How can you keep your family happy and healthy this winter? At the end of a tough year for most people, this edition’s food column is focused on keeping your spirits up. Our culinary queen AJ Sharp has been exploring ideas…

By happy coincidence, serotonin-boosting foods are pretty similar to those which help you to maintain a healthy immune system, which makes sense. Even better, they’re mostly delicious healthy protein choices, like avocado on toast or poached eggs with smoked salmon. One surprisingly nutrient-dense option is watercress, it scored 127 per cent on the antidepressant food score, as discovered by the World Journal of Psychiatry. So, if you want to keep chipper, find a way to put a handful in your salads, soups or smoothies.

Avoid the sugar

After eating carefully and regular exercise, it’s imperative to sleep well. One of the best ways to keep on an even keel is to avoid high sugar foods. The sugar high might taste good, but the crash afterwards can leave you feeling thirsty, headachy, groggy and craving even more sugar. YaconViva has launched a range of syrups and cocoa nibs which offer a natural alternative to sugar, are also fibre rich and perfect for drizzling on cereals, pancakes, desserts or yogurts. It can also be used as a baking substitute for sugar, buy on Amazon for £9.99.

Spreading cheer

How many wedding anniversaries and birthdays have you celebrated at a distance? Well, Pommery has launched the ideal single serve celebration drink with its new Pommery POP NV Champagne 12%ABV. It comes in the perfect adult single serving at 220ml, which is designed to be drunk straight from the bottle via a straw no less – a great way to avoid the washing up! At £14.50 it’s the perfect gift to cheer a friend or loved one.

Healthy nibbles

Snacks wise try some banana crisps from the amazingly innovative Katie’s Food Co. Choose from Himalayan Salt, Mixed Herb, Salt & Vinegar or Thai Sweet Chilli flavours. They’re surprisingly savoury but deliciously moreish – we couldn’t stop eating them. They’re vegan, completely natural and gluten free and… get this… one of your five a day. Honestly, they taste far too naughty to be good for you.

Finding your oomph

Leaving and returning from work and school runs in the dark can feel arduous, but perhaps your mornings just need a little more oomph. If so, try Insomnia Black Coffee, we taste tested this extensively and were so surprised at how good it was. The brand markets itself as “The World’s Strongest Coffee”, with the claim referring to the caffeine content, which is very high, but the flavour is beautiful – smooth, nutty and almost chocolatey. It’s available in bean, drip bags and bio pods from the website – no more than two cups per day though!

You can follow AJ @ajsharpflavourfanatic on Instagram

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