Category: Beverage

Sarah B’s Bubble Tea

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Sarah B's Bubble Tea // My New Roots

I get some pretty interesting recipe requests from you, my readers, and although I receive far more than I could ever fulfill, I do like to rise to the occasion. I am especially inclined to answer the call if more than one person asks for the same thing: gluten-free vegan lasagna, healthy cookies, and easy breakfasts are just a few of the cravings I’ve tried to satisfy.

It seems that over the past year, bubble tea has become a popular item for health-ifying, and I’ve gotten several emails about this very thing. How can we take a pretty sugar-laden, artificially-coloured-and-flavoured beverage and turn it into something beneficial, light, and refreshing? Here I am to the rescue!

But can I make a confession? I’ve never actually tried it before. Most of the time I do my research in order to gear up before making something out of my wheelhouse, but this time it was just too much to swallow. I actually did go to a teashop though, with my best intentions to sample a bevy of bubbles. I walked in, saw all the crazy colours, dubious “juices” and syrups, pulled a 180 and headed straight to the health food store instead. I did leave with bubble tea straws, of course. That much I know is essential.

So, that all said, if I get this totally wrong, I do apologize. This is my version and I quite like it. Sarah B’s bubble tea is not pretending to by anything other than what it is – a bubble tea all its own.

Bubble Tea

Tapioca Pearls of Wisdom
What makes those darn bubbles anyway? It’s tapioca, in fact. Tapioca is the dried starch from the root of the cassava plant, a tuber native to South America. It has a naturally sweet taste, which is why it is so often used in candies and desserts, most familiar of them being tapioca pudding. Tapioca also the amazing ability to absorb and thicken liquid. Being naturally gluten-free, it is has become a popular gelling agent to use in foods, as opposed to fillers containing wheat. You can use tapioca flour / starch / powder in place of arrowroot or cornstarch in most recipes.

Tapioca is a staple food in many countries throughout the world due to its high concentration of carbohydrates, low levels of fat and dietary cholesterol, and its vitamin and mineral balance. Key nutrients in tapioca include calcium to support bone health, magnesium to help control inflammation, phosphorus for protein synthesis, and vitamin A for glowing skin.

You can find tapioca at most health food stores where it is often sold in powder, flaked, or pearled form. For bubble tea, look for large pearls instead of the small ones that are typically used to make tapioca pudding. Make sure that the only ingredient in the pearls is tapioca starch, and organic if possible. Many “novelty” pearls contain food coulouring and flavouring agents, and it’s best to avoid those for obvious reasons. Natural peals are pure white and are almost completely flavourless, except for a hint of sweetness.

Sarah B's Bubble Tea // My New Roots

Peaches and plums have just come into season, so I’ve decided to use those as the fruit base for my teas. You can use whatever is available where you are of course, and match the brewed tea flavours accordingly. I chose chamomile to pair up with the peach and green tea to go with the plum. These were really delicious combinations, but are by no means the only options. Rooibos would be tasty with peaches too, and maybe jasmine with plums? I’m just guessing here – get creative!

Sarah B's Bubble Tea // My New Roots

So what else do you want to know about? What other kooky experiments will you have me diving into? Bring ‘em on! If you are so inclined to send me an email, type “recipe request” as the subject line and I’ll squirrel it away for a time when I’m a bit stumped for what to make next. And you never know, I may just answer your call.

Hope you are all having a gorgeous summer! Sorry for the radio silence on my end – I’ve been giving the cookbook so much attention, it’s hard to keep the blog up to speed. I promise it will be worth the wait though. Good golly am I excited!!!

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Show me your bubble tea on Instagram: #MNRbubbletea

Tropical Groove Smoothies

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I just got back from the island of Gili Air, a pinprick of land off the west coast of Lombok. Being so isolated and teeny, you can imagine the food in this particular place wasn’t so high-vibe. Not a raw food, vegan buffet in sight! Gasp! Somehow, I survived, har har, but what truly got me through were the smoothies. Every single restaurant and cafe, no matter how small and unassuming, had a long list of tropical blends to enjoy. I had it made in the shade, just sippin’ on my whizzed up fruits and ice. So simple, refreshing – it reminded me that easy edibles are sometimes the best.

When I got back to civilization here in Bali, I had a serious date with my blender. Nothing fancy, just local, seasonal, simple mixes to beat the heat. I came up with these two beauties, inspired by the foods and flora around me.

