It’s been one of those “throes-of-teething, no-sleep-for-mama” kind of weeks here at the homestead. I’ve been running on fumes and coffee, and feeling a lot like Winnie the Pooh. For two reasons – first, my brain seems to have been replaced with wool. This morning I opened the freezer door to pull out some chops for dinner – and discovered the milk, which I had apparently shoved in there instead of the fridge, when I was up in the night. Oops.
The sleep deprivation has also made me hungry, so I’ve been constantly on the prowl for “a little something sweet”. You know, “a smackerel,” as the silly old bear would say.
I broke down today, and made a big batch of these dark chocolate pecan haystacks. They’re my fave. And they’re oh-so-easy. Like seven minutes start to finish easy. Okay, make that ten, if you happen to have a two year old helper.
What I love about these, is that they’re just the right harmony of bittersweet, and crinkly crunchy. And since the chocolate is really dark (I’m a big fan of 85-90% myself), they’re pretty low in sugar, and don’t leave me with any of that sugar rush (and crash!) that even many honey-sweetened, paleo-friendly treats can. They’re just sweet enough to make me feel I’ve indulged.
And really, I think I can make an argument for calling these brain food. I mean, hear me out on this one…Those wonderful medium-chain triglycerides in the coconut get converted to ketone bodies by our liver mitochondria – which then have a powerful healing and stimulating effect on the brain. Pecans are extremely high in antioxidants – they have the highest levels of any tree nut, and are in the top 15 antioxidant containing foods according to the USDA.
And then there’s the chocolate. As long as we’re talking about good dark chocolate (at least 70%, but the higher the percentage, the better), it offers so many wonderful benefits to the brain. The flavonoids it contains have profound neuroprotective effects, prolonging the lifespan of neurons, and increasing the plasticity of synapses. Those flavonoids are also believed to increase blood flow to the brain, resulting in better memory and problem solving ability. And chocolate contains methylxanthines, plant-produced compounds that have been shown to improve concentration levels. I definitely need me some of that, right about now.
So, in case you need a reason to feel righteous about indulging with me, we’re going to say we’re doing it in the name of brain health. ; )