Category: Baked Goods

Farewell to Copenhagen Carrot Cake

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Boil the kettle and make a cup of tea folks, this is going to be a big one!

First of all, I have to begin this post by saying THANK YOU. My New Roots is officially 10 years old and I couldn’t have done it without your support, enthusiasm, and full-on LOVE for this little blog. And especially after the last couple of posts when I really opened up about my recent struggles, I felt so supported, and saw that so many of you did as well. It reminded me of the strong community that this has become, and the power of people when they come together with a common goal of true wellness.

If you had told me an entire decade ago that my deeply passionate, unabashedly nerdy, and nearly ignored internet musings would end up turning into a full-on career, brand, cookbooks, online classes, app, poster shop and retreat company I never, ever would have believed you. But reading my first post again, it’s just as relevant today as ever, eerily almost as if I had written it last week. I guess I had a strong vision in mind and just kept trucking, kept trusting, that it would resonate with someone. But here we are, a third of my life later, and it’s not just someone, but so many of you. And all of my dreams continue to be born and manifest because of you. That offhanded suggestion from an old boyfriend who thought I could use an outlet for all that “health talk” I kept spewing, was really onto something. Thanks, dude.

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Secondly…and this is really big news…I am moving back to Canada! Yes, after nine years of delicious life in Copenhagen, my old roots are pulling me home and I am so very ready. This whole thing has been in the works for a few months now, but I didn’t really feel like putting it out there until it was real. Well lemme tell ya, when putting my family’s life in 50 boxes and shoving them into a shipping container, shiz got real, real fast. What a crazy feeling it is, and totally overwhelming with all the emotions that relocating your entire life is. So, if things have been (and continue to be) quiet around here, it’s because I’ve been sorting through all the details that an international move entails. I send my gratitude for your patience.

The next chapter of my life will be completely different from the last, that is for sure. To change things up dramatically, my family and I will be living out of the city in fact, near-ish to Toronto, where I am originally from. I knew that I would end up living in the country at some point, but not so soon! It was more a “when I retire” kind of thing. But funny what happens when you have kids and they need s-p-a-c-e, your priorities seem to shift to accommodate the little ones. Plus, I feel the need to be on the ground again (I’ve been living in a fourth-floor apartment for nine years now!), so we bought a house to get closer to earth in every sense, plant a garden, lay in the grass – our own grass – and enjoy the quiet and safety of a little community. I’m really excited for everything that is to come, and feeling so grateful for the divine unfolding.

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But will I miss Copenhagen? Obvi. This city, and my home here, is where I have spent my entire adult life. The walls of my beloved kitchen that my husband and I built ourselves, have held space for two cookbooks, online classes, countless dinner parties, bleary-eyed breakfasts, and even the birth of our son for crying out loud! And although My New Roots began in Toronto, it flourished here and truly became something on Danish ground. The Scandinavian culture has had a profound influence on me, my aesthetic, and how I see the world now. Having Europe at my doorstep with all its history, architecture, fine arts, culture, and attitude has been an enormous privilege and deeply inspiring. And can we talk about the light? Oh the light! How my camera and I will miss the very special way the sun slants here. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen before.

Anyway, I promise to keep you all posted as we leave one fabulous country for the next. I won’t have a working kitchen for some months, but I’ll stay as active as I can on Instagram so you can keep up with my kitchen renovations…I know you’ll want to see all that house porn. Tee hee.

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Okay, now for the main event. I MADE A CARROT CAKE. Successfully. It is delicious. I feel like I have finally achieved one of my biggest culinary goals ever, and it’s so appropriate that we celebrate ten years of this blog with a recipe that has challenged me for nearly as long. If you remember back to when I used to post giant layer cakes for my birthday, I ran into trouble in 2013, when I attempted three different versions, which all failed, and ended up making nut butter sandwiches instead. Since then, the headcount has continued to rise, yet some ridiculously stubborn part of me won’t give up.

In the past I’ve almost always used spelt flour for baking, and if any of you have tried one of my famous layer cakes, you’ll know this has worked well. I was after the same crumb that you can achieve with wholegrain spelt, but wanted the cake to be gluten-free, so I started by using an all-purpose gluten-free flour. It was a total disaster. The cake turned out gummy and inedible, and the frosting, which I tried to make with cooked quinoa (don’t ask) was just weird. The next route I tried was with almond flour, since I’ve been eating a more low-grain diet for the past few months and I wanted the cake to reflect that. Before testing it out, I assumed that almond flour would make things really dense and heavy, but lo and behold it creates a crumb that is so fluffy, and really gives this feeling of deep satisfaction. I’m obsessed. The only thing that I don’t like about almond flour is the high price, and the fact that almonds are a very water-intensive crop to grow. But, this is a cake after all, therefore a special treat, therefore not something you have all the time.

