We published this guide recently for our team. While a lot of it concerns courses, workshops and details specific to COOK, there are a few gems we thought we’d share that might help keep you happy and healthy over the coming year…
On arriving home is your overexcited four-legged friend waiting to greet you? Pet ownership is undoubtedly one of the greatest pleasures in life, and a recent study suggests your pets could be doing wonders for your health and well-being.
1. Lower risk of allergies. Pets could actually lower the risk of developing allergies. Pet hair is a common trigger and the theory is that greater exposure to potential allergens at an early age can strengthen the immune system, which may increase tolerance to allergies in later life.
2. Reduced anxiety and stress The soothing sound of a cat purring or the feeling of your dog tucked up against your feet is guaranteed to make you feel at ease, so it may come as no surprise that pets can help to alleviate stress and anxiety.
3. Better heart health Many of us are aware that good lifestyle choices, such as a healthful diet and regular exercise, are key to reducing risk factors for heart disease. Regular dog walkers were more likely to meet physical activity guidelines.
4. Stronger relationships and social skills Most pet owners have a special bond with their furry friends. Dog owners will know how social dog walking can be, but the study found that people with pets report having stronger romantic relationships than non-pet owners & pet owners reported greater overall relationship quality and investment.
5. Improved mental health Pets are also a great motivator for people. Dogs especially are great at encouraging owners to get exercise, and this can be beneficial for those suffering from depression. Pets can also have calming effects on their owner. Just by stroking, sitting next to or playing with a pet can give owners a chance to relax and calm their minds. Caring for a pet also gives your day purpose and reward, and a sense of achievement. It also helps you feel valuable and needed.
6. Better sleep quality Those of you who are dog or cat owners will know only too well the frustration of your four-legged pal claiming the sheets at bedtime. But don’t kick them off the bed just yet; studies have shown that sharing a bed with your pet may actually lead to a better night’s sleep. Pet owners who allowed their pet to sleep in the bedroom or on the bed said that they did not find their pet disruptive, and they even reported sleeping better, due to the feeling of security, companionship, and relaxation that their pet offers.
When you focus on what can be considered as your blessings in life, you tend to be happier, healthier and you experience a deeper sense of fulfi llment. The habit of gratitude has a number of life-affirming, positive effects on your wellbeing.
“Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that
we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we
have we will not be happy — because we will always want to have something else or
Could your New Year’s Resolution be a Dry January? Every year, thousands of people in the UK abstain from alcohol for a month to raise awareness of alcohol dependence and to challenge themselves. Those who last the 31 alcohol-free days report feeling an amazing sense of achievement along with better sleep, weight loss and bags more energy.
As well as cutting out alcohol, we all know that we should drink more water, but plain water can be dull. Infused water is a great way to stay hydrated, try these herb and fruit combinations:
Strawberry, Basil and Lemon
Honeydew, Cucumber, and Mint
Blackberries, Orange, and Ginger
Blueberry, Lemon, and Rosemary
Pineapple, Coconut, and Lime
Watermelon, Kiwi, and Lime
These tasty soups will help you stay warm and cosy during the long winter months…
Spiced Sweet Potato Soup
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp medium curry spice paste
1 tbsp coconut oil
8 large carrots
4 small sweet potatoes (or 2 Medium)
1 litre vegetable stock
400m coconut milk
1. Peel and slice the onion and crush the garlic. Add to a pan with the coconut oil and medium spice curry paste and fry together.
2. Add carrots and sweet potatoes and fry for a minute just to blend the flavours.
3. Add the vegetable stock.
4. Bring to the boil and then cover and simmer for around 30 minutes until soft and fully cooked.
5. Add the coconut milk and blend with a hand or kitchen top blender.
Asian-style Chicken Soup
6 skinless free-range chicken thighs
olive oil for drizzling
1.2 litres chicken stock
small bunch fresh coriander
2 garlic cloves
300g dried egg or rice noodles
1-2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp chilli fl akes, plus extra
250g frozen spinach, defrosted
1. Heat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/ gas 6. Put the chicken in a roasting tin, drizzle with oil, season and roast for 20-30 minutes until cooked. Leave to cool slightly, then shred.
2. Bring the stock to a boil in a large pan. Chop the coriander stems and add to the pan. Reserve the leaves. Crush in the garlic. When the stock is boiling, reduce to a simmer and add 150-200ml water to dilute.
3. Add the noodles along with the soy and chilli. Simmer for 4-5 minutes until tender, then add the chicken and spinach and cook for 1 minute.
4. Season to taste, then serve scattered with the coriander leaves and extra chilli flakes, if you like.
Tuna, Quinoa and Avocado Salad
Juice 1 lemon
½ tbsp white wine vinegar
120g can tuna, drained
1 avocado, stoned, peeled and cut into chunks
200g cherry tomatoes on the vine, halved
50g feta, crumbled
50g baby spinach
2 tbsp mixed seeds, toasted
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Rinse the quinoa under cold water. Tip into a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 mins until the grains have swollen but still have some bite. Drain, then transfer to a bowl to cool slightly. Meanwhile, in a jug, combine the oil, lemon juice and vinegar with some seasoning. Once the quinoa has cooled, mix with the dressing and all the remaining ingredients and season. Divide between plates or lunchboxes.
2 cups fresh walnut pieces
1 large spring onion, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, cored and finely diced (discard seeds if tomatoes are very juicy)
1 small-to-medium cucumber, very finely diced
1 green pepper, very finely diced
½ cup coarsely chopped parsley leaves
½ cup coarsely chopped mint leaves
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp pomegranate molasses or balsamic glaze
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and enjoy!