Exams. At times it feels as though the past few years have solely consisted of a never-ending stream of assignments, tests, essays, and more recently, practical assessments. Perhaps I’m over exaggerating a lot tad, I mean I only spent eight weeks at uni. Though to be fair that period involved at least one 2000 word essay per week, and often more. I’m one of those people who, when an assessment is looming, goes into crazy-lunatic-overdrive mode. Am I a little obsessive? Yeah. Not something I’m proud of but I’m slowly learning to tone things down a bit. Largely because such behaviour results in stress. A lot of stress. And for me, stress equals IBS, which leads to more stress, leading to even worse IBS…you get the idea.
So with a six hour practical exam looming tomorrow morning, followed by two theory tests in the afternoon and another six hour practical on Friday, I have been trying my best to keep the stress at bay. I have recently taken up meditation classes, but there are times when you need to do something that requires a little less, well, concentration.
De-stressing tip number one – exercise. Dance/ride a bike/dust off the skipping rope – whatever floats your boat. Just go hard. I chuck on my sneakers and go for a long run or hit the cross trainer. This afternoon it was the latter (I’m a chicken and it’s cold outside), accompanied by some loud music. We all know that exercising causes you to release endorphins or “happy hormones”, but more than anything else I find it to be a great distraction. Nothing like sweating your guts out whilst trying to sing along to “I Knew You Were Trouble” at the same time, to keep your mind off things.
That leads into my second tip – distract yourself. Watch a movie, become engrossed in a book, heck even clean! Strangely despite my exams revolving around ‘Hot and Cold Desserts’ and ‘Cakes, Pastries and Yeast Goods’, I felt like baking. The simple processes of weighing, mixing and staring at the oven door willing it to cook faster provide a welcome escape from the ‘real world’.
And since I had successfully (though that’s debatable) multitasked whilst exercising, why not bake something containing calming ingredients? Definitely a case of killing two birds with one stone.
É voila! Behold my Blueberry Burst Dark Choc Crumble for one. The following points outline why you should eat it (apart from the fact that it tastes so sublime that you will want to make a double mix. All. For. Yourself).
- Walnuts – contain omega-3’s that lower cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as helping the brain to function more efficiently.
- Dark Chocolate – reduces one’s levels of the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol.
- Oats – complex carbs boost serotonin levels, helping you to relax.
- Blueberries – bursting with vitamin C that provides you with better immune system resilience. We all know that it is easy to fall sick when one is stressed.
- Vanilla ice cream/yoghurt – Dairy contains tryptophan, a hormone that raises serotonin levels and your ‘happy scale’.
Blueberry Burst Dark Choc Crumble For One
1 tbsp rolled oats
1 tbsp wholemeal flour
1 tbsp walnuts, chopped
1 tsp margarine
1 tsp maple syrup plus extra ½ tsp
Pinch desiccated coconut
Sprinkle of cinnamon
¼ cup frozen/fresh blueberries
½ tsp lemon juice
1 square 70% Lindt Chocolate, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 180C.
Combine oats and flour in a small bowl. Rub in butter with fingertips. The mixture will seem quite dry. Stir through walnuts and maple syrup.
Place blueberries in a small ramekin, drizzle with lemon juice and ½ tsp maple syrup. Crumble half of oat mixture over the blueberries, then the chopped chocolate and finish with the remaining oat mix. Sprinkle with coconut and cinnamon.
Bake 15-20 minutes or until top is browned and blueberries are ‘bubbling’.
Eat with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, yoghurt or custard.
Source: A Taste Without Waste Original.