The initial carrot cake experiments with almond flour were good, but borderline too rich. Plus, since I’d ditched the quinoa frosting idea and knew I’d be taking the cashew road, I felt like a nut frosting on top of a nut cake was just, well, too nutty. To reconcile my relationship with coconut flour, I cut the dry ingredients with a tad to see what would happen. Not only was the cake just as good, but the texture was better and I liked the flavor the coconut flour provided. We are friends again.

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The Cashew Coconut frosting for this cake is what Canadians would affectionately call a “twofer”. Bahahaha! (I really do amuse myself). For everyone else out there, in long form, this refers to a “two-for-one” deal. You can make this recipe once, but have the frosting come out two ways depending on its temperature. Pretty groovy, eh? If you use the frosting right after making it, it will be loose and glossy, almost glaze-like. If you prefer a traditional-style frosting that is thicker and stiffer, all you need to do is put the mixture in the fridge overnight to achieve this consistency. I chose to go with the room temperature version since I hadn’t really worked with it like that before. It provided a more even layer, but it’s also a little harder to control. Either way it’s delicious, so don’t worry about making the wrong choice…there isn’t one! The flavour is major: I’m talking soooo cream cheese-like that even I was confused.

If you’re not feeling the chunky carrot cake vibes, please look away now, because the cake of my dreams is loaded with pineapple, walnuts, and bursting with warm spice and citrus zest. I went to town! Instead of using questionably-edible canned pineapple, I used the dried, unsweetened version from the health food store. This stuff ain’t cheap, but again, cake splurge. If you can’t find pineapple like this, dates, raisins, dried figs or apricots would also be good, but I’d skip the soaking step. Instead of walnuts you could use pecans, macadamias, or even pumpkin seeds.

Altogether this carrot cake is moist, decadent, and satisfying with so many layers of flavour and texture that just won’t quit. I’ve learned a lot in the past decade, and this cake is an expression of that. It’s something to be proud of, and something to share. Thanks for sticking by me while I worked out the kinks…now it’s time to celebrate all the things!

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Who knows what the future holds – the world seems so crazy these days – but I do know that I still have steam in me to keep going with this heart project, if you’re all still up for reading and cooking from it. Words cannot describe my gratitude for you, allowing me to pursue my biggest dreams and expose my shadowy bits as well. I hope you know how much I love you. I truly do. Here’s to another ten years…

xo, Sarah B

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Okay friends, there are still a couple spaces left for the next Wild Heart High Spirit retreat in Portugal! It’s this November 5-11, hosted at the ridiculously beautiful Sublime Comporta hotel (guys, I’ve been there and this place is NEXT LEVEL). I will be teaching cooking classes outside in the organic garden (pictured above!) and giving nutrition seminars daily, with yoga and movement classes twice a day with my dear friend and deeply talented friend, Mikkala Marilyn Kissi of Living Yolates. The kitchen is exclusively making My New Roots recipes for the week, so we can all enjoy these meals without having to lift a finger. Enjoy your private pool, open spa, horseback riding on the beach, bonfire nights and dancing under the stars. Come and get inspired to live your best life! We’ll show you how. Click here for more info, and see you in magical Portugal!

Cinnamon Crunch Cereal and Hemp Milk

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“It is easier to change a man’s religion than to change his diet.”
– Margaret Mead

Yup. Pretty much.
This entire shift began when I had a particularly gnarly couple of months with manic mood swings that rivaled my adolescence, acne flare-ups, bloating, low energy, night sweats, and all-round malaise. Knowing what I know, I looked at my diet first to see what could be adjusted. Everything was organic, whole, plant-based and totally “healthy” by most peoples’ standards. But it just wasn’t working anymore. I knew something had to give.

Delving in deeper, a typical day for me was a whole-grain porridge in the morning, topped with all kinds of seasonal fruit, homemade granola etc. Lunch was a couple slices of organic sourdough rye bread from the local bakery, with homemade hummus, avocado, sprouts etc. Dinner was often a mixed bowl, the base of which was brown rice, quinoa, millet or buckwheat covered in a rainbow of vegetables, homemade pickles, superfood-loaded sauce, and fresh herbs. I wasn’t eating sugar, drinking coffee, I was keeping up with my exercise and sleeping well. So what was the problem? In this case, I had a feeling it was a big ol’ grain overload.

