How to Fuel Your Fitness in 2018

If you’ve resolved to get fitter in 2018 and embarked on a running programme, now is the time to take an honest look at your diet. Are you fuelling your body with the right foods? Do you eat plenty of nutrient-packed fresh foods, or are you relying on too many sugary snacks and fast foods?

There’s overwhelming evidence from scientific studies that a good fuelling strategy can improve your stamina, recovery and performance. Better still, it can also make your running feel easier.

In The Runner’s Cookbook, I explain how to eat to optimise your performance. Grounded in scientific evidence, this part nutrition guide and part cookbook, shows you how to fuel your body. You don’t have to be an Olympic runner to benefit; whether you’re training for your first marathon or just looking to improve your Parkrun time, my tips will help you gain the confidence to create delicious, nourishing meals that will support your training goals.

One of the biggest mistakes new runners make is buying lots of supplements, in the belief they’ll help them run faster! The truth is the vast majority won’t – and could even be dangerous! In The Runner’s Cookbook, I debunk the myths about supplements and give you evidence-based nutrition advice on fuelling before, during and after running, guidance on hydration and weight loss, and how to prepare for 5k, 10k, half marathons, marathons and ultra races.

You’ll also find more than 100 delicious easy-to-make recipes, including breakfasts, salads, main meals, vegetarian main meals, desserts and snacks – that match the nutritional needs of runners. They combine tasty nutrient-packed ingredients to fuel your running and promote recovery.

Turkey Pilaf

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This simple one-pot dish made from turkey, rice and vegetables and served with yogurt really ticks off all the food groups. It provides an ideal mix of protein and carbs along with antioxidant-rich vegetables – just what you need for rapid post-run recovery. You can substitute chicken breast or thigh fillets for the turkey and frozen broad beans or green beans for the broccoli.




Serves 4

  • 2 tbsp light olive oil or rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, washed and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 400g (14oz) turkey breast steaks, cut into 1cm strips
  • 2 tbsp medium curry paste
  • 200g (7oz) brown basmatic rice
  • 500ml (18fl oz) chicken stock (or 1 chicken stock cube dissolved in 500ml boiling water)
  • 1 head (300g) broccoli, broken into florets
  • 100g (3.5oz) frozen peas
  • A handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
  • To serve: Plain Greek yogurt

Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan over a medium heat, add the onion and leek and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and turkey and continue cooking for a further 2–3 minutes.

Stir in the curry paste, rice and stock. Bring to the boil, cover and cook on a low heat for 25 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid.

Stir in the broccoli, continue to cook for five minutes, then add the peas and continue cooking for a further five minutes, adding a little more stock or water if necessary.

Stir in the parsley, season to taste and serve topped with a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt.


For more delicious recipes pick up your copy of Anita Bean’s The Runner’s Cookbook (available at a discount from 

Anita is also the author of The Vegetarian Athlete’s Cookbook (available here).

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Arthritis: Where Do I Start?

Arthritis can be either be due to age or previous injury and called osteoarthritis (OA) or inflammatory in nature and called rheumatoid arthritis (RA).  They are very different conditions, but practical and simple tips can help manage both.

OA: is a condition experienced by many with both good days and bad. There is no cure and helps if you understand that it is part of the natural ageing process, like grey hair and wrinkles on the inside! Some people have more symptoms than others.

RA: is a condition that is caused by your body’s immune system being unable to control inflammation and can affect joints as well as other parts of the body.


Whether you have osteoarthritis or RA, regular gentle exercise can improve the range of movement in a joint and ease stiffness. Movement puts changing pressures through the cartilage and the joint, which helps the circulation and the synovial fluid to ‘oil’ the joint. In RA this may not be true if the cartilage is severely damaged or eroded. Everyone has heard the ‘no pain no gain theory’, but this will do little to encourage you to exercise and step onto the path to personal fitness. Some people do nothing, or fear that exercise will make them feel worse; others do too much and feel terrible. Your personality and experience of exercise will influence how you react. Exercise doesn’t have to hurt, and physical pain can be avoided if you exercise within your ability. However, it can be hard at first to change your habits and become disciplined with a commitment to exercise! You should expect muscular aches after exercise, but pain can and should be avoided.


