Beder Vegan Buttermilk Pancakes - Romy Calawitz

Food for the Soul: Cooking for wellbeing

Food for the Soul: Cooking for mental health

A host of top chefs reveal how food is good for our mental health, in a new cookbook for local charity Beder… 

From Beder’s Kitchen is no ordinary cookbook, and alongside gorgeous recipes from contributors such as Gordon Ramsay, Yotam Ottolenghi, Judy Joo, and Romy Gill, it aims to open up the conversation on mental health.

Razzak Mirjan, from Raynes Park, launched the charity Beder with his family, in honour of his younger brother, Beder Mirjan, who sadly took his own life at the age of 18 in 2017. When the charity reached out to chefs and foodies to contribute to the fundraising cookbook, it was overwhelmed by the response, with chefs, nutritionists, food writers and MasterChef winners, contributing not only recipes but personal experiences of how food has helped with mental health.

Says Razzak: “From Beder’s Kitchen shows that mental health issues are something that affects us all, regardless of who we are and what we have achieved, and that we are not alone in our thoughts or struggles.”

“For many people, cooking is a form of therapy, and research supports the fact that cooking is good for your mental health; it provides an outlet for creative expression, a means for communication and can be an act of mindfulness. Of course, there are many other ways to look after our mental health but creating delicious food at home for family, friends, loved ones or ourselves is a good place to start.”

As well as cooking for wellbeing, Razzak is a big advocate of getting outdoors for positive mental health. “I regularly go for walks around Wimbledon Common and Wimbledon Village as I find that being out in nature gives us a chance to switch off and put phones and laptops aside. I also really enjoy going out for a long cycle ride around the surrounding areas such as Richmond Park and Hampton Court but also Box Hill and Epsom.”

Beder takes a unique approach to softly raising awareness around mental health and suicide prevention, and has partnered with YoungMinds and Samaritans. Razzak says we can all play our part in helping others with their mental health. “I think we should make it clear to those around us that it is ok not to be ok and to struggle with your mental health is not something to be ashamed of as you are certainly not alone. The effect of checking in with those around you, having a conversation with someone and sharing what is on your mind is unbelievable and can save lives.”

He says that it would help if the subject of suicide could be tackled more openly: “It can be difficult to talk about someone who has taken their own life. That’s understandable, but as we continue to mention their name or talk about the good times that we shared, we also give others the strength to share what’s on their mind.”

From Beder’s Kitchen

If you’re struggling with your mental health, reach out for help right now. The Samaritans are available 24/7 on

116 123.


From Beder’s Kitchen: Romy Callwitz’s delicious recipe

Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 15-20 minutes Serves 2

These American-style treats are wonderfully fluffy. Simply scale up the recipe to cook for more people.


200ml soya milk

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp plain vegan yoghurt

2 tbsp maple syrup

120g flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon

1⁄4 tsp vanilla powder or 2 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Coconut oil, for greasing the pans


1. In a jug, combine the milk and apple cider vinegar then set it aside for 10 minutes to curdle.

2. Whisk the vegan yoghurt and maple syrup into the curdled milk. Add the vanilla if using the extract.

3. In a large bowl, combine your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, vanilla powder and salt).

4. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl and mix to combine.

5. Let the batter rest for a few minutes while you preheat two pans over a medium heat: one small shallow pan and one larger non-stick frying pan.

6. Grease both with the coconut oil.

7. Carefully drop spoonfuls of batter into the small pan until you have a layer about 1 or 2cm thick. Don’t touch it and let it cook gently for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until the edges are starting to firm up.

8. Be very quick when you flip the pancake into the larger pan to finish cooking on the other side, and repeat this process until the batter is used up.