The Happy Kitchen – book review

Good mood food

The Happy Kitchen by Rachel Kelly with Alice Mackintosh (Published by Short Books)

There’s stacks of scientific research to prove that food can play a huge part in improving our mood and overall mental health.  Having read about Rachel Kelly’s experience of depression in her memoir Black Rainbow and her self-help guide Walking on Sunshine I was really pleased to try her new book about the power of food to promote better mood.

In The Happy Kitchen Rachel has teamed up with nutritional therapist Alice Mackintosh to share a wealth of recipes that helped her to manage her own depression and anxiety.  Rachel tells her own story as a kitchen novice (her go-to meal being microwave fish pie) learning to create delicious meals to boost her mental health as well as nourishing a family. Don’t feel daunted if you’re new to cooking as Rachel guides you gently through the process and every recipe is very manageable.

The Happy Kitchen is a joyful book that truly celebrates good mood food. Each recipe is clearly written and accompanied by some beautiful photography. Every health claim is backed up by clearly explained nutritional science so you can be confident that this food will help you to feel better.  The book is divided into 7 chapters focussing on different aspects of mental wellbeing so you can dip into the section relevant to how you are feeling:

  • Balanced Energy
  • Beating the Blues
  • Nice and Calm
  • Mental Clarity
  • Hormonal Peace
  • Sweet Dreams
  • Comfort Food

I also liked that each chapter featured 1 or 2 recipes marked “feeling fragile” for when you need something simple to prepare to help you feel better quickly.

My 2 teens and husband have enjoyed the recipes too and I’ve made lots of them- always a sign of a great cook book!  Our favourites so far are Salmon & Prawn Teriyaki Skewers, Satisfying Prawn Penne with Broccoli, Walnut & Rocket Pesto, Cinnamon, Almond and Lamb Curry, Tropical Vitamin C Smoothie, Chicken Pie and Warming Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry.

Dark chocolate brazil nut brownies

Last weekend I made the Dark Chocolate Brazil Nut Brownies which were a “feeling fragile” choice. Rich and gooey and packed full of healthy stuff like raw cacao, spelt flour and brazil nuts these dairy–free brownies were really simple to make and a yummy treat. They didn’t last long in our house.

I think this is a brilliant book for anyone looking to nourish their mind and improve their mental health.  I also think it is the perfect book for families with teenagers working through their own stresses and anxieties. Cooking and eating are great activities to bring families together in a positive space.


About Michelle Lake

Hi, I run Mission Nutrition, and I'm a nutritional therapist/ nutritionist helping people all over St Albans & Hertfordshire feel happier & healthier. If your diet needs an overhaul, come and see me for a nutrition consultation! Tel: 01727 893 042 / 01727 869 929 or email