Why You Should Learn To Cook For Yourself. With A Twist

Zen monks photography for our article about zen cooking

You know why you should learn to cook for yourself. It’s healthier. More economical. And cooking is fun. But what you might now know is this… Zen cooking can exercise your brain while you cook.


Cooking for yourself is one of the best things you can do for your health. It’s pretty obvious what the main benefit of cooking for yourself is: You avoid the hazardous concoction of chemicals found in premade foods. You take control of your diet. And best of all, you get to have fun in the kitchen.

But wait.

Back away from that Gordon Ramsey book. I know you’re interested in cooking but we’re going to learn to cook a different way. Because cooking for yourself without a recipe is even better.

When you cook without a recipe you force yourself to be mindful of your senses.

When you cook with a recipe, you don’t really need to pay that much attention. You follow the instructions. You take a swig of wine here, a swig of wine there. The food goes in the oven. You’re done.

What happens when you cook without a recipe is a whole other kettle of fish. When you cook without a recipe you force yourself to use your brain in new ways.

Here’s a look at five amazing benefits of cooking for yourself without a recipe.

Why You Should Learn To Cook For Yourself Without A Recipe

1: You work your creative brain: It’s so easy to hop online and find a recipe you like, then replicate it. In fact it’s too easy. You’re not really exercising any part of your brain. Well, other than your ability to follow instructions so simple a child could do it.

But when you cook without a recipe you force yourself to get creative. You force yourself to try different combinations of foods and ingredients. Hmmmmm… does coca-cola go with shrimp? [according to the Coca Cola company coke and shrimp are perfect together. Who knew?].

Cooking without a recipe is a fantastic exercise for your creative brain. And just as long as you have a good basic grasp of food and ingredients, you’re not going to go that wrong.


2: Mindfulness

Mindfulness is essentially the practice of focusing on the present moment.

Mindfulness has been proven to offer hordes of health benefits. It makes you happier, healthier, more relaxed, and more effective. Honestly, some of the health benefits of mindfulness will blow your mind.

But what the heck has all this got to do with cooking?

Glad you asked.

When you cook without a recipe you force yourself to be more aware of your senses. Try cooking a stir-fry without a recipe. Suddenly you’ll find yourself sniffing different spices and herbs to see whether they’ll work together.

By cooking without a recipe, you force yourself to pay attention to sensory information. By paying attention to sensory information you’ll be practicing mindfulness. And mindfulness is really, really good for you!

A Buddhist monk cooking in a community kitchen

3: Take Control of Your Diet

One of the most important elements of brain health is your diet. You are what you… etc.

The problem is, all those wonderfully talented chefs whose recipes we all copy; they all have one thing in common: they put lots of fat in their recipes to guarantee great taste.

But when you create your own recipes, you’re free to use whatever ingredients you like. That means you’re 100% in control of your diet. And 100% in control of your health. If you really want to get healthy in the kitchen, combine mindful cooking with these spiritual weight loss techniques. The results are astounding, as you’ll see when you try it.

If the chef looks like this, you probably shouldn’t eat his food

4: Access Novelty

Novelty is essential to your brain health.

Try doing something new. Anything. Well, anything within reason. Don’t try poking a Siberian Tiger in the eye for the first time. It wont turn out pretty.

But generally speaking, trying new things makes you feel fan-flipping-tastic. That’s because of neuroscience of novelty. Novelty stimulates your brain, creating new networks, firing new neurons… novelty, in many ways, is the brain’s oxygen. You need a certain amount of novelty to keep your brain fresh and energised.

Eating different foods provides that essential novelty.

Try it for yourself. Eat something you’ve never eaten before. You’ll find it far more stimulating than the same old bangers ‘n’ mash.

Cooking blind virtually guarantees you’ll end up eating something different, providing your brain with such much needed novelty.



5: Have Fun

Here’s a great exercise. Go get a random kid (preferably your own kid. Do NOT steal someone else’s child…). Ok, now put the kid in a kitchen full of different raw foods and ingredients and tell them tto go nuts and make anything they want.

Wait 30 minutes.

What are you left with?

Well, you’re left with a kitchen that looks like it’s been hit by an A-bomb. But you’re also left with one really flipping happy kid.

Cooking blind is simply fun. A LOT of fun. And fun is essential to good health.





Going nuts in the kitchen and cooking without a recipe is really, really good for your brain. We’ve looked at just 5 reasons why you should learn to cook for yourself without a recipe. And already it’s obvious that when you put the cook books down and you just cook your own style, you don’t just get great food, you also get a great mental workout.


Obviously you’re going to be left with a little bit of mess. But this is just another opportunity to practice some Zen in the kitchen as you can turn that chore into another meditation exercise.

Next, why not try:

Making Cooking More Fun And Relaxing.

Creating a meditation room at home.

And Cooking For Weight Loss.

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