Category: Autumn

Deluxe Butternut Macaroni ‘n’ Tease

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I’m over winter, but winter definitely isn’t over. Although I really can’t complain about the balmy temps here in Denmark, it’s dark and damp and I would probably pay a lot of money to see the sun right about now. And my heart does go out to all my family and friends freezing their tooshies off stateside. Yikes! I’m here to help. Or at least, this recipe is here to help.

Like most kids, I ate a lot of macaroni and cheese growing up, the kind that came in a blue box with the magical, neon orange flavour powder. Sometimes my mom would toss in a few slices of bell peppers and cocktail wieners and my brother and I felt like kings. Kings! Those were the days. In fear of falling short of that level of awesomeness, I haven’t actually attempted to make mac ‘n’ cheese on my own past the days of high school. Until recently this winter, a gnawing hunger for warmth, comfort and nostalgia took hold and just wouldn’t let go. If you’re anything like me (a human) you’ll love tucking into this tasty meal every week until spring hits.

So, what makes this mac ‘n’ tease a tease? It’s vegan! Not one speck of cheese or milk or butter or cream in sight. Nope. Instead the delectable sauce is a winning combination of roasted butternut squash and garlic, creamy butter beans, and cheesy nutritional yeast. Although not exactly like the cheese sauce of yore, it is still completely smooth and creamy, rich, unctuous, and deeply satisfying when combined with fat noodles and the most amazing non-breadcrumb-topping made out of sunflower seeds. That’s right.

Deluxe Butternut Mac 'n' Cheese // My New Roots

Nutritional Yeast: A Cheesy Tease
Although the name is slightly unappealing, nutritional yeast is a delicious and versatile seasoning to have in your pantry. Made from a single-celled organism called, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, the yeast is grown on cane or beet molasses, fermented, then deactivated with heat to stop the growing process. The yeast is sold both as flakes and powder (use half the amount of powder if a recipe calls for flakes). The natural colour of nutritional yeast is vibrantly golden. The flavour is often described as cheesy, which makes it a perfect substitute for dairy products in dressing and sauces. I sprinkle nutritional yeast on popcorn, salads, sandwiches, soups, blend a little into hummus and other savory dips. Because of its high nutritional content, many people treat nutritional yeast as a food supplement.

First and foremost, nutritional yeast is an excellent source of B-vitamins, and in many cases B-12 (though not all brands, read the label to make sure). Our bodies need B-vitamins to convert food into energy, keep stress at bay, alleviate insomnia, nervousness, fatigue, PMS, and mood swings (so, kind of important). Nutritional yeast also contains high amounts of protein with 4 grams per tablespoon, and contains 18 amino acids. It is a good source of dietary fiber, folic acid, selenium, and zinc. It is gluten-free and vegan.

In North America nutritional yeast is available at natural grocers and bulk food stores. In the UK, it is sold under the brand name Engevita; in Australia, it is called savory yeast flakes; in Scandinavia it is sold as yeast flakes or B-yeast / B-gær (due to the high B-vitamin content). Among cool kids, nutritional yeast is referred to simply as nooch. Drop that bomb at your next vegan potluck for major street cred. It should also be noted that nutritional yeast is not the same as brewer’s yeast, dry active yeast or baking yeast. Do not use these as a substitute for nutritional yeast in any recipe. It will be gross.

If you suffer from Candida or suspect that you have yeast issues, not to worry. Nutritional yeast is totally safe and will not infect you or exacerbate yeast conditions. It should be avoided however by those that are allergic to yeast and yeast products, like bread products, grapes and beer.

Deluxe Butternut Mac 'n' Cheese // My New Roots

The shape of pasta you use for this really matters. I chose a large, deeply ridged, tubular pasta that said “macaroni” on the package, but it’s much closer to rigatoni if you ask me. Rigatoni, penne, classic macaroni, ziti, or even conchiglie (shells) would work here, as the ultimate goal is to get as much sauce in and around each noodle as humanly possible. In fact, I guarantee when you make the sauce you’ll be questioning my recipe amounts – there is a lot of it, people. But once you pour it over the cooked pasta and start stirring, it magically disappears into the nooks and crannies only reappear later in your mouth, like a rich and savoury flavour explosion from heaven. Tubes work best for obvious reasons, but I’ll let you decide how you want your sauce delivered. And I hope that it goes without saying that you should make an effort to find the most high-vibe pasta you can. There are so many on the market these days, even at regular grocery stores, so no excuses! No white pasta!

