Food to make you happy, part 1: Baked French Toast and Warm Raspberry Compote with a Seed and Nut Brittle

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Physical anomalies like lethargy, back pain and brain fatigue are an habitual experience for a large percentage of the Irish population and are routinely disregarded as common place. It’s only when other symptoms present such as shortness of breath, weight fluctuation, insomnia, headaches and even more alarming, reduced libido that we begin piecing things together…..STRESS has become Ireland’s neoteric epidemic and if left unchecked can contribute to far more serious and chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes!

I can’t remember where I read this, but I repeat it often to remind myself of our personal responsibility to how we feel; “All situations are neutral, its how we respond to them that counts”. If we react negatively to a situation our body will respond accordingly; signals stimulate the adrenal glands to produce adrenalin; our fight or flight antagonist. Immediately, stores of glucose are released into the blood resulting in increased heart rate and rapid breathing putting huge demands on our heart and lungs, even our pancreas and liver are distracted from their regular maintenance to produce insulin and glucagon to help control the blood sugar racing around our system. This can actually happen ten or twenty times a day, depending on your ability to deal with stressful situations……no wonder everyone is soooooo exhausted!!

So if your one of the many now suffering from either adrenal exhaustion or chronic bouts of brain fatigue, please read on: some of the solution is in the food we eat; nourish the mind and heal the body people. ♥

My first recipe in this series of stress busting antidotes is Baked French Toast and Warm Raspberry Compote with a Seed and Nut Brittle: Yummy!

This recipe is a brunch must, not only because it taste gorgeous, but because it’s so good for you! The compote is made from fresh raspberries which I believe are mother natures sugar; they are flagrantly sweet with a subtly tart overtone which pairs beautifully with baked french toast. The bread is jam-packed full of linseed, millet, poppy-seeds and rye; this combination of seeds and grains will ensure the slow release of sugar into the blood, which means you will feel fuller for longer, therefore less hungry! My brittle recipe is an elite blend of brown linseed, blanched almonds, chopped walnuts and hazel nuts; adding these ingredients to any meal will not only support digestion and prevent weight gain but also provide you with the all important EFS’s; essential fatty acids. These little gems are reported to improve intelligence, reduce aggression and enhance mood…ahhhh serenity at last!

The sweetener chosen for this recipe is Agave. Agave syrup is a real sugar, unrefined and untreated. It is produced from the Blue Agaves that thrive in the volcanic soils of Southern Mexico,  and is a storeroom favourite among foodies trying to reduce their glycemic load.

Gi is a modern concept and was developed by Dr. David J. Jenkins in the early 80’s while researching the relationship between food and diabetes. The glycemic index is a clever way of measuring the relative impact of foods on blood sugar levels. ‘High’ Gi foods release quickly into the blood stream, triggering the release of the hormone insulin. ‘Low’ Gi foods, such as agave are slow releasing which provide sweetness without the unpleasant “sugar rush”.

It’s all genius if you ask me, I follow a Gi diet more by default as I simply prefer whole foods to refined ones. Where it has helped me, is understanding the simply chemistry behind the food we eat and its impact on our health and wellbeing; making better food choices can change how we look, how we function and how we feel…so go on, get happy, make yourself some french toast this weekend x

Recipe creation: Caroline Murray
Food styling and photography: Caroline Murray
Prep/cooking time: 50 minutes
Serves: 4

Baked French Toast

Ingredients

  • 5 freerange eggs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Salt to taste
  • 8 thick slices of multi grain bread
  • Zest of 1 orange

Preparation

  1. Beat together the eggs, milk, and cinnamon in a bowl.
  2. Whisk in the orange zest and pour the mixture into a shallow bowl.
  3. Dip the bread into the egg mixture, allowing each slice to soak up some of the mixture. (5 minutes per slice).
  4. Pre heat the fan oven at 180C.
  5. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and lightly spray with sunflower oil.
  6. Lay the soaked bread on the parchment paper and place into the oven for 20minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and serve with warm raspberry compote and seed and nut brittle (see recipes below).
Warm Raspberry Compote

Ingredients

  • 200g (7oz) of fresh raspberries, rinsed
  • 3 tbsp agave
  • 100ml of water
  • Juice of ½ lemon

Preparation

  1. Combine the agarve and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring continuously until the syrup has completely dissolved.
  2. Add the lemon juice and raspberries to the saucepan and cook for a further 2 minutes on a low heat until the compote has a syrup consistency.
Seed and Nut Brittle

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp agave
  • ½ cup of brown linseed
  • 1 cup of  blanched almonds and coarsely chopped hazel nuts and walnuts
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Zest of 1 orange

Preparation

  1. Combine ½ the agave and the linseed into a bowl, mix until well coated.
  2. Add remaining nuts, cinnamon, salt, and orange zest.
  3. Add the remainder of the agarve and mix well.
  4. Spread mixture on the parchment paper (1/2 inch deep) and bake in the middle of the oven at 180C for 15 minutes.
  5. Check after 7/8min that it’s not burning, rotate parchment paper if it is browning too much on one side.
  6. Remove from the oven and leave it to cool. Don’t worry if the brittle doesn’t seem set, it will become crunchy goodness 10 minutes out of the oven.
  7. When set, peel off and break over the baked french toast and raspberry compote.

TIP: Store the remaining brittle in an air tight jar, but be warned, it will not last long. Combine with yogurt (Glenilen Farm if you can…totally addictive) and muslie in the morning, or if in a rush, just grab a handful and eat on the run!

 
I hope you enjoy this recipe, I know I loved making it and as always, the eating of it!
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