  • Know your limitations and pace yourself. This will prevent a ‘boom or bust’ cycle and keep you active on good days and bad. Little and often is best in all activities.
  • Exercise is key to keep your muscles strong and flexible to support and protect your joints.
  • Find an exercise you enjoy and make it part of your lifestyle. Exercise should be like cleaning your teeth, performed daily and regarded as a form of maintenance for muscle health.
  • Use ice packs on hot swollen joints. 10 minutes at regular intervals when in pain or an inflammatory flare up. Before and after exercise can also ease symptoms.
  • Use heat packs for aching joints that are not swollen or in a ‘flare up’.


Paula Coates is a Chartered Physiotherapist who works as Clinical lead and Audit and triage lead within the NHS. She treats both NHS and private patients with complex long term conditions and sports and spinal injuries. She has also published books on the long term management of back pain, diabetes and running injuries. Her book Exercise your way to health: Arthritis has been chosen for the Reading Well for long term conditions scheme.

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Beat the Heat

Britain is recovering from a heatwave and that’s great if you’ve been paddling in the sea but not so hot if you’re heading out for a four-hour cycle over rolling terrain. We all know this will be a brief break from cooler climes but the riders who’ll do battle with the Tour de France, which this year starts in Germany on 1 July, will face extreme temperatures for a significant chunk of the 3,540km tromp to Paris. Cycling performance plummets once dehydration levels reach over 2%. This is multiplied in a race comprising 21 stages. It’s why every team will have their own hydration strategies, designed to keep Froome, Contador and Quintana pedalling at their optimum…

Focus on Electrolytes


Riders have been known to sweat over 11 litres during a long, mountainous stage. Fail to hydrate properly and the riders’ blood thickens, heart rate rises and speed drops. That’s not only a huge amount of fluid but also of vital electrolytes like sodium. Sodium’s essential for the body to retain water, and is why teams will plop an electrolyte tablet into their bottles come a hot day and tweak their protocol. For instance, instead of adding 40g energy-giving carbohydrate into the normal two bottles, they’ll dilute carbs to 20g over an hourly four bottles and add electrolytes. Not only will the rider enjoy the same carbohydrate levels, they’ll replenish sodium stores. This sounds simple but strategies like this will be practised beforehand and in the labs to ensure the rider’s stomachs can cope.

Willing Water Carrier

These practices are meticulous. Bottles are kept in fridges that nestle in the boots of the directeur sportifs’ (DS) cars. One of the domestiques will call back to the DS on his radio that the team of nine riders need more fluid. The team car will accelerate past the other team cars – sidenote: you can’t mistake Team Sunweb’s cars as they drive Mini Clubmans! – while the domestique will drop back. The mechanic in the back of the team car will collect nine bottles from the fridge, comprising either carbohydrate, water or electrolytes. He’ll pass to the DS, who’s driving, who’ll deliver them out the window to the sacrificial domestique, who’ll stuff them in his rear pocket and down his back; in fact, the hod carrier (domestique) often resembles a camel when returning the bottles to his teammates.

Cool Tights

You’ll note that some of these bottles contain water only. Obviously these are drunk but they’re also used as a rudimentary cooling technique – aka poured over heads. And that’s not the only rudimentary cooling idea. Within those team-car fridges are more tights than a Parisian catwalk, each packed with ice and scrunched up into a bun. Those willing domestiques will pick up these fashionable items of ice, which the riders then place on their necks. It’s a proven method of cooling, both perceptively and empirically, with studies showing that the ice cools the blood flowing to the brain. Wristbands sprayed with cooling fluid are also used, while the occasional rider will even wear a pair of gloves for the same idea.

All About the Wee

In the morning and after each stage, team doctors will measure their riders’ hydration levels. Urine charts are common, though these can be misleading. Anyone acquainted with a joyous hangover is aware that dehydration manifests itself in particularly dark wee. But in the world of professional, this can also be a sign of vitamin-B ingestion and even beetroot, which is popular in many a team’s morning smoothies because of the nitrate content’s purported ability to make exercise feel easier. That’s why teams like Sky would use a urine-gravity device that not only accurately measures hydration levels, but also flags up pH levels of the blood, which can be a gauge of impeding illness.

