Happy Valentine’s day! I’ve just been invited to a wedding in Morocco this year, which I’m super-excited about. Not only are the couple beautiful people and great friends, but Morocco is one of my favourite places on earth. I find it incredibly romantic: from the dappled light of latterns, the intoxicating scents of rose and orange blossom, and the mysteriousness of the medina – that labyrinth of tiny streets so easy to lose yourself in. With this in mind I was inspired to create a Moroccan themed healthy treat to celebrate Valentine’s day. Although, these must be eaten all year round!
The magic Moroccan ingredient in these brownies is Orange Blossom water. Just closing my eyes and smelling it takes me straight back to Marrakech. It’s easy to find here in Manchester as the Asian supermarkets tend to have a good selection of Arab products. Dates and pistachios are also common ingredients found in Moroccan cooking, and the brownies are decorated with rose petals.
I’ve enjoyed creating this recipe, doing the shoot, and finally getting back to creating content again so much. I’ve taken a very reluctant break from blogging due to some pretty significant house repairs. I’ve had workmen in muddy boots traipsing in and out and much of my house has unusable. I’ve spent a lot of time camped out in my bedroom. Not an easy thing to do with a 10-month old. My routine has been majority disrupted, and it felt like the best think to do was bunker down and get through it. Which involved resorting to a lot of reality tv to escape my present reality! I normally watch a lot of tv as any free time I squeeze in around Zahra is spent creating content. Which has made me reflect on how much I love blogging, the creative outlet it gives me, and the opportunity to feel like myself in the all-consuming role of motherhood. It even gets me out of bed at 5am.
Life purpose is one of the nine essential practices discovered in the ‘Blue Zones’ – those areas in the world where people live the longest healthiest lives. The root cause of much unhappiness is due to lacking a purpose in life. Add to this the obligation to turn up every day to a job you hate. But that job becomes more bearable when you have a mission or passion outside of this. You might feel fulfilled by raising children, a hobby or sport, whatever it is, it’s something that makes you feel alive and inspired. There’s much emphasis on finding happiness, but ‘inspired’ is a pretty good place to be too.
I used to find a lot of inspiration in weekend print media, which kind of shows my age- long before the days of Pinterest. I would obsessively cut out articles and save them in files and folders. One was the original National Geographic article on the Blue Zones. It’s incredible how much influence this has on my life today 15 years later. Another article I’ve kept for many years was based on the experience of a nurse in palliative care, you may be familiar with the book: The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing.
The most common regret is this: I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. A life where people followed their dreams and deepest desires. Bronnie Ware puts it like this:
“This is the most common regret of all, when people realise that their life is almost over and they look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made or not made”
So whatever it is you love in life, don’t be afraid to pursue your dreams because you were trying to please your partner, or your family and friends didn’t approve. Or worst of all, fear of what people on social media will think of you.
Moroccan Unbaked Chocolate Brownies
- 10 Medjool dates (around 200g) stones removed
- 50 g Pistachio nuts, plus a few extra for decoration
- 2 tbsp Almond nut butter
- 2 tbsp Cacao
- 1 tbsp Coconut oil
- 1 tbsp Orange blossom water
- 1 tbsp Maple syrup (optional for added sweetness)
- 100 g Dark chocolate
- 2 tbsp Coconut cream
- Put the pistachio nuts into a food processor and blend until they are broken down into small pieces. Set aside a couple of tbsp for decoration
- Add all other ingredients and blend into a paste
- Roll out the paste with a rolling pin and place in the refrigerator whilst you make the topping
- Melt the chocolate and coconut cream in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water
- Remove the brownies from the fridge and pour over the topping. Add pistachio nuts to decorate. Return to the fridge until the topping is set. Cut into small squares for the prettiest dessert