Deluxe Butternut Mac 'n' Cheese // My New Roots

And yes, there is topping. In keeping with the gluten-free theme I went with a Sunflower Crumble Topping that I am quite chuffed about. It’s savoury, crunchy, and totally takes this meal to the next level – better than breadcrumbs I tell ya! And it’s delicious not only on mac ‘n’ cheese, but garnishing avocado toast, grain salads, and roast veggies. You may have a little extra of the topping, but my casserole dish is relatively deep and narrow compared to most, and I wanted to make sure you had plenty to cover the top of yours. If you want to save time and skip steps, the pasta and sauce alone is super delish all on its own. But. The topping.

After cooking up this meal, I looked around the kitchen at the dish carnage and shrugged my shoulders. You know why? So worth it. Yes, you will use pretty much every cooking element and piece of equipment you own, but make it a Sunday project, invite some buds over and have them clean up. You did cook them a totally awesome meal after all, it’s the least they can do. 

Deluxe Butternut Mac 'n' Cheese // My New Roots

From my Cookbook: Raw Vegan Eggnog

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Raw Vegan Eggnog // My New Roots
 
I always know that Christmas is right around the corner when eggnog suddenly appears in my parents’ fridge. My father just loves the stuff and he’ll guzzle through umpteen vintage-deckled cartons over the course of the holidays, especially if guests pop by.

Me? I’m not so much into it. Although I can totally dig on the warming spicy scent that wafts from the punch bowl, knowing what it’s made of, kind of makes my tummy flip. Once I realized that it was the sweetness and smell of freshly grated nutmeg that was charming me, I set out to make a raw vegan version that would satisfy even my dad’s discriminating eggnog palate (well, in theory anyway). It’s super rich, so thick and creamy – an amazing breakfast in fact – but decadent enough for dessert. The secret is in the sesame seeds: an unusual addition to a blended drink, but give them a try! They add tons of protein, fiber, healthy fats, calcium and help make this smoothie a veritable meal.

I am also excited to post this recipe because it is the first one I am sharing from the cookbook! It’s a simple one, but a sure favourite. Plus, it seems like the time of year when many of you will be dusting off your reindeer-shaped eggnog cups, so I thought it appropriate to swoop in and present you with a possible alternative.
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Smooth Move, Sesame Seeds
If you’ve been reading My New Roots for a while, you are already well aware of my sesame seed obsession. I love their versatility, nutty flavour, nourishing minerals and healthy fats. I love how inexpensive and readily available they are, and how long they stay fresh (storing them in the fridge is always best!). I buy them in bulk and use them for so many things, from dressing up salads to throwing them in my smoothies. That’s right! You can drink sesame seeds. For real.

I first discovered this upon running out of protein powder, and searching the cupboards for an alternative, my curiosity fell upon the holy seed. I soaked them overnight, and the next morning whirred them up with some fruit and greens to reveal a most satisfying meal-in-a-glass. Since then, I haven’t looked back! Now I often add sesame seeds to my smoothies, and even blended soups, as I find they add incredible body and richness to just about anything. If you are the kind of person that loves drinking smoothies, but finds that you are hungry an hour later (me), sesame seeds will really help with the stick-to-your-ribs satiety factor.

It may surprise to find out that sesame seeds are an excellent source of essential minerals. Calcium for the prevention of osteoporosis and migraines, magnesium for supporting our vascular system, zinc for bone health, selenium for antioxidant protection, and copper for reducing inflammation are just a handful of the incredibly important roles these minerals play for us. The biggest surprise of all? By weight, sesame seeds have a higher iron content than liver!

Raw Vegan Eggnog // My New Roots
 
If you have a high-powered blender the sesame seeds will blend up very quickly. If you have a regular blender, remember that it make take a little longer to achieve a perfectly smooth consistency. Just keep the motor running and be patient.

