From eating more mindfully to trying new ingredients, check out our six favourite ways to refresh your food routine this year. Lift your mood, improve your health or sharpen your kitchen skills with these tips.
How to refresh your food routine
1. Practice mindful eating
Mindful eating is rooted in the Buddhist practice of mindfulness, and involves giving your full attention to your food in the moment, without external distractions. This is particularly supportive of the cephalic phase of digestion, the stage in which your stomach prepares its digestive juices in response to the sight, taste or smell of food.
Mindful eating basics
- Slow down and remove all distractions while eating.
- Pay attention to your hunger cues and ask yourself, ‘Am I eating out of habit, boredom or true hunger?’
- Engage your senses: notice the colours, textures, flavours and smells on your plate.
- Ask yourself, ‘How do I feel after eating this? Do I feel satisfied and energised, or tired and bloated?’
Eating mindfully can feel a little strange at first, but over time, it’s a great way to train your body to get back in touch with its natural rhythms of appetite and digestion. Try it for at least a week and see how you feel.
2. Make veggie versions of meaty favourites
These days, it’s easier than ever to reduce your meat consumption. We’ve spotted a huge growth in plant-based meat alternatives recently, from vegan sausages and mince, to burgers. Try swapping your usual mince, sausages or other meat dishes for a veggie version this month.
3. Experiment with a new kitchen gadget
With many of us spending more time in the kitchen last year, we saw searches for certain kitchen gadgets rise dramatically. The most popular searches were for air fryers, rice cookers and soup makers. If you fancy giving one a go, check out our reviews section to find out which are best.
4. Get involved in community cooking
We’ve noticed great community spirit kicking in throughout 2020, with people sharing food and cooking skills. Whether shopping for a neighbour, swapping homemade dishes with friends, or hosting virtual drink tastings and cookalongs, we do hope this feeling of togetherness lives on in 2021.
5. Try a new kitchen project
Did you take on a kitchen project during last year’s lockdowns? Keep the momentum going by trying something new in 2021. There are plenty of ideas, but these are three of our favourites…
Make your own fruit leather
Got a glut of fruit to use up? Try making homemade fruit roll-ups. It’s surprisingly easy to do, and kids will love rolling them up (and eating them!)
Churn your own butter
So, you got into breadmaking during last year’s lockdowns, but now how about making your own butter to go with it? It’s incredibly simple: just whip double cream with an electric whisk until it starts to separate into buttermilk and butter, then sieve out the buttermilk (the latter is great for making fluffy pancakes) and you’re left with homemade butter. Or, check out our home-churned butter method that involves a jar and a marble.
Dumplings have been trending across social media, in restaurants and in online searches. Whether you choose Polish pierogis, Japanese gyoza, Nepalese momos or Chinese siu mai, there are many to master, so what are you waiting for?
6. Explore a cuisine that’s unfamiliar to you
If you’ve never tried your hand at cooking authentic Japanese, Mexican, Korean or other cuisines, because certain ingredients have been too difficult to find, there’s never been a better time to start. Specialist online grocery sites are now available for just about anything. Here are some of our favourites…
Your one-stop shop for Mexican ingredients, from authentic corn tortillas to seasonings, sauces and salsas. mexgrocer.co.uk
An online superstore for all things Japanese, from nori, gyoza wrappers, wasabi, pickled sushi ginger and bonito flakes, to Japanese sweets like mochi and matcha Kit-Kats, and sake. You can also buy kitchen tools and kit, such as sushi mats, ramen bowls, bento boxes and sake cups. japancentre.com
As well as having two physical stores in Nottingham, Oriental Mart has a large online marketplace for all kinds of Asian ingredients, covering Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai, Malaysian, Filipino, Taiwanese, Indonesian, Vietnamese and Singaporean cuisines. orientalmart.co.uk
Covering everything from unique ‘cheffy’ ingredients, to specialist storecupboard ingredients for all kinds of cuisines, Sous Chef is a real go-to among the Good Food team. souschef.co.uk
Fine Food Specialist
This is another site covering various specific ingredients that can be difficult to find in regular supermarkets, from Spanish Iberico ham to French cheeses, and much more in between. finefoodspecialist.co.uk
More foodie project ideas
This article was published on 6 January, 2021.