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As long as there’s chocolate, there’s hope

No, it is not Christmas. It isn’t even winter. It’s just the only tin I had.

A few years ago, I had to stop eating everything that tastes good. One after another, food groups dropped like flies until all that was left was chicken, white rice and avocado. It was decidedly less than fun.

In retrospect, it’s possible I shouldn’t have taken everything out all at once. But I was desperate and, really, if you’re going to eliminate foods to figure out what’s causing you problems, you kind of need to go all in. Or all out, as the case may be.

I had a doctor, a naturopath and a chiropractor all recommend different diets, none of which overlapped, other than the elimination of gluten, dairy, caffeine and alcohol. Also known as the four horsemen of the digestive apocalypse. It was all in an effort to get my body back to some level of functionality after too many months of post-baby sleep deprivation, possible postpartum and likely also a gut infection. Like I said, fun times.

At the peak of my elimination frenzy, I was avoiding gluten, dairy, soy, peanuts, corn, yeast, sugar, coffee and alcohol. I feel like there was something else. Oh right, joy. I eliminated joy. I was also trying to do FODMAPs, which instructs you to avoid things like onions, apples, kale, blueberries and a host of other random, seemingly unrelated ingredients. I challenge you to find a product out there that doesn’t have at least one FODMAP no-no on the ingredient list. Lord knows, I tried.

The whole experience has given me a lot of empathy for people who can’t just eat whatever they want. It makes you crazy, sometimes, having to contemplate every morsel that passes your lips. You can’t just stop at Starbucks to grab a muffin if you’re hungry. There’s no getting an easy pass on dinner by grabbing pizza or burgers on the way home. And sometimes all you want is a freakin’ latte to get through the afternoon with some of your sanity left intact. But you make it through, because there’s an inkling of hope that you might feel human again someday.

I’m happy to say, that someday has come. I wouldn’t say I’m all the way back, but back enough that I can go to restaurants and attend dinner parties without having to tell the hosts to just feed me a rice cake. I have learned to savour decaf americanos blended with coconut oil. I have learned to enjoy a burger wrapped in lettuce. I have learned to eat chicken for breakfast.

One thing I didn’t have to learn was how to survive without baked goodies, thanks to the commitment of lot of smarter and more resourceful people than I. You could be down to five items on your dietary okay list and I’m sure someone will have found a way to make them into brownies.

Speaking of brownies, I decided to make some for a friend who’s just starting an auto-immune/paleo diet. I don’t know a whole lot about these diets other than what I googled, so hopefully these treats will fit into her protocol. If not, it’s possible other people in her house will eat them, although brownies with pumpkin and tapioca can be a tough sell with people who can still pop a Timbit without a second thought. 

Instead of writing it out, I’m being lazy and linking to the recipe. These Dense and Fudgey Chocolate Brownies were exactly as advertised. I had the boy taste a sliver and he threw a fit that I wouldn’t give him more, so I’m assuming that means they’re acceptable to a normal palate. I used cacao paste instead of unsweetened chocolate and used canned coconut milk instead of the kind she recommends. I will definitely be making them both again, just not tomorrow because it’s going to be above 30˚C and I don’t want to turn on the oven. Score one for the summer waistline.

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