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Dr Mosley’s Eggplant Brownies

Hello everyone.  These delicious brownies are from Dr Michael Mosley’s Clever Guts Diet book so I take no credit for them whatsoever.  I was lucky enough to attend a talk he did last week in Perth and his book was part of the package I purchased.  I try not to jump on diet bandwagons, but his makes so much sense and is nothing crazy or onerous.  In fact, most of the things he suggests are things I am already doing or eating (so I feel fairly smug ha ha).  Do visit his website and read his book if you are interested in improving your health and feeling better in general.  You may lose some weight too, although that’s not the focus of the diet (it’s just an added bonus).

Anyway, I have recently given up sugar (sort of…I fall off the wagon regularly) and, because of this, have not been craving as much sweet stuff.  That’s not to say I don’t want it at all – we ARE talking about me, after all – but I have been less inclined to raid the cookie jar at work and haven’t been wandering around the house at night trying to find something to eat after dinner.

These brownies are yummy.  You would never know they have eggplant in them and hardly any sugar (none added – just dates).  They are really moist and fudgey and will satisfy any sweet tooth and the most fussy chocoholic.  Do try them 🙂

Ingredients

  • medium eggplant (200 g), peeled and diced
  • 150g dark chocolate (minimum 70 per cent cocoa solids), broken into pieces
  • 60g coconut oil
  • 60g soft pitted dates, diced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 80g almond meal

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Steam the eggplant for 15 min­utes until it’s soft. Put it in a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir in the chocolate and coconut oil. The warm eggplant will melt the chocolate and oil. Add the chopped dates and salt. Using a hand blender or a food processor, blitz the mixture until it’s smooth. By now it should be cool enough to add the eggs and baking powder. Blitz again for another minute or so, then mix in the ground almonds. Spread the mixture onto a medium-sized baking tray lined with baking  paper and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. It is cooked when a knife comes out clean.

Cut into squares to serve.

 

Enjoy! 🙂

 

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Bee Happy (and a bit about Laughter Yoga)

Hello, everyone 🙂  I was back at work this week after having an extended Easter break.  Can’t say I was overjoyed at the thought of returning to work, but very grateful to have a job to return to (the current economic climate being what it is, every extra day of employment is a bonus).  It took a while to get back into the swing of things, and I was horribly nervous when people came in to ask questions about our services etc ; after just a week off, I was a bit brain-dead and stupid.  But I got through it ok and people seemed happy with my responses.  It’s probably just me who thought I was useless!

One of my tasks today was to write a book review.  The book, “Love Laughter and Longevity : the Art and Science of Wellbeing” by Janni Goss, talks about laughter and its positive effects on our health, longevity, and quality of life.  As my organisation assists people with dementia, and encourages positive thinking and celebrating the small joys in life, this book could benefit many people who are dealing with the difficulties that dementia inevitably brings.  But laughter is a well-documented medicine for many of the things that ail us, whether we are experiencing illness or not.

There are physical changes that occur when we laugh : blood flow increases, endorphins are released, cortisol levels are lowered and the immune response is improved.  Intense laughter (whether faked or not – the brain can’t tell the difference) also provides aerobic exercise, which is far more enjoyable than time spent at the gym.

Janni is an advocate for Laughter Yoga and its benefits.  Over 100 countries around the world have Laughter Yoga groups, and its positive effect on people with illnesses ranging from high blood pressure to cancer has been studied and reported in numerous medical journals.  It’s certainly an interesting topic to read about (a lot of my reading-for-work tasks are pretty dull and make me go a bit cross-eyed) and worth further investigation if you’re into self-improvement and inner health (whilst improving your outer health at the same time!).  You can read more from Janni HERE or learn about Laughter Yoga throughout Australia HERE

All that laughter and being happy reminded me of this little canvas I painted on the weekend.  At first, when I had finished it, I felt a bit unsure about the whole “bee happy” thing.  Sometimes we’re just NOT, right?  Sometimes we are decidedly unhappy and a bit down in the dumps.  But I guess what Janni’s book and philosophy encourages is to embrace the small joyful moments in life and use them to promote well-being in our bodies and minds.  It’s kinda like faking it til you make it.  Not avoiding dealing with sadness but, rather, using joy to combat it and face it head on.  And you might as well have a few extra happy hormones to help you, right?

Having said all that, it’s important to let people know you’re struggling.  No one should suggest you “pretend” to be happy if you’re not.  That’s way too much pressure!  I believe happiness itself is a bit of a myth.  It’s such a vague concept.  No one is happy 100% of the time ; how can you be, when there is so much suffering and pain in the world?

But I think it’s important to be content with your situation, be in the moment, and be happy about the small things in life, focusing on the good, and doing what you can to minimise the “bad”.  It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sad or upsetting moments in our life, but how often do we give the same amount of energy to joyous moments, savouring them and replaying them in our minds?  The brain can’t differentiate between something that is a memory and something that is happening now.  So, we should try and hold on to happy memories and use them to boost our spirits when we are down, rather than re-living those moments that caused us pain and distress.

Easy to say.  But I think every extra weapon we can have in our arsenal against the blues is a bonus and worth a try.  I don’t think I will be doing a class of Laughter Yoga any time soon (I’m not a joining-in kinda gal and I would spend the entire time worrying about what I look like when I’m laughing and whether or not I was doing things right) but there are definitely principles that I could use to be more positive or, at least, trick my brain into feeling happier, until I am able to feel it for real.

Be happy today.  And if you can’t be, I’m sending good thoughts your way and a wish for a happier tomorrow.  Hang in there x

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Lemon Cupcake-in-a-Mug

Sometimes you just need cake.  Sometimes you just need cake but are well aware that baking an entire cake could prove dangerous.  Because you will eat it all yourself and fall into a pit of self-loathing so deep that there would be no ladder long enough to reach you.  So that’s where little cheats come in.  Cupcake cheats.  Lemony delicious soul-soothing cupcake cheats that make very little washing up and can be eaten quickly so there is no evidence of your adulting failures.  This recipe is super easy and the taste is yummo-licious.  Nice and tangy and citrussy (is that a word?) and very satisfying.  PLus it takes about 5 minutes to make and cook.  I’ll go back on my diet on Monday (I’ve been ill this week and so everything diet-and-exercise-wise went out the window).

Lemon Cupcake-in-a-Mug

Ingredients

3 tablespoons caster sugar
3 tablespoons plain flour
pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg
2 tablespoons sunflower oil (or vegetable oil of your choice)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Method

In a 16oz mug, mix together the dry ingredients.  Add the wet ingredients and combine until you have a nice smooth batter.

Microwave on high for approx 1 1/2 minutes.  Check cake and microwave for another 10-20 seconds if need be.  Don’t overcook.  Cake should be moist and springy to touch.  Let cool for 5 minutes and sprinkle with a little icing sugar if desired.  Then eat!  Yummo!

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