally, back to teenagers again, figures from the latest UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey show that the average teenage eats only one tenth of the weekly-recommended amount of oily fish. That is a hugely worrying trend.
Kelly's mantra is a diet combo of oily fish (up to 4 days a week), flax seeds, walnuts, hempseed and green leafy vegetables. She explains which foods help with the particular symptoms of low mood, as well as how to nurture a happy digestive system, since it is now known that cultivating a healthy gut may be an important way to cheer us up.
Steady Energy & Balance
In chapters ranging from Balanced Energy and Beating the Blues to Mental Clarity and Comfort Food, Kelly and Mackintosh put this theory into practice, showing just how easy (and most importantly tasty!) fresh wholesome food can be. The book is cleverly peppered with colourful meal planners, mood foods and really useful nutrition notes explaining in lay-mans' terms the biology and chemistry of nutrition.
My favourites so far are the Goji and Cherry Crumble (for sweet dreams) and the massively comforting Dark Chocolate Brazil Nut Brownie (see photo). Next on my list are the rebalancing Creamy Sweet Potato and Red Pepper soup and Prosciutto Wrapped Salmon with Roasted Red Cabbage and Sweet Potato. Follow their advice, and without trying, you too will begin to feel stronger, healthier and happier - that's a promise from the authors and from me!
The Happy Kitchen: Good Mood Food by Rachel Kelly with Alice Mackintosh by Short Books£14.99/€17.50 (approx)