Rosemary ain’t just a pretty fragrance. Its medicinal properties – appreciated by herbalists and Granny Joan for hundreds of years – are now being confirmed by modern science. Yes, a daily round of Sudoku (or brushing your teeth with your left hand) helps to keep brain rust at bay. But so too might rosemary.
This woody herb contains several groovy compounds shown to inhibit the nasty breakdown of acetylcholine in the brain. Acetylcholine is a very important neurotransmitter for optimum brain function. Some of the drugs available for Alzheimer’s disease work similarly by interfering with acetylcholine breakdown. Mother N! You clever beast!
A few other racy compounds, caffeic and rosmarinic acid, contribute to rosemary’s health-buffing reputation. These acids, along with vitamin E and assorted flavonoids from the plant, may be helpful in reducing inflammation in the body and the brain (hangover anyone?)
If Sudoku doesn’t tickle your brain cells, this bread should sort you out. Don’t forget flax is nature’s richest source of plant-based omega 3s. Body. Slam.
Paleo & gluten-free focaccia with rosemary and lemon
What is paleo? It’s a screamingly trendy caveman menu of fruit, nuts, meat, dairy and eggs. Disciples are not so fond of grains or carb-rich foods.
Being a giddy herbivore for 90% of my day, I’m not an acolyte but I appreciate the appeal. Paleo bread recipes have been cantering across restaurants and cookbooks from Dehli to Dunlaoghaire. This one is the best of them all, and freezes exceptionally well.
3 teaspoons dried rosemary
240g milled flaxseed / linseed
1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs
185ml regular or plant milk
2 tablespoons black strap molasses
½ unwaxed lemon, juice and zest
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Handful golden sultanas or mulberries
Sea salt flakes, to dust
Preheat conventional ovens to 180 degrees, gas mark 4, fan assisted 160. Line an 8×10 (20cm x 25cm) with greaseproof paper. This will look like a focaccia rather than a loaf, that’s why we use something bigger than a bread tin or a brownie tin. Size is really important.
Let 2 teaspoons of the rosemary, the ground flax and your baking powder party in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, molasses, zest and juice of your small lemon and olive oil with a fork until happily glossed up. Parachute your sultanas into the mix. Dried mulberries are also awesome but are dastardly expensive.
Now add the wet ingredients to the dry bowl, and immediately pour into your pre-lined tin. Spread evenly, and sprinkle the remaining rosemary on top with a flurry of sea salt flakes. Bake for about 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and its tin. Allow to cool for 25 minutes on a wire rack. Tickle with smashed avocado, black olive tapenade or hummus. This kale pesto is particularly good smothered over a slice, even 3 days old.
p.s. I know some of my terribly clever readers are bound to ask why I use 3 eggs here, and not 4 like the last paleo flaxseed focaccia. Smart question! This recipe requires less hold, becasue it does not have the addition of olives and tomatoes. Ta dahhh!