Category: Baked Goods

Breakfast Buckwheat Florentines

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“Done is better than perfect.”

I can’t tell you how many times I repeat this to myself on a daily basis, as a sort of mantra to soothe and convince the perfectionist inside me to just follow through. To just put it out there.

I almost pushed “publish” on this blog post yesterday afternoon, but something was holding me back. Two things, in fact. First, the photos weren’t what I wanted them to be: they were on the boring side without a lot of colour, and not really inspiring. Second, the recipe itself just wasn’t there. I was trying to make a vegan yogurt coating with coconut butter and although it was tasty, the texture was all wrong: chunky and gritty. Was it good enough? Probably. Would anyone have noticed what I saw as shortcomings? Probably not. But could I deal with it? Apparently, no.

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As I was putting the finishing touches on the post, it hit me like a bolt of lightening: I needed to use cashew butter to achieve the silky consistency I was after. Noooo! It was the solution I had been calling in, but to arrive at the witching hour just seemed cruel. How could I start all over at this point? Was I crazy to even try, considering I didn’t know for sure that it would work out? With only minutes to make a decision, I hopped on my bike and cycled to the health food store. Again. Cursing myself, my brain, my ridiculous inability to know when to let go, and my insistence that what I put out in the world is my absolute best, really started to annoy me.

I bought all the ingredients for the third time, raced home, and got to work. The cookies were the best they’d ever been. Perfect, in fact. But was it worth it?

For anyone out there nodding their heads in recognition that they too, have these borderline masochistic tendencies to achieve an arbitrary portrait of perfection, may I ask what it is that drives us to create and then hold it all back if it’s not exactly what we imagined in our heads? Because nothing is perfect! When do we draw the line and just push “publish”? Is done really better than perfect? Because done for me it seems like settling for mediocrity a lot of the time. Even if it’s just a friggin’ cookie.

I’m not looking for answers here, just venting I suppose. But if you want to share your similar struggles, feel free in the comments. It’s not often I open up or vent in this space, so maybe we can all throw a perfectionist party, and make sure to have these very perfect cookies on the table.

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Speaking of! Florentines are traditionally almond-centric biscuits, sometimes with the addition of dried fruit like cherries and orange zest, with a rich chocolate coating on the bottom. Because I really love dessert for breakfast, I was motivated to make a morning-appropriate version that wouldn’t make me feel like a glutton. I chose to add some buckwheat to the mix since I love to start my day with whole grains, and swapped out the chocolate for a vanilla-cashew butter coating that I basically want to pour over my entire life. Like I mentioned, my original thought was to go with something yogurt-like, but once I made this saucy concoction, there was no need to pretend it was something else. Pure, divine, silky-smooth pleasure glaze! Ahem.

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I love these cookies because they are so simple to make with just a few ingredients, and incredibly fast. On my third testing, they were done – mixed, baked and glazed – in 20 minutes. If you’re in a rush to get your treat fix, leave the cashew coating out of the equation, and you’ll still have a gorgeously tasty and satisfying little snack.

As far as additions and flavours go, these wicked little morsels are kind of a blank slate. I made a couple batches with orange zest and one without. Personally, I really loved the citrusy warmth that the orange lends, and its nod to morning fodder, but you can also omit it for a more neutral taste. Instead, spice them up with cinnamon, cardamom, lemon zest, rose, lavender, coconut etc. I think adding cacao nibs would also be really delicious, as would dried blueberries, dried figs, or apricots. Whatever you choose to do, get ready to be very excited to get up in the morning. Couple these cookies with a turmeric latte, a piece of fruit and you’ll be good to go. Until 4 o’clock when you want another one.

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Once I started editing the new photos for this post, I realized that the last batch of Florentines weren’t as golden, or as flat as the previous batches. I decided to let that one go. And I’m very proud of that.

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Hey Copenhagen! Just a reminder about my first two cookbook events in CPH this Spring. The first will be an intimate talk and demonstration at SLOW Copenhagen, and the second will be a magical, celebratory dinner in collaboration with the local, organic grocer and kitchen, Kost. Click on the images for more info and tickets! Can’t wait to see you there. 

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Double Chocolate Chunk Sunbutter Cookies

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Dear friends! I’m on tour! And what a total blast and a half it’s been so far – my mind is blown by the outpouring of enthusiasm and pure LOVE here in New York City. Thanks to all of you for coming out to the events with your biggest smiles and warmest hearts. Taking my book on the road sure is a change of pace from my quiet, private, and relatively introverted life in Copenhagen. But, seeing as I like humans so much, I welcome the explosive energy, side-splitting laughter, and long hugs that this tour has brought so far. I feel like you, dear readers, are the most beautiful sort there are, and I am so lucky to have friends wherever I go. Thank you. Cannot wait to see what the next few weeks hold! Just a reminder that I am heading to Toronto, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Fran and LA – check out my Events page for updated info!

