Sweet Potato Brownies (makes 8)

Sweet Potato Brownies by The Fat Foodie

Sweet Potato Brownies by The Fat Foodie

My friend Jen, is a doula (who is, in her words, a person who “provides physical, emotional and informational support to families helping them to reduce fear, pain and uncertainty during their birth experience“). Jen runs her own doula business, Your Birth Scotland, and she recently asked me if I’d develop a few recipes that were quick to cook and healthy for women who are either pregnant or have recently given birth and I accepted her challenge.

These sweet potato brownies were created because I was looking to create a recipe for a snack that would contain a decent amount of nutrients and fibre for mums who had recently given birth. Now I’m not going to lie, they didn’t turn out quite as healthy as I’d envisioned because they have quite a bit of sugar in them. However, on the plus side, they ended up being literally the best brownies I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.

Sweet potatoes are a really healthy vegetable and, unlike normal white potatoes, they count towards our five-a-day quota because they have lower starch levels than other carbohydrates. They also contain four main micronutrients: vitamin C, which keeps our immune system healthy and aids iron absorption within the body (very important for both pregnant women and women who have recently given birth); thiamin, an essential B-vitamin which supports the nervous system and ensures good heart health; potassium, which normalises blood pressure and along with thiamin takes care of the nervous system; and manganese, which ensures healthy bones and general cell health. I think it’s fairly clear that they’re nutritional powerhouses within the vegetable world!

These sweet potato brownies also contain other ingredients which are high in nutritional density, such as walnuts which are an excellent source of antioxidants as well as omega-3 fat, an anti-inflammatory fatty acid that the body and mind needs to function properly. The brownies also contain chia seeds, a high protein seed which along with providing the body with fibre, also contains omega-3s and a whole host of micronutrients, such as calcium and magnesium, all of which support overall health. The brownies have also got coconut oil in them, a source of healthy fat which helps to remove bad fat from the blood and lower cholesterol and therefore, promotes heart health and lowers the risk of heart disease.

Lastly, the brownies have a healthy whack of antioxidant-rich cocoa and dark chocolate in them, which contain minerals like potassium, iron, zinc and selenium, and has been found in a Finnish study to lower stress in pregnant women while also producing babies who smiled more in comparison with babies born to non-chocolate eating mothers. Dark chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, a chemical which encourages the release of feel-good endorphins.

After I baked the brownies and let them cool slightly I started to take my photographs and once that was done I figured it was time to have a taste. And wow! Without overly blowing my own trumpet (but I will because they were outstanding) I was blown away by how good they were. I’m not a fan of most brownies because I hate that undercooked texture of the cake mix that so many of them have, but these didn’t have that. They retained the fudgy element of a brownie that you’d expect, but weren’t thick and claggy. Quite surprising considering they contain sweet potato!

Another bonus to these sweet potato brownies is that they are vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free and you cannot tell at all. The cake base is light, but fudgy, and is speckled with little chunks of walnut and their overall chocolate quota is further enhanced by the addition of dark chocolate chips lying atop the brownies. Sigh… They’re just out of this world!

I’d recently treated myself to a little pack of mini loaf baking boxes and they were perfect for baking the brownies in because they helped them to retain their shape and worked perfectly as individual bakes (as opposed to having to cut them out of a tray). This also meant that they were ideal for slotting into my packed lunch box to take to work.

This sweet potato brownie recipe has most definitely become my new go-to brownie recipe and although they may not be the healthiest pregnancy or postpartum snack, doesn’t every new Mum deserve a little treat once in a while for all her hard work? I certainly know that Jen the doula would think so.

Ingredients:

420g peeled raw sweet potato cut into small cubes (or around 250g cooked weight)

140g sugar

100g self-raising flour (or gluten-free self-raising flour)

50g cocoa powder

100g walnuts (keep 16 walnut halves aside to decorate the brownies)

100g dark chocolate chips

2 chia eggs made from 2 tbsps. of chia seeds mixed with 6 tbsps. of cold water and left for half an hour before using (or 2 eggs, if non-vegan)

1 tsp. baking powder

100g melted coconut oil (or butter)

1 tsp vanilla extract

7 tbsps. of alt-milk (or standard milk, if non-vegan)

Method:

Make the chia seed eggs, if using.