The idea of cutting back on my morning oats, bread, and grain bowls was literally devastating to me. I cried. On multiple occasions, just talking about giving up muffins made me weep, and I felt like there was just no way I could make even more changes, or think about my diet even more than I already did.

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I have had two serious experiences with orthorexia in my life. For those of you who don’t know what orthorexia is, it is defined as an obsession with healthy eating. It is considered an eating disorder, and one that is becoming more prevalent in Western culture as healthy eating becomes increasingly “trendy”. The first bout happened the year I moved out of the house to study at university. While many of my friends were bingeing on junk food and beer, I swung in the opposite direction entirely and took advantage of the incredible meal program that was offered at school, and fueled myself with enormous salads, delicious sandwiches and wraps, veggie-heavy soups and stews, and protein-rich smoothies. I also signed up for the free fitness classes at the university gym, got hooked on kickboxing, step aerobics, boot camp drills, and the weight literally fell off me. I lost about 25 pounds that year, and for the first time in my life I felt like I was in control of the way I looked. The sudden attention from guys – which I had never had before – further stoked the fires for my desire to be even thinner, even though my initial motivation to eat this way stemmed from a desire to be healthy. As my attitude towards food morphed from friend to enemy, I flirted with a full-on eating disorder at this point, playing games with myself to see how long I could go without eating, how many exercise classes I could fit in between classes and study groups, how long I could make my bean salad from lunch last (too long!). Eventually my energy levels dropped to the point where I had a very hard time getting out of bed in the morning and I couldn’t concentrate well in school. I realized that I had taken things too far and started eating in a more balanced way again. I put the experience behind me without giving it too much thought.

The second time this resurfaced was, ironically, while studying holistic nutrition. While I was learning all about foods and how my body worked, I became almost afraid to eat, toxifying my body, or “poisoning” it with sugar, gluten, dairy and the rest. I became obsessed with detoxing and subsisted only on “clean foods”; mostly vegetables. I was stressed, my hair started falling out, my acne came back and my energy hit an all-time low. Despite my obvious physical misery, I somehow felt validated since I wasn’t putting anything “bad” in my body. Eating as healthy as possible became obsessive for me and my classmates, and we’d all proudly bring our lunches to school, subtly scrutinizing each other’s Tupperware contents. Again, food had lost its pleasure, its joy, and had become something that I saw as more of an enemy than a friend. And that really scared me.

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After graduating, I finally got a grip, and once again slowly re-established a healthy relationship to what I was eating. It is for these reasons that food is such a tender subject for me, and changing my diet dangerous territory. I spent so many years struggling to achieve a positive connection with food, and when I finally got there and it felt like such a relief. The prospect of having to go “back to that place” of thinking about food more than I already did felt unsafe for me, and slipping back into an obsessive place felt like an inevitability. Meanwhile, the negative self-talk voices were loud and overpowering, telling me how I was fat, flabby, weak, old – things that I KNEW weren’t true. But that’s the sad thing about internal monologues, they don’t need to make sense to play like broken records in our minds all day every day. It’s enough to drive a person insane. The cruel voices coupled with my extreme fear of reverting back to my old thought patterns and eating habits absolutely terrified me. I felt like I had hit a wall of hopelessness. And all I wanted to do to feel better was to eat a piece of eff-ing bread.

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The reason I suspected the grain thing was because of the unique relationship that blood sugar has to our hormones. If we’re consuming carbohydrates at a faster rate than our bodies are utilizing them for energy, that extra glucose gets stored in the fat cells of the liver, which decreases its ability to breakdown excess estrogen, and allowing it to hang around in our systems longer than it should. This excess circulating estrogen causes a whole host of symptoms, including, you guessed it: mood swings, bloating, sluggish metabolism, tender breasts, fatigue, foggy thinking, PMS, and many more less-than-desirable issues. Now, these things can be exacerbated by stress (shocker), inadequate fat and protein intake, and environmental factors, all of which I was likely suffering from.

I set out by making a plan, since I know how hard it is to make positive changes without preparation. Instead of focusing on the all the things I wanted to reduce or eliminate, I focused on the foods I could have, foods higher in fat and protein, since I knew that those things would naturally elbow out the things I would normally fall back on (I’m looking at you, banana bread). I made a list that I could refer to when I was grocery shopping for ingredients. I cooked and froze things. I stocked the fridge and pantry. I was ready.