The level of spiciness in this drink, I leave up to you. I like mine super nutmeg-y, but that’s not everyone’s taste, so start with just a little, blend, and add more if you’d like. The same goes for the figs: I usually make my milkshake with just one, but others might enjoy it a little sweeter. If you find that your figs are very dry, soak them the night before beside the sesame seeds, and use the soak water in the eggnog. The turmeric is really just to add a slightly creamy yellow, so it’s optional.

Raw Vegan Eggnog // My New Roots
 


If you are looking for Christmas gifts this year, don’t forget that a pre-ordered My New Roots cookbook is probably on everyone’s list, amiright? Not only that, but it comes with the added bonus of arriving in spring, when most people have long forgotten about the holidays and are in serious need of presents! Wow, didn’t I time that perfectly? I am always thinking ahead here, friends. You can preorder the My New Roots cookbook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound and Indigo.

In all seriousness, I have been so overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support from all of you about the book. I know that you are just as excited as I am to hold this collection of from-the-heart recipes in your hands. Only a few more months to go now!

And most thrilling of all, is that my cookbook is going to be published translated into Danish and Dutch! The UK and Australia are publishing it too. Here are the release dates:

US: March 31, 2015
Canada: March 31, 2015
UK: April 9, 2015
Australia: April 9, 2015
Netherlands: June, 2015
Denmark: pending

In the meantime, have a look at the gorgeous quotes below from my friends and peers who have been fortunate enough to have a sneak peak of the book. Thank you to all of them for being so incredibly generous and encouraging with their words.

My New Roots - Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every Season

My New Roots is beautiful proof that eating with nutrition in mind need not be a compromise. This is an unabashedly enthusiastic riff on the food-as-medicine approach to cooking and eating. Sarah’s playful and encouraging voice is infectious; you get the sense that she is waiting on the other side of each recipe to give you a high five.”
—Heidi Swanson, author of Super Natural Every Day

My New Roots is filled with good ideas for fresh new ways of using plant foods. Sarah Britton shows that truly alive ingredients can result in more interesting and better-tasting recipes and are always worth seeking out.”
—Deborah Madison, author of Vegetable Literacy and The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

“Sarah is a veggie-lovin’ culinary goddess! Her unique and seasonal plant-based creations will inspire you to fall head over heels in love with vegetables. There are so many beautiful recipes I can’t wait to make!”
—Angela Liddon, author of The Oh She Glows Cookbook

“I have been waiting for this book since I first started reading Sarah’s blog years ago. She has a gift for writing truly wonderful recipes, vibrant with produce, and has the knowledge to explain why these plant-based foods are good for us. Her sweet spirit shines through every page. So thrilled to have this keeper in my kitchen!”
—Sara Forte, author of The Sprouted Kitchen

“Sarah’s creativity always inspires. With its vibrant recipes, evocative visuals, witty combinations, and approachable ways to live better, this book is a must for anyone interested in optimal, delicious health.”
—Laura Wright, thefirstmess.com

“Sarah always treads the beautiful line between making whole foods practical and also appealing, leading the way in this new real food movement.”
—Sarah Wilson, author of I Quit Sugar

“Being healthy and happy is so easy when you’re cooking with Sarah. Her gentle approach, love and passion for whole foods, and flair for pairing mind-blowing flavors create fabulous and fresh food that looks stunning and is bursting with personality and life-affirming goodness. With unbelievable tastes and textures, My New Roots takes you on an exquisite journey that seduces you with every lift of the fork, leaving you voracious for vegetables.”
—Tess Masters, author of The Blender Girl

“It’s a rare book that delivers inspiration through its every page, yet each one of Sarah’s recipes sings with flavor and originality. The entire collection is a seductive introduction to a more wholesome way of eating and an irresistible call to the kitchen.”
—Clotilde Dusoulier, author of The French Market Cookbook and Edible French

 

Sweet Potato Skillet Hash

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Rituals. With the holidays coming up, I can’t help but think about them, the role they play in all of our lives, and how grateful I am for them.

Every month (or as often as our schedules allow) my little family and two others get together for brunch. It’s pretty much like a scene from Thirty Something (remember that show?!), babies crawling around under the table, toddlers walking into walls and disintegrating into fits of hysteria, but somewhere in between diaper changes and breastfeeding, the grown-ups feast. We always do this potluck style, that way the couple who is hosting doesn’t have to sacrifice their entire week planning and cooking for Sunday, because that is laughably unrealistic. And even though we never talk about what we’ll be bringing, the spread is always totally rad and over-the-top. And just what the adults need.

