It’s grey, windy and cold outside my window and it’s February – a month when I need to do some nice things for myself! The days are getting longer but Spring is not quite yet open us and here in Scotland it can seem like winter goes on forever. So tonight I thought I’d make some extremely yummy, whilst totally healthy (possibly not everyday fodder!), brownies. Principle ingredient? Beetrooot!!!
It is a recipe I spotted in the January newsletter of the Institute of Optimum Nutrition and at this current moment, all the ingredients are cooling, waiting for me to cut into squares, resist them, and take them with me to a Health Fair at Herriot Watt University tomorrow. The lure of chocolate and ….beetroot, should see the students running over to talk to us 🙂 I shall of course try just one (to make sure I’m not going to poison anyone), but if the taste of the mixture (approx 10% of which probably never made it into the oven) is anything to go by, I may be doing these again.
Brownies are on offer everywhere and when you buy them from supermarkets or pre-packaged in cafe chains, they are likely to be very high in sugar and hydrogenated fat – neither of which does us much good. Hydrogenated fat is, in fact, best avoided: it’s found in some margarines, processed cakes and biscuits and some savoury snacks.
What are the nutritional virtues of the brownies below?
1.They are full of beetroot and beetroot is pretty much a superfood. It’s rich in iron, vitamin C and some B vits, it contains betacyanin which is fantastic for helping the liver do its job of toxin breakdown and elimination and also may help make serotonin- which our brain needs to help us feel happy. It’s a great source of fibre, and has also been shown to reduce high blood pressure.
2. They contain dark chocolate and cocoa! Many of us know that eating chocolate makes us feel good. Why is that? What is it that chocolate contains? The answer could lie in the fact that it is rich in phenylethylamine (PEA), which releases endorphins (feel-good chemicals) into the brain. PEA is also released when we are falling in love, so making these brownies for your Valentine this week could leave you feeling doubly good! Among other things, dark chocolate is very high in flavanols, potent anti-oxidants that have been linked to protecting against cardiovascular disease and cancers. Do remember that it does contains some saturated fat and sugar so other sources of flavanols, such as green tea, red grapes and oranges should be widely consumed.
3. They are full of almonds and walnuts – providing vitamins E, magnesium, calcium, some essential fats and protein for energy stability.
4. They don’t contain any sugar – instead, Xylitol and Agave Nectar are used to sweeten: both are much lower on the GI and GL index, meaning fewer fluctuations in blood sugar and better weight control.
5. They don’t contain any gluten or dairy, so are fine for people suffering on dairy or gluten-free diets.
400g beetroot (whole, washed but unpeeled)
150g dark organic chocolate
200g ground almonds
200g walnuts (roughly chopped)
50g organic cocoa powder
1.5 tsp baking powder
140g agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 medium eggs
Set the oven to 160F, 330F
Boil the beetroot until soft (about 45 mins depending on size), then peel allow to cool a little, peel with fingers and cut into chunks.
Grate the chocolate (in a processor if you wish) and add to chunks of beetroot. Cover so the chocolate melts.
In a jug, whisk the eggs, agave, xylitol and vanilla extract together.
Place the beetroot and chocolate into a processor and blend to a puree. (If you don’t have a processor, then grate the beetroot when cooked and mix with the chocolate.) Add the ground almonds, cocoa powder, baking powder and egg mixture and blend. Fold in the roughly chopped walnuts.
Pour into a baking tin (approx 22cm by 22cm) linked with baking paper and bake in the centre of the oven for approx 30-35 mins. You can test with a skewer but as these are meant to be moist it’s unlikely to come out completely clean.
Allow to cool in the tin before cutting into squares.
Share with friends, family and loved ones and enjoy!!!!
NB. I chose to make these while wearing a cream arran jumper (an interesting choice when working with chocolate and beetroot) – I would recommend an apron and dark clothing! 🙂
I have now tried them and I will, indeed be making them again!