Category: Autumn

Blackberry Hazelnut Crumble Bars

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Blackberry Hazelnut Crumble Bars | My New Roots
 
I am writing this on the very first day of autumn. Copenhagen has welcomed this season with classically crisp air and blindingly bright sun. People are stretched out along the banks of the harbour in the afternoon light, soaking in what will be the last blows of summer’s fight. Ugh. Can you feel it?

Last week my family and I were out at our garden. On the cycle back home we stopped by the blackberry bramble that has overtaken a major section of the vacant land nearby. It towers over me, and extends along the bike path for half a block or more, an impenetrable wall of thorns and fruit. Happily there were a few berries left, just enough to pick for a dessert and a handful to snack on with my boys. Languishing in the last morsels of hot sun we felt the seasons shifting ever-so-slightly and celebrated with the ripest and blackest of berries, like summer captured in edible jewels.

Blackberry Hazelnut Crumble Bars | My New Roots
 
But I got the berries home and suddenly I felt a lot of pressure. Kind of like when you impulse-buy those crazy-looking mushrooms at the farmer’s market and worry that whatever you’re going to be making isn’t “special enough” so you let them sit in your fridge too long until they go bad. Forehead slap. That was not going to happen to my berries. No way. Here was my thought process:
Sarah B, relax.
You like blackberries.
You like crumble.
You make too many crumbles.
You don’t make too many bars.
Crumble bars.
What’s a crumble bar?
Stop asking questions. Let’s do this.

Blackberry Hazelnut Crumble Bars | My New Roots
 
I proceeded in the best way I knew how, by browsing the internet for ideas. It turns out crumble bars do exist, but I couldn’t find any versions that were all that virtuous. Subbing this for that while keeping things as simple as possible, I came up with an edition that is made with whole foods, totally vegan, and easily made gluten-free. The crust is light and flaky, the filling is rich and bursting with juicy flavours and the crumble topping is crunchy and satisfying. Although I use hazelnuts in mine, you could substitute those with almonds – just leave a few of them really big because biting into a large toasted nut is delicious, especially combined with the oozy and sweet fruit center. Heavenly.
Next year I am definitely going to try these bars with black currants in the early summer months, and maybe raspberries later on.

Blackberry Hazelnut Crumble Bars | My New Roots
 
Freezing and Cooking: How do they affect nutrients?

Pssst. I have a secret. Sometimes in the off-season, I do something totally crazy. I buy frozen berries.

What is a nutritionist such as myself doing purchasing and even recommending frozen foods to people? For one, I live in Denmark where the availability of fresh food is pretty sad in the winter, obviously. And second I’m a person that does things like everyone else, such as relying on conveniences when need be. I’m okay with that.

But what kind of affect does freezing have on foods, say blackberries for instance? You’d be surprised, and likely thrilled to learn, that freezing does not completely spoil the vitamins and minerals in food. In fact, you’re looking at a mere 10-15% nutrient loss across the board. Vitamin C is the one vitamin that is most likely to dissipate, as once the fruit or veggie has been plucked from its source, vitamin C levels start to decline almost immediately. Luckily, vitamin C is the single more common and easily obtained vitamin in nature, and you can make up for that loss somewhere else in your day.

Blackberry Hazelnut Crumble Bars | My New Roots
 
And what about cooking? This is a little more complicated, as it varies according to the specific nutrient in question and the type of cooking method. Fat soluble vitamins (D, E, K) are not destroyed by heat alone, and vitamin A is relatively stable. The B-vitamins are also heat stable, except for panthotenic acid (B5). Folate breaks down at very high temperatures. Vitamin C is the nutrient that takes the biggest hit by far, as it is one of the most delicate vitamins in nature. It is not only destroyed by heat, but also exposure to air and light. It is also water-soluble, meaning that steaming something containing vitamin C will be surely destroy it.

As a general rule, minerals are very heat stable, especially when using cooking methods that do not employ water, like roasting or baking – there is almost no loss whatsoever.

If you are steaming, boiling, braising, or blanching foods, both vitamins and minerals will leach out into the water. To preserve these precious nutrients, save the broth to drink, or freeze it for later use in a soup or stew. I use it to puree my baby’s food. He’ll never know his millet porridge was cooked with broccoli water!

Since this blog is read the world over, there will of course be a few of you out there who can’t get themselves to a blackberry bramble, simply because it isn’t the right season. No worries. Find a grocer with organic frozen blackberries and go to town. You should not wait to make these. Seriously.

Blackberry Hazelnut Crumble Bars | My New Roots
 

Big Comfy Sweet Potato

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Comfort food is different for all of us. For some, it’s a big bowl of macaroni and cheese, for others, it’s ice cream and chocolate sauce. Me? Sweet potatoes. For real. There is something so soothing and grounding about digging into one fresh out of the oven, loading it up with ghee, salt and cracked black pepper. It’s a simple dinner that saw me through my student years when I was living on a budget, held my hand when I dropped everything and moved across the world to Copenhagen, and continues to show me the love even now. Sweet potatoes are kind of like that favourite, threadbare white t-shirt, or the song I could listen to a thousand times without ever getting sick of it. Total comfort.

Well, this time I dressed up that white t-shirt with a cornucopia of yumminess: black beans, avocado, sprouts and my Red Blanket Sauce that will knock your woolen socks off. It’s the Big Comfy Sweet Potato and it’s simple, delicious and I reckon just the kind of thing that will make you feel pretty comfy too.

