January blues getting the better of you? Here's how Alexa can make you happier this month. Or at the very least make any post-Christmas polka face break into a smile. We've discovered the best things to ask Alexa this month to ramp up the positivity and see you through any foggy mornings and long winter evenings. We also found the best way to discover inspirational recipes from Alexa so you can create delicious and heartwarming meals.
Adding to the list of the best Alexa skills, you can now ask it for a good news or to sing you a happy song. In fact, there's a range of questions you can ask that are sure to spark joy. Between 17th and 23rd January, you can also ask Alexa to 'brighten your day' and it will recite excerpts from bestselling author Matt Haig, who has written The Midnight Library and The Comfort Book. These aren't just any ordinary excerpts either and have been described as 'hugs in book form'.
What's more, if a little too much Christmas cheese, stollen and chocolate coins have left you in desperate need of some healthy recipe ideas to lift your mood, Alexa has it covered. You can ask Alexa to nudge you step-by-step through some delicious recipes that are sure to make you smile in delight.
How Alexa can brighten your day
7 positivity reminders from Alexa
This month you can ask Alexa these phrases that are designed to add a little sunshine to your day, even when it's raining cats and dogs outside.
1. Try: "Alexa, sing a happy song"
When we tried it: Alexa started singing "What do you do if you're feeling rather blue in an English country garden..."
2. Try "Alexa, tell me a joke"
When we tried it: Alexa told us 'Did you hear about the sick chimney? It had a bad flu'. Groan.
3. Try "Alexa, give me some good news"
When we tried it: Alexa told us something very random we're not actually sure what we heard!
4. Try "Alexa, cheer me up"
When we tried it: Alexa told us that if you fake laugh for long enough you'll end up actually laughing. Clever.
5. Try "Alexa, compliment me"
When we tried it: Alexa told us 'You're even better than a unicorn, because you're real'. Ha!
6. Try "Alexa, tell me something nice"
When we tried it: Alexa told us 'You're really something special'. Blush.
7. Try "Alexa, brighten my day"
Between 17th to 23rd January you can ask Alexa to brighten your day and it will play you inspiring excerpts from Matt Haig's books The Midnight Library and The Comfort Book.
Feeling uninspired on what to cook tonight? Use Alexa for recipe inspiration
Whether you’re following the latest keto plan or embracing Veganuary all the way, there’s nothing more smile-inducing than a decent home-cooked meal. You’ll find the latest range of Amazon Echo Show devices are great for use in the kitchen and can give you instant access to a wide range of healthy, inspirational recipes. You can use Alexa to play your favorite music instantly too, so you can sing along, tap your toes or even dance the YMCA or alike while you prepare meals.
A latest Alexa device worth looking up is the new Echo Show 15 smart speaker, one of the best Alexa speakers. This is particularly useful in the kitchen as it can be wall mounted or used on its stand to perch neatly on the worksurface.
The Echo Show 15 features widgets to display your favorite recipes, recently played music, your favorite photos, calendar and more, which are all displayed on the home screen. These widgets can be personalised to each user in the household and can be unlocked with ‘Visual ID’ whereby the Echo Show 15 will recognise your face. All you need to do is stand in front of the device and it will display your personalised home screen and do the same for each household member.
As well as accessing your to-do lists so you feel suitably in control and organised, you can also leave digital ‘Sticky Notes’ for other household members.
How to use Alexa to follow recipes
- Set your food preferences with Alexa so it understands your dietary requirements. Once you say ‘Alexa, show my food preferences’ it will display your menu on screen and you can choose from vegan, pescatarian, kosher, keto, gluten-free, nut-free, low salt, vegetarian and more.
- Once you’ve set your food preferences, you can say ‘Alexa, Show me dinner recipes’ and it will bring up a selection of recipes for you to follow – as a default it will bring up recipes from BBC Good Food. You can change this if you go into the Skills section of the app and choose Recipedia, for example. When we tried Alexa gave us a recipe for a Bean, Chickpea and Feta Salad.
- If you’re feeling particularly uninspired, you can alternatively say ‘Alexa, what should I cook tonight?’. The great thing about the Echo Show is that it has a screen so you can read the recipe and see visuals of the food you’re making. You can also say ‘Alexa, next step’ and Alexa will read out the instructions as you go. You can even ask Alexa questions about the recipe such as ‘Alexa, how much sugar do I need?
- You can also use Alexa to set cooking timers and help you convert tricky measurements - for example, just say: ‘Alexa, how many grams in 2 ounces’.
- Out of an item? Ask Alexa to add it to your shopping list, so you don’t forget when you next go to the supermarket.
- Try "Alexa, play cooking music" for good measure and get dancing while you cook. Happy days!
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One of the UK's most respected tech and smart homes writers, Emily Peck also covers everything from interiors style to decorating trends. She is a contributor to Wired UK, and has also had a column in House Beautiful. She has written for publications such as Grand Designs, Stylist, Shortlist, Woman&Home, BBC, Ideal Home and House & Garden. She was once the Features Editor of Ideal Home.
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