Women's Health (UK) - - CONTENTS - words NIKKI OS­MAN pho­tog­ra­phy NINA OLSSON

Scandi-fy your meal­times for a hap­pier body and mind

For­get the golden arches, the link be­tween food and feel­ings of glad­ness is a very real one in Scan­di­na­vian cul­ture – and there’s not a Mc­nugget in sight

Turn off the Nordic crime drama you’re half­way through – the one with all those chunky knits and chis­elled-jawed Danes – and shrug off that IKEA throw, be­cause we’ve got some­thing to tell you: Scan­di­na­vian cul­ture is switch­ing its fo­cus from your liv­ing room to your kitchen, and you’re go­ing to feel a lot hap­pier for it.

From the Swedish Jamie Oliver – Nik­las Ek­st­edt, au­thor of Happy Food (£22, Ab­so­lute Press) – to Rachel Khoo, who’s swapped her Parisian do­main for a stylish Nordic equiv­a­lent – The Lit­tle Swedish Kitchen (£20, Michael Joseph) – your Billy book­case will be creak­ing under the weight of Scandi cook­books this sum­mer. Why? Be­cause the rest of the world has fi­nally caught on to the fact that the Danes, Swedes, Finns and Nor­we­gians have the recipe for more than good meat­balls. These coun­tries are con­sis­tently ranked among the hap­pi­est in the world, not only be­cause of close-knit com­mu­ni­ties, free health­care and flex­i­ble work­ing hours, but be­cause the fo­cus of the Scan­di­na­vian diet on gut-boost­ing pre­bi­otic plants is con­sis­tently linked with im­prove­ments in mood and re­duc­ing symp­toms of anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion.

Plus, the Scandi plate is more than the sum of its parts. ‘In the Nordic coun­tries, we love eat­ing to­gether,’ says Swedish chef Nina Olsson. ‘The act of get­ting to­gether and eat­ing raises our spir­its, es­pe­cially when we have so many dark months to live through. We like to eat sim­ple food lo­cally sourced and as fresh as we can get it.’ Here, Olsson shares her Scandi-in­spired recipes to perk up your taste buds and your spir­its.

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