Recently I went on a three week “elimination diet”, not for weight loss, although I did lose a few kilos, which I’m not missing at all. No this was in fact to help me know for sure what it is that I eat on a daily basis, that doesn’t agree with me. After two years of casual experimentation I thought I should actually see what makes my digestive system become extremely anti-social. I have been pretty sure that dairy is not my friend but what if there was something else like tomatoes, gluten (please Lord no) or something unexpected that I literally put in every meal, like garlic or olive oil.
You remove A LOT of things; citrus fruits, gluten, dairy, tomatoes, bananas, beef, pork and lots more besides – for the full list I used, go to Cleanse Program. I ended up eating a lot of apples and kiwis, quinoa, salmon and rice cakes. I missed bananas, beef and cooking only one meal for the family. During the three weeks I found out almost all nuts are the enemy for me, along with dried chick peas – like literally I need to live alone if I’m going to eat them. After the three weeks you start introducing things back into your diet to see what triggers symptoms. I was extremely happy to find out that I’m not gluten intolerant and so very happy that sausages and bananas are also just fine for me. I think soy isn’t altogether OK for me so sadly I’m down to only the occasional soy decaff latte…and on that note, caffeine consumption has to be very low. This is frustrating because I have taken to eating only dark chocolate over the last two years because they often don’t have any dairy in. Dark chocolate tends to have way more cocoa in, so there’s caffeine. I choose to just manage that as there is no way I’m not having chocolate, which brings me to today’s recipe.
What I find with a lot of healthy, clean, free from recipe books (recommendations below) is that they generally give a lot of gluten free recipes and now increasingly sugar free but they still include lots of dairy – boo hoo. So what I do is find a recipe that looks good and adapt. This one began as Davina McCall’s chocolate brownie but I’ve changed it pretty significantly to the following. And I can assure you – it is yummy!
125g dark chocolate (over 70%)
100ml coconut/almond milk
100ml sunflower oil
1 heaped dessert spoon of honey
150g maple syrup
Scrape vanilla seeds out of half a vanilla pod
250g Medjool dates
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate soda
75g cocoa powder
150g wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
I heat my fan oven to 170 degrees, so do what you think is closest to this on your oven. Grease and line a brownie tin.
Melt the chocolate, milk, oil, honey, maple syrup and vanilla in a saucepan on a medium heat. Check and stir regularly so it doesn’t boil or burn. Take it off the heat once it’s melted and stir in the cocoa. Then leave it to cool for about five minutes.
In that time, boil the kettle and dissolve the bicarbonate soda in 200ml of water. Pour this over the pitted dates in a bowl. After two minutes drain and blend the dates so they’re all nice and mushy. I got this from Jamie Oliver’s sticky toffee pudding in Jamie’s Dinners. It adds a toffee, gooey sweetness and it’s all natural!
Now the chocolate mix is a little cooler, crack your three eggs and whisk them in. Then add the flour and the baking powder. Finally fold in the mushed up dates.
Pour this into a brownie tin. Put it in the oven for 15 minutes.
It should be a starting to crack a little on top but if you want soft, scrummy brownies like I do, then you don’t want it anymore cooked as it will still cook a little more when you get it out of the oven and it will step over to ‘dry’ very quickly.
This is what mine looked like.
You want to get it on the cooling rack fast to stop it continuing to cook much more. I gave it two minutes and then got it out. You can see it slightly collapsed on one side in the move, which is good, that means it’s got a gooey middle.
I left it to cool almost completely before cutting into 16 pieces. I couldn’t wait until it was totally cool because I was too curious to see if it tasted any good and what’s better than a warm brownie?? It doesn’t disappoint, really chocolatey and sweet, so not a poor substitute for the real thing, which I generally find with ‘free from’ brownies. I even think you could add some orange or lime zest to give it a little citrus kick, or experiment with almond meal instead of flour and put in almond essence instead of vanilla. I will have a go another time.
Love Bake Nourish – Amber Rose
Dr Libby’s Real Food Chef
It’s All Good – Gwyneth Paltrow (this is where I found out about the Clean Program)
Davina’s 5 Weeks to Sugar Free (this is where the brownie recipe came from)