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Within the first few days I already noticed a difference: my energy was incredibly stable, my emotions were in check, the bloating in my stomach dissipated, and I just felt good. As the days rolled on my compulsive urges to down half a dozen muffins subsided, and it was like I could clearly see that what I had actually been battling was blood sugar issues – not just “too many” grains or carbohydrates. It became clear that I had been taking my bod on a wild rollercoaster of high and low blood sugar for years, which had in turn been tossing my hormones around like a pair of sneakers in a washing machine. Stabilizing blood sugar is the first step in managing your endocrine’s system ability to do its job properly. I realized that if I was going to eat grains (or any carbohydrate-heavy food), I had to eat them in smaller amounts, balance them out thoughtfully with enough fat and protein, and make sure that I was actually using that energy instead of letting it sit around in my body. So far, things have been going incredibly well, and I am so darn proud of myself for not only identifying the issue, but actually doing something about it.

We are fluid beings with needs that evolve and change over time. Our diets need to reflect that, which is why it’s imperative to listen to our bodies and be advocates for our own health. No one knows your body better than you, and once you quiet all the noise out there telling you “how” to eat in black-and-white terms, you’ll be able to hear yourself, without judgement, and choose the way of eating that is just right for you, right now. It may be different tomorrow, and that is okay too. In sharing this all with you, I am trying to set an example, because you too have this intuition that is telling you just what you need to eat and do right now. It’s actually fun to be connected to yourself, your unique rhythms and needs. Learning about how you operate and designing a plan that caters to your exceptional self means that you can celebrate, instead of berate your body the whole month through, and experience pleasure in every stage of our cycle. I promise.

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This is undoubtedly a huge topic, and one that I plan on chipping away at over the next few blog posts. Some things I want to reiterate here are, that I do not believe that grains or carbohydrates are bad. No natural food group should be vilified, just as no macronutrient should be either. If you’re thinking about giving up carbs, I’d advise you not to. Glucose, the sugar found in carbohydrates is your brain’s primary fuel source, and when consumed responsibly, carbs will help you on your wellness journey, not hinder you. I still stand behind each and every one of the recipes that I have created for this blog, the app, and both of my cookbooks, and I believe that they are appropriate for many people to enjoy. However at this stage of my life, some of the recipes do not serve my needs any longer, and I’ve had to make small changes to them, or put them on the shelf for another time. I’m okay with that.

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Whew! Now for some notes on the recipe.

The base recipe for my Cinnamon Toast Crunch-inspired cereal is grain-free, but it does rely on almond flour, which can be expensive. If you can tolerate pseudo-grains, feel free to top up the base with buckwheat flour. This will bulk up the cereal considerably so you’ll have more for less money.

This cereal is r-i-c-h. You really only need a small amount to fuel you in the morning – not like the bottomless bowls of that we’re used to consuming in the morning without every really feeling satisfied, ya know what I mean? And paired with a luscious liquid like my Super Creamy Hemp Milk will keep you full for even longer, help stabilize your blood sugar, not to mention flood your bod with the delicate nutrients and powerful enzymes that store-bought, plant-based milk is missing. This recipe is dead simple and pretty much like cream – I shouldn’t even call it milk, since it’s so rich and thick. And since we’re thinking outside the cereal box here, don’t stop at breakfast…this milk is amazing in coffee and tea, in raw treats and baked goods, soup, smoothies, ice cream and popsicles. You’re gonna love it!

I made the cereal the first time with just almond flour and a full half-cup of applesauce. It was definitely delicious, but I loved it just as much when I cut this amount in half. If you don’t want all the sweetness, use just ¼ cup / 60ml of applesauce instead of the full amount. If you’re using buckwheat flour, you will need the full amount of the applesauce’s moisture to bind it all together. I haven’t tried a version without the coconut sugar, so if you’re not into that stuff feel free to play with the recipe on your own.

Initially, I was really afraid to come out about any of this stuff – the changes my diet is undergoing, the orthorexia, the internal voices! But I know in my gut that if I’m going through it, someone else out there is too. And the reason I wanted to start My New Roots in the first place was to create a safe space for everyone to share and support each other on our health journeys, so I have to be as transparent and honest as I feel I can be to set that example. I want to say a huge heartfelt thank-you to all of you who have stood by me all of these years and continue to do so. It feels pretty amazing to have you, and to be getting better all together.

In light and gratitude,
Sarah B.

 

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Also… There’s one spot left for the upcoming retreat in Ibiza, click here to join me for a week of total inspiration and rejuvenation!

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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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