Chemical Reaction: Red High At Night

This is a feel-good eating plan with a difference: it’s about chemicals, not calories. These meals are designed to cleanse your system, build strength and fire your body’s pleasure receptors. It’s happy health, on a plate.


Phase three: Explode

With your digestive system cleansed and prepped, the chemical cocktail of this dinner has only one purpose: to blow your mind. This meal ramps up the production of the mood-boosting hormone serotonin, which will combine with the natural longer-lasting buzz of endorphins – released by the body to reduce pain or when you become excited. According to research from the University of California, the resulting reaction resembles the effect of opiates, producing analgesia (pain relief) and the most intense natural nutritional high available in your kitchen. Bon appetit doesn’t even come close.



Tomato beef burgers with sweet potato chips by Alexis Gauthier, The Michelin-starred chef patron of Gauthier Soho in London

For the chips:
4 medium-size sweet potatoes
Dash of soy sauce
Black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg

For the burgers:
2 large beef tomatoes
cut in half (seeds removed)
2Tbsp olive oil
4Tbsp ketchup
200g spinach leaves
4 red shallots, chopped
150g lean cut of beef (sirloin)
Handful of coriander leaves
4Tbsp roasted cashew nuts
3Tbsp lemon juice
1 red chilli, finely chopped


  1. Heat your oven to 200°C/gas mark 6, then slice the sweet potatoes into chips, leaving the skin on.
  2. Toss the chips with oil and soy sauce before transferring them to a shallow roasting tin. Season with black pepper and nutmeg.
  3. Bake the chips for 30-40min until they’re golden and crisp.
  4. Halve and hollow the tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil. Cook on an oiled tray for 5min at 170°C/ gas mark 3. Add ketchup and pan-fried spinach to each.
  5. Char-grill the beef to taste and rest it for 10min. Slice and mix with lemon juice, nuts shallots and coriander, then stuff into the tomatoes’ cavities.
  6. Add a generous helping of black pepper and sprinkle with chopped red chilli. Serve warm with the sweet potato chips, and bask in the endorphin high.


The benefits

  • Chilli: The ‘heat’ chemical, capsaicin, stimulates your mouth’s nerve endings, triggering your brain to release endorphins.
  • Lean beef: Red meat is one of the richest natural sources of vitamin B12, which prevents depression and boosts your mood immediately.
  • Cashew nuts: The tryptophan in cashew nuts is one of the fastest ways to trigger serotonin release.
  • Tomatoes: These are packed with carotenoids (pigments which protect against free-radicals), as well as other highpowered antioxidants such as vitamins E and C to boost energy levels.
  • Lemon: An aromatherapy study at Ohio State University found that when participants smelled lemon oil, their mood was improved more than by any other smell.
  • Spinach: As well as iron, the green leafy vegetable provides high levels of magnesium, which reduces stress, allowing you to relax into your evening.



Words by Mark Sansom. Photography by Max Oppenheim


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