Hygge ( pronounced hoo-guy) is a Danish term for coziness that encompasses contentment and wellbeing through enjoying the simple things in life. The key ingredients are relaxation, togetherness, presence, comfort and the pursuit of everyday happiness. In essence, it should feel like a hug. And, like a hug, appreciating the simple pleasures of life can be free or achieved on a budget.
SInce the most powerful determinants of our health and wellbeing are our lifestyle choices, embracing hygge can make a powerful impact on our health. Practicing stress management, enjoying moderate exercise, and maintaining social support are some of the pillars of the Blue Zone formula for longevity, and also the cornerstones of hygge. In short, eat well, stress less, move more, love, and be loved.
So how do you embrace hygge? First, soften and simplify your home. No, this is not a Marie Kondo dictate on throwing everything out that does not spark joy. Rather, declutter to make a beautiful, cozy haven for yourself. Candles and fireplaces create emotional coziness, and if you don’t have a fireplace, Netflix has a “ fireplace for your home” and Amazon prime has a Yule log burning indefinitely. Bring the outdoors inside with houseplants and fresh flowers. Ferns, Peace Lilies, and Spider plants have air purifying properties to help rid your home of harmful toxins. Another way to hygge your life is to avoid multitasking. Food should be savored and shared, and while indulgences are encouraged, gluttony is to be avoided. The hygge lifestyle can be described as a healthy hedonism with warm winter stews and hearty meals accompanied by a glass of red wine, shared with good friends and family.
Vegetable-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
4 large portobello mushrooms wiped clean with a damp paper towel
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion diced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 red pepper diced
2 sundried tomatoes chopped
1 lb spinach or frozen spinach
¼ cup gluten free breadcrumbs
¼ cup parmesan cheese grated
¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 375. Spray a baking sheet with avocado oil, or line with parchment paper.
- Remove the stalk from mushrooms, and gently scrape out the gills from inside the mushroom with a spoon.
- Rub mushrooms with olive oil, and set them on baking sheet stalk side up.
- Add olive oil to pan on medium heat and add onions for 3-4 minutes until translucent.Then add tomatoes and peppers. Cook for a few minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes and add spinach. Remove from pan once spinach wilts.
- Add rest of ingredients and stir to combine.
- Stuff each mushroom with one-quarter of ingredients.
- Bake in oven for 40 minutes. Top each mushroom with 1-2 tablespoons of mozzarella cheese and continue baking until cheese becomes golden ( approximately 10 minutes).
The two biggest predictors of longevity are life long exercise and social connection and sense of belonging to a community. The Danes are famous for taking walks regardless of the weather. For the Danes there is no such thing as bad weather, just ill suited clothing.
Chronic stress leads to high levels of cortisol, a hormone secreted when someone is feeling anxious, threatened or stressed. Too much cortisol has been associated with lowered immune function, high blood pressure , slower digestion and cardiovascular disease. Hygge is an ideal coping mechanism for combating stress head on.