Column: Bake to escape – Los Angeles Times

I love baking. It’s a creative and rewarding pursuit that engages all five senses. When people experience anxiety, they seek a distraction or a way to escape, and baking provides just that. Baking allows you to be creative in a multitude of ways by adding colors, adjusting flavors, and molding different shapes. All these creative sensations are sensory triggers. By permitting your mind to wander, your creativity will only grow stronger.

Dr. Mary McNaughton-Cassill, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas says: “The smell of spices and vanilla are comforting, and often remind us of happy times.” There’s nothing better than the potent aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg. The process of morphing ingredients into a scrumptious dish is not only satisfactory but extremely rewarding.

Needless to say, humans crave a routine. Following recipes and measuring ingredients embody a sense of routine. Routines help to alleviate stress and anxiety. Whether it’s a skincare routine, a morning routine, a homework routine or in this case, a recipe.

In this framework, a routine is simply following a recipe and adhering to it. Baking requires focus and engagement but simultaneously leaves room for creativity and self-expression. In fact, stressed spelled backward is desserts. I believe this is perhaps more than a coincidence. 

During our first lockdown, many people boasted about their new baking skills by posting them on social media under the hashtags, #stressbaking, and #quarantinebaking. Reallocating your time into specific activities is beneficial to our mental health. I believe that any time away from falling into the rabbit hole of social media is time well spent. 

The power of scents and texture can determine and fluctuate your emotions. I love to bake and eat chocolate chip cookies. This simplistic yet most delectable configuration of flavors will indefinitely be my comfort recipe and food. There’s solace in comfort food. Comfort food is each to their own. My comfort food may vary from yours. Within comfort food, many find sentimental value and emotional connection.

While some may yearn for a deep-fried falafel, others may long for a sapid carb overload. Personally, I yearn for a warm chocolate chip cookie. No matter the time of day, I’ll never turn down a therapeutic chewy, buttery cookie flecked with miniature chocolate chips that disintegrate in your mouth. Yum. 

According to Nutrition for Non-Nutritionists, comfort food triggers dopamine. Comfort food comforts us. Now try saying that 10 times fast.

Comfort food goes far beyond hunger, it satisfies emotions, allays stress and simply just tastes yummy and comforting. Comfort foods are homogeneous to a personal sanctuary. Humans crave comfort. Our senses can trigger our happy place. The toothsome aroma of a sweet decadent chocolate chip cookie generates my happy place. 

Baking and eating your nostalgic comfort foods go hand and hand. Food has the ability to fulfill and delight. Baking has the power to cast various sensations. When I bake chocolate chip cookies, I forget about my other assorted tasks. That blissful feeling of creating and devouring never fails to alleviate my stress. 

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