In case, you haven’t heard, this latest cookbook of mine, Naturally Nourished, is all about how to take grocery store staples and turn them into powerfully delicious and nutritious meals for you and your family. The recipes are on the simpler side than my first cookbook, and use only familiar ingredients. It was really fun to create this work, since you know how much I dig on the weird stuff: chaga, mucuna pruriens, schisandra berry, ho shu wu, pearl (yup, pearl). But let’s get real, how many of you are going to go out and find ground up pearl to put in your morning elixir? Right. So, this book was a response to the way “health food” can be sometimes: inaccessible, alienating, and even elitist. I don’t like to see the system moving in that direction because I believe that health is everyone’s right, and since we all have access to the good stuff at the local supermarket, let’s not lose sight of the powerful foods that are right under our noses. Dark leafy greens, brassicas, root veggies, squash, stone fruit, citrus, herbs, garlic, ginger – you get where I’m going with this. Naturally Nourished is a celebration of simple, honest, real food, and it will show you how to prepare it in a way that is easy, and crazy-tasty too.

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So these cookies. I am pretty over the moon for them. And they are definitely the most decadent recipe in the cookbook – loaded with serious chunks of dark chocolate, a moist, cake-y crumb and unparalleled richness. The sunflower seed crust around the outside adds fabulous texture and tooth, and the perfect crunchy contrast to the creamy chocolate.

I know that the vegans out there may be a little disappointed with this recipe, but please know how darn hard I tried to make them just as good without the eggs! This cookbook was a challenge to see if I could use only very basic grocery store ingredients for every single recipe in the cookbook, so I couldn’t cheat and employ a fancy vegan egg-replacer here, but I am pretty sure it would work. The eggs are important in the recipe not only to bind the ingredients together, but to dry out the dough in the oven, and create the fluffy consistency. Therefore, do not try this with a flax or chia “egg” – sad, sad results will ensue. Trust.

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Just a note for when you do make these: the cookie dough is very wet. You’ll be raising an eyebrow for sure, wondering if you’ve done everything correctly, but stay the course and drop those cookie dough balls into the sunflower seeds – they not only act as a tasty, crunchy coating, they also help you with handling, and prevent the cookies from turning into total puddles in the oven.

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If you’re pressed for time, skip making your own sunflower seed butter and just use store-bought. To ensure the cookies turn out just the way they are supposed to, use an unsalted, unflavoured sunbutter or another type of seed or nut butter altogether! I’ve tried them with almond butter and they were bangin’. You can also coat the cookies in another seed or chopped up nuts. Hazelnuts would be delightful. Or cacao nibs!

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I am beyond thrilled to be on tour with this second book. To be meeting so many of you who have been following my kitchen adventures for years and years, is beyond amazing. I feel like I’ve said it a thousand times, but I really mean it: your generosity of spirit and support with all that I put out in the world truly humbles me. I feel so lucky to do what I do, and you are the ones that make it possible.

With joy and deep gratitude,
Sarah B.

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Sourdough Salad Pizza

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Along with ice cream, chocolate, and burgers, pizza was definitely on my hit list when I started eating healthier. But like every single one of those foods, I have come up with a way of making them not only not bad for me, but actually good for me. If you live in the “pizza is junk food” world, this is the post for you, as I will single-handedly convince you that this universally loved indulgence can in fact, be nutritious.

It starts with the crust.

The pizza you’ll get at your local restaurant, in the freezer section of your grocery store, or out of the backseat of a teenage kid’s delivery car, is typically made with white flour. It also likely contains commercial yeast, the magical ingredient that makes dough rise quickly and predictably. There are of course other ways of making dough or crust, but these ingredients and methods can be more expensive and take more time. Most places stick to the quick and cheap, which almost always compromises our health. How do we make a healthier crust? The answer is fermentation!

Sourdough: what’s the big deal?
Sourdough is essentially fermented flour. And if you’re familiar with fermented foods, you’ll know that they are easier to digest, and contain far more nutrients than the original ingredients themselves. Sourdough bread is made by combining flour and water together with the natural yeasts that live on everything – our hands, our food, swirling around in the air – and after letting it hang out for a few days, you’ll have what’s called a “starter”.  This starter is added to a basic combination of more flour, water and salt, essentially inoculating it with all of the good bacteria and friendly yeasts. These organisms create lactic acid, which neutralize phytates, making nutrients more easily absorbed by the body. Lactic acid slows down the entrance of glucose into the blood stream, preventing the infamous glycemic index roller coaster. But my favourite of all, is that lactic acid helps break down the complex structure of gluten, making it far easier to digest. That means that people who have a sensitivity to gluten (except celiacs) can potentially eat sourdough bread without digestive upset, as the protein has been changed into a simpler arrangement that is easier to break down in the body.

Three cheers for that, eh?

Down below I’ve included the recipe for both sourdough starter and making pizza from that starter. I think sourdough pizza is a great place to begin because it is far easier to pull off than bread, in my experience. No matter if your dough gets a solid rise or not, you’ll still end up with a gloriously crisp, chewy crust that will your body will also thank you for.

