Be smart about your new start: Vegan slutty brownies

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2015 is fast approaching. A new year and fresh start only means one thing – it’s time to start making resolutions. I’m in two minds about new years resolutions: in one sense they give us a chance to turn over a new leaf but they also make us set unreasonable goals that fill us with a feeling failure when we inevitable break them mid-way through January. My resolutions have been pretty much the same for the last 5 years, to wake up at an adult-like time in the morning. I can safely say that I have maintained a steady average of 11 am wake ups since school ended. I have resigned myself to the fact that I am never going to be a morning person, but each new year I make another failed attempt to change this, only to feel like a failure when I don’t meet my goal.

New years resolutions usually involve some sort of plan to eat healthier, give up a certain food or start exercising. They are a great opportunity to start a health regime but it’s important to not beat yourself up if you don’t manage to stick to it. Researchers at Harvard have realised that we are bad at setting reasonable goals, and complied a list of  reasons why they may fail. 200 Americans who planned to make New Year’s resolutions were tested and checked over two years. The most common ones were to lose weight, stop smoking, drink less and save more money (apparently I’m the only one who can’t wake up on time). After a week, 77% were still on track. After a month, only 55% stuck to their goals and only 19% after two years. This post isn’t supposed to deter you from making resolutions, but to help identify ways to make them more realistic and attainable.

Goals are often absolute – They leave no room for inevitable slip ups so you feel like you’ve let yourself down at the first hurdle. If you want to eat healthier in 2015, don’t give up just because you have pizza night. We are only human and none is perfect, if you can keep to your resolution only part of the time it’s better than giving up completely!

They are largely negative – In the study, people tended to focus on things they dislike about themselves and want to change. The use of willpower and self control were the most helpful strategies related to positive outcome. More negative strategies like self-blame and wishful thinking lead to worse outcomes. This is largely because negative strategies elicits feelings of failure and self-loathing, rather than motivation and self-worth. If you make yourself feel bad about breaking the resolution, it’s a lot harder to stay motivated to fulfil your goals. For example, instead of saying you want to lose weight and hating your body, frame it in a positive way and aim to eat healthier.

They are focused on the outcome and not the process – Saying ‘I want to get a job’ is a great long term goal but it’s pretty abstract, without focusing on how to achieve it. Split resolutions into smaller, achievable parts that build up to a long-term goal. These functions to help you make small successes and reward yourself along the way to a wider goal.

I hope these insights can help to make your new years resolutions a little less daunting and a little more achievable. This year I’m going to stop feeling bad about sleeping my way through alarms and focus on how to enjoy my daytime hours instead!

For all those wanted to be healthier without giving up delicious flavours, here is a guilt-free recipe for vegan slutty brownies that won’t make you feel like you’ve failed.

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For the brownies:

1 can black beans, well rinsed and drained

2 large eggs (or flax eggs for vegans)

1 tbsp coconut oil, melted (or other oil of choice)

3/4 cup cocoa powder (the higher quality the better)

1/4 tsp sea salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup caster sugar

1. Preheat the over to 200 and grease a baking tin.

2. Add all ingredients to a food processor until smooth, add a splash of water if too thick (should look a bit like icing)

3. Pour into the baking tray and bake for 20-25mins until cooked all the way through. Cool for 30mins

To make them slutty ( cookie dough):

1 cup oats (use gluten-free oats as required)

2 ripe bananas

3 tbsp agave syrup (or honey)

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup chocolate chips

1. Pulse the oats in a food processor until they look like flour

2. Mix all the ingredients apart from the chocolate chips in the food processor

3. Stir in the chocolate chips

3. Set in fridge for 10mins. Then roll out the dough and add it to the top of the cool brownies.

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