Preheat your oven to 190C/170C Fan/375F/Gas mark 5.

Lay out your mini loaf baking boxes on a baking tray.

Peel your sweet potato and cut into small cubes (about 2cm square). Place in a bowl and cook on high in the microwave (stirring a couple of times) until the sweet potato is soft.

Keeping the decorative walnut halves and dark chocolate chips aside, put all of the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and whisk together.

Once the mixture is fully combined, spoon into the mini loaf baking boxes (making sure there’s an equal amount in each) and then top with the walnut halves and sprinkle with dark chocolate chips.

Bake in the oven for 30 mins (or a little less if you prefer your brownies to be gooier).

Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before eating.

Sweet Potato Brownies by The Fat Foodie

Sweet Potato Brownies by The Fat Foodie

Sweet Potato Brownies by The Fat Foodie

Sweet Potato Brownies by The Fat Foodie

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Date and Oat Chocolate Traybake

A Slice of The Fat Foodie's Date and Oat Chocolate Traybake

A Slice of The Fat Foodie’s Date and Oat Chocolate Traybake

Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I’ve got a really sweet tooth, so it won’t come as a surprise to hear that since going dairy-free I’ve been really missing things like chocolate sweeties and cakes. However, I decided to take this problem in hand and create my own dairy-free traybake slice, resulting in this incredible date and oat chocolate traybake.

This recipe produces an incredibly easy to make caramelly traybake that’s packed full of nutrients, minerals and fibre. It has a crispy, biscuity toasted oat and date base and is topped with a thick, gooey caramel-like date puree which acts as a wonderful, healthier substitute for real (dairy) caramel. It’s topped with a generous layer of dark chocolate which has been softened slightly through the addition of a little bit of coconut oil, ensuring that the chocolate top isn’t rock hard and melts all over your fingertips as you munch (like any decent chocolate treat should!).

I’ll be honest, a food processor, blender or Nutribullet is pretty essential for this recipe because the base and filling need to be blended until smooth. However, with the aid of my food processor this literally took me all of 15 mins to make, so I think that’s worth any initial outlay concerns you might have regarding treating yourself to one.

This date and oat chocolate traybake recipe is very simple to follow. The only thing I would say is that the amount of coconut oil required for both the base and middle layer depends on the moistness of the dates you’re using, but if you’re struggling to bring it together then you can just either add a bit more melted coconut oil to your mixture or a bit of hot water. It’s no problem and won’t affect the overall taste at all.

I loved this traybake recipe and it made a very generous tray full of delicious chocolate treats. The main problem was simply trying to stop at munching only one…

Ingredients:

For the base:

350g pitted dates

200g oats

3 tbsps of coconut oil (melted)

For the filling:

350g pitted dates

50g ground almonds

4 tbsps of cashew nut butter

100g coconut oil (melted)

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbsps of hot water

For the topping:

200g dark chocolate

2 tbsps coconut oil

Method:

To make the base layer:

Preheat your oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/350°F/Gas mark 4.

Spread the oats in a thin layer on a baking tray and bake in the oven until golden brown. Leave to cool.

Place the dates and toasted oats into the food processor/Nutribullet and pulse until it forms a sandy texture. Add the coconut oil and blend again until it forms a dough that sticks together. (If necessary, add a bit of hot water to help bind it together.)

Pour into a traybake tin (roughly 20cm by 30cm in size) and press it down so it forms a base. Put it in the fridge to harden.

To make the filling:

Put all of the filling ingredients into the food processor/Nutribullet and blend until it forms a very smooth paste. (If it’s not coming together add a little bit of hot water to loosen the mixture a bit.)

Spread the filling over the base layer and put it back in the fridge.

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The Filling Being Placed in The Fat Foodie’s Date and Oat Chocolate Traybake

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The Filling Layer in The Fat Foodie’s Date and Oat Chocolate Traybake

To make the topping:

Melt the chocolate and coconut oil together in a jug and once it’s liquid pour over the traybake.

Place in the fridge and once it’s set, cut into slices and serve.

