Keto Brownies

My Keto Cookies were a success! In the same Keto Baking magazine, there are lots more recipes, so I will be making many more sweet treats in the near future! As for this week, I made my own variation of their Brownies. Instead of adding walnuts I used cacao nibs, which are a favourite of Ed’s.

These brownies were moist, rich and full of flavour! I made them twice this week, as the first time, they went a bit wrong (you’ll see later!). The second time they came out a bit thinner, but were still nice and gooey!

The Ingredients:

60g Cocoa Powder

1/4 tsp Sea Salt

6-8 tbsp Hot Water

2 Eggs

6 tbsp Vegetable Oil

170g Sweetener

96g Almond Flour

85g Chopped Walnuts (I used Cacao Nibs instead)

The Method:

Preheat your oven to 180° C / 160° C fan assisted, and line an 8 inch square baking tin with baking parchment. I greased my tin with a little butter to ensure the parchment stuck to the sides, making it easier to put the mixture in later.

In a large mixing bowl combine the cocoa powder, salt and hot water. Start with 6 tbsp of hot water, and if the paste that forms is uneven or has a lumpy texture add one tbsp at a time (up to 2 extra tbsp) until the paste evens out. You can always add the extra water after adding the eggs if it hasn’t smoothed out.

In a glass jug or medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and the vegetable oil, making sure the egg yolk have broken and the oil and eggs are fairly well mixed.

Once the cocoa paste has cooled down, which shouldn’t take long, add the egg mixture slowly, adding it in four parts. This allows for an even mixture and makes it easier to mix the oil into the rest of the ingredients. Give this a good stir, making sure the mix is nice and runny, effectively like melted chocolate.

Add the sweetener and almond flour to your mixture and stir. Using a silicon spatula (or just an ordinary one if that’s what you have), scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure all the dry ingredients are combined.

Finally, add the extra bits and bobs, like nuts, cacao nibs, raisins, etc. whatever you choose to add… if you want to add anything that is!

Pop this mixture into the pre-lined tin, smoothing out the surface of the batter and getting rid of most air bubbles. If you wish to add anything (bits and bobs) to the top, sprinkle these on top before baking in the oven for 30-35 minutes.

You want the brownies to be cracking at the edges but still be gooey in the middle. A kebab skewer should come out clean when pulled out of the middle of the brownies when they are ready. If not quite ready, bake for an extra minute, checking each time. If you bake for too long, they will begin to burn around the edges and the ‘burnt’ flavour will come through.

Once you have taken them out of the oven, leave to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from tin and pop on a wire cooling rack until cool. Finally, slice the brownies into squares, triangles, whatever shape you choose! Just be careful! They are soft and gooey and will fall apart if you try and pick up the block in one go! (see below!)

I found them better once they had been in the fridge for a while, as they held their shape nicely, but were still lovely and gooey!

The were a success (the second time round anyway!) and tasted very yummy. Personally, I would suggest popping a scoop of ice cream in a bowl with one of these and enjoying it as a dessert, but Ed has been liking them as a snack all the same! I would highly recommend giving these brownies a go. They taste just as good as ordinary brownies, Ed thinks they are the best he’s ever had! Maybe he’s just being nice, but they were very tasty so you make up your minds once you’ve tried them!

Thank you for reading and I hope you come back soon for more baking recipes soon!

Keto Cookies – Chocolate and Chilli

I love baking, and since I’ve been home from uni for summer, I’ve been experimenting with new recipes, instead of remaking the same Victoria sponge recipe over and over. Finding a ‘healthy’ sweet treat can be tricky. This can be made even trickier if you add carbs and sugar to the list of things you can’t bake with. This knocks out pretty much any type of flour, gluten, sugar (obviously!) etc.

There are several diets that focus on cutting carbohydrates, one of the most popular being the Keto Diet. As such, when I saw the magazine Keto Baking in the newsagent, I picked it up to see what it was all about. And sure enough, there was a huge selection of recipes for me to try out! From cakes, biscuits, breads and sweet bites, the magazine has given me a bunch of ideas for for experimenting with.

To start off, I tried making some cookies, as I haven’t made a batch of cookies in years and I have been baking quite a few cakes recently, so this sounded different and fun! Here’s the recipe and how my Keto baking adventure went!

