Recipe: Zola Nene’s Mood-Boosting Egg Dish is a Breakfast Winner

Smiley eggs

Feeling a little low? We’ve got an ‘egg-cellent’ way to put a smile on your dial. Listen, in these egg-streme times, it’s comforting to know that the good ol’ fashioned egg could help boost your mood. Especially if it’s a creation by the smiliest chef we know, Zola Nene!

Award-winning South African Chef Zola Nene recently collaborated with the non-profit medical service organisation Operation Smile South Africa (OSSA) and the Grow Great Campaign to develop an inexpensive and nutritious recipe that can help boost serotonin levels and put a smile on your face.

According to studies, the protein in eggs can significantly boost one’s levels of tryptophan. Egg yolks – in particular – are rich in tryptophan as well as tyrosine, choline, biotin, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients that are major contributors to the health benefits and antioxidant properties of eggs.

Nene’s recipe – aptly named Smiley Green Eggs – includes a couple more joyful ingredients geared towards turning a frown upside down. Cheese and seeds, much like eggs, also contain tryptophan, and seeds are also good sources of fibre, vitamins and antioxidants. While foods such as eggs, seeds, cheese, salmon, tofu, turkey, and pineapples are high in tryptophan, accompanying them with healthy carbohydrates such as rice, oatmeal or whole-grain bread can give an added serotonin boost2.

Smiley Green Eggs

Serves 4
Recipe by Zola Nene


1 Tbs olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 cups chopped spinach
1 tomato, chopped
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup cream
4 eggs
1/4 cup grated cheese
2 Tbs mixed seeds, toasted


Heat oil in a pan, then add garlic and sauté for a minute. Add chopped spinach, tomatoes and season to taste. Sauté until spinach is wilted. Stir in the cream, then crack the eggs into the pan. Cook over low heat until eggs are cooked through. Sprinkle with cheese and seeds before serving.

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Operation Smile

Since 2006, OSSA has been putting smiles on the faces of vulnerable children and adults across southern Africa. The organisation, which provides free cleft lip and cleft palate reconstructive surgery, has over the past 14 years helped over 6,000 people smile. It can take OSSA medical volunteers as little as 45 minutes to help put a smile on someone’s proverbial dial, which in turn saves them from a lifetime of suffering negative and stigmatic societal treatment resulting in emotional, social and economic costs.

The Grow Great Campaign aims to galvanise South Africa towards a national commitment to zero stunting by 2030. A quarter of South Africa’s children under five suffer from stunting as a result of chronic malnutrition3, which influences the physical and brain development of affected children. Prolonged undernutrition stunts the cognitive development of young children and undermines their ability to learn.

Get involved. Help someone smile by donating to OSSA today and help expecting mothers receive proper nutrition by assisting the Grow Great Campaign here.

Want more food news? Check out our Food section for restaurant reviews, recipes, foodie features, and news to make you salivate.

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