On an unusually mild March night in Parkdale, a group of #barrebabes gathered over a glass or two of good cheer (with water, of course!) and, as is custom, eventually got to talking about pre-workout fuel options. I vaguely remembered a brownie recipe that I’d tried about a year prior made with a creamy sweet potato base: a mildly chocolate-flavoured, moist, decadent textured dessert laced with caramel notes from the dates. It wasn’t perfect, but it proved sufficiently promising that I knew a few more trial rounds and ingredient switches might get it there. And on that evening between Polar Vortex I and II, the Barre Brownie was born.
I want to be clear that I don’t feel that there is anything inherently wrong with the occasional real brownie, provided you are not allergic or intolerant to one of its main constituents as I am. It doesn’t make for good #Barrefuel, but don’t feel as though eating a healthy diet means eliminating all of your favourite foods for all of eternity. Over the years we’ve found ways to free our diets of everything: fat, carbohydrates, sugar, gluten, dairy, nuts, soy, eggs. While many individuals may benefit from extricating a specific food or food group from their diets, the constant pursuit of a clean or “pure” body explored through everything-free diets, incessant cleanses and detoxification protocols is alarming at best and detrimental at worst.
You’ll find that the vast majority of the recipes I develop are free of common allergens and cater to most dietary preferences because I aim for inclusion, but I encourage you to work on developing a positive relationship with food by viewing mealtime as a means to empower yourself and your body.Resist the temptation to label foods “good” or “bad”; surely there are foods that I would say are more “life-affirming” than others, but as a nutritionist informed by Ayurvedic practices and Traditional Chinese Medicine, my practice is rooted in balance – not extremes. The best thing you can do for your health is to cultivate positive relationships (like those with your fellow #barrestarres and to work on freeing your mind of negativity, anxiety, and fear. As Caroline Myss so eloquently states in Anatomy of the Spirit, “We are all living history books. Our bodies contain our histories – every chapter, line, and verse of every event and relationship in our lives. As our lives unfold, our biological health becomes a living, breathing biographical statement that conveys our strengths, weaknesses, hopes, and fears.” As such, our biography becomes our biology.
This Barre Brownie is a nutrient-dense pre-workout snack or dessert. Raw cacao provides caffeine for energy, iron for blood building and magnesium to relax your muscles, while coconut oil is quickly metabolized by the liver and, unlike other fats, is converted rapidly into glucose for quick energy on the cellular level. Flax is a great source of alpha-Linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that plays a role in a multitude of processes and supports cardiovascular health) and is thought to aid in the excretion of excess hormones. Cinnamon, which, as discussed last week, has mild anti-inflammatory properties and has also been shown to help blood sugar regulation. Chickpeas offer a bit of protein and fibre, while dates and coconut sugar sweeten the deal.
Enjoy the recipe, #Barrestarres. If you’d like more information on how to fuel your workouts, consider booking a consult by emailing me at email@example.com, making an appointment through the website, or calling one of the Barreworks locations.
The Barre Brownie
Developed by Sarah Berneche
Notes: to ensure the best results, your chickpeas should be quite tender (especially important if you’re cooking from dried) and your dates should be well-soaked. Secondly, using canned chickpeas, look for BPA-free cans (such as Eden Organics), as BPA is an endocrine disruptor (ie. it interferes with the production, secretion, transport, action, function, and elimination of natural hormones; more on this next week.)
1.5 cups or 15oz cooked chickpeas (drained and rinsed if canned)
50g or ½ cup, packed, raw cacao powder (Giddy Yoyo is my preferred brand)
100g or ½ cup pitted cooking dates, soaked for at least 2 hours or overnight
½ cup warm water
¼ cup coconut sugar
4 tablespoons ground flaxseed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Add the chickpeas and dates to the bowl of a food processor and process on high until well-combined (it should be the colour of sand when you’re through.) Add water as necessary to thin, around ½ cup.
- Mix with remaining ingredients (raw cacao, coconut sugar, flaxseed, coconut oil, vanilla extract, sea salt, and cinnamon if using.)
- Grease a 6 cup/ 8 x 6 baking dish with coconut oil and add the mixture.
- Bake for 1 hour at 350F and allow to cool completely before slicing.
The brownies must be left to sit overnight in order for the flavours to meld.
Refrigerate and consume within a week, or freeze for future consumption.
Do you have a great pre-workout snack that you’d love to share with the group? Use the hashtag #barrefuel the next time you fuel up.