Ice, Ice…

Come the Tour’s time-trials on stage one (1st July in Dusseldorf) and stage 20 (22nd July in Marseille), there’s a good chance you’ll find teams warming up against the backdrop of Slush Puppie machines. Studies have shown that consuming a Slush Puppie lowers the rider’s core temperature, meaning they can work harder for longer. It’s a tactic oft-used by Sunweb, whose leader, Tom Dumoulin, won the Giro d’Italia in May.

The Tour de France is the greatest race in cycling and the place where teams roll out their latest, most cutting-edge hydration protocols. It’s something to keep an eye on when you’re watching Boulting and Boardman narrate events while you sit down with a nice dehydrating, albeit cooling, beer…

Want to know more about the history of cycling? The Science of the Tour de France is available to buy at discount from

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Nell McAndrew’s Marathon Race Day Tips

With the London Marathon fast approaching, there’s only a few days left for those running to prepare for the big event. But before you cross the start line, Nell McAndrew shares her Race Day Tips to ensure you start off on the right foot.

Nell running 1Fuel up: You should have been carb-loading in the preceding days and had a carb-heavy meal the night before the race (make sure it’s a dish you’ve had the night before a long run before so you’re sure it agrees with you). Then have a good breakfast 2-3 hours before the run, such as porridge or toast with jam.

Avoid chafing: Bleeding nipples are a common and painful sight on many runners. Avoid them by applying anti-chafing gels to your body in the morning before you put your kit on and topping up just before the race in any delicate areas. Men could also try putting plasters over their nipples as theirs are more prone to bleeding than women’s. Also, cover your feet in anti-chafing gel to prevent blisters and apply gel to anywhere else your clothes might rub.

Hydrate: Drink a couple of glasses of water before the race but don’t go overboard. It’s dangerous to drink too much and will mean you have a stomach full of water and need frequent toilet stops. Adjust how much you drink to how hot it is on the day. Once the race is underway, don’t wait till you’re thirsty to have a drink, but sip water little and often.

Know the course: Familiarise yourself with the route in advance. This could help you mentally tick off the miles. You can also plan where your friends and family will stand so you can look out for them when you run past.

Plan ahead: You don’t want to waste nervous energy on the morning of the race worrying about the practicalities so make sure you have planned your journey to the start line in advance, allowing plenty of time to get there. Familiarise yourself with the organisation at the event so you know how and where your kit will be stored and agree a specific place near the finish where you can meet your loved ones afterwards.

Keep warm: Take some spare clothing or a bin bag to wear that you can then discard on the start line, as you often have to hand in your clothes for baggage storage at least 30 minutes before the off. I also highly recommend wearing spare trainers to arrive in, as at the London Marathon the grass at Greenwich Park is usually damp early in the morning. Then if it rains during the race you’ll also have a dry pair to change into at the finish.

Don’t go off too fast!: Find out what pace per mile you need to run to achieve your target time and stick to it. It can be tempting to get carried away with the race atmosphere and run too quickly at the beginning, but it’s better to run an even-paced race if you want to avoid ‘hitting the wall’.

Write your name on your vest: This is a great way to gain some extra support from the crowds. Hearing them cheer your name will help keep you going if you start to tire.

And more importantly, make sure you enjoy yourself!

jacketFor more tips on how to prepare for the London Marathon, as well as getting into running more generally, take a look at Nell McAndrew’s Guide to Running (available at a discount from 


Posted in Author, Books, Fitness, Marathon, Running

“Mile-a-Minute Murphy”

Guest blog by Michael Hutchinson

Track racing in the 1890s was hugely popular, much more so than today. There were 17 tracks in the London area alone, some with 10,000 capacities. Brass bands, announcers, officials in striped blazers… the picture isn’t hard to conjure.


The racing would have looked odd to modern spectators, because professional racers were more often than not paced. The usual format allowed a competitor to take shelter from his team of helpers, who were usually on four or five-man “tandems”. A one-mile record attempt might involve six changes of pacing machine, ridden by perhaps 30 pacing riders.

