Experts yesterday unveiled the ultimate happy meal – comprising a string of ingredients which guarantee to blow away the ‘January blues’.
The three-course meal contains foods which boost happiness levels, alleviate stress and improve mental health.
It starts with roast Atlantic salmon fillets salad with baby spinach, avocado and walnut, served with quinoa, chia seeds and sunflower seeds and a ginger and sesame oil dressing.
Spinach contains folic acid which helps maintain normal levels of serotonin in the brain which makes you feel relaxed and happy.
Walnuts are the richest nut source of omega-3 fat they also contain zinc, necessary for good mental and emotional health.
Chia seeds have the highest anti oxidant activity of any whole food while quinoa contains a full range of B vitamins including B 5 which is essential for dealing with stress.
Avocado is rich in oleic acid regulates blood pressure and cholesterol while salmon is full of vitamin D which boosts the immune system.
The main course features grilled pork chops with orange zest and jewelled rice with chilli sprinkled on as a garnish, finished with pomegranate, pine nuts and basmati rice.
Pork contains protein and all nine essential amino acids which provide our bodies with the building blocks to make our feel good chemicals called our neurotransmitters.
Chillies stimulate a specific type of pain receptor that signals to the brain to release chemicals called endorphins which act as a mood elevator.
Brown basmati rice is rich in B vitamins and fibre which prevents mood swings.
Dessert is merely two small chunks of chocolate with passion fruits and lychees covered in cardamom and cinnamon, which will create the feeling of well-being associated with being in love.
Cardamom has been used by Indian alternative Ayurvedic practitioners for years to treat depression.
Yesterday Dr. Christy Ferguson from the ‘Put Pork on your Fork’ campaign which helped devise the happy meal said: “During the winter our lack of sunshine exposure can cause the levels of our feel good chemical serotonin to dip.
“This is why many of us experience the winter blues. What most people don’t realise is that by giving their bodies the right vitamins, minerals and amino acids they can literally eat themselves happy.
“We often stick to the same foods, such as chicken or white pasta dishes, several nights a week. Many neglect other sources of protein like pork.
“It’s so versatile and it’s actually a great source of essential vitamins and amino acids. It is the amino acids from protein that provides our bodies with the building blocks to make our feel good chemicals serotonin and dopamine.
“High levels of these neurotransmitters are essential for making us feel happy and optimistic. Including good quality protein is therefore vital for our mood.
“Ingredients like chillies, walnuts and spinach also have great mood elevating properties and there is such a thing as ‘good’ fat, which exist in avocados.”
Research commissioned to launch the ‘Put Pork on your Fork’ campaign revealed that seventy per cent of Brits feel that their mood changed depending on when and what they eat.
Home cooked and healthy food was most likely to lift their mood and make them feel energetic and contented while women said their mood brightened when they ate food high in sugar than men.
Seventy two per cent say they regularly get cravings for certain types of food depending on what their body need and think that eating healthily is the best way to make them feel happy and help them fight off the January blues.
A quarter of Brits say that their diet is healthiest in January when they are detoxing and trying to cheer themselves up than any other time of the year with men eating more healthily after a Christmas blow out than women.
But despite this most admitted they were less adventurous with their cooking habits in the winter months and the research showed that people’s repertoire of meals they cook in January is less than any other month of the year.
Master Chef champion Nadia Sawalha who is backing the campaign said, “I’m a cook at heart and love creating my own recipes, but I hadn’t realised how much the food we eat impacts how we feel.
“I wasn’t surprised that so many of us feel the effects of the long, dark winter months. It’s the time when we’re most conscious of saving money and watching our waistlines which can often mean we become a bit less creative with our cooking creations.
“This research shows that people are cooking the same old meals again and again but making a few simple changes to our diet can make a big difference to our frame of mind.”
Salmon – Full of Vitamin D which boosts the immune system
Avocado – Rich in oleic acid which regulates blood pressure and cholesterol
Spinach – Contains folic acid which helps maintain normal levels of serotonin in the brain which makes you feel relaxed and happy.
Walnuts – The richest nut source of omega-3 fat they also contain zinc, necessary for good mental and emotional health.
Chia seeds – They have among the highest antioxidant activity of any whole food.
Quinoa – Quinoa contains a full range of B vitamins, including vitamin B5, which is essential in helping people deal with stress.
Sunflower seeds – Great source of folate and magnesium, which play a vital role in boosting our moods.
Pork – Contains protein and all nine essential amino acids which provide our bodies with the building blocks to make our feel good chemicals called our neurotransmitters.
Chillies – Stimulates a specific type of pain receptor that signals to the brain to release chemicals called endorphins which act as a mood elevator.
Brown basmati rice – Brown rice is rich in B vitamins and fibre which prevents mood swings.
Pomegranate – Packed with antioxidants.
Pine nuts – Very nutrient dense, and full of vitamins A, C and D.
Chocolate – Contains phenlethylamines like dopamine, which creates the feeling of well-being associated with being in love.
Cardamom – Has been used by traditional Ayurvedic practitioners to treat depression for thousands of years.