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Happiness du Jour: Part Deux Tasting & Feeling

Our favorite foods and films to reconnect you with your feelings.

If you read the first installment of Happiness du Jour, hopefully you explored some of BWB’s favorite pockets of joy. Perhaps you discovered Dan Harris’s podcast Ten Percent Happier for the first time. During a recent episode, guest Sylvia Boorstein said that “moments of happiness can fortify you to deal with the difficulties we are all facing.” This really hits home for me– the emphasis on MOMENTS of happiness. Trying to BE happy may feel impossible and guilt-inducing. However, seeking small moments to FEEL happy is a much easier proposition.

Little by little, tiny moments of joy have incredible effects on our emotions and our physical health (breaking news: they’re connected!). It’s important to read the news, stay informed, and help others in a crisis– but it’s also important to maintain our own physical and mental health. Joy is contagious! By finding moments of joy and sharing them, you are creating a chain of happiness.

This week, we’ll be looking for joy in new places and new faces. Here are our favorite foods and films to reconnect you with your feelings.

Empathy: An Essential Ingredient

As COVID-19 affects the entire restaurant industry, it is truly a chef’s worst nightmare. Not only does the disease cause a loss of smell and taste, but it also prevents chefs from nourishing others. Many chefs are in the business because they are passionate about both their craft and the gratification that comes with feeding people. While their own business are struggling, many chefs have rallied to use their big appetites and big hearts for good. In fact, several are also doing their part to get people to #stayhome by hosting live cooking sessions or posting recipes on social media.

There are SO many chefs I adore, but here are just a few bringing me – and my tastebuds – immense joy. (Also, please consider donating to their causes if you are able to!)

Jose Andres

Without empathy, nothing works.

You may be familiar with Jose Andres since from his 2019 Nobel Peace Prize nomination. Or perhaps you may know him for the humanitarian work prompting the nomination, which involved serving 15 million meals in 13 countries with more than 45,000 mission volunteers. Even so, Jose Andres is so much more than those numbers or accolades. His passion for nourishing people who are hurting around world runs deep. Recipes flow from his ebullient, Spanish-accented speech like a river. I’ve never seen a person more enthusiastic about a can of chickpeas! Follow @ChefJoseAndres or @wckitchen on Instagram to see for yourself.

Simone Zanoni

The doors to the iconic Four Seasons George V Hotel in Paris are currently closed. Unfortunately, this means my favorite restaurant in the city, Le George, is closed along with it. Even so, Chef Simone Zanoni is still using his vibrant culinary genius to encourage home chefs on his Instagram, @ChefZanoni_Simone. His classes are a recipe for pure joy with a sprinkle of an Italian accent.Further, he and his restaurant team are currently feeding hundreds of healthcare workers at local hospitals with balanced, gourmet meals.

Other chefs making healthy, delicious meals and bringing moments of joy:

  • @AdamKenworthy – Watch this man make a sexy salad and you will never question plant-based cuisine ever again.
  • @Gabe_Kennedy – Watch this man make anything and you will never question plant-based cuisine ever again.
  • @MyNewRoots – This amazing woman has been making kale and fennel cool long before home-cooking was trending. Her recipes are creative, delicious and perfect for hard-core plant-lovers and newbies.

Eat Your Way to Happiness

Matcha Mornings

½ hour (5 minutes to prep, 25 minutes to sit, sip and enjoy)

Rituals are essential, particularly in times of uncertainty. This ritual also happens to be delicious. I love to start my days with a warm, matcha-based latté. It warms my insides, soothes my soul and energizes me for the day ahead. I usually have it with my breakfast or an hour before. Alternatively, I add protein powders, a bowl of fruit, or other superfoods to turn it into a meal in its own right.

Matcha is rich in l-theanine, an amino acid that promotes relaxation and well-being in the brain. In other words, it can help boost mood, focus and energy. Extra bonus: Its antioxidants help your skin glow!

The simple version: Blend almond milk with matcha and ginger. Warm over the stove with a bit of coconut oil. You can find my full recipe here!

Chocolove Is All Around

I confess: This global pandemic is not the only time that chocolate brings me joy.

Cacao contains tryptophan that our brains use to produce serotonin. Serotonin is the famous, feel-good chemical that boosts our mood and makes us feel high on life. Cacao also contains anandamide, which is a “bliss” chemical that produces a feeling of euphoria. In addition, you’ll find theobromine, which is a mild stimulant used to treat depression. Finally, it also contains magnesium, which is perfect to fight anxiety and calm the mind.

In hot cocoa form, it’s even more soothing to the body and the mind. Simply blend 1 cup of your favorite plant-based milk with 1 tablespoon (or 2 for chocoholics!) of cacao powder, ½ tsp of mesquite powder (optional, but delicious, with added vitamins and minerals), a pinch of salt, a pinch of cinnamon, and a sweetener of choice (i.e. Coconut sugar, Medjool date, maple syrup). Warm in a small pot on the stove with 1 tsp of coconut oil. Pour into a mug and sip slowly.

Films and Feelings

It may sound contradictory, but feeling sad can actually make you happier. Fully experiencing your emotions—anger, sadness, fear, all of it—is the first step to letting them go.

Hallmark movies: 2 hours.

Hallmark movies weren’t made during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they very well could have been. The romantic interests never get within kissing distance of each other until the very last second of the film! Spoiler alert: they DO kiss — and plan to get married right away in the sequel. They all take place on large farms, ranches or vineyards where social distancing is actually quite feasible. Plus, like a good Hallmark card, they mostly feature punny titles such as the more recent You’re Bacon Me Crazy. What better way to get through a global pandemic than… Christmas every day! Yes, the network has been rolling out Christmas movie marathons – giving you the perfect magical escape from reality.

Hallmark also just donated 2 million cards to help people connect during the coronavirus outbreak.Just send them your address and they’ll send you cards (true story – I did it and received mine days later!). The only cost is “kindness and intent to put more caring in the world.”

A Clap A Day

I haven’t watched a video of people clapping for first responders and healthcare workers without crying yet. Starting in Italy, the trend spread to France to New York City to the whole world at 8 p.m. every night.

My tears are rooted in the pain I feel for these people who are sacrificing so much for all of us, but they are also tears of joy. This is perhaps one of the most beautiful ways we are all staying connected. While all of us unite in clapping, every person is currently experiencing something completely different. Some are combatting extreme loneliness, while others are trying to stay sane with the other people in their household. Some are feeling the sickest they ever have in their lives, while others are spending their days doing online workouts and have never been healthier. None of us know what the future will bring, but every one is clapping at 8 p.m. I’m not sure I’ve seen anything so lovely in my lifetime.

Joy It Forward!

How are you finding small moments of joy in these times? Share with us and our community on Instagram @beautyandwb!

Feature Image Credit: Anastasia Taioglou

Rebecca Leffler

Rebecca Leffler is a Paris-based writer and journalist who, after a career as the French correspondent for The Hollywood Reporter and as a film critic on Canal+, traded red carpets for green smoothies. She’s written five books about healthy lifestyle from Paris to NYC and beyond, including Très Green, Très Clean, Très Chic: Eat (and Live!) the New French way with plant-based, gluten-free recipes for every season, and most recently Le Nouveau Manuel de la Cuisine Végétale. Rebecca has pioneered the “vegolution” in Paris, where she continues to organize events focusing on healthy eating, yoga and la vie en rose… And green! You can keep up with Rebecca on Instagram!

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