The Ingredients:

340g Unsweetened Chocolate/ Dark Chocolate of a high percentage

115g Unsalted Butter

4 Eggs

1 tsp Vanilla Extract/Paste

2 tsp Baking Powder

1/4 tsp Sea Salt

1/4 tsp Cinnamon

1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper

1 tsp Chilli Flakes

144g Almond Flour/Coconut Flour

400g Sweetener

A note about the ingredients:

I swapped a couple of my ingredients (listed next to originals) such as the almond flour, as when I was making these, I didn’t realise that almond flour is the same as ground almonds so I couldn’t find any. However, there is nothing wrong with using coconut flour, it will just taste slightly of coconut and it may have the slight ‘gritty’ bite to it that often comes with coconut flours or dessicated coconut.

Most recipes for Keto baking will be using a lot of eggs, and I mean a lot. But don’t worry, the finished product doesn’t taste ‘eggy’ and you can take special measures such as cooling it in the tin for about 10 minutes and then removing it- this helps with the possible ‘eggy’ flavour.

Be careful which sweeteners you use. For example, I use Xylitol or stevia. However, something like Truvia (a brand of stevia sweetener) claims that 1/3 tsp of Truvia = 1 tsp of sugar. Meaning, if you use 1 tsp of Truvia that’s the equivalent of 3 tsp of sugar! In Keto recipes, the amount of sweetener will often be quite high, because you require more sweetener than a normal amount of sugar because it isn’t as sweet. But, as I mentioned, some sweetness are sweeter than sugar, so you won’t need as much. If you’re not sure, just ask Google, but sweeteners like Xylitol are readily available at most major supermarkets.

The Method:

Firstly, preheat your oven to 180°C and line 2 large baking trays with baking parchment or reusable liners. Put the trays to the side until later.

Next, melt the chocolate in a glass bowl with the butter. You can either do this by heating it over water in a saucepan using a hob or in the microwave. I used the microwave and did 30 second intervals, keeping an eye on it once it begins to melt.

In large mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt and spices and give them a quick mix so they are all incorporated together. Whilst doing this, let your chocolate cool slightly, no need to put it in the fridge, it just needs to be cool-‘ish’.

Once the chocolate is cooler, add one egg at a time, whisking them into the chocolate and butter mixture between each addition. Then add the sweetener and mix together into the chocolate. A word of warning- the mix is going to get noticeably thicker when you start adding the eggs, so just be prepared for a little arm workout!

Next, add the chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients in your mixing bowl. Mix these together and scrape the bowl, making sure all the dry ingredients are mixed in thoroughly. You will be left with a thick cake-like batter, but it is so liquid that it won’t hold its shape.

Lay a large sheet of clingfilm over your kitchen worktop or table and place the batter in the middle. Wrap the batter up, I double wrapped mine to prevent leaking, and leave in the fridge for an hour to harden.

After an hour, remove your batter from the fridge and unwrap it. The mixture makes 12 cookies, but if you want to make them smaller or bigger, then that amount will change. For 12, section off the batter either using a spoon or just grabbing a handful of dough and mould/squash into a rough cookie shape with your hands. Repeat this for each cookie. This can be messy so I’d recommend taking off any jewellery!

Bake them in the oven for 10 minutes. I put mine in for 10 and they were still a tiny bit too soft when I put a skewer in, so I gave them another 3 minutes and they were perfect. Baking time will vary depending on oven strength etc. but they should be harder at the edges and still slightly soft and gooey on the inside.

Leave them on the baking trays for 15 minutes, then remove them and transfer them to a wire cooling rack. And you’re done!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and you give this recipe a go! I’m pleased to report they were a great success! They’re not too spicy, but there is definitely a kick there, so you can try the recipe and then adjust as you like!

Thank you for reading and come back again for more Keto recipes soon!

Eat your way to Mindfulness

I have been trying to spend a little less time on my phone recently and more time relaxing, away from the pressures of modern day social media platforms. I have been taking some time to myself, either reading, listening to a podcast or doing a lot of gardening with the good weather recently.

Caroline Foran, author of no.1 bestseller of Owning It: A Bullish*t Free Guide to Living with Anxiety, has begun a podcast this January: Owning It: The Anxiety Podcast. I have been listening to the odd episode here and there and from an episode in April they were discussing how important diet and healthy eating is for a healthy mind.

