The Happy Meal – Reinvented!

Eating junk or fast food won’t make you feel better when you’ve had a bad day, feeling homesick or just feeling glum. In fact, it can even make you feel worse, so why do most of us reach for the takeaway menu when feeling down in the dumps? Let’s kick start this semester with some healthy yet comforting meals and snacks full of key vitamins, minerals and brain chemicals proven to boost your mood on those gloomy nights this month!

  • Better-for-you Macaroni Cheese: Pasta is an essential in the average student diet, which is great as it’s a good source of carbohydrates which can help maintain our energy levels and keep us smiling. It’s also a low fat source of protein, therefore keeping you full and content for longer! The luscious dairy sauce is packed full of tryptophan, renowned for its mood boosting qualities. In this recipe I have added cauliflower, but you can use another vegetable like broccoli for a nutrient boost.

  • Banana Oat Milkshake: a great recipe for an on-the-go breakfast! Bananas are full of vitamin B6 which assists the production of the brain chemical serotonin – involved in regulating our moods. Oats are also a mood boosting food, and this recipe will keep our blood sugar levels steady throughout the morning and therefore preventing grouchy energy slumps!

  • Low Fat Fish Pie: This recipe is full of mood enhancing vitamins and minerals! Not only is it delicious and comforting, but has a fraction of the fat found in your typical fish pies, which are often packed full of cream. Fish is well known for having vitamin D and serotonin, which will both help regulate our moods. We are recommended to have around 2-3 servings of fish every week, as the omega-3 fatty acids have many health benefits including preventing depression.

  • Hearty Beef Stew: Stews always remind me coming home to a bowl of hot stew on a cold winter’s day at home, and this recipe is sure to deliver on both taste and comfort. Try to opt for lean beef mince as it provides you with less fat but also mood lifting tryptophan and B vitamins too. You can custom make your stews and use this recipe as a base, so for example you could always add barley, lentils, beans or vegetables to your liking.

  • Oaty Berry Crumble: The stewed fruit in this crumble not only contribute towards your 5-a-day, the oats will stabilise your energy levels and serving it with some yoghurt will give you a vitamin D boost which has been linked to improving our mental health.

  • Coming back after what was hopefully a lovely Christmas at home and settling back in isn’t always easy for everyone, so for those of you feeling like the January blues have really kicked in, why not give a few of these recipes a go and see if they can cheer you up. Have you got any tried and tested mood-boosting recipes? Don’t forget to upload them to the Student Recipes Website!