Soil Association Certification just launched the world’s first ‘Happier Meal’.
The Happier Meal was created to ensure everyone can enjoy the remarkable benefits of organic produce by swapping just a couple of ingredients.
The meal was created by a team of ‘Happier Body’ experts, including Michaella Mazzoni. Michaella, a recovered FMS patient and award-winning registered BANT Nutritionist as well as organic farmer Ben Andrews, a fourth generation farmer at Broadward Hall Farm in North Herefordshire managing 600 acres.
The farm is Organic has been certified with the Soil Association for over 20 years, growing vegetables, cereals and beef.
The Happier Meal itself was expertly made in front of us by Tom Hunt, a celebrity eco-chef and writer, to demonstrate how staple comfort food can easily be turned into a healthy and happy meal.
But before we get to the recipe, lets explore the journey from farm to fork and to learn what makes organic really that special.
And answer the popular question of sceptics, i.e, is it worth the price tag? Foodepedia met the three experts to find out.
Studies have shown that the nutritional profile of organic food is different, due to the different production methods. Let’s start with vegetables. Organic vegetables have been found to contain higher levels of antioxidants including immune-supporting polyphenols.
Because they are not sprayed with fertilisers to help them grow or with pesticides to remove pests, they must work harder to increase their own natural defences – no couch potatoes here!
Not to mention many of those pesticides and fertilisers will remain in the fruit and veggies even after cooking so they then get transferred to our plate.
Organic cattle areraised in organic systems and are truly free-range, given space to graze and roam on clover-rich grass. They are fed a grass-rich (minimum 60% grass) and GM-free diet and are only given antibiotics if they are sick.
As a result, there is more omega-3 in organic meat and dairy products.
I’m sure with kefirs, kombuchas and sauerkrauts now on all supermarket shelves, we’ve all at least heard that healthy gut or microbiome is important for overall well-being.
As confirmed by nutritionist Michaella Mazzoni 90% of serotonin is created in the gut, a healthy gut that is supported by eating delicious organic food from healthy soil, which contains higher levels of antioxidants and polyphenols supports a sense of happiness and wellbeing.”
One of the other popular questions that was asked was: “How to start eating organic?” The team suggests starting with small changes, focusing on ingredients that are already present in your diet.
If it’s berries for instance, consider learning about and then avoiding the Dirty Dozen – a list published yearly of the fruit and vegetables containing the highest amount of pesticides.
Berries and fruit that we eat with skin on tend to retain the highest amount of chemicals, strawberries and blueberries being one of the worst.
If it’s gut health you are after, start with an organic aisle as organic products will have higher anti-oxidant levels and focus on locally produced and seasonal.
The Happier Meal aims to inspire people to consider swapping an element of their meal to organic and understand that it means their meal will be better for them, for nature, for the planet.
The food swaps we make like choosing organic meat, vegetables and pulses over nonorganic, contribute to more sustainable farming systems.
After considering the importance of healthy soil, nature-friendly farming practices, organic benefits and optimised ingredients, the team developed the very tasty meal that provides real and delicious benefits while supporting our gut health.
The Happier Meal comes in 2 varieties vegetarian and meat based and consists of a main, side, a drink and a toy of course. Full recipe can be found on the Soil Association website.
The main: An organic beef and bean burger with kimchi or organic plant-based bean and walnut burger
The side: Organic purple sweet potato fries
The drink: Organic raspberry kombucha
And of course, a surprise ‘Happier Meal’ toy.
Packed full of whole foods, beneficial plants, ferments, nutrient-dense meat and dairy that are all organic – this delicious meal will support your gut health as well as being better for the soil and planet.
What are the benefits of the Happier Meal?
The main: beef and bean burger with kimchi For the planet’s and our own health, we need to reduce how much meat we eat and increase the number of fruits, vegetables and pulses we eat. This recipe is a great way to eat less and better meat. Organic beef delivers up to 50% more omega-3 fatty acids and by combining organic beef with beans, the plant diversity in your meal increases, as well as reducing the amount of meat in the meal.
Fermented foods like kimchi are the gut microbiome’s friend, so adding organic kimchi to the burger not only increases the range of plants in the meal but also supports a healthy gut.
On the main meal, celeb eco-chef Tom Hunt says: “People can eat it this meal knowing that it has been created from the best organic farming practices that hold the potential to rejuvenate personal and planetary health. And for me that means it’s some of the highest quality food there is.”
The side: purple sweet potato fries
Eating these polyphenol-rich vegetables supports the daily maintenance of the immune system.
Nutritionist Michaella Mazzoni says: “Choosing organic isn’t just about what’s on your plate; it’s about overall wellbeing. There are holistic benefits of choosing organic that extend beyond the plate and simply swapping one or two elements of a dish to organic can make a world of difference. The nutrient-rich purple sweet potato fries are not just a side dish but a testament to the nutritional power of organic choices.”
The drink: raspberry kombucha
Kombucha, or fermented tea, has been around for thousands of years. When properly brewed it is a delicious, slightly fizzy and refreshing soft drink that is low in sugar and naturally contains probiotics and healthy organic acids.
Raw and unfiltered kombucha is full of live cultures which support gut health and aid digestion. Kombucha also naturally contains acetic acid, which is great for boosting energy and lowering blood sugar levels. As kombucha is brewed from tea, it is full of antioxidants, and being organic it’s got up to 69% more antioxidants, as well as being free from harmful pesticides or fertilisers.
Michaela Mazzoni said: “Kombucha is not only delicious, but it is also low in sugar and brimming with probiotics and antioxidants. It contributes to overall wellbeing so we’re loving it for its natural goodness!”
The Happier Meal toy:
A ‘Happier Meal’ wouldn’t be a happy meal without a toy. The team suggest trying an organic skin care product which makes the skin happy.
“The skin is the body’s largest organ” says Organic Beauty expert Paige Tracey, “and it absorbs much of what we put onto it. If we want to extend the health benefits of organic into other areas of our lives, choosing certified organic beauty and personal care products is a natural extension. Products carrying the Soil Association COSMOS Organic logo not only carry a minimum percentage of organic ingredients but are also guaranteed to be free of many controversial chemicals that have been shown to negatively interfere with our hormones including parabens, phthalates and triclosan.
“Unlike in the world of food, “organic” is an unregulated term in the beauty and wellbeing industry, and products with as little as 1% organic ingredients are allowed to say “organic” on the label! This is why it especially counts to look for our logo on these products.”
Anyone wanting to create their own Happier Meal at home can follow the recipe using all the organic ingredients listed, however even just replacing a few non-organic ingredients for those that are certified as organic, can make a big difference to the nutritional goodness of your meal.