Mindfulness is a word that perhaps only entered our vocabulary fairly recently, however, there’s a growing emphasis on weaving this concept into our daily lives.
Being mindful is the act of focussing on the here and now in order to relax the body and mind and alleviate stress. This can be done through paying attention to what you’re sensing, or feeling, within that moment. Smells, sounds and tastes can all play a role in mindfulness, and this can all come from the kitchen.
A lot of people find comfort or sanctuary from their kitchens, for lots of different reasons. Perhaps it’s the warm, comforting smell of food or perhaps it is the soothing sense of being with family and friends at the dinner table. Maybe it’s the very act of cooking itself.
We spoke to Niki Webster, owner and creator of Rebel Recipes, the vibrant vegetarian food blog and recipe archive, to hear her thoughts on being mindful in the kitchen and how she boosts her mood through time spent there.
“My kitchen is my happy place. It’s the room that I spend the most time in as it’s also my workplace. Even though I’m sometimes under lots of pressure with recipe testing for books, client work or my own content, I immediately feel more relaxed and happier when I’m in my kitchen.
“Over the last year I actually haven’t had my own kitchen which has proven quite challenging, and I have really felt that absence in my life. Now I’m finally back in my own space and I’m loving and appreciating every minute I get to spend in my kitchen. Luckily the space has had a mini makeover, so I’ve had the chance to re-organise and make sure it’s the perfect working environment.
“Here’s some things I love to have in my kitchen to make sure it’s a fantastic space for working and cooking in, and to boost wellbeing levels;
Well organised cupboards and fridge
This is essential so you know where everything is and to help manage stock and ingredients. It makes it much easier to plan recipes if you know what you have and haven’t got and removes a certain element of stress.
The tools I need;
Because my work centres around my kitchen I usually stick to a daily kitchen routine which I find helps to keep me in the moment.
Here’s a recipe that I created using wholesome and filling ingredients with mindfulness and wellbeing in mind:
Tomato and olive tart with fennel, tomato and caper salad
Approx. 8 servings
20 mins preparation time
30 hr cook time
For the crust;
1 can chickpeas drained
1/2 tsp Sea salt
Pinch black pepper
3 tbsp buckwheat flour
2 tbsp olive oil
To make the filling;
85g cashews (soaked for at least 2 hours)
1 tbsp sun dried tomato paste
1 tbsp rose harissa
4 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp tamari/soy
1 tsp garlic powder
150g butter beans or chickpeas drained
1/2 tsp sea salt
250g heritage tomatoes and cherry tomatoes sliced in half through the middle
Handful green olives
1 tbsp olive oil
Pinch sea salt
Fennel & caper salad
1/4 fennel sliced thinly
4 heritage tomatoes sliced
2 tsp capers
3 tbsp green olives
Handful Basil leaves
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp maple syrup
Big pinch sea salt flakes
To make the tart base;
Pre heat your oven to 180c.
Add the ingredients to a food processor and blitz until everything comes together into a dough. You may need to scrape the sides a few times.
Grease a loose bottom medium tart pan then add the dough. Shape it over the bottom and up the sides.
Bake for 10 minutes then remove from the oven.
To make the filling;
Blend all the filling ingredients in a food processor and blitz until smooth.
To compile the tart;
Spoon the filling into the tart base and press into the corners.
Now top with the tomatoes and olives. Press down a bit. Add some basil leaves and press in.
Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
Bake for a further 20 minutes
Remove to cool a little.
For the fennel, tomato & caper salad
Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix to combine.
In a jar - mix the dressing ingredients.
Pour over the salad
Niki’s insight into her kitchen routine and how she remains mindful in her space is a gentle reminder that sometimes it’s the little things that really matter. Whether that’s turning on a cosy lamp or spending a couple of hours cooking up a storm to distract from the hustle and bustle of the everyday.
Being mindful in the kitchen can seem daunting, but when you simplify it, it can be quite the joy. Breathe in the smells that your kitchen presents to you; a waft of coffee from the morning’s cafetiere, or the exotic smell of cinnamon and paprika from the spice rack. Then consider the sounds, the low hum of the microwave or the piercing sizzle of oil in the pan.
And finally, the tastes. The exciting moment of taste testing your soup you have laboured over. Or the comforting bliss of settling into a large helping of homemade sticky toffee pudding that you’ve been thinking about all day.
When you put it like that, the kitchen is really full of great stuff, isn’t it? To help design your dream kitchen to feel mindful in, check out Magnet’s range of premium designs here.