Mind over Batter: 75 Recipes for Baking as Therapy

Chronicle. Mar. 2023. 272p. ISBN 9781797212302. $35. COOKING
Readers may be more familiar with art or music therapy, but this book introduces baking as therapy. Hazan, a licensed psychotherapist, Food Network contributor, and owner of challah products bakery JackBakes, draws upon the kitchen lessons he’s learned from his nurturing Syrian Jewish family, whose acceptance of his differences made the life he has possible. Recipes from that tradition are offered in chapters with titles representing areas of healing: Self-Care, Mindfulness, Dealing with Stress and Anxiety, Finding Joy, etc. The intro to each chapter is not baking-oriented but rather a small “therapy session,” and each of the recipes has a “baking affirmation” or “food for thought” appended. Many of the recipes are drawn from Middle Eastern and Jewish traditions with a modern twist, such as tahini blondies and marbled rye breadsticks. It’s not always clear why a recipe is in one chapter instead of another, and the criteria for selection are not readily apparent, but the real meat of Hazan’s book is the therapeutic message rather than the recipes.
VERDICT Hazan’s point of view is simple, comforting, and helpful for those in need of some talk therapy, with the added bonus of baked goods.
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