Blue[berry] Monday

Ignorance is bliss. I didn’t even realise today was the most depressing day of the year but while reading about it online I found an article promoting a good use for the 26th of January 2015. Let’s use today to create awareness about all mental health illnesses.

I energy exchange at my local yoga studio and this week we are running two classes in support of Bell Let’s Talk, a campaign geared to ending the stigma associated with mental health illnesses. I did a certificate in counselling and psychotherapy, so talking about mental wellbeing isn’t something I shy away from but not everyone feels comfortable talking about it. This makes it really hard for people who have mental health illnesses, because what they need more than anything is support and empathy.

So how can you get involved? See if there are any events happening locally and take part in them, so you too can be part of the conversation. Educate yourself, ask questions and listen.

There are times where we feel down, this is beautifully human. Sometimes I need to feel sad, instead of fighting it I embrace it and work through those emotions and emerge feeling much better. If you ever feel like your down days are not just a passing phase, don’t stop yourself from reaching out. It is so important to talk to someone who will be able to give you the support and advice you need.

I’ve found that when I don’t eat well or workout I start to feel terrible, tired and quite out of sorts. While there are many mental illnesses that need more attention than better food choices and exercise, for most of us, leading a healthy lifestyle can do wonders for our mental wellbeing.

I kicked off my day with an uplifting smoothie. This one has all the right things to turn that frown upside down. Blueberries have a purple pigment called anthocyanin, so as well as being a heart-healthy antioxidant, they are wonderful mood enhancers. For good measure, I added flax (as low levels of Omega-3 can throw you off), and magnesium-rich cashew butter and chia seeds, both are also great mood enhancers.

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(Serves 1)

A big handful of blueberries
1tbsp ground flax
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 cup of nut milk
1tbsp cashew butter
1tsp chia seeds

Blitz the blueberries and flax with the water and pour into your glass.

Clean out the blender, and then blend your milk with the cashew butter and chia seeds.

Create a layer effect by taking a teaspoon and place it on the rim of the glass. Pour the milk slowly into the glass over the teaspoon. See this image.

(Or you can just blend the whole lot together, layering is optional.)

“Fudged” Brownies

I am not kidding when I say “fudged.” These beauties may have the texture of a fudge brownie but have the potent health benefits of dates, the antioxidant properties of cacao and healing buckwheat. I have been on a mission to make the perfect healthy brownie, moist, rich and chewy. While I am still not quite there, these creations along the way are a far cry from a botch job. In fact, the whole endeavour has been so mouthwatering, I am quite happy to keep trying.

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3/4 cup warm water
8 Medjool dates
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup cacao
2 eggs, beaten (or vegan alternate)
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2tsp baking powder
1/8tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F and grease a tin (I used a loaf tin).

Soften dates in half a cup of the warm water, then pulse in a chopper in the liquid until smooth and set aside.

To make your “fudge” melt the sugar and coconut oil in 1/4 cup of water on the lowest heat until all the sugar has dissolved. Add cacao and dates and mix well and let it cool.

When the fudge has cooled, mix in the eggs so you get a smooth and glossy mixture.

Mix flour, baking powder and cinnamon and fold into the “fudge.” Pour into tin and bake for 35-40 minutes.