The notion that digging into a giant mess of pasta can be an effective way to make the world feel a little less garbage, is a tale as old as time. But beyond the sensory and emotional pleasure of stuffing a piece of pizza in your pie hole, a recent study shows that the act of makingfood can also help us be happier humans.
A 2016 study conducted by the University of Otago in New Zealand and published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that after reviewing the diaries of 658 university students tasked with recording their daily activities and emotional states for 13 days—those who participated in the act of making new recipes reported higher levels of enthusiasm and overall “flourishing” (a.k.a. science-speak for increasing positive growth in oneself).
Other reported activities that yielded positive results were songwriting, creative writing, knitting and crocheting, and making art, which researchers attribute to a larger umbrella of creative activities that have the ability to produce happy-making results.
While existing research had previously established the positive affects of creative activities on the day-of, these new findings express a relationship between creative activities and the positive carry-over they have.
“This finding suggests a particular kind of upward spiral for wellbeing and creativity; engaging in creative behavior leads to increases in wellbeing the next day, and this increased wellbeing is likely to facilitate creative activity on the same day,” said Dr. Tamlin Connor, lead researcher on the study, in a statement issued by the the university.
In other words, creativity creates a positive feedback loop: Bake a pie today, and not only will you be able to reap happiness via your tastebuds, but you’ll get an extra boost the next day that can encourage you to keep doing creative things, and so on and so forth for infinity.
Below, we’ve compiled some of our favorite online resources to cook and bake your way to creative bliss:
Take online cooking classes from some of the most respected names in the biz, including a pie-making class from the pastry queens of Four and Twenty Blackbirds and an Umbrian cooking class from Mozza-plex mastermind Nancy Silverton. Classes generally cost $19.99, with modules ranging from 4to 12 lessons.
In addition to crafting and art classes, Craftsy offers a wide range of online cooking classes that offer instructional videos, download-able recipes, and actual answers to your questions from the instructor. These multiple-lesson courses developed by well-known chefs and nutrition experts range from $19.99 to $234.99.
Forks Over Knives
The somewhat polarizing documentary by the same name was a cornerstone in the ever-growing plant-based-diet movement. But this real-time online course walks you through the very basics, such as setting your mis-en-place to cutting things with a knife, to meal planning.
If you’re the type that requires some motivation and progress-checking, this may be for you—there’s a final assessment at the end to ensure you learned everything you need to live your best plant-based life. The $299, 45-lesson course starts on November 1, and you have 90 days to complete the curriculum.
You know those people who can look in their fridge, pull out an onion, a rind of cheese, the last few pieces of deli meat, and questionably stale bread and turn it into the most amazing meal you’ve ever had?
That can be you with this 30-day, $99 course, which aims to have teach you how to cook without recipes. It’ll teach you how to grocery shop, even, which in is an under-appreciated art in and of itself.
The New York Times Cooking Section
One of the nation’s papers of record is also an incredible (and free!) resource for learning how to cook, and they break down their best recipes into handy groupings, like “18 Pastas for Sweater Weather” and the perpetually handy “Our 10 Most Popular Recipes Right Now.”
Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, here we come.