PROPERCORNS ‘Happy Lunch’ To Beat The January Blues…

Written By Gracie 

Did anyone feel inexplicably low on Monday the 18th? If you did and want answers then keep reading…

Propercon ( launched a campaign on Monday 18th January, which was ‘blue Monday’, called the “Happy Lunch”. The “Happy Lunch” and the ethos behind it are particularly relevant right now…


January is always a rather depressing time of year: burnt out from the festive period, we find ourselves confronted by shorter days, empty pockets and unsustainable New Year regimes. Data from shows that we are most likely to give into temptation when our mood drops in the third week of the month.

To prevent this mood crash and sustain a healthy regime, PROPERCORN have worked with sustainable food delivery start-up, Karma Cans, and Judith Wurtman PhD to develop the “happiest” lunch possible. The meal contains carefully balanced nutrients which work to increase mood-enhancing serotonin, and is packed full of tasty, fresh ingredients (product available to buy from The research behind the launch questions traditional new year carb cutting, when complex carbs such as popcorn and potatoes are thought to increase serotonin production, which in turn alleviates stress and suppresses appetite.

Fad diets should be a thing of the past. According to Wurtman’s 30 years of research into the mood-enhancing effects of serotonin, eating carbohydrates like sweet potato and popcorn can alleviate emotional stress and control cravings. Combining these with small portions of protein, from ingredients such as peanuts and pumpkin seeds, can optimise serotonin production in the brain.

PROPERCORN co-founder, Cassandra Stavrou, explains, “We’ve never believed in unrealistic, short-term diets. Health and happiness go hand in hand, so we should take advantage of the fact that the right foods can give us energy and an emotional boost. When it comes to your health, everything should be done properly.”

Sophie and I were lucky enough to get sent this lunch and it honestly was delicious so we’ve decided to share the recipe on our blog….




A vibrant twist on a Cobb salad, this recipe is packed full of colourful, nutritious ingredients, designed to banish the winter blues. Combining creamy avocado with a crunchy, spiced dukkah, this Happy Lunch even provides 3 of your 5-a-day.

  • Serves 2
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins


DUKKAH (Makes 8 servings- store leftovers in a jar for up to a month):

  • 1.5 tbsp. black rice
  • ½ tbsp. buckwheat
  • ½ tbsp. hemp seeds
  • ½ tbsp. pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp. walnuts
  • 1 ½ tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper


  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1tsp water
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 small clove of garlic, grated
  • 2 basil leaves, 2 coriander leaves, 2 parsley leaves, chopped


  • 1 red pepper, sliced thickly
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 corn on the cob
  • 1 small orange sweet potato, spiralized (approx. 300g)
  • ½ ready to eat avocado
  • ½ spring onion, finely sliced
  • 6 handfuls curly kale
  • Zest and juice of a lemon
  • 30g Parmesan
  • 2 pinch chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp grated garlic
  • 10 coriander stems, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper




  1. Heat a flat, heavy bottomed pan over a low heat, add the black rice, cover for 15 minutes, shaking every few minutes until the rice starts to pop. Remove the rice, turn the heat up slightly and add the buckwheat.
  2. Stir the buckwheat continuously over the heat for around 10 minutes, until the kernels crackle, pop and go brown.
  3. Place the seeds in an oven tray and bake for 7 minutes at 180C Fan
  4. With a pestle and mortar, grind the cooked rice to a fine powder. Add buckwheat, seeds and all the other ingredients, and grind so they are broken up but not powdered.


  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well


  1. Preheat the oven to 170C Fan
  2. Toss the spiralized sweet potato in olive oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Prick the tomatoes and place with the peppers and sweet potato on a lined baking tray and bake for 15 minutes, until the potato begins to change colour.
  4. Remove from the oven and put the potato to one side. Toss tomatoes and peppers in 1 tbsp of oil and the vinegar and bake for a further 30 minutes until soft and golden brown.
  5. Boil the corn in a medium sized pot of water for 7-10 minutes until soft and yellow.
  6. Boil the kale in the same water for 1 minute until just soft.
  7. Drain and brush corn with a teaspoon of oil and dust with a little salt.
  8. Place corn onto a heated griddle, rotating for about a minute, until lightly brown on all sides.
  9. Remove from the heat and slice kernels off the cob into a large salad bowl.
  10. Whilst still warm, add a dash of olive oil, ½ the lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste and mix with the roasted tomato, peppers and any juices leftover from roasting. Add ½ the grated Parmesan.
  11. Turn the oven to up 200C Fan.
  12. Dress the sweet potato in the rest of the Parmesan, olive oil, chilli flakes and a pinch of pepper and return to the oven for 5 minutes to crisp slightly. Remove from the oven and add the remaining lemon zest while the noodles are hot.
  13. Slice the avocado lengthways into three slices. Marinate in salt and lemon juice.
  14. Plate the kale and spoon on the tomatoes, peppers, sweet potato and avocado. Top with the dukkah, spring onion, coriander and dressing.