The reason was that for Victorians the true athletic test was of speed – how fast could a man go, with all the assistance he could get? Other than a steam locomotive, a paced cyclist on a good track was the fastest work of humanity on the planet, and that is what the punters wanted to see: pure, exhilarating, dangerous speed.

In New York there was a man who reckoned that it was still not nearly exhilarating and dangerous enough. Charles Murphy had been a member of one of the most celebrated pacing teams in North America, so he knew a bit about fast riding. He’d also ridden at a virtual 100 mph on a set of stationary rollers. And he had put these experiences together, added the only thing even faster than a cyclist, and formed the notion that if he rode behind a train he would have no particular difficulty riding at 60 mph – a mile in a minute.

This idea might have stayed safely unexplored had he not met, by accident, an executive from the Long Island railroad in a Manhattan restaurant. The man with the train loved the idea – he felt it would provide excellent publicity for his railway. It was agreed: a wooden roadway would be laid between the tracks, and Murphy would get to ride behind a train. If the probability of this escapade ending with Murphy making a spectacular arrival in the next world occurred to any of them, it certainly didn’t put them off.

On 21 June 1899, Murphy and the team assembled, complete with steam train, at a section of track that had had the sleepers boarded over. He mounted his bike, and the driver opened the taps.

The first attempt was a disappointing 68 seconds. Murphy could keep up with the train, the problem was that the train couldn’t do 60 mph. After a few more attempts, they sent for a more powerful locomotive.

The heavier engine could go fast enough, but its weight caused the wooden track to distort. Murphy was now riding on a roadway that was bending and springing back below him, forming waves and ridges and furrows. With death or serious injury the inevitable result of hitting the unprotected sleepers and rails if he wavered off line, the four-foot width must have seemed perilously narrow.

Finally, though, he did it. He held on to the observation platform on the rear of the last carriage as the train accelerated and then, with a crowd of suited and hatted men on the platform cheering, and encouragement being shouted through a megaphone just inches from his head, he rode the mile in a stunning 57.8 seconds. There is a photograph of him tucked in right behind the train, with passengers hanging out of the windows on the carriage sides straining to see him – something that would only happen in the event of a lethal accident. That’s presumably what they were hoping for.

Afterwards, he said, “I was riding in a maelstrom of swirling dust, hot cinders, paper and other particles. The whipsaw feeling through a veritable storm of fire became harder every second.” He was pedaling at around 200 rpm – twice the speed of a modern road racer – as his bike kicked and bucked over the slim strip of warping wood.

The train, with Murphy on its heels, flashed past the finishing line. At this point, perhaps not thinking things through, the driver applied the brakes. The triumphant Murphy crashed ignominiously into the back of it, and was lucky that some of the spectators on the platform grabbed him and hauled him on board. Semi conscious he was carried into the carriage. When his jersey was removed so a doctor could examine him, his skin was torn from his flesh where the cinders had burnt through his jersey.

It was the last act of an era. Paced racing died out in the early 1900s, after motorcycles replaced the pacing teams. For promoters they were simpler and cheaper, but the crowds missed the grunt and thunder of the old ways. Paced top-speed record attempts like Murphy’s switched to using cars – the record is currently over 166 mph, set behind a dragster by Fred Rompleberg of the Netherlands. But, when it comes down to it, a dragster still lacks the sheer spectacle of a steam train at full pelt. And “Two-and-three-quarter-miles-a-minute Rompleberg” just doesn’t sound right.

Murphy recovered from his burns. He became universally known as “Mile-a-Minute Murphy”, and eventually joined the New York Police Department, where he used his bike to chase down speeding motorists. He later became the first policeman in the world to fly an aircraft. He died in New York in 1950, at the age of 79.

Want to know more about the history of cycling? Re:Cyclists is available to buy at discount from

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Posted in Books, Cycling

A Pact with the Devil

Guest blog by Tim Bean and Anne Laing

Would it surprise you to know that the average person is on 14 different medications by the time they die?

What most people don’t know is that this process begins much earlier in life, and stress can play a major part in it.

In the traditional sense, stress is simply a physiological response to a perceived circumstance.

