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Food photographer jennifer pallian grzyr210m0u unsplash
Photo by Jennifer Pallian on Unsplash
What to eat

What we're cooking this week - Blue Monday edition

Who says that Monday 21 January has to be the most depressing day of the year?


We say eat your way to happiness and enjoy every last mouthful with these feel-good recipes.
Blue Monday is the name given to the third Monday of January, allegedly the most depressing date in the year.

Why? Because the joys of the festive period have faded, the weather is awful, our New Year resolutions have probably already failed and we’re back at work. But the least upbeat day on the calendar has taken on new meaning in 2021 due to the pandemic, and the stress and uncertainty that comes along with it.

Granted, the origins of Blue Monday are somewhat murky (the psychologist credited with the formula to determine the date has since distanced himself from the concept), but with short days, chilly temperatures and yet another nationwide lockdown...it's completely understandable if you're feeling a bit flat this January.

There’s no need to surrender completely to the gloom, however. There are lots of things you can do to bring a bit of brightness during dark times. One such way? Food. Many of us have turned to food during this pandemic to get us through. Whether it be stress baking, at-home meal kits or supporting your local takeaway with a Friday night treat for yourself – food helps. 

That's why we've decided to dig through our archives and bring you 7 of the most delicious, comforting and mood-boosting recipes we could find. Think salted caramel lava cookies, warming bowls of soup and delicious slice of coffee cake. 

Chocolate chip cookies

If you are at home with a few hours to spare, baking is the perfect feel-good activity to lift your mood. The smell of fresh, homemade cookies baking in the oven is sure to put a smile on anyone's face. For something oozy, try these salted caramel lava cookies or go for an intense chocolate hit with these classic chocolate chip cookies.

Broccoli & potato soup

There's something deeply comforting about soup. It starts from the time you fill your soup pot with ingredients and continues as your home starts filling with the warm aroma of simmering soup. And when you sink your spoon into a cosy bowl of homemade soup, like this broccoli and potato soup, for example, it's like soup knows how to soothe you in the warmest and most filling way. Get the recipe, here. 

Steak au Poivre

If you’re stuck in a rut when it comes to cooking, why not use Blue Monday as the perfect excuse to try something new? Perhaps start with a twist on a classic, such as this Steak au Poivre. Red meat contains iron which is essential for keeping our brain oxygenated properly, as well as helping to make some import brain chemicals. You can, of course, find iron in vegetafoods but you need to eat a lot more if it, as well as B12, zinc, B6 which are other supportive nutrients for the brain all found in red meat. Get the recipe, here. 

Banana and peanut butter vegan pancakes

Beating Blue Monday is all about starting the day on the right note. And what better way to start the day than with a hearty helping of pancakes? These banana and peanut butter vegan pancakes are the ultimate comfort food for two reasons: A) They're quick and easy to make which means you can cram in an indulgent breakfast before your 9 am Zoom call and B) They're made using bananas which are high in vitamin B6. This helps synthesise feel-good neurotransmitters (a type of chemical that sends messages between neurons in the brain) like dopamine and serotonin. Separately, they work to reduce depressive symptoms, and together, they form a dynamic duo of brain chemistry to send you tonnes of positive vibes. Get the recipe, here. 

Root vegetable pie

There's nothing like a warming pie with a golden crust and delicious filling. Filled with seasonal root vegetables with an extra layer cheese, this is comfort food at its best. Plus! It contains red pepper which are actually pack more Vitamin C than an orange? They boast the most nutrition of all other bell peppers because they have been on the vine the longest. These low-calorie, nutrient-dense vegetables contain many vitamins and nutrients to improve your mood, making it an ultimate happy food. Get the recipe, here. 

Coffee and walnut cake

Because there are few things in life that can't be fixed with a slice of cake. While chocolate fudge is always an excellent choice for a comforting cake, this coffee and walnut cake really takes first place. It goes without saying that coffee is an instant mood booster but when combined with walnuts (one of the few plant sources for healthy omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient that's beneficial for both the brain and the heart), one slice of this indulgent cake will make everything feel better - promise. Get the recipe, here. 

Easy Nutella hot chocolate

Round off the day with a proper mug of hot chocolate as you cosy up before bed. A real treat and the ideal way to send you off to a deep sleep ready to face Tuesday...and the rest of January! This easy Nutella hot chocolate is so warming and comforting that just one sip will help you forget about the stresses of everyday life. Get the recipe for, here and remember to take a breather while you enjoy it.

READ MORE: Foods to boost your mood, now that you really need it