Not feeling at all well this week. I had a serious bronchial, chesty cough and felt really under the weather All of my great New Year resolutions about healthy eating have gone out the window. I need energy fast and that means chocolate. I am a strong believer that we crave what we need, so I simply must be deficient in chocolate. I even found this article on Net Doctor, although it may be a bit far fetched.
“A study published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal has shown that eating chocolate could have a positive effect in reducing cough symptoms. The study showed that an ingredient in chocolate, called theobromine, was more effective at stopping persistent coughs than common cough treatments. There’s one study that’s shown some links. But the benefit may well only be due to the sweetness of the chocolate rather than anything else,’ says Professor Eccles. This stimulates salivation and mucus secretion that helps relieve cough symptoms.'”
Rather than eat large mouthfuls of the cooking chocolate straight out of the fridge, I decided to make a chocolate brownie, and so as not to give up on all my good resolutions quite yet, I decided to add some healthy beetroot from my veg box.
There is absolutely no doubt, beetroot is super good for you –
1. Lower Your Blood Pressure
Drinking beet juice may help to lower blood pressure in a matter of hours. One study found that drinking one glass of beet juice lowered systolic blood pressure by an average of 4-5 points. The benefit likely comes from the naturally occurring nitrates in beets, which are converted into nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide, in turn, helps to relax and dilate your blood vessels, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure.
2. Boost Your Stamina
If you need a boost to make it through your next workout, beet juice may again prove valuable. Those who drank beet juice prior to exercise were able to exercise for up to 16 percent longer. The benefit is thought to also be related to nitrates turning into nitric oxide, which may reduce the oxygen cost of low-intensity exercise as well as enhance tolerance to high-intensity exercise.
3. Fight Inflammation
Beets are a unique source of betaine, a nutrient that helps protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress. It’s also known to help fight inflammation, protect internal organs, improve vascular risk factors, enhance performance, and likely help prevent numerous chronic diseases.
4. Anti-Cancer Properties
The powerful phytonutrients that give beets their deep crimson colour may help to ward off cancer. Research has shown that beetroot extract reduced multi-organ tumour formations in various animal models when administered in drinking water, for instance, while beetroot extract is also being studied for use in treating human pancreatic, breast, and prostate cancers.
5. Rich in Valuable Nutrients and Fibre
Beets are high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fibre, and essential minerals like potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function) and manganese (which is good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas). Beets also contain the B vitamin folate, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects.
6. Detoxification Support
The betalin pigments in beets support your body’s Phase 2 detoxification process, which is when broken down toxins are bound to other molecules so they can be excreted from your body. Traditionally, beets are valued for their support in detoxification and helping to purify your blood and your liver.
So as you see, it is just what the doctor ordered!
Chocolate and Beetroot Brownie
This is particularly delicious with a dollop of clotted cream. Riverford do a very good one.
250g dark chocolate, chopped
200g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
350g beetroot, about 2 medium sized
200g golden caster sugar
50g cocoa powder,
50g rice flour (ground rice)
1 teaspoon baking powder
100g ground almonds
Preheat the oven to 180C. Wrap the beetroot in tin foil and put in the oven for about 45 minutes. They are cooked when a skewer inserts and removes very easily. Remove the tin foil and allow to cool for 10 minutes or so. Slip the skins off, whilst still warm. (Wear surgical gloves if you have some.) Meanwhile put the chocolate and butter in a large bowl and place it over a pan of simmering water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the base of the bowl. Leave to melt. Alternatively, heat in the microwave for 2 minutes.
Purée the cooked beetroot in a food processor. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla and sugar, and mix until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, rice flour, baking powder and ground almonds. Whiz up and then mix in the melted chocolate and butter.
Turn the oven down to 170C. Butter and then line with baking parchment a preferably rectangular tin, roughly 28 x 18cm. (I used a round one.) Pour in the mixture and place in the and bake for 30–35 minutes, until just firm to the touch. It’s important not to overcook brownies; a skewer inserted in the centre should come out only just clean. Leave to cool in the tin and then cut into squares.