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The Chocolate Topping of The Fat Foodie’s Date and Oat Chocolate Traybake

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A Slice of The Fat Foodie’s Date and Oat Chocolate Traybake

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Date and Oat Chocolate Traybake by The Fat Foodie

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Thug Kitchen’s Peanut Butter and Banana Nut Muffins (Makes 12)

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Thug Kitchen’s Peanut Butter and Banana Nut Muffins made by The Fat Foodie

A while ago, one lazy Sunday morning I fancied something sweet for breakfast and had recently bought Thug Kitchen’s first cookbook so I made their peanut butter and banana nut muffins. In general I’m not a massive fan of the American ‘cup method’ of baking, but in this instance it works brilliantly, allowing you to pretty much chuck all of your ingredients into your mixing bowl and just whisk it all together. It’s certainly a very quick and easy way to produce a delicious bake!

They also don’t take very long to cook at all, so if you make a snap decision one morning to have them for breakfast (or a snack) you’ll only need to wait half an hour or so until you can get stuck into them. I expected the peanut butter and banana nut muffins to be very sweet, but they weren’t overly so and in actual fact they paired really well with a little bit of vegan butter and jam on the side. I’ll bet they’d be divine with some vegan caramel spread on top of them too.

I think you could really take some liberties with the ingredients of these muffins, if you wanted to. For instance, you could substitute the peanut butter for any other nut butter you had in your kitchen. Likewise, I think the walnuts could be swapped with pecans to great effect. And I dare say that the addition of half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the mix would be welcomed.

These muffins do have quite a dense texture, probably due to the inclusion of the heavy peanut butter and banana, which results in an almost ‘bready’ crumb, but they’re really tasty and made for a wonderfully easy and luxurious Sunday morning breakfast in bed. Needless to say, they’re firmly on my go-to breakfast muffin list now.

Ingredients:

2 cups of self-raising flour

1 tbsp. of baking powder

1/2 tsp. of salt

1/2 a cup of peanut butter

1/2 a cup of brown sugar

3/4 cup of non-dairy milk (or normal milk if you’re not a vegan)

1 & 1/2 cups of mashed ripe banana

1 tsp. of vanilla extract

1/2 a cup of chopped walnuts

Method:

Preheat your oven to 190C/170C Fan/375F/Gas mark 5 and lay out at least 12 large muffin cases in a muffin tin.

Put all of your wet ingredients into a large mixing bowl and whisk together.

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases ensuring a roughly equal amount in each of them.

Bake for 18 to 22 mins or until a skewer poked into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

Leave to cool slightly and then enjoy either plain or with butter/vegan butter, and jam or vegan caramel.

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Thug Kitchen’s Peanut Butter and Banana Nut Muffins made by The Fat Foodie

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Thug Kitchen’s Peanut Butter and Banana Nut Muffins made by The Fat Foodie

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Fat Foodie Energy Balls (Makes 18)

Making Fat Foodie Energy Balls

Making Fat Foodie Energy Balls

Energy balls are incredibly popular at the moment, but apart from trying a Bounce protein energy ball once (which was very tasty indeed!) I’ve never actually tried making them myself. This all changed a couple of days ago after I’d been reading the latest Deliciously Ella cookbook Deliciously Ella With Friends which features a lovely sounding recipe for pistachio and orange truffles.

Now, I’m afraid you won’t find the recipe for Ella’s pistachio and orange truffles here because I didn’t have all of the ingredients to make them, but I did find myself wondering whether I could make an energy ball of my own creation with ingredients that I did have at hand, so I went ahead and had a bash. Thankfully they worked out very well!

I think the trick to good energy balls is to make sure the ratio of dry ingredients to wet is accurate. Too wet and they won’t hold their shape, too dry and they won’t form into a ball and will crumble apart. I also couldn’t have made these without my trusty food processor, although a Nutribullet or blender would probably do the same job if that’s what you’ve got in your kitchen.

When you bite into one of these energy balls the first thing that hits your taste buds is the smooth dark cocoa coating, but as you begin to chew, the sweetness of the dates and apricots merges with the bitter chocolate to create the impression of a sinfully decadent, but ultimately pretty healthy, sweetie. The nutty crunch of the crumbled seeds only adds to the overall enjoyment of the blend of flavours.

That’s quite the description, but it’s as accurate as I can make it and you could easily adapt the ingredients to suit your own tastes, such as using cinnamon in place of ginger, or using other dried fruits in place of the apricots. (You’d probably need to stick with using a base of dates though because it’s their fudginess which helps hold the energy balls together.)