The first time we got together, I made this dish. It was about this time of year, and I felt like something savoury, spicy and just plain yum. Sweet potatoes, believe it or not, are kind of a special thing in Denmark (especially organic ones!) so upon finding a few at my local health food store I knew that they were destined for Jacob and Mille’s skillet with some eggs, and chilies and herbs. The dish was a hit, and so it has become kind of expected that aside from the other amazing things that turn up, that I bring the ingredients for this too, nearly every time. It’s a good “social” meal to make because most of the cooking time is largely unattended, allowing one to indulge in too many of Silla’s raw cake bites before even sitting down. It’s also fun to have this piping hot centerpiece on the table and let everyone just dive right in.

Sweet Potato Skillet Hash // My New Roots
 
The dish opens with caramelized onions, so right off the bat, you know it’s gonna be good. Lots of cumin and coriander take things to best-buddy spice town, with chili flakes giving some heat and a good dose of sea salt to help those onions melt down. Honestly, you could just turn off the stove after the onions are caramelized and eat these on toast with poached eggs, they are that good. But wait! Sweet potatoes join the party, and cilantro and whatever else you think you’d like to nosh on. It’s great with avocado, lime, some sprouted corn tortillas, hot sauce…you see where I’m going with this.

Although it’s a fabulous thing to serve at a brunch, this hash also makes a pretty delicious weeknight dinner. If you want to make a vegan version, simply leave out the eggs – it’s wonderful this way too. I’ve seen other kinds of sweet potato hash, but for some reason the recipes always suggests roasting or boiling the sweet potatoes first, then putting them in the skillet and then cooking more? Too much work, I say! This recipe is all on the stove, one pan, no fuss, just tasties.

Sweet Potato Skillet Hash // My New Roots
 
Lessons in Lecithin
Have you heard of lecithin before? My guess it, probably not.

Well, I bet if you were to go into your fridge or pantry right now, you could find at least one packaged food that contains this stuff, especially if you’ve got some ice cream lurking around, yoghurt, cheese, margarine, even bread or granola bars.

But what the heck is this stuff? Lecithin is a nutrient produced by the liver, and is found in both whole and processed foods. Its function in the body is to emulsify fats, and enhance the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, namely vitamin A. The big reason for consuming lecithin however is the fact that nearly 1/3 of your brain is made of the stuff. Did you get that?! 30% of your brain’s dry matter is lecithin. Seriously. You can imagine then, that lecithin is rather vital to proper brain function, increasing mental activity and enhancing memory. Lecithin also exhibits a calming effect and can be helpful in reducing hyperactivity. What’s more, lecithin protect against gallstone formation, high blood pressure, and cholesterol excesses.

Whole food sources of lecithin include egg yolks, rice bran and soybeans. Processed foods often contain soy lecithin (does that ring a bell?) to ensure that the fats and water-based substances do not separate, and to make the food creamier.  It is added to baked goods to prevent the dough from sticking and to improve its ability to rise. Because soy is a very inexpensive and widely cultivated crop, it makes sense to use its byproduct in food processing (soy lecithin comes from the production of soy oil).

The lecithin found in eggs is of high quality and should be eaten with enthusiasm, not fear! Does this mean that egg white omelets are a thing of the past? In my opinion, yes. So much of the good stuff is contained in that gorgeous yolk, but here’s the kicker: you have to keep those bad boys runny. Lecithin is a very delicate nutrient and is destroyed with heat. You know that when the yolks are hard, as in very cooked scrambled eggs or hard-boiled eggs, you’ve gone too far and the lecithin is no longer viable. Poaching, soft boiling, and steaming are therefore your best choices for preserving the many health benefits of that precious lecithin.

Sweet Potato Skillet Hash // My New Roots
 

What rituals mean a lot to you? What ceremonial events see you through the year? With American Thanksgiving in just a couple days, I’d hope that many of you will be gathered around a table celebrating your own special times with people who you care about. As a Canadian living in Denmark, I’ll be celebrating the glorious in the every day, and looking forward to the next brunch.

Happy holidays. All love and light,
Sarah B