The Happy Kitchen is fantastic cookbook and resource for anyone who may be suffering from anxiety or depression and want to help alleviate some of the symptoms through their diet. The food we eat and the effect it has on both our mental and physical health is huge, as Rachel Kelly, the author of the Happy Kitchen can attest to. This wonderful book is about eating to stay calm and well. Together, over 5 years, Rachel and her nutritional therapist Alice Mackintosh have developed recipes that put around 150 nutritional studies into practice. They’ve helped Rachel to become more energised, less anxious, clearer thinking, more balanced and a better sleeper.
Rachel explains that “by harnessing the power of food to boost my mood, not just on melancholy days, I have been able to stabilise my feelings. Nutrition has become an important element in my holistic approach to staying well, and I wanted to share what I’ve learnt in the happy kitchen.”
Rachel and Alice have kindly shared the recipe for their delicious, decadent dark chocolate brownies. They spent ages perfecting these, ensuring that they were soft, rich and gooey in the centre. Though they are still a treat, you have more control over the ingredients as you are making them yourself. Spelt flour is wholegrain, meaning that it won’t lead to a sugar spike as white flour does, and Brazil nuts contain selenium which, as we have seen, plays an important role in the immune system. Cacao is a rich source of magnesium and antioxidants.
– Makes about 15 squares –
- 10 Brazil nuts
- 125g dark chocolate (ideally 100% cocoa, or use 85%)
- 100ml almond milk
- 150g coconut oil, plus extra for greasing the tin
- 250ml maple syrup
- Seeds from vanilla pod or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 50g raw cacao powder, sieved
- 3 eggs
- 130g spelt flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
1. Preheat the oven to 190C. Grease a 30cm x 20cm brownie tin and line it with baking parchment. Leave the paper sticking up at the sides to make it easier to lift the brownies out when they are 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, and then chop them up 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 10-15 minutes, and then beat in the eggs. Add the flour, baking powder and chopped Brazil nuts.
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake it in the oven for about 12 minutes. Insert a cocktail stick and 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 3-5 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 paper to help you slide the whole brownie on to a cooling rack. Cut it into squares once it has cooled completely.
Photo credit: Laura Edwards