The Happy Kitchen: Good Mood Food by Rachel Kelly With Alice Mackintosh
Review by Kylie Thompson
Rating: 3 ½ stars
When Rachel Kelly was struggling through depression and anxiety, she knew that she wanted to take a holistic approach to her medical care. She wanted to find ways to cope that didn’t require a stringent pill-taking regime, but that could be implemented easily into her day no matter how busy she was.
Working with nutritional therapist Alice Mackintosh brought the breakthrough Rachel had been looking for: the realisation that shifting the way she approached food, and the types of food she was eating, had the power to impact her mood in both good and bad ways. Minimising the food with negative impacts, and increasing those having good impacts, could easily and effectively shift her mood. The result of this fortuitous meeting is ‘The Happy Kitchen’, a book that’s as much about the reasons why as it is a collection of recipes designed to help readers keep calm, get to sleep, or feel more energised.
‘The Happy Kitchen’ isn’t your usual quick read cookbook, because it’s filled with explanations, not just recipes. What it is, though is a fantastic read for anyone looking to improve their mood, or feel more productive or energised in their day, as well as those curious as to the ways in which nutrients can impact our moods, and our bodies. It’s easy to follow, with a compelling premise that gives readers an awful lot to think about, and full of suggestions to make small but meaningful changes that aren’t overwhelming.
There are a few issues here, though. Chief among them, the overabundance of the words ‘may’ and ‘might’. This possibly seems like a frivolous complaint, but what it actually means is that there’s not enough scientific certainty around some of the claims within this book to say that following its instructions will definitely help minimise the issues being described.
It’s a scientific grey area, as most holistic approaches are, and if you’re vehemently scientifically minded, it might be a bone of contention. But this almighty ‘perhaps’ doesn’t necessarily negate the usefulness of the information here: we don’t know everything, after all, but we do know that not everyone reacts to medicines in the same, positive way. Having another option if meds aren’t possible certainly isn’t a bad thing, and let’s be honest: throwing more nutrients into our lives doesn’t seem like the worst of ideas.
Unsurprisingly, given the usefulness of Omega 3s, there’s rather a lot of seafood dishes here, and if you’re unable to eat seafood you’re likely to find yourself flicking over quite a few recipes in the collection. This is definitely a book that seafood lovers will get more out of, but for those of us unappreciative of the charms of fish, there’s still a lot of useful advice and recipes to sink our teeth into.
If you’re looking for a more natural approach to shifting your mood, ‘The Happy Kitchen’ is probably a fantastic starting point. ‘The Happy Kitchen’ is published by Simon and Schuster, and is available at all good retailers.