The Happy Kitchen: Good Mood Food by Rachel Kelly With Alice Mackintosh

Review by Kylie Thompson

Rating: 3 ½ stars

Genre: cooking

Publisher: Simon & Schuster


Rachel Kelly understands depression and anxiety. After all, she’s lived with the conditions. But when they reached the point she realised that she needed help, she knew that she wanted an holistic approach to her medical care. Medications were an option, of course, but she wanted to find ways to cope that could be implemented easily into her day, too.

Kelly hadn’t thought much about food, but a chance encounter with a nutritional therapist, Alice Mackintosh, showed her that the food we eat can play a massive part in the way we feel. Certain foods had the ability to shift her mood, whether for good or bad, and understanding the way her body interacted with food became a way to help tend to her mental health.

It seems a simple solution, and yet, the results for Kelly were clear. With their working relationship, the idea for ‘The Happy Kitchen’ was born. ‘The Happy Kitchen’ is a book of recipes designed to help readers manage their moods, with the backstory required to show us why the foods have such an impact. Whether you’re looking for advice on managing your mental health, or are simply curious about the way nutrients can impact our wellness, this is a fascinating read.

There are, of course, issues with this kind of book. The overuse of ‘may’ and ‘might’ is an indicator that there’s not enough scientific certainty to prove all of these claims. Most holistic approaches fall within that scientific grey area, though. It becomes up to the reader, then, to decide how much credence they give to the ideas within ‘The Happy Kitchen’.

Personally, I don’t mind that grey area. Even if the advice here is one day proven to be nothing more than the placebo effect in action, if it helps, then throwing some extra nutrients into the diet really doesn’t seem like a bad idea. Gift horses and mouths, and all that jazz. Besides, some of the info here is well known in the main, such as the usefulness of Omega 3s. There’s a lot of seafood dishes here, and if (like me) you’re unable to eat seafood, you’re likely to find yourself flicking over quite a few recipes to get to something more useful. It’s a shame, certainly, but for those who love a good piece of fish, you’re going to get a lot out of this book.

The recipes are divided into sections, so readers can flip through to the part that’s most useful. Whether you’re looking to feel more energised, get more sleep, calm your hormones, or manage your mood, there’s a conversation here to help.

If you’re going to get an eye twitch from unscientifically backed ideas, this is probably a good cookbook to avoid. But if you’re okay with trying for yourself, and seeing how it goes, there’s some delicious sounding recipes here well worth a try.

‘The Happy Kitchen’ is published by Simon and Schuster, and is available at all good retailers.


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