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The wellbeing benefits of cooking traditional family recipes

Cooking is a selfcare activity that nourishes us: physically by eating freshly prepared ingredients; and emotionally by relieving stress through the mindful practice of chopping, whisking, stirring and sautéing. These benefits are enhanced when cooking traditional family recipes and sharing the dishes with others.

Benefits of cooking traditional family recipes

Cooking and passing on your family’s food heritage is an important part of wellbeing. It can:

  • Help keep your family history alive. Sharing recipes and traditions gives you a flavour of your family’s own unique past.

  • Stimulate your five senses helping you recall happy memories of a family member and good times.

  • Provide a feeling of comfort and satisfaction.

  • Send a message to you that you are important because you are caring for you own nutrition.

  • Connect family and friends through sharing conversation at the table over a lovely meal or dish.

  • Spark your creativity as you make tweaks to the ‘original’ recipe to enhance its flavour and style.

  • Help you start a new tradition to pass onto others so they remember good times with you.

Psychologically, the person who has been cooked for feels cared for and loved because the cook has taken time to prepare something delicious and nourishing for them. The cook feels a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment in being able foster these feelings in others. Receiving complements on your food can raise your self-esteem and confidence. In addition, mastering a new recipe means you have improved your cooking, organisational and time management skills which in turns makes you feel accomplished and good about yourself.

How to share your family food heritage

You can pass on your family’s food heritage to future generations by:

  • Cooking with your children / grandchildren / nieces /nephews /cousins and explaining where the recipe came from and why you or others before you started cooking it.

  • Serving family favourites for special occasions such as your special birthday chocolate cake everyone in the family gets or your Christmas dinner starter that everyone asks for - mine is the parmesan baskets filled with avocado salsa.

  • Sharing the significance of the serving dishes, dinner set, cutlery and table decorations that are used for certain dishes or occasions.

  • Creating a family recipe book full of favourites.

  • Journaling food / cooking stories.

  • Recording recipes and stories from the older generations in your family.

  • Bringing special family foods and recipes to family gatherings.

  • Creating your own traditions that the younger generations in the family can then pass down.

Over to you

What’s your favourite family dish? Do you make it? Can you make it? Can you learn how to make it from someone else? Can you show others how to make it? Is it recorded somewhere for others to make it? Can you start a family cookbook or a food story journal?


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