Sunday 23 October 2016

Browned off... Pecan brownie bites to help PMT

With one-in-eight women suffering from debilitating pre-menstrual tension, our health guru Susan Jane White looks for a sweeter option to lift the monthly mood

Published 15/06/2015 | 02:30

Pecan brownie bites
Pecan brownie bites
Susan Jane White

I'm with Roseanne Barr - I don't know why people hate PMT. I think of it as the only time of the month when I can be myself.

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Pre-menstrual tension, or PMT, is an umbrella term used to describe a range of symptoms leading up to a woman's cycle including snappiness, headaches, back pain, fluid retention, cramps, sugar cravings, increased appetite, anxiety, depression, breast tenderness and fatigue. It's when we become a crazed version of a slightly less-bonkers self.

Don't despair. These pecan brownies contain zinc, a fancy mineral our body needs to manufacture hormones. Think of hormones as the call centre for mood, and for hundreds of other intricate biological processes in the body. A zinc deficit can result in hormonal see-saws, sharpened fangs and many code-red situations. I figure making brownies is considerably cheaper than attending a psychotherapist.

Zinc is also important for our frontline defences. Without it, our immunity would wheeze. Sometimes it can be easy to tell you have a deficiency in zinc - scrapes or bruises will take longer than usual to heal. Sound familiar? Always contact your GP or dietician if you're worried.

Me? I tuck into these badass brownie bites. They contain very few ingredients and don't demand an oven or brain cells.

Pecan Brownie Bites

Makes 24 portions.

This raw brownie recipe was first published in this column five years ago. It has since done laps on the blogosphere, and features in some hip vegan cookbooks. I've had many requests to feature it again, so voila!

You will need:

220g (8oz) pecan nuts

1 teaspoon of probiotics (optional snazz)

9-12 medjool dates, stones removed

6-8 tablespoons cacao powder or cocoa powder

Generous pinch of sea salt flakes

Using a food processor, pulse the pecan nuts and the teaspoon of probiotics, if you are using it, until the mixture has a crumbly texture.

Add each medjool date down the food processor chute, one by one, while the motor is still running. It's important to bin the date stones first, and to check for black dust. If you find that dreaded powdery black stuff, stop the motor, discard the date and any dates it happened to socialise with, then wash your hands thoroughly and proceed as usual. Black dust is a sign of plant mould and, in my experience, occurs with one in every 60 medjools. Gah!

When all the medjools have been added, spoon in the cacao powder or the cocoa powder, whichever you are using. A generous pinch of sea salt flakes is all that's required now.

Give the mixture one last blast in the food processor. Pinch the brownie 'dough' together with your fingertips. If its sticks, you're ready to rock.

Scoop the brownie dough into a pre-lined loaf tin. I use baking parchment. Press the dough down firmly with the back of a spoon and put the tin in the freezer.

After 1-4 hours, remove the tin from the freezer, chop the frozen dough into bite-sized brownies, and return them to the freezer in a glass or a plastic container. This is where they will live until beckoned. The idea is to eat them straight from frozen. You'll soon understand why.

They make a lavish snack, which is what all snacks should be.

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