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  • Writer's pictureEve da Silva Msc, PgDip

Cooking as Self-Care

Book Review: Good Enough A COOKBOOK

Embracing the Joys of Imperfection, In and Out of the Kitchen by Leanne Brown

When I think of cooking I first always think of a simple homemade spaghetti bolognese. The first complete meal I learned to cook, helping my mother in the kitchen. A recipe that has embedded itself fully into my muscle memory so that I can use the steps as a base to so may variations or other nourishing, comforting meals. The process of cooking is so comforting and grounding I find that it helps me transition from one part of the day to the next.

The title of Good Enough: A Cook Book immediately grabbed my attention because it reminded me of a concept close to the heart of many a therapist, the concept of being good enough.

Unfortunately, cooking, like many other creative pursuits can trigger perfectionism, which sadly gets in the way of the grounding, calming effects that cooking can have.

There was something incredibly satisfying about coming across a book written with self-care and reducing perfectionism in mind. Leanne Brown shares her personal experience of finding a balance through approaching cooking as a self care practice. I found this approach very engaging although it always makes me sad to see a sentence like "knowing it's OK to have a cheese plate" as it saddens me to think of the stress and sadness that accompanies self criticism that people engage with when denying themselves something as wonderful as a cheese plate.

The book offers a range of recipes, with a distinctly American take on things, I must say I would probably prefer a wider range of choice. Having said that, I am particularly looking forward to trying the recipe for The Best Friend Salad that Leanne Brown puts together with roasted squash... it looks like the perfect salad to share.

It helped me to read another book around the same time as Good Enough, because I found that it inspired me to think about a range of beautiful, nourishing fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables.

The Complete Guide to Anti-Inflammatory Foods To Boost Your Health and Immune System

by Lizzie Streit

The complete guide to anti-inflammatory foods does what it says on the tin - it provides a catalogue of beautifully photographed foods purported to have anti-inflammatory properties. Personally I have little understanding of the evidence base for anti-inflammatory nutrition, and I am always a little sceptical of anything that looks on the surface like it might be in the business of selling me 'clean eating'. Fortunately Lizzie Streit simply advocates for adding more 'anti-inflammatory' foods to your existing diet and this is something I can absolutely get on board with. There is a wonderful sense of wellbeing that comes from consuming more plants and a range of plants. For this reason I found The Complete Guide to be a lovely resource to inspire me in my cooking as self-care.

The message that matters most to me in my approach to cooking is to invite a compassionate, relaxed, laid back approach to creating good, nourishing meals for myself and my loved ones. An approach that accepts that it makes no sense to restrict or cut out foods but it does make complete sense to become excited about and embrace more nourishing foods. An approach that facilitates fun and experimentation in the kitchen instead of exhaustion and perfectionism.

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