After over-indulging in too many tacos, burgers and macarons, Melbourne has been struck by severe food guilt and is now obsessed with healthy living. Green smoothies by the bucket load are being downed by lycra-clad wellness warriors in the pursuit of achieving optimum health. We have even created a new word ‘fitzpo’, short for fitness inspiration to describe blogs and Instagram accounts dedicated entirely to clean living. Entrepeneur Emily Hazell is capitalizing on this sudden crisis of conscience by opening Serotonin Eatery, prescribing clean eating to improve the mental health of her customers.
Seratonin Eatery is just the first step in Hazell’s holistic approach to increasing our serotonin levels, a chemical found primarily in the gut that helps regulate mood, sleep pattern, appetite and other aspects of everyday life. Hazell believes that combining the right foods with exercise and a healthy lifestyle will help stimulate the production of the chemical and improve our mood. Along with serving nutritious food at the cafe, Hazell’s brother Gus Arundel offers fitness classes in the neighbouring Golden Square Bicentennial Park, while the final element will be wellness seminars due to start next year.
But this is more than just a fad for Hazell. After battling with depression five years ago, Hazell was determined to stay off medication by completely changing her lifestyle “I went through some mood slumps and did my own research into natural happiness and the word serotonin kept getting mentioned,” she says. “This is not about trends, fads, quick fixes or making money. This is about helping Australians with their health!”
While it’s an admirable ambition, there is no evidence yet to suggest increasing serotonin levels improves mood. But whether or not there’s any scientific backing, Serotonin’s healthy approach to food is sure to be beneficial.
The succinct breakfast and lunch menus focus on nutritious, plant-based options that celebrate veggies – that’s right guys, no meat here. “I am taking food back to its closest natural state and serving organic, raw, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free and meat-free options,” says Emily. “At Serotonin Eatery, the whole menu is nourishing, delicious and guilt-free.”
If you’re after a healthy start to the day, there’s old favourite, porridge, served with red quinoa, poached pear and seasonal fruit with nuts and seeds ($17.00), as well as new favourite, smashed avo, served with chilli, feta and white beans topped with beetroot relish ($15.00). There’s also twice baked beans in a rich tomato sauce, with a side of powerkraut (that’s sauerkraut to you and I) and rocket, served with wholegrain danish rye. For $17.00 it’s a little on the expensive side, and with the optional poached eggs (+3.00) you won’t be getting any change back from a twenty for this humble dish.
For lunch, the zucchini linguine – raw zucchini noodles tossed with napoli sauce, cherry tomatoes, spinach and fresh herbs – is a healthy spin on traditional pasta. While it may shock a few nonnas out there, it’ll impress the lycra brigade. It’s a tasty dish, but again at $18.00 it’s a little on the expensive side.
And of course, what wellness cafe would be complete without a list of smoothies? Serotonin’s list of ‘bluices’ or blended juices, includes a delicious blend of pineapple, strawberries, banana and orange ($9.00). Served topped with shredded coconut, these are a meal in themselves.
There’s a lot to like about Serotonin: the space is beautiful, the staff are friendly, and there’s plenty of delicious guilt-free options to choose from. Is my life going to be improved by a serving of raw zucchini noodles? Probably not. But anything that gets us to stop and think about improving our mental health is a step in the right direction.
52 Madden Grove,
Burnley VIC 3121
(03) 9428 8256
Wed to Fri 7am‒4pm
Sat & Sun 8am‒4pm
(Kitchen closes at 3pm)