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Summer Recipe for Good Mood Foods

We live in uncertain times. The UK has just witnessed an election, wars are being fought, and many of us feel anxious about the state of the world. What better moment than to turn to comfort food?

Rather than feel like you must stop comfort eating, the nutritionist Alice Mackintosh, with whom I co-wrote The Happy Kitchen: Good Mood Food, taught me to redefine what comfort food is; by adding in healthy substitutions in place of less healthy ones. Our book more broadly summarises the research in this important new field of how food can boost our mood, as well as sharing recipes to put the theory into practice.

As someone with a history of depression, you have few enough pleasures and will naturally be drawn to sweet treats. But classic comfort foods tend to be high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, creating the kind of sugar highs and lows that play havoc with mood.

Our Dark Chocolate Brazil Nut Brownies are a healthy twist on a familiar favourite. We spent ages perfecting our brownies, ensuring they were soft, rich, and gooey in the centre. Though they’re still a treat, you have more control over the ingredients as you’re making them yourself.

Alice explained how spelt flour is wholegrain, meaning it won’t lead to a sugar spike as white flour does, and Brazil nuts contain selenium, which plays an important role in the immune system. Cacao is a rich source of magnesium and antioxidants which reduce anxiety.

Find my recipe below!

Dark Chocolate Brazil nut brownies

Makes about 15 squares

What you’ll need:

  • 10 Brazil nuts

  • 125g of dark chocolate (ideally 100 per cent cocoa)

  • 100ml of almond milk

  • 150g of coconut oil, plus extra for greasing the tin

  • 250ml of maple syrup

  • Seeds from vanilla pod or 1 tbsp of vanilla extract

  • 50g of raw cacao powder, sieved

  • 3 eggs

  • 130g of spelt flour

  • 1 tsp of baking powder

How to prepare:

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C / gas mark 5. Grease a 30cm x 20cm brownie tin and line with baking parchment. Leave the paper sticking up at the sides to make it easier to lift the brownies out when they’re cooked.

2. Roast the Brazil nuts in the oven for 15 minutes, turning them once halfway through. They should be slightly browned. Leave them to cool, then chop coarsely.

3. Put the chocolate, almond milk, coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla seeds or extract in a saucepan over a very gentle heat, stirring regularly, until everything has melted and you have a rich, glossy-looking batter.

4. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cacao powder.

5. Allow the mixture to cool for 10 to 15 minutes, then beat in the eggs. Add the flour, baking powder and chopped Brazil nuts.

6. Pour the mixture into the pre-prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 12 minutes. Insert a cocktail stick — it should come out with a little chocolate residue. If you like your brownies less gooey, put the tin back in the oven for a further 3 to 5 minutes but take it out before the top starts to crack, otherwise the consistency will be more like cake.

7. Remove the tin from the oven and use the baking parchment to help you slide the whole brownie on to a cooling rack. Cut into squares once it’s cooled completely.

Rachel Kelly is a writer and mental health campaigner and author of The Happy Kitchen: Good Mood Food published by Short Books. Twitter: @rachelkellynet



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