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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Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Banana Muffins (Makes 12)

Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Banana Muffins Made by The Fat Foodie

Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Banana Muffins Made by The Fat Foodie

At the end of last week I went to the fruit bowl and discovered that my bananas were a lot darker than I’d like to normally eat, so I decided to turn them into something tastier than the over-sweetened blackened state they were currently in. After a quick search on the internet I decided it make them into chocolate banana muffins.

The recipe I used is from Nigella Lawson’s book, Kitchen, a sizable tome which focuses on hearty ‘real food’ family recipes that can be easily adapted to suit what’s in your kitchen cupboards.

Although the muffins were ridiculously easy to make and tasted quite nice overall, I wish I’d gone with my instincts and added chopped walnuts and chocolate chips into the cake batter before I baked them. I think the addition of texture in this way would have made them just that little bit more special. As it was, my topping of drizzled icing sugar and a solitary little walnut perching on the summit of each muffin didn’t quite hit the taste target for me. But regardless, the bananas still got eaten and after all, isn’t discovering what you’d have done differently half the fun of cooking?

Ingredients:

3 very ripe bananas

125 ml vegetable oil

2 large eggs

100g brown sugar

225g plain flour

3 tbsps. cocoa powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200°C/180C Fan/400°F/Gas mark 6 and set out 12 muffin cases in a muffin tin.

In a big bowl, mash your bananas and then mix in (I always use an electric whisk) the oil, eggs and sugar.

In a separate bowl mix the flour, cocoa and bicarb together. If you want to add chopped nuts or chocolate chips into the mix then do so now. Add this dry mixture to your wet mixture and whisk until it’s all combined.

Divide the mixture equally into the muffin cases.

Bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes. When you can pierce the middle of the muffins with a metal skewer or a cocktail stick and it comes out clean with no wet batter sticking to it, they’re done.

Leave to cool (if you can without munching them) and then drizzle with icing sugar and top with a walnut.