This recipe makes around 18 large marble-sized energy balls and is well worth having a go at. If you do make them, let me know how you get on.

Ingredients:

300g dates (pitted)

100g dried apricots

50g pumpkin seeds

50g sunflower seeds

100g oats

2 tsps vanilla essence

4 tsps tahini

A pinch of salt

1/4 tsp. of ground ginger

1/2 an over-ripe banana

2 tbsps of melted coconut oil (possibly more depending on how the mix sticks together)

4 tbsps cocoa powder

Method:

Sprinkle your cocoa powder onto a plate and leave to one side, then lay a sheet of greaseproof paper out on your work surface.

Put all of your other ingredients into your food processor and blitz until it forms a thick paste. If you find that it’s not forming a paste add a little bit more melted coconut oil to the mixer until it does stick together.

Making Fat Foodie Energy Balls

Making Fat Foodie Energy Balls

Put the mixture in a bowl (so you’re not delving your hand into a food processor bowl and running the risk of having a finger meet a blade!).

Take a small portion (about the size of a large marble) and form it into a ball before rolling it around in the cocoa and placing it on the greaseproof paper.

Coating Fat Foodie Energy Balls

Coating Fat Foodie Energy Balls

When you’ve made all of your energy balls put them in the fridge to firm up. Once firm, enjoy!

Fat Foodie Energy Balls

Fat Foodie Energy Balls

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Spiced Persimmon Cupcakes (aka Grinch Cakes)

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Spiced Persimmon Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

These spiced persimmon cupcakes (aka Grinch Cakes) came about by accident because I’d initially intended to bake quite a simple spiced cake without any decorations, but thankfully, after tasting them I would describe them as a happy accident.

At Christmastime I love making cakes that are flavoured with warm spices, such as mixed spice, cinnamon and ginger. I’d bought a persimmon (also known as a sharon fruit) last week and it was getting pretty ripe so I decided to try using it in spiced persimmon cupcakes. Persimmons are really sweet, they’re probably the sweetest fruit I’ve ever tasted, so I used a little less sugar in my cake mixture to lessen the sugar-load.

The sweet earthiness of the persimmon really complemented the mixed spices in the cakes and added to their overall Christmassy taste. The cupcakes sank in my oven because I’d impatiently opened the door to see if they were cooked yet, so I took them out of their cupcake wrappers, turned them upside down, and coated them in a thin layer of icing. This concealed their sunken middles and prevented a deep pool of icing forming in the centre of the cakes.

However, I added a bit too much green food colouring gel and ended up with an icing that was decidedly Grinch coloured, but I soldiered on, added some nice decorations and renamed them Grinch Cakes! The spiced persimmon cupcakes are destined to be taken in to work and I’m really hoping that my colleagues won’t notice their concave bottoms, but I bet they get munched very quickly regardless.

Ingredients:

For the spiced persimmon cupcakes:

1 ripe persimmon (very finely chopped or minced in a food processor)

180g sugar

200g butter

3 eggs

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground mixed spice

200g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

Decoration:

Icing sugar

Green food colouring

A little water

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas mark 4.

Arrange your cupcake cases in your cupcake tins or on a flat baking tray.

Prepare your persimmon as directed and then measure and mix all of your ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

Spoon enough cake mix into your cupcake cases to fill them to just over halfway.

Bake for around 25 to 30 mins. Unless you want a concave bottom, please be patient and resist the urge to open the oven door too soon.

After the allocated baking time, test they’re cooked by pricking a couple of the cupcakes in the middle with a skewer. If it comes out clean then they’re fully cooked.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a cooling rack.

Mix your icing sugar with a dash of green food colouring and a tiny trickle of water, a bit at a time. Your icing should end up as a liquid, but thick, consistency. If you’ve added too much water just add some more icing sugar.

Once the cupcakes are cold, take them out of their wrappers and place them upside down on the cooling rack. Drizzle the icing sugar over the cakes until the top and sides are coated and then add your decorations.

I think I'll rename these Spiced Persimmon Cupcakes 'Grinch Cakes'. :D

I think I’ll rename these Spiced Persimmon Cupcakes ‘Grinch Cakes’.

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