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Toppings: not just a pretty face
The toppings on a pizza will make or break the overall flavour, but also the potential health benefits. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that gobs of cheese and pepperoni are not the most health-supportive choices. So, see topping your pie as an opportunity to get creative, while sneaking in all of those veggies!

The best advice I can give you on this front, is to remember to prepare the toppings – meaning that they should be in the state that you’d enjoy eating them before putting them on the pizza. Since this style of pizza is cooked very quickly, things like garlic, onions, mushrooms, and greens are not going to change all that much in the oven. If you wouldn’t mow down on a bunch of raw Swiss chard, take those leaves on a tour of a hot skillet first. Mushrooms should be marinated or cooked beforehand (unless you like them raw), and onions, in my opinion should be caramelized. Things like olives, zucchini, tomatoes, capers, and bell peppers can be added raw since they are delicious eaten that way.

Sauce is optional, especially if you’re going to use juicy toppings, but if you are using it, keep it sparse and don’t let it sit on the dough too long, otherwise it will get soggy and sad. Pesto is a great alternative to traditional sauce, as is tapenade, roast veggie puree, romesco, chimichurri, and harissa.

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And while we’re on the subject of health, did you know that pizza is THE perfect vehicle for salad? I discovered this a couple years ago when trying to make my healthy pizza even healthier. Instead of putting salad on the side, I thought, why not pile it on top? This delivers a fantastic textural contrast, while delivering that much-needed hit of freshness and bright acidity to cut the richness of the pizza. How is this not a thing?  I posted a shot on Instagram some time ago and it received a lot of positive feedback, so it seems like many of you are down with the salad pizza idea. It’s two of the world’s best foods combined, and that equals true tummy happiness.

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Every summer I go to my friends’ cottage, just down the river from my own in the Thousand Islands. They are enthusiastic foodies and love to cook and eat good food as much as I do. They are also passionate about a plant-based diet, fermentation, pickling, and sourdough – all things healthy and delicious! Needless to say, this weekend has become the culinary highlight of my summer.

The only difference between this year and previous ones, is that this time I was able to talk myself into snapping a few pics during this process and waiting to eat! Not an easy feat for me, you must know, but well worth it if it inspires any of you to try this recipe.

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Creating the sourdough starter
Although it may seem daunting, creating a sourdough starter, culture, or “mother” is far easier than you may think, and only requires three simple ingredients: water, flour, and a little patience. A starter takes about five days to develop, but perhaps more or less depending on temperature, humidity, and the type of flour you’re using. Nevertheless, it’s NOT complicated, and a very gratifying way to connect more to your food.

Here’s what you need:
4oz. / 115ml filtered water (un-chlorinated)
4oz. / 115g flour (choose whichever kind of grain-based flour you’d like – 100% rye and spelt are great choices)
a medium-sized glass container

Method:
1. Stir the flour and water together for about 30 seconds until it is a consistent batter. Cover the container with a tea towel, secure with a rubber band and set in a warm place.
2. After 24 hours, feed the starter with the same amount of flour and water. Stir to combine.
3. After another 24 hours, repeat with the feeding. By this time, you should see bubbles forming and smell something slightly sour. This is a good sign, and means that the wild yeasts are active. If there are no bubbles or sour aroma, keep feeding the starter and looking for signs of life.
4. After 24 hours, repeat with the feeding. By this time, you should see many bubbles of varying sizes and the aroma should be pleasantly strong.
5. Around day five, the starter should have doubled in size from day four, and is ready to use. If the starter has not risen, continue with the feeding program until it has. This process can take a few extra days if you’re in a colder environment. Don’t give up!

Storing your Sourdough Starter
If you would like to use the starter daily, then I recommend feeding it daily. Keep it at room temperature on your counter top so that you’ll remember to do so, and remove half of the starter each time so that there is always room for the fresh flour and water. If you would however like to store your sourdough for occasional use, keep it in the fridge where the fermentation process will slow down and will only require a feeding once a week.

To use again, simply remove the starter from the fridge about 12 hours prior to baking. Feed the starter to “wake it up” from hibernation. After about 12 hours from the last feeding, and once the starter is bubbly and smelling sour, it’s ready to go again!

Resources and Troubleshooting
There are so many resources for sourdough making out there, I’ll leave you with a few that I really like in case you run into any issues.
Cultures for Health
Nourished Kitchen
The Kitchn

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I hope that this post puts you in touch with your inner baker, and that you commit to starting your sourdough culture TODAY. Through this miraculous process, you’ll be joining centuries of tradition, ritual, and connection. Not to mention that your pizza will suddenly be good for you. And that is the most important thing of all, amiright?

Happy fermenting, friends!
xo, Sarah B

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In other THRILLING news, I’m co-hosting a retreat in Bali this coming January! Wild Heart, High Spirit is a 7-day revitalizing retreat for women, aimed to restore balance, cultivate inner peace, and nourish the body from inside out. Learn to take care of yourself on a deep level, and feel empowered moving forward in your life beyond our week together. Join Mikkala Marilyn Kissi of Living Yolates and I for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity on the enchanted island of Bali to connect with your wild heart and your high spirit! Click here to find out more.