We're now in our final week of holiday, and have landed at our last stop, beautiful Stockholm in Sweden. There's so much to do here, and in so many ways it reminds me of home back in Auckland, just with a dash more history and antiquated buildings of course. But the vibe, the people, the culture, all feels very similar. Tony and I keep saying we reckon we could live here, one day perhaps!
One thing I have learnt so far is that the Swedes are big coffee drinkers. No literally, they've just been awarded the number 1 coffee drinking nation award, taking out Finland's previous top spot. Coffee can be a love/hate substance for many, with some not being able to go a morning without their daily brew, while others find it makes them jittery. I've been on both ends of this spectrum, loving it in my corporate days, then removing it during my Graves' disease recovery and then pregnancy, and subsequently finding it gave me headaches almost instantly no matter how little I drank. I've now moved back to a more middle ground, enjoying a half shot (yes, that's a quarter strength if you're a double shot drinker) soy latte a few times a week. It's interesting once you've removed something from your diet for a while, that reintroducing it means you only need a little to taste and experience the strong aromas and sensations.
This delicious brownie of course uses espresso in its base, but if you're sensitive to coffee, or just trying to reduce your caffeine intake (which is most of us), then I highly recommend you try it with the herbal coffee alternative I've detailed in the recipe. Just as delicious, and it means it makes it kid and late-night friendly too!
If you haven't yet tried making one of my raw brownies, you definitely have to put this on your to do list. So simple, only containing nourishing plant-based whole food ingredients, and yet just as decadent and delicious as a traditional brownie. Give it a go - I promise you will absolutely love it!
I'm a sucker for brownies. Actually anything containing chocolate. Whilst I do love fruit and eat a fair bit of it during the day, come afternoon or evening that apple/pear/orange just is not calling my name. I've published a brownie recipe on the blog before (my Raw Afghan Brownie here), and if you haven't tried it yet you must. It. Is. Amazing. But in my book there's always more room for chewy chocolatey deliciousness.
In comes today's Chocolate Espresso Fudge Brownie, a distant cousin to the original but just as tasty. I wanted to make something with a chocolate espresso mocha type feel, as it's such a classic flavour combination. But I stopped drinking coffee about two years ago, as part of my healing plan to rid myself of Graves' autoimmune disease (more on that here if you're new to my blog). The caffeine in coffee has a tendency to increase the rate of certain bodily organs particularly the heart and adrenals, so for someone with a hyperactive condition or hormonal imbalance it's not the best idea.
Herbal coffee you say?
It was pretty hard to give up the morning soy latte addiction I'd acquired during my corporate working years. I tried a bunch of different coffee alternatives, but most of them were severely lacking in the taste stakes. One however did catch my taste buds' attention - a sweet little blend by a company called Teeccino. They call their mix 'herbal coffee', but it's not coffee at all, rather a blend of natural organic carob, chicory root, dandelion, dates, almonds, figs and vanilla. It's the closest thing I've found to being able to have a caffeine and coffee free latte that actually tastes amazing. It's even safe for kiddies to drink if you're looking for a healthy hot beverage option for after school.
Back to the brownie. This one uses creamy walnuts as its base, which have one of the highest omega 3 contents in the nut and seed world, as well as being packed full of plant-based protein and skin-loving vitamin E. Walnuts can be quite bitter when raw and may also harbour parasites in their skin. Soaking them removes these as well as initiating the sprouting process, making their valuable proteins and fats more digestible and able to be absorbed by our bodies. It also gives this brownie a delicious chewy and soft fudge-like texture, which is enhanced by keeping and eating them straight from the freezer. I've combined the walnut base with raw cacao (rich in antioxidants and iron), a hint of pure vanilla bean, a pinch of sea salt to bring out the sweetness, and of course our secret 'espresso'. The perfect afternoon tea treat with a cup of tea (or herbal coffee if you feel so inclined). Or bring them out for dessert with some sliced banana and my Coconut Cashew Cream - chocolate, banana and plant-based cream can do no wrong.
If you make these tasty brownies this week, tag your shots with @begoodorganics and #begoodorganics on Instagram - I'd love to see your versions and hear what you think.
Have a brilliant Sunday and here's to another amazing week, filled with chocolate and other lovely things!
Makes 16 squares
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Always use certified organic, local and fairly traded ingredients wherever possible
2 c walnuts (dried and activated*)
1 ¾ c medjoul dates (pitted)
¾ c raw cacao powder
3 tbsp Teeccino herbal coffee (any flavour, especially Java, Original or Dark Roast) OR 1 shot of organic fairtrade espresso
½ tsp vanilla powder
¼ tsp sea salt
* I've used dried and activated walnuts, otherwise you can use raw, or soak them overnight and rinse and drain super well (dry in a tea towel even). Soaking removes the slightly bitter taste of walnuts when they're raw, as well as various nutrient inhibitors, but will make the brownie slightly more moist as a result. Storing it in the freezer means this doesn't matter much.
c = 250ml cup, tbsp = 15ml tablespoon, tsp = 5ml teaspoon