I guess most people who read this blog are in agreement with me that to eat as locally as possible is a good thing. The reduction in the use of fossil fuels needed to move food across long distances is good for the planet, the injection of funds to regional growers and producers is good for the local economy and food that is consumed as close as possible to it’s source of production is fresher, with less deterioration in the available nutrients, making it more beneficial and healthy to eat. So – it’s all good! However, trying to eat an exclusively local diet, depending upon what climatic region you live in, will probably lead to tears of boredom before bedtime. Here in South Australia there are a wealth of foods that we grow, and grow very well, but there are plenty that, for economic or prevailing local weather condition reasons, we don’t. I love good food and am not really prepared to go without a lot of the goodies that I can’t source locally, so when I’m choosing what food my family are to eat I look at local produce first and then fill in the gaps with the next nearest available source.
When it comes to vegetables, one of my particular favourites are sweet potatoes, which are not grown here in South Australia at all. Needing a consistently good rainfall, average temperatures of 24C and no frost, sweet potatoes are grown on the eastern seaboard all year round in Australia, with Queensland responsible for 80% of the total national crop. Besides tasting fantastic, sweet potatoes are seriously nutrient-dense, being rich in complex carbohydrate, fibre, beta carotene and vitamins C and B6 and, although naturally sweet, some recent studies suggest they may help to stabilize blood sugar levels and lower insulin resistance. Sweet potatoes are believed to have originated in in Central or South America where they have been cultivated domestically for thousands of years – interestingly close to another vegetable product that is very dear to my heart – the cacao bean. This is about to get quite interesting so stick with me here, please folks!
A couple of weeks ago I came across an unusual recipe by the award-winning baker, Dan Lepard, in the food section of the online version of The Guardian. Creator of some of the most reliable and delicious baking recipes I have ever used, Dan had used sweet potato as a partial sugar and fat substitute in some wickedly dark and delicious looking brownies. The thought of combining two of my favourite ingredients and possibly slipping an extra serving of vegetables into the resident and perpetually sugar and carb craving kids was a challenge I was keen to take on and Dan didn’t let me down. These brownies are devilishly dark, rich, moist, fudgy and all gone – and my little loves have no idea what made them taste so great!
The original recipe is here, but I made mine in the Thermomix so I have included my conversion. These could just as easily be made in any food processor, really.
Dan Lepard’s Sweet Potato Brownies – Thermomix conversion
- 200 gm cooked sweet potato
- 200 gm Dark chocolate (I used 70%)
- 100 gm butter
- 125 gm brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 100 gm plain flour
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 100 gm roughly chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven 160C. Grease and line brownie pan.
- Bake sweet potato in skin until very soft, cool. Scrape out flesh.
- Place chocolate in TM, grind speed 7/10 seconds.
- Add butter, melt at 60C speed 1/3 minutes.
- Add sweet potato flesh and brown sugar, mix speed 5/10 seconds.
- Add eggs and vanilla, mix speed 5/10 seconds.
- Add flour and baking powder, mix speed 5/10 seconds.
- Add nuts, Reverse speed 3/5 seconds.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes.
- Cool in pan before cutting.