Monday, April 15, 2013

Hazelnut brownies and my war against 'diets'

This is sort of a rant post. Why? Because I'm really sick of hearing about the newest diet that comes out every other year. The Atkins diet, the pineapple diet, the juice cleansing and the latest and most annoying, Paleolithic diet. I will say this right now, before I go on my rant. I am not a nutritionist, I am not a doctor and I have no health training other than reading literature about the chemistry of the human body.

I do however, have a good friend who is a nutritionist. I have commented with her that I am most certainly against these miracle diets that make you lose weight by eliminating a food group from your diet completely. She agrees. Now, don't take me wrong. If you're vegetarian or vegan and you have moral issues with eating certain foods, I get it. What I don't get is this idea that we should eat like the paleolithic man. Who by the way, wasn't even the same species of human we are.

Turns out that during the Paleolithic era, humans evolved from Homo Erectus, to the neanderthals and then to Homo Sapiens. Part of the human evolution was diet based. We introduced more foods to our diets and that allowed us to migrate to new regions and survive in periods of the year with less animals (meat) around. Turns out there are about 2000 years of Paleolithic history where humans started agriculture.

But wait, there's more. The paleo diet wants you to eat like a species of human that was LESS evolved than us. Had less brain capacity and shorter life expectancy. Seriously? am I the only one who finds this utterly ridiculous?

Anyway, I just don't believe in diets. I have tried them all. The Atkins, which gave me terrible results and meant I had to test my urine for compounds that in excess could be very detrimental to me. Does that sound good to you? The dissociated diet, so not mixing certain food groups with others. And so on and so forth. The result? none of them work. They all made me hungry, cranky and I didn't lose all that much weight.

You are obviously all free to do whatever you like with your body. I personally stick to eating low processed foods, local farm raised and grass fed animals (in a much lower proportion than veggies and grains) and no junk food. In combination with exercise, about 5 times a week, the result is 24 lbs lost in less than a year. I am not hungry, I am not cranky, I eat brownies, muffins, candy and whatever the hell I want. In moderation. I love carbs, I love grains and legumes. And I'm personally not about to give up any of that for a funky fad diet. I feel better than I have felt in my entire adult life.

That's my motto folks. Eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full. Exercise. If you want to control your candy/pastry intake, you can establish a rule. When it comes to baked goods, you pretty much don't eat anything you don't bake yourself.

One of my recent food changes has been to use only pure cane sugar. No refined sugar, just raw, turbinado, call it whatever you want. In my opinion, it tastes much better and the texture it gives to baked goods (and oatmeal) is much more interesting. Crunchy and with more depth of flavor. So when Madeleine at Zulka offered me to review their non-processed sugar, I was happy to do so. These brownies were made with their sugar and they have a slight crunch and almost a molasses flavor. As a disclaimer, I'll warn you that I didn't get any monetary compensation for reviewing this product. I got it for free, I tried it, I liked it and I'm letting you know about it. Pure cane sugar is the only one I've used for a few months now and Zulka is available at all major grocery stores. (Oh, the zip closure is a plus for clumsy people like me).

As I said before, I'm no doctor. I'm just offering my personal experience as a person who has struggled to lose weight her entire adult life and has managed to do so without going into radical diets. That's my five cents. And here's the recipe for hazelnut brownies. They taste almost like the hazelnut/chocolate spread you find at the store. But without all the junk. Enjoy!

Hazelnut brownies
adapted slightly from Alice Medrich

1 stick of butter
1/2 cup Zulka, or any other turbinado sugar
3/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped, plus a few for decorating

Preheat your oven to 350 F
Over a boiling water bath, melt the butter along with the sugar and cocoa powder until you have a thick but runny mixture (2nd photo). Remove the mixture from the heat and add two beaten eggs while whisking to prevent any curdling. Add the flour and hazelnuts and mix gently with a spatula. Do not overmix or the brownies will be tough. Pour the batter in a pan lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. If desired, decorate with a few whole hazelnuts. Bake for 20-30 min until a knife inserted in the brownies comes out clean. Let the brownies cool before slicing. These freeze really well.


Rosie @ Blueberry Kitchen said...

Your brownies look absolutely delicious! I'm so with you on 'The paleo diet wants you to eat like a species of human that was LESS evolved than us. Had less brain capacity and shorter life expectancy. Seriously?' I can't understand why more people aren't saying this!

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Nisha said...

omg I totally second your thoughts! just few days back i was thinking the same - what's up with these new kinds of diets coming up every year! suddenly it becomes a trend, until people revert to their normal state, lol.

good post :)

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