A business that came from mental illness

I was diagnosed with Bipolar in 2004, I had 10 stable years and in 2015 a locum GP took me off all my medication and as a result, I had the most awful crash. It took over a year to find the right help, with a psychiatrist who prescribed new medications to get me stable again. After experiencing such a horrendous spell at Christmas 2016 I thought of 'Cook Yourself Happier' with the aim of using my own personal experiences of mental health and cooking to help other people. In July 2019 'Cook Yourself Happier' became a not-for-profit social enterprise and my aim is to hold cooking workshops, demos and talks to encourage healthy and happy cooking for mental health. Now that we are all in lockdown, I've started 'The Airing Cupboard Challenge', for me, an airing cupboard day is one up from a duvet day, I want to hide away from the world. I think everyone's anxieties have been amplified at the moment with everything that is going on. When I'm unwell I always isolate myself away and have no desire to go out. My 'cook to match your mood recipes' is for days when you don't feel up to facing the shops or concentrating on a tricky recipe. It's all about looking in your cupboards, fridge, and freezer and using what is to hand.

Cooking from your cupboard

Pasta, rice, tinned soups, vegetables, pulses, ingredients you've forgotten about. Utilising what you already have in your fridge, vegetables, and fruit that need using up. At the moment we aren't able to nip out to the shops if we've forgotten an ingredient and cooking at home is now a must. Budget is also so important, because so many people are facing challenges, uncertainty about their jobs, having to apply for benefits, having the whole family at home and children off school - so breakfast, lunch, and dinner have to be made. When I've been ill and unable to work, I've had to claim Employment and Support Allowance which is £74.35 per week, so making the most of what I already have is vital. I made a frittata in my video using leftover vegetables I had in my fridge, people can use whatever they already have, it could be tomatoes, mushrooms, tinned sweetcorn, spinach, the combinations are very much an individual's favourite.

Have a look at the dried herbs and spices you might already have in your kitchen cupboards, add a splash of Tabasco, Lea and Perrins, chilli if you like your food with a bit of a kick! My ambition is to get as many people as possible cooking and sharing the ingredients they have, so people can offer suggestions on what to make. Self-isolation, loneliness, anxiety, uncertainty are all feelings we have - so if we can all 'Cook Yourself Happier' together it can only be a good thing. If we keep things relaxed and relatable, I think it will appeal to people cooking at home. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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