One of the things I find the most tricky, challenging, isolating and mind bending in the run up to a marathon swim is food. It’s a strange affliction whereby you have to cram in as many calories as you can to sustain yourself in endurance training- and put on weight. Glycogen stores are vital, that is: fuel that is stored in your muscles but also in brown fat- glycogen rich tissue that predominantly coats your internals organs and acts as a buffer zone to protect you. It is very different from white fat or your common or garden cellulite. Your body needs to access fuel stores without eating into nutrient rich organ tissue. Important for obvious reasons.

So while all your friends are dieting to uncover their bikini bodies, you’re polishing off an entire cheesecake as part of lunch… Kid you not.  It becomes a little awkward, socially, among non-open water swimmers.

Swim training takes a lot of time- which needs to fit around the rest of your life. Cooking and eating are also time consuming- especially when you’re looking to top 3000 calories as a base level. Eating 5meals a day sounds like fun “if you can get away with it” but feeling full and eating more, eating rich when all you crave is a Greek salad…. You start to look for ways to make eating fun again.

I’m a real food advocate and where ever possible, fuel comes from real food- see, I don’t even think of food as food anymore…. Components of a necessary fuelling system doesn’t have to taste bad, but can give rise to some pretty odd combinations, I can tell you.

So I was playing around with making cake a better fuel source. Too much sugar, how can you get more calories per crumb? And hit upon malt extract. Love horlicks, malt loaf, ovaltine….. And here’s a handy sugar substitute that has B vits in abundance, folic acid to dream of and that taste…mmmmm

Enter stage right chocolate coconut fudge brownie recipe- requiring 1lb 2oz of sugar for 16 slices. Hmmm…. I offer you my perfect balance. It is rich, not too sweet and has over 320kcals per slice. But good calories…… If not quite guilt free, but who listens to guilt?

Malt chocolate coconut brownie

Set the oven to 160’c or gas mark 3-4

You need:
4oz caster sugar (this can be converted to extra malt extract but it makes it a very dark choc, some find too bitter)
14oz malt extract
4oz cocoa powder
9oz butter (can be converted to 8oz coconut oil)
4 eggs, beaten
4oz self raising flour
4oz desiccated coconut ( recipe can take up to 6oz)

Line the base of a 9″x9″ brownie tin or equivalent.

Melt sugar, malt extract, butter and cocoa together slowly in a thick based pan. Stir regularly.Take off the heat as soon as butter is melted. Stir in the eggs, then stir in the dry ingredients. Pour gloop into lined dish and put in middle of oven. Check at 30mins, if cracking on top remove. If springy with a crust in the middle, it’s done. It cooks quicker than you think and at a lower temp as the malt extract is already liquid when cold.

Have your cake and eat it…. Preferably with custard

Leave in dish to cool.
Lift out with grease proof paper, turn over to cut into 16 sizeable chunks.