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Chef Meredith Hayden on the Food She Eats When She’s Feeling Anxious: Spaghetti Pomodoro

In SELF’s new franchise, The Meal I Eat After I’m Feeling…, we discuss with cooks, celebs, athletes, and other people within the culinary house concerning the particular meals or meals they flip to amid sure feelings—and the way consuming their favorites performs an important function of their self-care.

Chef and recipe developer Meredith Hayden, 26, has no drawback creating uniquely satisfying menus for her purchasers, whether or not she’s planning a seafood-themed dinner for the household she cooks for within the Hamptons or getting ready a lunch unfold highlighted by her well-known pink pasta for a company catering job. The truth is, she’s amassed greater than 800,000 TikTok followers who tune in to search out out what she’s going to place collectively subsequent.

However after a protracted day of making meals for different individuals, interested by what to make herself for dinner may be daunting.

“After I’m on my own, alone, and I am burned out from work, the very last thing I need to do is discover a new recipe, make a grocery checklist, and go to the grocery retailer, after which learn that recipe and cook dinner,” Hayden, who posts underneath the deal with @WishboneKitchen, tells SELF. “Once you’re feeling anxious and overstimulated, the very last thing you need to do—particularly in New York Metropolis—is go away your residence and go to the shop.”

So on days when her stress is at max level, Hayden retains a dish that’s low on effort and excessive on reward on the prepared: spaghetti pomodoro.

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The dish, which works from conception to bowl in about quarter-hour, calls up reminiscences from Hayden’s childhood, when a bowl of spaghetti with crimson sauce served as her go-to consolation meals. This grown-up model brings all of the satisfaction of the unique however kicks up the umami because of the garlic, butter, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese that complement the acidity of the cooked-down cherry tomatoes.

“It’s actually only a savory bomb,” says Hayden.

There’s enjoyment within the garlic-forward, creamy dish itself, however there’s additionally consolation within the routine-ness of it. Hayden, who was recognized with ADHD at 12, says that ever since she was a child, making selections—even on small issues, like what shirt she’d put on to highschool or what she’d have for breakfast—may really feel overwhelming throughout occasions of excessive stress. So now as an grownup, taking the query of what to eat for dinner off the desk can provide her the time she must decompress and let her thoughts cool down from the chaos of the day.

And her days can get hectic: Hayden works as a personal chef—she cooks for a similar household within the metropolis throughout the fall to the spring, then travels out to the Hamptons each weekend with them throughout the summer time—and a caterer for New York–based mostly occasions and dinner events, all whereas producing content material for TikTok and Instagram, creating model partnerships, and self-publishing two cookbooks.

Earlier than she turns 30, she tells SELF, she hopes to show all of this expertise right into a cookbook produced by a conventional writer, one the place her experience in home-cooking—versus “overly fussy fancy meals” centered extra on look over style—can actually shine.

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