This is not only a recipe post, but a message to all girls.
Some girls have the habit of rejecting dessert, counting calories to a T, avoiding certain whole foods like coconut, nuts or avocados for the sole goal of “I don’t want to look fat.” What I find even more disturbing is the number of slim girl friends saying that they are “fat”, and the increasing number of eating disorders among young girls in recent years.
Firstly I’d like to question, with my usual frankness that’s notorious among my friends:
- Why do you want to avoid being “fat”?
- Is being bigger than “normal size” a bad thing?
- Do you think there even should be a “normal size”?
- Are you truly happy counting calories everyday?
My take on this is very simple:
- Humans have survived millions of years thanks to genetic diversity. A smaller body that lived in a warm climate would not have survived well in a winter climate compared to a larger body. A larger body could be better at intimidating away predators than a smaller one.
- Fast forward to modern times, body size was suddenly assigned positive or negative values purely based on appearance.
- In most developed countries, anything that jiggles is bad. In some developing places, like my family’s hometown in North China, a bigger body = richer pocket = promises financial security (for men) and in good health to bear children (for women).
- Your body is a result of the complex and practical evolutionary story – there’s no good and bad to your size. Diversity is to be celebrated and there should not be a “normal size” as a benchmark to judge yourself against.
Whole foods that contain good fats like nuts, seeds, avocados etc, are incredibly good for us when taken in suitable amounts. As long as you’re eating whole foods roughly 80% of the time, moving regularly and getting enough rest, I believe our bodies are smart enough to regulate our metabolism well.
For the other 20% of the time, enjoy your favourite coconut-rich curry cooked by grandma, don’t say no to the piece of cake at a party and indulge in those pineapple tarts when they come once a year.
Life’s too short to reject a bite of fudgy, moist brownies, especially if they are egg-free, dairy-free, hydrogenated oils-free and refined sugar-free. Here’s my favourite chocolate brownie recipe. Treat yourself well!
Vegan dark chocolate brownies
- 2 cups flour, sieved (If you want to use whole wheat, reduce the amount of flour and increase the amount of non-dairy milk.)
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon powder
Preheat oven to 200C. Mix all together into a large bowl, make a hole in the centre and leave aside.
- 1 cup raw sugar
- ¼ cup molasses
- 1 cup plant oil (I used grapeseed oil, avoid using strong flavoured ones like olive or coconut.)
- 1 tbsp black coffee
- 1 tsp vanilla extract/paste
- 1 and ¼ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used coconut milk.)
- 15g – 20g dark chocolate (at least 70%. More or less is fine, depending on preference)
- ½ cup vegan chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life, for cheaper but lower quality chips, go for the dark chocolate chips at Phoon Huat)
Melt the dark chocolate in the non-dairy milk over low heat. Whisk sugar, molasses and oil together in a medium bowl until combined. Add coffee, vanilla, non-dairy milk and chocolate mixture and mix till a smooth paste.
Pour wet mixture into dry mix. Using a spatula, mix until just combined then add chocolate chips. Sprinkle some chocolate chips onto the surface. Line a pan with baking paper. Pour mixture into pan and use spatula to flatten it out evenly. Bake for 15 – 20 mins, until a fork inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove, let cool in pan for 1 minute before transferring onto rack. Cool completely before cutting. Note: a longer baking time will result in a crumblier brownie, a shorter time makes a fudgy brownie.
If fitting into society’s skewed ideas of beauty is making you unhappy, re-evaluate your goals. Pursue physical and mental health rather than a weight. A strong body and mind can do much more than just getting the look you wanted. Don’t gauge your worth on how you look, but how you feel.
This message from me was inspired by my friend Allison from New York. Allison has a brand inspired by China’s strong women, called 女汉子 pronounced as Nü3 Han4 Zi4 in Chinese. Although frowned upon especially by guys, I identify as a Nühanzi as I grew up among strong women. My grandmother fought for her right to enroll in university while her father wanted her to stay on the farm to raise pigs. My aunt overcame domestic abuse and is now running a business in China. My mother mocked for her poor English when we just arrived in Singapore and used that as the driving force to successfully climb up the corporate ladder. She has never cushioned her opinions and I got my frankness from her. To the guys that criticised me for being too direct, sorry not sorry, it just runs in the family!
Imagine how thrilled I was to receive Nühanzi’s tops (now my Muay Thai class’ go-to tank) and necklaces! Some proceeds from her necklace will go to the MoreThanMe organisation, helping to build all-girls, tuition free schools in Liberia. Check them out and support a good cause for all girls.