Here we are on the cusp of Autumn, the last days of Harvest rolling out under warm sun, drizzle and dreich, dark grey and mist and wind, often all in the space of a few hours as the weather flows over our wee island towards Scandinavia. Much like the sap in trees, our energy has begun on its winter retreat, the slow creep back into our core. It is a time when we become naturally more introspective, happy to curl up at home by a cheery glowing fire or stove with a book, Less and less do we yearn for being outdoors, away on a beach, in the park, out late with friends, and I am certainly not finding it easy to rise early before the birds for practice. Now in October, summer seems forgotten. Even when there is heat in the sun, it is autumnal. The nights have drawn in (dark at 7am and 7pm), bike lights are a must. In our street and the local parks, green and copper leaves are changing; yellow, brown, rust red fall into crunchy or soggy rain sodden drifts along curbs and fences. And where our energy goes, so we follow, right? Are you feeling more tired, hungrier, needing more sleep? I am. Yet my habits seem to be continuing as if the nights are light and the days endless. Last night browsing? Check. Am I going to bed earlier and enjoying my new Ali Smith book? Hmmm. Last night I read till past 1am. How’s the early morning practice going, Lucie? Hmmm, not managed this week to beat 6.30am rising Florence (my 19 month old). Am I cutting out sugar and caffeine? Hmmm.
On the sugar front, I have found the answer to eating much much less. Don’t buy it in the first place. That one is simple for a lot of things. However it can also be helpful to use alternatives, especially when there is a coffee morning fundraiser to bake for, ripe fruit waiting from the garden or simply the sheer love of tasty, tasty treats. Harvest time is very much about feeling satisfied and contented. The dips in energy do need something, as Winnie the Pooh happily and often mused, “just in time for a little smackerel of something.” So what to do (and avoid lurking in the sweets and biscuits aisles in the supermarket)? Where needed, such as the occasional treat of breakfast pancakes with lemon and sugar, I have replaced white sugar with Xylitol (extracted from birch and beech trees), brown sugar in crumble toppings with Agave syrup and Coconut sugar. And for the coffee morning bake sale, this is what I made.
Rich in superfood goodness, the recipe is gluten free and sugar free. Rich and very dark, these are very much an adult treat, with the wee pieces of rhubarb adding a freshness and juiciness to lift the intensity.
I adapted the recipe from Whole Hearted Eats. Where possible I used organic / free range foods. A great supplier are Greencity Foods or you can find their products at the lovely Harvest Co-op in Shawlands, A note about the dates, they are Iranian (easily found in small rectangular boxes in our wonderful Asian food shops in and about the southside for a couple of quid – they are already very soft, unctuous and toffee-like (that good) so don’t need soaking. If you use drier/harder dates, soak the chopped dates in a little hot water for 10-15 minutes before using. And the verdict? My lovely neighbour, Bex, an expert baker and gluten free bod, returned my tupperware box back after the bake sale just the other day. “There was one left, but it seems to have disappeared. Not sure where it went”…..Nuff said.
Black Bean, Cacao and Rhubarb Fudge Superfood Brownies
Makes a 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) Pan
1 Cup Cooked Black Beans (just under 1/2 a cup when dry)
1/4 Cup Coconut Oil
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1/4 -1/2 Cup of Xylitol and Coconut Nectar
1/2 Cup Pitted Dates (I used Iranian dates from the Spice Garden, Albert Drive)
1 Cup Rhubarb (finely diced, from our garden)
1/3 Cup Raw Cacao / good quality cocoa Powder
1/2 Cup Almond Flour
1/2 Cup Chopped Dark Chocolate or Mini Chips (I used Hotel Chocolat 70% dark chocolate drops)
1. Blend the black beans, coconut oil, sea salt, xylitol and coconut nectar, mashed dates, cacao, and eggs in a food mixer. Blend until the mixture looks smooth and you no longer see any bean or date pieces.
3. Empty the contents into a bowl and stir in the diced rhubarb, almond flour and chocolate chips.
4. Spread the mixture into a parchment lined 20 cm (8 inch) square pan and bake at 175 C (350 F) for 40 minutes.
5. Once cool, you can slice and eat the brownies as is or sprinkle with Himalayan/sea salt. Left overs keep well in the fridge or freezer.