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The toppings for the Big Comfy Sweet Potato are up to you. I was digging the cilantro, sprouts and green onion, but you could put all manner of delights into this one, depending on the season and what is available to you. Cherry tomatoes would be great, freshly shucked corn, bell peppers too. These are the perfect clean-out-the-fridge kind of dinner, because as long as you got your sweet potato, you have a blank canvas that will only get better with a little help from some other veggies buddies.    

But if you really don’t have anything else on hand, the Red Blanket Sauce is killer. Just a plain sweet potato swaddled in this stuff is a proper meal. Super creamy and rich, and delicious draped across so many things – rice, lentils, roast veg – you name it. I tried to do a riff off of mole sauce, but I can’t claim to know anything about authentic Mexican cooking, so I’m going to avoid the comparison. What I do know, is that it tastes like a thousand layers of spice, herbs, sweet, savoury, tangy, bold, and chocolate-y without being chocolate-y…know what I mean? Guh. I want more.

Comfy Digestion with the Sweetest of Potatoes
Many people think that sweet potatoes are just regular potatoes that are orange, but they are in fact a completely different vegetable.
Compared to regular potatoes, sweet potatoes have oodles more vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), vitamin C and even more fiber. This means that sweet potatoes are excellent for your digestion. Sweet potatoes are composed mainly of starch, which is very easy to break down and is soothing for the stomach and intestines too. This makes them an ideal healing choice for those suffering from the pain and inflammation associated with stomach ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome. The roughage of sweet potatoes even prevents constipation. Comfy stuff!

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Speaking of easy and delicious, if any of you are still in the mood for a simple cleanse, check out my article in the February issue Oprah magazine! I wrote a 4-day detox plan with tasty recipes that are all really easy to make using basic ingredients . If January has passed you by without a little clean-up, now is your chance. The program is also available online, here. I hope you enjoy!

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Gold Rush Soup & Chickpea Croutons

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Wowzers ya’ll! I was seriously astounded by the response from the last post – I had no idea that my “everyday meal” would cause such a stir and ignite so much inspiration! I am thrilled to hear your feedback about the Abundance Bowl and to learn that you are all pretty pumped about healthy, simple meals. Gosh, I should post about that stuff more often. Oh wait! That is exactly what I am going to do today.

So, I have this technique of making soup that takes major shortcuts in the kitchen – I call it “oven soup”. Why? Because most of the work is done in the oven by roasting the main ingredients together, then throwing them into a blender with hot water or broth and spices. Ta-daa! No need to dirty even a single pot! I like this method because it’s really simple and most of the cooking time is completely unattended. All you need to do is prep the veggies, pop them in a hot oven and walk away until everything is ready to blend. I boil water in the kettle and use a high-quality bullion instead of stock more often than not, to keep things even easier.

I have been making this soup for years now. It’s really easy, inexpensive and features two of my all-time favourite foods: butternut squash and turmeric. Roasting the squash, onions and garlic caramelizes their natural sugars, and deepens the flavours substantially – much tastier than just boiling them! The turmeric adds a peppery citrus flavour that goes really well with the herbs, if you decide to use them.

And then there are the Smoky Chickpea Croutons. These make a stupendous snack on their own, but are also delicious atop this golden soup. Got a salad that needs snazzing up? What about an Abundance Bowl? You can toss these on anything. I’d even suggest keeping a jar near your desk or in the car to grab a handful when those afternoon cravings hit. They are a healthy, high-fiber, protein-rich snack that is way better than anything you’d get out of a vending machine.

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Turmeric: The Golden Child
Let’s make a New Years resolution together: eat more turmeric! Why? Because this humble little rhizome is a super food with serious superpowers.

Turmeric is a rhizome that comes from the Curcuma longa plant, with brown skin and shockingly bright orange flesh. It’s this pigment that gives curry powder its distinctive hue, and ballpark mustard that famous yellow glow. Curcumin, the primary ingredient in turmeric that is responsible for its golden colour, has important antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and healing properties. It protects the liver form toxins and congestion, lowers cholesterol, reduces menstrual pain, and even helps soothe an upset tummy by aiding digestion and ridding the system of gas and distention.

Turmeric also speeds up the healing of wounds, both on the inside and out! To make an effective pain killer and cut healer, simply mix one teaspoon of ground turmeric powder with enough ghee, olive oil or coconut oil to make a paste and spread over the cut. Adding grated ginger to the paste will help decrease pain and increase its ability to heal. Turmeric is wonderful on burns as well, which I know from my days working in a professional kitchen! Mix one teaspoon ground turmeric powder with one teaspoon fresh aloe vera gel, apply to the burnt area and keep open to the air. Reapply as needed.

The flavour of turmeric is relatively mild – warm, slightly bitter and peppery with notes of orange and ginger. I find that it is delicious in everything from savoury stews and dressings, to sweet smoothies and raw desserts! Seriously. The fresh root is much more delicious than the dried version, simply because it has more depth and character. Finding fresh turmeric may be difficult however if you do not live near an ethnic market, but the dried powder is widely available. If possible, get your hands on freshly ground turmeric that hasn’t been sitting on your grocery store’s shelf for months on end.

To store fresh turmeric, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and keep for one week in the refrigerator. To store dried turmeric, keep powder in a tightly sealed glass container away from heat and light – not right next to the stove for example. This will preserve the flavour and medicinal qualities, which I know you’re interested in now!

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Again, I just want to say a big THANK YOU for your positive feedback. Besides eating more turmeric, another one of my New Year’s resolutions is to connect with you, the readers, more often. I really like hearing what you have to say and appreciate your thoughts, advice and inquiries. As soon as this cookbook is written (I hand it in March 1st!!!), I am going to send out my question to you: What do you want to learn about together? So, in the meantime, give that some thought. I look forward to that day very much.

With a golden turmeric embrace,
Sarah B.