Baking can be a lesson in happiness. Aside from the dopamine boost that is proven to come along with doing the things that make you tick (which, for me, COOKING and BAKING are indeed these things!), the ingredients you choose to cook with can act like little agents of smiles and joy. In today’s post, I’m going to share with you a fool-proof recipe that may have the power to please.
If I haven’t piqued your interest yet… I will in a second.
But these aren’t your run of the mill box mix brownies. Nope, they’re super-happy superfood packed brownies. How?
- Half of a cup of cocoa powder. Cocoa powder is packed with flavonoids and compounds such as phenethylamine which is a neurotransmitter found in the brain that boosts mood and works as a natural antidepressant. Cocoa may have the ability to boost endorphins, natural “happy” opiates that are responsible for the highs that are often felt after pleasurable experiences. Cocoa may also boost serotonin levels, a key neurotransmitter targeted by antidepressants to boost overall levels of happiness (source).
- A quarter cup each of coconut and garbanzo-fava bean flour blends:
- Coconut is special because it is a unique source of lauric acid and medium-chain-triglycerides. Lauric acid is claimed to help detoxify the body and cleanse the liver. An overwhelmed liver leads to feelings of sluggishness, exhaustion, and poor mood, and the medium-chain-triglycerides are utilized as a quick source of energy your body can tap into, so you can continue chugging along with whatever you’re doing with pep in your step. Fats have long been implicated with the ability to boost mood, and the fiber found in coconut flour helps to steady digestion so your tummy is happy as well (source).
- Bean flours are rich in Vitamin B6 which helps combat low energy and anxiety. They are also a good source of protein, which helps to fuel the production of natural happy hormones, serotonin and dopamine. Garbanzos in specific are an abundant source of magnesium, which is a key mineral for a healthy nervous system (source).
- One whole avocado. Avocados are high in vitamin E, C, K and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. The membranes which make up our cells and the brain itself are largely composed of fat, and not getting enough of it has been linked to stress, anxiety, and depression. Coupling this hearty “pear” with other foods, like I’ve done in this recipe, can help to increase the absorption of other nutrients – up to five times the amount! (source)
- Two thirds of a cup of kabocha squash. Kabocha Squash is a modest source of carbohydrates, the vehicle by which serotonin gets to the brain. Serotonin is a mood regulator that makes us feel emotionally stable, less anxious. It can boost our energy and help us become more energetic.
- A hearty crumble of walnuts! Walnuts have been claimed to be the perfect good-mood food, boasting the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6, folate, and tryptophan. Deficiencies in these nutrients have been linked to depression and aggression! (source)
These aren’t all the ingredients that go into the recipe, so keep reading to learn how to transform them into a delicious dessert.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Mix together (thoroughly!) your wet ingredients into a bowl:
- 1 ripe avocado
- 2/3 cup kabocha squash
- 2 eggs or 4 egg whites
- 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey or other liquid sweetener
- vanilla extract (a splash)
- Sift together your dry ingredients:
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1/4 cup garbanzo + fava flour blend
- an extra 1/4 cup flour of choice OR a scoop of protein powder
- 1/2 cup cocoa
- 1/3 cup granulated sweetener (such as coconut sugar, stevia… pretty much whatever you like, or more/less to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- optional: cinnamon (I didn’t use this, but I think it would round out the cocoa and walnut flavors nicely.)
- Add the wet ingredients into the dry and stir well to combine.
- Pour into a 9×9 pan lined with parchment or sprayed with non-stick spray.
- Crumble on top a few handfuls of walnuts.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. They still should be fudgy and soft when you take them out of the oven!
- Enjoy! Perhaps with a scoop or two of ice cream, or crumbled on top of oatmeal or yogurt, or with a cup of hot cocoa? The options are endless!