JLife shows you how to relax and unwind at home, thanks to the Danish phenomenon of ‘hygge’.
As iconically Scandinavian as IKEA or erm, Peter Schmeichel, ‘hygge’ is a way of life. Difficult to explain and even harder to say, this Danish word pronounced ‘hooga’, translates roughly to ‘cosiness’. It had such an impact, that even Oxford Dictionaries shortlisted hygge as one of its Words of the Year for 2016. But what is hygge?
In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life. Friends and family – that’s hygge too. There’s nothing more hygge than sitting round a table, discussing the big and small things in life. Essentially hygge is something we’ve all experienced at some point in our lives and would love to do more of, if only we took the time to enjoy and appreciate life.
The darker evenings and colder weather are perfect opportunities to relax, unwind and spend time doing things that make us feel truly cosy and fulfilled. JLife picks out a few ways that we can incorporate the ethos of ‘hygge’ this autumn and winter…
By the Book
It is no coincidence that the Happiness Research Institute is in Denmark. Meik Wiking, its CEO, is committed to finding out what makes people happy and what makes Danes the happiest nation in the world. His book, The Little Book of Hygge, has become something of a handbook for those who want to inject some Danish-style happiness and wellbeing into their lives. The Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller gives you practical steps and tips to become more hygge, including how to pick the right lighting, organise a dinner party and even how to dress hygge, all backed up by Meik’s years of research at the institute in Copenhagen.
Create a Corner
Where in your house is exclusively for relaxation? It’s likely that there isn’t one, and as much as slumping on the sofa to binge-watch Love Island was the nation’s favourite relaxing technique of 2017, creating a cosy little nook free from distractions is the next step to truly achieve hygge. Perfect for reading, meditating or even writing down your thoughts, curate a space with plenty of cushions, blankets and low lighting.
As previously mentioned, getting the lighting in your space right is vital for hygge. Turn the ‘big light’ off and source alternative illuminating fixtures that can encourage a sense of ease and comfort. Fairy lights or inexpensive soft bulbs for lamps and candles are great ways to get you in the right mood.
Banff ceramic star fairy lights (£12.99). Lights4fun.co.uk
The Danes are the fourth biggest coffee drinkers, and while we couldn’t hope to compete on the java consumption, tea is definitely more our bag.
With this in mind, why not try an alternative tea blend to promote relaxation and that all important hygge? Blended by medical herbalist Sebastian Pole using a mix of organic and therapeutic herbs, including chamomile, fennel and marshmallow root, Pukka Tea’s ‘Relax’ range helps to soothe and calm the nervous system and aid digestive health. It’s an ideal brew to help you unwind and relax after a busy day – and tastes delicious too.
A box of 20 teabags cost £2.49 and is available to purchase from Tesco and independent health food shops.
As we all know, food is a great way to feel good, especially if you’re enjoying it with family or friends. Slow cook recipes and share-worthy baking ideas are ideal for nourishing hygge happiness.
JLife asked Lisa Roukin, Jewish cook and food writer to shares her recipe for raw cashew and peanut butter bars. Perfect for sharing…or not!
Raw Cashew and Peanut Butter Bars
Serves 16. Preparation time: 30 minutes. Freeze time: 2-4 hours or overnight
For the base:
100g rolled oats, gluten free
100g ground almonds
170g cashew butter
5 tbsp of agave nectar
2 tbsp of coconut oil
2 pinches sea salt
For the filling:
350g crunchy peanut butter
2 tbsp of agave nectar
2 pinches sea salt
50g peanuts, roasted, split in half (do not add in the mixture)
90g coconut oil (odorless), melted
60g agave nectar or maple syrup
40g raw cacao powderor cocoa powder
1 tsp of pure vanilla bean extract
2 pinches of sea salt
1. Line a nine-inch square pan with parchment paper.
2. In a food processor, process the oats and ground almonds until a fine consistency. Add the cashew butter, agave nectar, coconut oil, salt and blend for 20 seconds. Scrape around the sides of the food processor and process until the mixture is combined. Remove the mixture from the food processor, and knead into a ball.
3. Press the mixture into the square pan ensuring that the mixture is evenly spread. And place in the freezer while you make the next layer.
4. To make the peanut filling, in a large mixing bowl add the crunchy peanut butter, agave nectar and sea salt and mix until combined smooth and thick. Spread the mixture on top of the base and smooth out so it is evenly spread.
5. Press the roasted peanuts halves into the base rounded part into the base and flatten out. Place in the freezer while you make the chocolate topping.
6. For the chocolate topping, melt the coconut oil, over a gentle heat. Pour the coconut oil into a mixing bowl and add the agave nectar, salt, and vanilla and whisk in the cacao powder, until combined and smooth.
7. Remove the base from the freezer, pour the chocolate topping and spread out evenly. Give the pan a little tap to get the air bubbles out.
8. Carefully transfer to the freezer on a flat even surface and chill for two to four hours (or overnight) until the topping is firm enough to slice.
9. When ready to cut remove from the freezer and wait 20 minutes before cutting.
To find more delicious recipes, visit Myrelationshipwithfood.com.