Valentines day is a time to celebrate love, friendship and appreciation for those near and dear. I can think of no better way to show and share love such as through food and cooking! Food itself can evoke a physiological response such as the release of dopamine, adrenaline and norepinephrine, all responsible for feelings of pleasure, attention and the all-familiar stomach flutters! It’s not just the physiological effect of food on mood but also the way food speaks to all five senses, sight, touch, taste, smell and sound. We connect with food through experiencing the five senses and this should not be limited to taste! We eat with our eyes and get excited by the sight of food, we smell food, which is the very start of our digestive process, and we hear food cooking and touch food, which creates connection and triggers memories.
Food aside, cooking a meal for others is one of the most loving ways to show appreciation and a sense of nurturing. Cooking or being cooked for can bring back happy memories from childhood, travel or fun nights with friends. The surprise of what will arrive on the plate and what flavours will be tasted is an experience we can share with others and feel closer to by joining them in such an experience.
I believe having a loving attitude towards food and cooking is beneficial for health and is within reach for all. Here are my tips to help you move a step closer to falling in love with food and showing love through food and cooking!
Connect with food
- Understand where food comes from and when it is in season
- Take the time to touch, smell and if you’re able to taste food before selecting
- Eating seasonally is one of the greatest ways to understand food and eat according to its natural rhythm
- Food grown in season not only tastes better but has to travel less to reach us, meaning it has a higher nutritional value
Keep food simple
- Let food speak for itself by keeping it simple on the plate
- Flavour with fresh herbs and spices and use as many wholefood ingredients as possible
Waste less food
- Learn ways of using root to steam and nose to tail!
- Think of ways to use foods in left-overs or ways to turn less than choice produce into beautiful meals
Make food look pretty
- We don’t have hours to spend on making our food look pretty but using a variety of bright coloured vegetables and sprinkling with fresh herbs can simply transform the look of any dish
Foods to boost Mood
- Use more mood boosting foods including avocado, banana, almonds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, cottage cheese and fatty fish!
Emphasis the experience
- Sharing a meal with loved ones is an act of bonding
- Place less emphasis on creating the perfect meal and focus your attention to being present with guests and enjoying food together in a calm environment
- Whether it is cooking for 1, 2 or 12, the cook can feel some pressure
- Let go of pressure by asking others to help in the process or bring a dish
- Don’t try to achieve it all on your own and be ok with asking for help
Excite the tastebuds
- If you are known for a typical style of cooking, get creative and try something new, we learn and feel inspired by change
- It may be as simple as a new ingredient or serving share dishes instead of individually plated meals, whichever takes your fancy, give it a go!