Review: The Happy Kitchen


The Happy Kitchen: Good Mood Food

Rachel Kelly with Alice Mackintosh, Simon & Schuster, $39.99

With such a plethora of ‘health’ cookbooks on the scene, each promising their creations and concoctions will bestow unbounded energy, holistic wealth and the secret to eternal life (OK, I might be going a little overboard, but some of them – seriously, it’s not far off), it’s hard to know which books to spend your hard-earned dollars on.

Rachel Kelly is a British writer who struggled with depression and anxiety for years before teaming up with nutritional therapist Alice Mackintosh. The pair became friends and started experimenting in the kitchen, and between Alice’s science knowledge and Rachel’s newfound love of food that could help her control the mental health issues that had led her to have two previous breakdowns.

Whatever your take on some of the more unusual therapies used to combat stress, anxiety and depression, science has repeatedly proven that certain foods are linked to behaviour. Few of us would deny that giving a 2-year-old unlimited sugar is a sure-fire way of turning them into Roadrunner, or chamomile tea is a better option than a double espresso at bedtime. So why is it such a stretch to understand that eating foods like egg yolks, prawns and sage will help us with our concentration and mental clarity, or  mushrooms, walnuts and Marmite can help us kick a blue mood?

Rachel’s book is divided into sections, each one targeting a specific issue, such as hormonal peace, keeping calm and comfort foods. While some recipes are more likely to be enjoyed by those with a foot already firmly inside the door of alternative eating, there are plenty of ideas here that are so simple, no-one in the family would notice that you’re trying to help avert a teenage drama or a grumpy morning person simply by what you’re putting on the table.

Even if you’re not a recipe person, there’s a handy Good Mood Food index that works very well for reference, and each section includes a list of foods that are helpful for that particular problem, which is very useful, especially for those who don’t want to rush headlong into a complete lifestyle change.

Rating: 3.5/5