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Skincare for self-care

MANDI MAKES

Natural Living Made Simple

MANDI MAKES

Feast Your Way to Happiness: How Food Boosts Your Mood

Self-care challenge

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, self-care often takes a backseat to our endless to-do lists and commitments. However, amidst the chaos, it's essential to prioritise moments of nourishment and relaxation. One of the simplest yet most profound ways to practice self-care is by taking time to cook and enjoy your favourite meal. Not only does this ritual offer a delightful sensory experience, but it also holds transformative benefits for both our mood and overall well-being.

 

In the blog:


 

LET'S TALK FOOD AND MOOD

Healthy food

Now, I know what you're thinking – how can food really affect my mood? Well, let’s get just a little “sciencey” for a moment. Research has shown that the stuff we eat can seriously impact how we feel.

 

The nutrients present in our diet directly influence neurotransmitter activity in the brain, impacting our emotional state. For example, omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, flaxseeds and walnuts have been linked to reduced rates of depression and anxiety. Also, antioxidants abundant in fruits, vegetables and dark chocolate (my favourite) help combat oxidative stress and inflammation, helping with mood regulation. They're like little superheroes swooping in to save the day, combating stress and giving your brain a happiness boost.

 


 

UNVEILING THE GUT-BRAIN CONNECTION

Gut-brain connection

Ever heard of the gut-brain connection? It's like a secret hotline between your belly and your brain, and what you eat can dial up or dial down those good vibes. This was one of the most fascinating topics to me when I studied Lifestyle Medicine! This bi-directional communication system highlights the profound impact of gut health on mental well-being.


The tiny living things hanging out in our belly, called the gut microbiome, play a big role in controlling how our brain chemicals work and how strong our immune system is.

 

Having a diverse and balanced gut microbiome helps to improve mental health, including reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. You can help keep your gut happy with probiotic-packed foods like yogurt and fermented goodies, and you'll be saying goodbye to grumpy days.

 


 

COOKING: IT'S NOT JUST DINNER, IT'S THERAPY


Cooking

I will be the first to admit that I don’t generally like cooking. That day-to-day task of coming up with an idea to cook and trying to make it healthy is not my idea of fun, let alone therapy! But, I have implemented some things in the past to help make it more enjoyable and to allow myself to reap the benefits it provides I will share very soon!

 

Beyond the nutritional aspects, the act of cooking itself can be deeply therapeutic. Engaging in the preparation of a meal allows us to slow down, connect with our senses and savour the present moment. Research tells us that people who cook at home tend to have healthier dietary habits and feel happier about their food choices. Also, the creativity that comes with cooking can serve as a form of stress relief, fostering a sense of accomplishment and empowerment.


 

 

MAKING IT EASY


Here are my top tips for making this more doable (for more info check out this blog post on meal planning):


Meal plan
  1. Plan Ahead: Take some time at the beginning of each week to plan your meals. Consider your schedule, ingredients on hand, and any leftovers you can repurpose. Planning ahead reduces food waste and ensures you have nutritious meals ready to go.

  2. Use what you have: look at what you have in your fridge and pantry and plan meals around those ingredients. This helps to not only reduce your grocery bill, but also food wastage and gives you a starting point when thinking about what recipes you can create.

  3. Keep it Simple: Don't feel pressured to create elaborate dishes every night. Focus on simple, balanced meals that incorporate a variety of whole foods. Keep your pantry stocked with versatile ingredients like canned beans, frozen vegetables, and whole grains for quick and easy meal assembly.

  4. Embrace Leftovers: Leftovers are your best friend when it comes to sustainable meal planning. Cook larger portions and intentionally make extra to enjoy as leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. Get creative by repurposing leftovers into new dishes to keep things exciting.

  5. Flexibility is Key: Be flexible and willing to adapt your meal plan based on what's in season, on sale, or available at your local grocery store. Don't be afraid to swap ingredients or recipes if needed. Remember, meal planning is a tool to help you eat well, not a rigid set of rules.

 


 

EMBRACE SELF-CARE THROUGH CULINARY CREATIVITY

Healthy meal

So, here's the plan: this week, set aside some me-time to whip up your ultimate favourite meal. Whether it's a cherished family recipe, a new culinary creation, maybe a hearty pasta dish, a spicy curry, or maybe a gooey chocolate dessert, go all out and make it extra special. Don't forget to savour every bite and pat yourself on the back for being an awesome chef.

By treating yourself to a homemade masterpiece, you're not just feeding your belly – you're feeding your soul. So go ahead, spice up your self-care routine, and let the kitchen become your happy place. Trust me, your taste buds and your mood will thank you for it!


 

RECIPES FOR A HEALTHY PLANT-BASED DAY:


Here are some plant-based recipes to inspire your self-care cooking session:

 

Breakfast: Avocado Toast with Chickpea Scramble

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices whole grain bread

  • 1 ripe avocado

  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Optional toppings: cherry tomatoes, microgreens


Instructions:

  1. Mash the avocado in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

  2. In a separate pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add cooked chickpeas, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes until heated through.

  3. Toast the bread slices until golden brown.

  4. Spread mashed avocado onto the toast and top with chickpea scramble.

  5. Garnish with cherry tomatoes and microgreens if desired.

 

Lunch: Quinoa Salad with Roasted Vegetables

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed

  • 2 cups mixed vegetables (such as bell peppers, zucchini, and carrots), chopped

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • Salt and pepper to taste


Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).

  2. In a bowl, toss chopped vegetables with olive oil, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.

  3. Spread vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes until tender and slightly caramelized.

  4. Meanwhile, cook quinoa according to package instructions.

  5. In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, roasted vegetables, chopped parsley, and lemon juice. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.

 

Dinner: Lentil and Sweet Potato Curry

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried lentils, rinsed

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon curry powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1 (14 oz) can coconut milk

  • 2 cups vegetable broth

  • 2 cups spinach

  • Salt and pepper to taste


Instructions:

  1. In a large pot, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent.

  2. Add curry powder, cumin, and coriander, and cook for another minute until fragrant.

  3. Stir in lentils, sweet potatoes, coconut milk, and vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes until lentils and sweet potatoes are tender.

  4. Add spinach to the pot and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until wilted.

  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

Sweet Treat: Mint Choc Balls

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup raw cashews

  • ¼ cup agave syrup/maple syrup

  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted

  • ½ cup shredded coconut

  • 1 tsp peppermint oil

  • 1 2/3 cup raw cacao powder

 

Instructions:

  1. Place the cashew nuts in a bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside to soak for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse.

  2. Transfer cashew nuts to a food processor or high-speed blender and process until very smooth, scraping sides a few times. Add the agave/maple syrup, coconut oil, shredded coconut and peppermint oil and process again until combined.

  3. Scape the mixture into a bowl using a spatula and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour.

  4. Remove from refrigerator and roll into balls of desired size using dampened hands.

  5. Place truffles on a tray lined with baking paper and return to the refrigerator for a further 15 minutes.

  6. Sprinkle cacao powder onto a clean chopping board or work surface and roll the balls in the powder until nicely coated.

Note: store in the fridge.

 

 

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Hi, I'm Mandi. A former primary teacher, Lifestyle Medicine graduate and current Diploma in Natural Skincare student with a passion for natural living.

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