When’s the last time you pulled out a cook book and tried a new recipe?

Most people fall into the habit of making foods that don’t require a lot of effort. It turns out, though, that making something new is good for more than just your appetite. Did you know that trying out a new recipe excites both your taste buds and your neurons?

When you use a recipe to make a new food, you’re using the part of your brain responsible for executive functioning. This refers to the way your brain plans, controls and directs your thoughts and actions all at once.

Activities that utilize executive function require you to coordinate multiple tasks. (This is also called multi-tasking.) What requires more multitasking than measuring, heating, timing, tasting, plating and all the other tasks that come along with creating a meal?

Scientists have even studied how cooking impacts cognition. One study replicated real cooking with a game in which participants were required to click start and stop buttons, move items around in the kitchen and set the table — all at the same time! After the cooking tasks, memory and cognitive function improved!

Not sure what to make? What about a healthy version of your favorite restaurant meal? If you don’t have a cookbook, it’s easy to find a recipe online.