Singapore Cooks

Brownie points for healthy treat

Ms Lim Soo Ee says the brownie is a more convenient running snack than a banana.
Ms Lim Soo Ee says the brownie is a more convenient running snack than a banana.ST PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN
ST PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN

Teacher Lim Soo Ee's brownie recipe has chickpeas and no flour and keeps one sated for longer

Some people have a mini fridge in their bedrooms to stash their snacks, but primary school teacher Lim Soo Ee has a full-sized one in her room.

It is filled with frozen sauces, broths, cooked meats and vegetables that she makes in advance for her lunches on weekdays.

The youthful-looking 39-year- old, who teaches physical education, follows a high-protein diet that she says suits her active lifestyle.

Ms Lim, who does long-distance running and cross-fit training regularly, says she decided to buy a refrigerator earlier this year after her pre-cooked food started to take up too much space in the family fridge.

She started cooking two years ago after noticing that her "not so young" body did not recover as fast as it used to after exercising.

  • MAKE-IT-YOURSELF:
    NO-FLOUR CHICKPEA BROWNIE

  • INGREDIENTS

    425g chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained

    2 Tbs peanut butter

    5 Tbs honey

    1/4 tsp baking powder

    1/4 tsp baking soda

    2 tsp vanilla extract

    1/2 tsp sea salt

    3 Tbs dark chocolate chips

    METHOD

    1. Preheat oven to 175 deg C.

    2. In a pot set over medium heat, add soaked chickpeas and cover with water. Boil for 45 minutes to one hour, until soft. Strain the chickpeas and let them cool for 30 minutes.

    3. Place chickpeas, peanut butter and honey in a food processor and let it run until the ingredients form a paste.

    4. Add baking powder, baking soda, vanilla extract and sea salt into the mixture and process for one minute.

    5. Line a 33cm-by-23cm baking tray with parchment paper.

    6. With a spatula, spread the batter on the baking tray evenly till it forms a rectangular block about 0.5cm thick.

    7. Scatter chocolate chips and sea salt, to taste, on the batter. Bake for 20 minutes till the sides of the brownie turn brown.

    8. Take out baking tray and let brownie cool for 10 minutes before cutting it up into squares. Serve.

    Serves 10

"I felt lethargic and had muscle aches that would last for days," she says.

The taekwondo instructor started scouring the Internet for cooking videos featuring protein-rich recipes. She cooks five times a week, making dishes such as steamed chicken with roasted root vegetables, roast milk-soaked chicken and miso soup with beancurd.

She also rolls out bite-sized treats for breakfast or snacks to munch on between classes, such as oat cakes and no-flour chickpea brownies.

The unconventional brownie does not use typical ingredients such as flour, milk, butter, eggs and sugar.

Instead of flour, the base is mashed chickpeas, which is rich in protein and fibre. The legume is digested more slowly and does not cause drastic spikes in blood sugar levels.

She also replaces sugar with honey and uses organic peanut butter to bind the mixture.

She says the taste and texture of the chickpea brownie may take some time getting used to. It is dense and crumbly and not too sweet.

The brownie, she says, is a good alternative to deceptively healthy snacks such as cereal bars, which are "loaded with sugar and preservatives".

These brownies were her fuel for two gruelling Spartan Races that she completed here and in Kuala Lumpur this year.

For each race, she completed more than 20 activities, including lifting 8kg sandbags, scaling 2m-tall walls and carrying buckets filled with rocks.

She came in second in the Singapore race and third in the Malaysia one and clocked slightly more than two hours for the two races combined.

The oldest of three children of a community healthcare assistant and a housewife says: "The brownie makes for a more convenient energy-booster than carrying a banana to eat while running."

Her recent success in the obstacle races has spurred her to take part in more of them.

Ms Lim, who is single, says: "I cannot keep still. I love the adrenaline rush of challenging my body in these urban playgrounds."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 27, 2015, with the headline ' Brownie points for healthy treat'. Print Edition | Subscribe