This I already somewhat knew, as I am very aware of the effect blood sugars have on your mood, due to my boyfriend having Type 1 Diabetes. In March 2019 I did a ‘Live Like a Diabetic’ for the month where Ed and I reduced to the minimum amount of carbohydrates and eliminated sugar from our diets. After only a month, I could feel the incredible impact that reducing artificial sugars and simple carbs (the bad ones!) has on your mood. You feel less groggy and tired – I found I was sleeping better and falling asleep faster.

Sugar in food either comes as ‘added sugar’ or ‘natural sugar’ and for a normal person’s healthy diet, there should be a balanced amount of natural sugars. Added sugars can be eaten but this should be as a treat or the odd occasion. Added sugars will have a larger effect on your blood sugar levels, and this can make you feel jittery and shaky which will contribute to feeling anxious.

That said, if you blood sugar levels are on the low side, then you might experience what is close to a ‘hypo’ (hypoglycaemia). This, again, feels very jittery and shaky, struggling to string a sentence together and feeling very dizzy and out of place. If you have ever had a panic attack, some of these feelings may sound familiar. As someone without diabetes, you are unable to experience a genuine hypo. If your blood sugars are low-ish then you may, however, begin to feel panicky and anxious. This can be controlled and negated by eating a healthy balanced diet.

So what should we be eating to balance our diets?

Fruit and Veggies:

The NHS and numerous health organisations recommend 5 portions of fruit and veg everyday. This could be all fruit, all veg, or a mixture, and the latter is probably the easier and better option. I know, however, that it isn’t easy and I can’t remember the last time I consumed 5 portions of these even once. That said, I do eat more vegetables and fruit than a lot of people my age, so as long as you are getting some form of fruit or veg at least once a day then that is a good start.

Carbohydrates:

These are often described as ‘starchy’ foods and should be about one third of your daily diet. These include things like potatoes, pasta, bread, rice, etc. These are all great sources of fibre, and when choosing, try to go for wholewheat or wholemeal alternatives, such as brown rice or wholemeal bread. These will be a big chunk of where your ‘all-day’ energy comes from. As someone with anxiety, you can often suffer with a feeling of low energy or tiredness, so eating a healthy source of carbohydrates could impact this brilliantly.

Dairy:

Dairy is something our generation probably doesn’t eat enough of, due to the ever increasing numbers of dairy allergies and intolerances. But, soya milk and other dairy alternatives do have the nutritional values that ordinary milk would contain, so don’t panic if you don’t drink dairy milk. Other good sources are yoghurt and cheese. Be careful not to go overboard with your dairy intake though, as it can be very high in fat! Moreover, excess amounts of dairy have been linked to heightened levels of adrenaline which may lead to a feeling of higher anxiety. So although dairy is important, we need a balance.

Protein:

A good source of protein can come from meat, fish, beans, pulses and eggs. I found when I cut down on carbohydrates, I replaced them with a lot of protein, as these give energy and are good at helping the body heal and repair itself. For this reason I eat protein before and after going to the gym or doing exercise, as not only does it give a slow release of energy throughout the exercise, but it helps my muscle repair after stretching them. Anxiety can be hugely helped by doing a small amount of exercise everyday. Just a walk down to the shops, or with a dog (if you have one!). Or, if you’re feeling particularly energetic, you could for for a run or go to the gym! It is recommended that everyone gets 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, so thats about 20 minutes everyday!

Fat:

Although you should try and stay away from saturated fats, like meats, dairy, butter, biscuits and cakes, as well as many others. These can be eaten (obviously!) but in small quantities and your sources of fat should come from unsaturated fats such as oily fish, nuts, seeds and healthier cooking oils. There are not too many papers linking anxiety to fatty foods, but it has been linked to heart conditions and poorer health as you get older.

Of course, there isn’t an out and out list of foods that can cure anxiety! But, I cannot stress enough that a balanced diet can help your mental health improve! Your brain and your body are linked and that means the more you take care of your body, the more it will take care of your brain!

This has been my first post for my new topic on my blog, and I hope that you have enjoyed reading and it may have given you some insight on your diet and how it might be affecting your mind and mood. I am not a healthcare professional, neither am I a dietician or a chartered psychologist (yet!) so my words are not coming from a scholarly background as such, but more experience, Caroline Foran’s book (The Confidence Kit: Your Bullsh*t Free Guide to Owning Your Fear), her podcast (which I would H I G H L Y recommend listening to, whether you have anxiety or not!) and just reading online!

Thank you again for reading, and I hope to be adding some more posts including some of my favourite recipes which I will be sharing!

Imogen ❤