Does food affect your mood? It does for me, but I didn’t realize how much until I thought to ask the question. Beyond its obvious ability to taste good, provide energy, or give me a stomach ache, food can trigger a remarkable number of emotions and mental states. Popcorn makes me think of drive-in movies (happy); corned beef and cabbage brings back unpleasant childhood memories, even though I think the stuff is tasty (now. Not then). Particularly salty or greasy foods prompt me to eat quickly, whereas particularly flavorful foods, of any sort, trigger me to slow down and savor—an attitude that tends spill into areas of my life beyond eating.
I’m thinking these things for two reasons:
- Sometimes my mental state distracts me from writing (a bad thing), and
- I just ate a scrumptious bowl of split pea soup that leaves me feeling warm, well-fed, and content (good things).
I’m fully cognizant of the fact that if I eat junk food for lunch, my energy will crash an hour or so later and I’ll get nothing done, but I hadn’t considered the possibility that a simple bowl of soup could stoke my mental energy as well as recharge me physically.
Next time I’m tempted to slide through lunch on coffee and a few chips, I’ll remember this.
As for the soup—it’s a recipe from my new favorite cookbook, Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure, by Lorna Sass. She takes a standard recipe for split pea soup, takes out the ham, adds lots of herbs and spices (fennel is the most surprising and works really well with the other flavors) and adapts it to the pressure cooker, so cooking time is only 7 minutes even at Boulder’s higher elevation.
If you’d like to try some of her other recipes, check here for a scrumptious selection she’s posted online.