Now in situations where a physical action is appropriate, these responses are fantastic.  We become able to function at a far superior level that we would otherwise be capable.  But the modern dilemma is that we are now almost entirely sedentary.

Most of the stress we encounter today tends to be faced from an office chair – and the stress never seems to end.  There is no real resolution, and no realistic way of physically responding to the threat.

In the modern office it isn’t appropriate to leap across the desk and strangle a colleague or your boss, and running away simply isn’t an option either. In many cases (such as time pressure, decision-making or workload) it’s a threat we can’t even see.

Physically, inside, the very responses that were programmed into us since the dawn of time to ensure our survival in a crisis now become the greatest threat to our lives themselves.

  1. Heart rate and blood pressure increase putting strain on our heart, blood vessels and arteries, placing us a greater risk of a heart attack, aneurism or stroke.
  2. Digestion suffers as the body prioritises activity to the muscles and major organs.
  3. Additional sugars and fats dumped into the bloodstream to use as extra energy are re-cycled and deposited as dangerous trunk fat.
  4. The constant unresolved stress overloads the adrenal glands, thyroid and pancreas – further compounded with the addition of coffee, cigarettes or other stimulant drugs.

Without the natural responses available to us, we become completely wired, yet worn-out.  Exhilarated, yet exhausted.  Fired up, but fed up.  And we can be assured of one thing – it will kill us sooner rather than later.

Let’s face it; stress is already embedded in the city, and it’s a devils pact. You sell your soul to the corporation, and it rewards you very well and looks after you. But it expects you to do its bidding, and generate the money.

Your private life can at times be extremely difficult, but it often takes second place along with your health and family.  Sometimes we have to remind people, “You’re going to burn out – you won’t be in a job, but in a hospital if you continue like this.”

One of the reasons that burnout is so severe and traumatic when it arrives, is that few accept that it is coming. It’s our ‘alpha’ drive that keeps the wheels of business turning. What the markets won’t allow, and what you can never admit to, is breaking down, burning out or stressing out.  Failure at any level is inconceivable, unacceptable – and unforgiveable.

It seems the first rule of command at the top is NOT talking about the psychological meltdown that’s just around the corner, so you start the day with coffee to get going, use high sugar snacks to get you through the day and unwind with alcohol at night.  Alcohol starts as an anaesthetic against the pain of pressure, yet can quickly become a destructive force in its own right.

Younger and younger men and women are ignoring the needs of their body and suddenly find themselves flaming out, having depressive episodes, or worse, experiencing a stroke or heart attack too early in their working lives.

Most people don’t really know what else they could do without their jobs. It’s a vocation and a profession, of which social standing and self-worth are important elements. However it’s also a lifestyle that by its very nature encourages more stress.  The perpetual treadmill that keeps going faster, and faster and faster…

That being said, statistics do show consistently that top performers in business, who survive the rigors of command, share some common traits.  They ALWAYS take their holidays, and they always prioritise quality sleep and time out.  They never miss exercise, they feed their body high-performance foods to keep it healthy – and what’s more they don’t abdicate this responsibility to others.

It is a top-down issue as leadership behaviour influences everyone else in the organisation. Adopting a healthy lifestyle is a personal option, but there is no doubt that the behaviours of senior management strongly influence the behaviour of employees.

And the key here is visible behaviour. What a manager says or writes has limited effect, but what he or she actually demonstrates through his or her behaviour is extremely powerful.

The great physicist, Albert Einstein, said, “Leading by example is not the main means of influencing another.  It is the only means.”

Companies now have to recognise the value of their cerebral capital. Their top people have to be looked after because it’s too costly when they break down.

Stress-Busting Strategies.

On the face of it there are some very obvious solutions.

  1. Prioritise 7-8 hours sleep – without a mobile phone in the room.
  2. Build stress-burning physical activities into your day – like weight training and climbing stairs.
  3. Get an Adrenal Stress Index Test, (ASI) to assess the body’s production of the major stress hormones, cortisol, and DHEA. This profile serves as a critical tool for uncovering biochemical imbalances that can underlie anxiety, chronic fatigue, obesity, diabetes and a host of other clinical conditions.
  4. Supplement with nutrients, such as vitamin C, magnesium and zinc, which can become depleted during ongoing stress – causing a hyper-active brain that won’t switch off…
  5. Commit to eating only nutrient-dense, high-performance foods.
  6. Avoid alcohol during the working week.
  7. Commit to a lean bodyweight. Excess fat is toxic to the business body and brain.

