Many of us are spending much more time at home, and it’s practically pointless to say why (hint, we all know why). In the spirit of positivity, being at home means time for the activities we’ve always wanted to do. It can also mean spending more time with the kids. Alternatively, it means Netflix and bopping around social media have lost its appeal and it’s time to do something fun and semi-productive. The answer to all three scenarios is… baking.
Many people love baking but don’t have much time for it during their regular schedule. It’s not only a fun activity for kids, but it can teach them life skills. Plus, it requires standing up and bustling around the kitchen. And there’s a reward about an hour later, in this case, in the form of a delicious and healthy Coconut Lime Bread.
The Benefits of Baking for Your Mental Health
During these stressful times, self-care is imperative. Every day is a reason to ‘treat yourself’ and that may come in the form of a slice of this tropical-flavored, soft, and lightly sweet bread alongside your favorite flavor of coffee or tea.
Baking goes beyond having a sweet treat rolling out of the oven. The act has many psychological benefits, especially baking for others.
- Baking is a form of self-expression and communication.
“Baking has the benefit of allowing people creative expression,” said Donna Pincus, associate professor of psychological and brain sciences at Boston University. “There’s a lot of literature for connection between creative expression and overall wellbeing. Whether it’s painting or it’s making music [or baking], there is a stress relief that people get from having some kind of an outlet and a way to express themselves.”
Stress can lead to a mess of mental and physical issues, and the current pandemic has given us plenty of reasons to stress.  Baking can help communicate one’s feelings, which is why food is used is a symbol of love and community during times of death and holidays.
2. Baking is an act of mindfulness.
Mindfulness makes people think of meditating on a beach, but it is a tool that is prevalent through a lot of regular activities.
“Baking actually requires a lot of full attention,” says Pincus. “You have to measure, focus physically on rolling out dough. If you’re focusing on smell and taste, on being present with what you’re creating, that act of mindfulness in that present moment can also have a result in stress reduction.”
Case in point, John Whaite, the winner of the 2012 Great British Bake Off, has stated that baking helped him deal with his manic depression.  Baking does more for you than just offer delicious food.
3. Baking is giving.
“Baking for others can increase a feeling of wellbeing, contribute to stress relief and make you feel like you’ve done something good for the world, which perhaps increases your meaning in life and connection with other people,” says Pincus.
Baking when intending to give the food to others is a form of altruism. It has physical and emotional significance. This can be achieved by just giving them food, even if you didn’t make it.
Gluten & Dairy-Free Coconut Lime Bread
This wonderful recipe was inspired by one found at Good Living Guide. If you would like to make the original recipe (dairy, gluten, and all!😊), you should check it out! With that being said, here at The Hearty Soul, we understand that many of our readers are looking for gluten-free, and dairy-free alternatives that are made using minimally processed ingredients. If that sounds like something you’re looking for, please read on!
Please note: that texture and consistency will vary from the original recipe.
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- zest from 3 limes
- 1 ¼ cup finely ground almond flour plus two tablespoons
- ¾ cup tapioca starch
- 1/3 cup coconut flour
- 1 1/2 cups flaked coconut
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tbsp melted coconut oil
- 1 cup confectionary sugar* (for a sugar-free option, see notes)
- 2–3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- zest from 1/3 of a lime
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Spray a 9 x 5 loaf pan with a non-stick cooking spray or grease with coconut oil.
- In a medium bowl, add the eggs, coconut milk, vanilla extract, and lime zest. Mix to combine then set aside.
- Using a stand-up mixer or hand mixer on low speed, combine the almond flour, tapioca starch, coconut sugar, flaked coconut, coconut sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
- Continuing on low speed, pour in the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
- Now add the coconut oil and mix until combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
- Bake for 60–75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly touched.
- Once the bread is cooled, make the lime glaze.
Lime Glaze Instructions
- In a small bowl, whisk together the confectionary sugar* and the lime juice.
- Drizzle the glaze over the bread.
- Sprinkle with lime zest.
For sugar-free confectionary sugar, blend 4 teaspoons of stevia (two packets) with 2 cups of potato or arrowroot starch in a food processor until well-combined. Use as directed for the Lime Glaze.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/art-20050987 April 4, 2019
- Danny Lewis. Feeling Down? Scientists Say Cooking and Baking Could Help You Feel Better. Smithsonianmag.com https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/feeling-down-scientists-say-cooking-and-baking-may-help-you-feel-better-180961223/ November 29, 2016
- Julie R. Thomson. Psychologists Explain The Benefits Of Baking For Other People. Huff Post. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/baking-for-others-psychology_n_58dd0b85e4b0e6ac7092aaf8 July 25, 2017