Good Food for Bad Days by Jack Monroe

Good Food for Bad Days by Jack Monroe
Rather!

Yes, this is Jack Monroe’s latest cookbook. Released in May 2018, it follows on from the likes of Tin Can Cook (2019) and Vegan (ish) (also from 2019) with cheap and cheerful recipes.

The major focus here is mental health. Monroe is open about her struggles with anxiety and depression,

What to Make When You’re Feeling Blue

Monroe was recently in Chorley of Lancashire (where we grew up) promoting her book, to our annoyance! We missed that.

But she’s been promoting this book to folks. Now, she’s not some clueless sort such as Gwyneth Paltrow (who, through her bizarre company Goop gets overprivileged rich people to buy pointless crap).

Monroe was forced into outright poverty in the early 2010s after she lost her job and the Tory’s vile austerity measures piled on in.

She also has autism and ADHD. As she puts it:

"I frequently double-book events or forget where I’m meant to be, or dash off sweary apologetic emails as I’m running an hour late to a crucial work meeting. I burn up, flake out, cancel on friends frequently, can spend days on end not leaving the house.

I’ve started to get better over the last year, by putting some systems in place. Foundations. Literal checklists of things to do every single day that, as far as I can work out, most people just seem to intrinsically know how to do."

And with a son to support, she turned to tinned produce and blogging to get on by. And she’s been very open on her social accounts about her struggles with mental health issues and alcoholism.

But she’s a hit, thanks to cheap and simple recipes like this son of a gun.

So, her latest book targets directly the foods we should all eat if we’re having a bit of a crap day, week, year (or whatever).

As it’s tempting these days just to indulge in comfort foods such as crisps and ready meals. They’re very cheap and provide a sort of momentary comfort oomph.

But trans fats and refined sugars will, ultimately, dampen your mood. You need proper healthy foodstuffs, you know? And Monroe promotes:

  • Bananas (in pyjamas, are coming down the stairs).
  • Beans and pulses.
  • Porridge (oatmeal, to you American readers).
  • Certain cheeses (for the tryptophan intake, which actually leads to assisting with your sleep as it produces melatonin—so, fromage doesn’t give you bad dreams!).
  • Chicken.
  • Dark chocolate (80% plus).
  • Fish.
  • Lentils.
  • Nuts.
  • Whole grain.
  • Lots of fresh veg.

We can add into that lot wheatgerm, ginger, Marmite (apparently), pumpkin seeds, eggs, and turmeric.

Sounds simple, right? The trick is to turn the above into tasty dishes for your meals. And that’s where Monroe comes in.

She calls them “depressipes” that’ll help alleviate issues you’re dealing with. And one of our favourites from her remains this homemade baked beans recipe.

That one involves washing off the weird sticky bean sauce slopped into the tin. And then creating Monroe’s recipe.

Which involves adding tinned tomatoes to the washed beans, adding a drop of olive oil, some garlic, black pepper, and leaving to cook long and slow. Bon!

But make no mistake, what you eat makes a huge difference on your state of mind. Sit about eating Pot Noodle sandwiches for every meal, for example, and you’ll feel like crap.

And although Monroe champions healthier food (such as spicy salmon noodles with fresh veg and a special Recalibration Supper), she’s also ready with happy-go-lucky recipes such as Jaffa Cake Mug Pudding.

There are 75 recipes in Good Food For Bad Days. But around her recipes, she shares personal stories on her mental health issues and how she deals with it all.

So, inspiring stuff as always from Mrs. Monroe! We can highly recommend as, crucially, the book offers the usual budget friendly recipes.

The book isn’t a cure-all—no matter how excellent the recipes look. But as the activist and chef points out:

"It’s not going to give you immunity to depression, self-loathing or miscellaneous terrible life events, but it might give you a slightly more solid foundation from which you can start to deal with them."

Our Tips on Managing Depression

From our side, we always promote culture, creativity, and escapism. We reference Simone de Beauvoir’s inspiring quote from The Woman Destroyed:

"When I was a child, when I was an adolescent, books saved me from despair: that convinced me that culture has the highest of values, and it is impossible for me to examine this conviction with an objective eye."

Although some folks may scoff at the idea, but video games are excellent for stress relief—they’re rather relaxing. Just check out Townscaper.

Tea is also a major part of our routine. The organic variety from brands such as Clipper, Pukka, and Yogi Tea. That includes herbal teas, of course.

But for us, it’s all about creativity. Running this blog, writing our books and whatnot—that’s kept us on it over the last decade.

Exercise, too, is proper belting. Drumming is astonishing for your mental health, for example. And we have a guide to juggling for learning some nifty moves. It’s super good for you.

But it’s down to you, really, just pick some new hobby and see how it works for you. Or indulge just listen to Beethoven or Mozart. Should do the trick. At least for a little while.

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