There’s more information, discussion and strategic action points in our latest book The Wealthy Body in Business.

Pre-order your copy here.


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Looking after Mum this Mother’s Day

Guest blog by Sarah Schenker

If this is your first Mother’s Day you are no doubt looking forward to being spoilt, be it with a bunch of flowers, a cup of tea in bed or just an hour to yourself to paint your toenails! It’s really common for new mums to put everyone else and their demands first and put their own needs to the bottom of the pile. As understandable as it is, you could actually make life a little easier by taking some time to look after yourself and in particular think about your diet. What you eat can have a big impact on your mood, energy levels, health and wellbeing and the happier and more energetic you feel the better equipped you are to deal with broken sleep, smelly nappies and constant feeding.

Photo © Adrian Lawrence Photography

To maintain a balanced mood and a sense of wellbeing ensure your diet provides adequate amounts of complex carbohydrates, essential fats, good quality protein and all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay healthy. Along with all this you need plenty of water to maintain good hydration.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of relying on sugary drinks and snacks as a quick energy fix when your energy levels are flaking. But this temporary fix can actually do more harm than good as fluctuations in blood sugar levels can have a negative effect on mood and energy. After eating sugary foods or refined carbs, blood sugar levels can rise rapidly which may cause feelings of stress and anxiety, only to crash soon after, which can then leaving you feeling lethargic and in a low mood.

Rather than grabbing biscuits and fizzy drinks to keep you going through the day, aim to eat three balanced meals and eat with your baby as this provides a great opportunity to bond over food and your baby will pick up on good eating habits. Share nutritious foods such as avocados and bananas, while you can mash these for your baby, you can throw into a salad or chop into yogurt for yourself.

Photo © Adrian Lawrence Photography

You may have a little baby weight to lose, but this is not the time for fad diets. Try to eat plenty of fruit or veg at each meal and include some carbohydrate and protein. Wholegrain carbohydrate foods such as brown rice and quinoa are a much better choice as threes foods releases energy slowly, keeping blood sugar levels steady and maintaining a more balanced, calm mood. Protein foods such as lean meat, fish and eggs can help to keep you feeling fuller for longer which can help to control appetite and reduce cravings for sugary and fatty snacks between meals. Feeling more in control of your appetite can reduce stress levels and help you make healthier choices at meal times.

Going sugar free doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a treat, so try this naturally sweet recipe to indulge yourself this Mother’s Day.

Butter Bean Brownies

Butter beans may not be the first thing you think of for a brownie, but the addition of the beans provides a lovely moist texture and boosts the fibre content making them filling and satisfying.

Photo © Adrian Lawrence Photography

Preparation time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 40-45 mins
Makes 16

Butter or oil, for greasing
400g canned butter beans, rinsed and drained
1–2 tbsp (15–30ml) water
250g apple sauce
200g self-raising flour
2 tsp (10ml) baking powder
3 tbsp (45ml) cocoa powder
3 eggs
A few drops of vanilla extract
6 dates, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 180°C (Gas 4) and lightly grease a 26 x 18cm baking or traybake tin.

Place the beans and water in a food processor and whizz together until smooth – you are looking for the consistency of mashed potato. Add more water if the mixture looks too dry. Add the apple sauce and process again for 1–2 minutes, until smooth and well combined.

Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Add one-third of the bean mixture to the egg mixture together with one-third of the flour mixture and fold in carefully. Repeat twice more until all the ingredients are gently incorporated.

Add the vanilla extract and dates and gently fold through. Pour the mixture into the baking or traybake tin and spread evenly.

Bake for 40–45 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely before cutting the brownie into squares.

Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2–3 days, or open-freeze the squares on a baking sheet before transferring to a freezer bag. To thaw, remove however many squares you require from the freezer and let them defrost at room temperature.

For more delicious recipes for you and your baby to share, order My Sugar Free Baby and Me at discount from

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