A virtuous take on the classic brownie with the help of a surprising ingredient…

Brownies. I swear, if there’s anything guaranteed to knock you off your diet or induce your waistband to inexplicably shrink, this is the gooey, fudgey, cocoa laden culprit but is there a way to have your cake and eat it?

Brownies were first created in 1893 at the time of the Chicago World Fair when a chef at the Palmer Hotel was asked to come up with a dessert for ladies attending the fair which should be cake like but smaller in form and easy to eat from a lunch box. This first version is still made today at the hotel to the original recipe featuring walnuts & apricot glaze though the addition of extra egg & chocolate in the early 1900’s was when the results became more akin to what we’d perceive today as a brownie.

More recently, there’s been a desire to indulge but with the added benefit of hidden ‘good for you ingredients’ such as sweet potato, beetroot or even black beans. Raw, vegan and vegetarian versions of sweet treats are taking the culinary world by storm and whether you’re Michelin starred or have ventured no further than your own kitchen, it seems everyone wants to eat something naughty without paying the price.

Everyone from Jillian Michaels to Martha Stewart to Jamie Oliver has their take on a ‘healthier’ version of brownies, often substituting things like apple sauce for butter and wholewheat flour for white. A recent glut of recipes for avocado brownies is what really caught my eye though – as someone obsessed with both of these things, the idea of a brownie loaded with good fats as opposed to bad instantly waved a flag of interest in my direction .

Southern-in-Law is a sweet Antipodean blog I stumbled across when searching for the perfect avocado brownie recipe and this formed the basis of a batch I tested on my guinea-pig colleagues at work. The main point of difference is that instead of butter, soft, rich, pale green avocado flesh provides the fat in a flour-free recipe that contains only one quarter cup of sugar – I generally bake with light or dark brown Muscovado sugar as I like the slightly more caramelised flavour and softer texture it provides.

The link to the post can be found here www.southerninlaw.com/2014/04/grain-free-healthy-fudgy-avocado-brownies-recipe.html and it really is a simple way of making something that you can feel a tad more virtuous in stuffing down your chops, one silky, rich square at a time.

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A bucket list burger that’s worth ticking off – welcome to Patty & Bun…

To the delight and anguish of all starving, early evening commuters across the big smoke, the Evening Standard recently posted an edible bucket list for London; a culinary countdown of places you must visit and dishes you must try in order to fully experience all the gastronomic delights that our beautiful capital city has to offer. Now the fact that London has a million cultures all living within frying, baking or drizzling distance of each other won’t come as any sort of shock to anyone who’s walked down Edgware Road or through Camden Market or around the side streets of Kilburn but some of the suggested dishes posed a challenge even for little, old, eats-everything-she-can-lay-her-hands-on me…milk-fed lambs brain anyone?

No?

A bit beyond your comfort zone?

No problem. Tuck your napkin back into your shirt, pull your chair back into the table, pick up your knife & fork and get on board with some slightly (metaphorically) easier-to-digest suggestions such as shepherd’s pie, egg, ham & peas or a simple grilled cheese sandwich.

For me though, the easiest thing to sway someone into trying a new restaurant is nothing fancier than a damn good burger, Well, unless you’re my mother and then a plate of broccoli will do it every time but for those of us less enthused by those bright green florets than by something juicy, meaty and impossible to eat without a stack of napkins and the acceptance that you will end up with all kinds of deliciousness dribbling down your chin, let’s venture into Patty & Bun and into the only burger on the list…

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A divinely delicious & healthy recreation of West Coast salmon rice bowls in North London…

One of my lasting memories of San Francisco – apart from the glorious weather, friendly people & stunning locale – is the amazing food. Whatever you look for, I guarantee you will find and it won’t surprise anyone who’s been there to hear you praise to the high heavens the generous breakfasts, fresh produce or the Michelin hotspots; as cities for foodies go, San Francisco is up there with the best.

Rice bowls have been around on the culinary scene and growing in popularity for some time now but it wasn’t until our Pacific Catch experience that we got to experience them for the first time. Steeped for the most part in and around Asian cuisine, they’re the perfect dinner for so many reasons – they’re simple to prepare & require no hard-to-say-and-even-harder-to-find ingredients that cost the earth; they can be made just as easily for one person as for 4, 6 or 10; there are no hard and fast rules about what goes in them so even the pickiest of eaters among your clan can be appeased including vegetarians, vegans or meat lovers…see? Nothing not to like, love and adore and if you’re fed up of dull, uninspiring salads that leave you hungry again before the last forkful is forced down and you’re after a healthy option that will leave you full and happy, let’s get on with introducing the rice bowl to your cooking repertoire…

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