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The first smoothie is a Mango Coconut Jamu. Jamu is a traditional Indonesian turmeric tonic that has been made for centuries. With endless variations, some recipes including botanical ingredients such as flowers, fruits, seeds, bark, leaves, and roots, it’s fun to be creative with exotic blends, with a touch sweetener such as honey or palm sugar to mellow out the bitter edge. My version takes advantage of the newly-in-season mango (!!!) and fresh, young coconuts which are literally falling off the trees all around me. If you don’t have access to coconuts, just use canned coconut milk instead for a decadent, tropical treat. And as for the turmeric, use as much as you can handle. The recipe calls for only half a teaspoon of fresh turmeric, but I probably put in twice that amount in my own because I’m wild about that little tuber. Dried and powdered turmeric is fine to use too, just try to find organically grown if possible.

The second smoothie I made just had to be green, because this island is so inspiringly lush and leafy! I have been digging the traditional avocado-based drinks that are actually referred to as “juice” here, even though the avocado has been blended. They are thick, creamy, cold, and not overly sweet. My juice is spiked with a hearty dose of digestive ginger and tangy lime. If you want to get things even greener, toss in a handful of tender greens, such as kale or romaine and get glowing!

Either of these shakes would make a fabulous breakfast, as they are literally a meal-in-a-glass. They also satisfy as an afternoon snack, maybe split between two people.

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How to Drink Smoothies
Is there a big question mark sitting above your head right now? How hard is it to drink a smoothie?! Even though we may think just guzzling down a big glass of food is simple enough, there are in fact some ways we can optimize the digestion of these veritable meals-in-a-glass.

Smoothies are a wonderful way to enjoy a whole host of foods easily, as the masticating has been done for us. But, it is still essential to chew your smoothies! Why? Because digestion begins in the mouth and bathing our liquefied food in saliva is very important for the enzymatic action to take place. Especially for the first few sips, chew the smoothie or swirl it around in your mouth as you would any other food. This also sends a signal to your stomach that something good is on the way down and to prepare for the work ahead. It feels a little funny at first, but your tummy will thank you for giving it some time to put things in order before your smoothie arrives.

It’s also a good idea to avoid consuming really cold smoothies, as freezing drinks actually shut down our digestive system. A cold beverage will sit in your stomach until it reaches core temperature before moving onto into the small intestine, so the colder something is to begin with, the longer it will take to digest.

Once blended, smoothies look quite small, but remember that they are still a lot of food! If you were to sit down and eat an entire coconut, mango, and half a banana, it would take you quite a while. Smoothies are caloric and condensed, so keep that in mind when blending up your meal – a lot turns into a little.

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Living a in a tropical climate and being surrounded by all this incredible fruit has inspired me to do a mini-cleanse of sorts. I’ll be eating raw for the next three days, and even though I am practically doing that anyway, this is a conscious, and very intentional move away from anything resembling the ubiquitous white rice and occasional fried tempeh I’ve been enjoying (soooo good…). I just feel like a little freshening up and finding my balance once again. If you’d like to join me on my veggie and fruit feast, eat raw for the next three days and see how you feel! I’ll be enjoying these smoothies, simple fruit and vegetable salads as well as some of the other recipes from the site (here is a link). With the warmer temperatures and sun shining, it is a perfect time to step away from the stove.

I’ll be Instagramming my food during the raw refresher, so follow along my adventures here.

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Show me your smoothies on Instagram: #tropicalgroovesmoothies 

Blueberry Basil Smoothie + Soy-free Protein Smoothie Boosts

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It’s never officially summer until I arrive in Canada. Before the first embrace at the airport from my parents, before long nights in front of a bonfire, before the St. Lawrence River swallows me whole, I cannot truly feel like it’s time to slow down and embrace the season.

And so I am here. Even in between all the work I have to do, I am finding hours to just be. As I write this, I am looking out on the seaway, easing its way east towards the ocean past all the tiny islands that shelter my earliest childhood memories. Being at the cottage grounds me in ways I can never fully understand or articulate, but it does my body and soul good to be here.

I actually wasn’t really sure what to write about this week, but seeing as I’ve been overdosing on smoothies lately, it seemed only appropriate to post one of my latest blended creations. Plus my belly is steadily swelling I am more occupied than ever with getting enough protein in my diet to fuel this little baby’s growth and development. I’ve come up with a great guide of vegetarian protein boosters for smoothies that don’t include soy. Hooray! Fascinating stuff, I tell ya.

I was busy working on some new recipes with my mother-turned-sous-chef the other day and we so happily stumbled into a galaxy of blueberries just outside the cottage kitchen door. Along with the basil snipped freshly from our own backyard, this amazing smoothie was born. I had never really thought about combining these two flavours before but it is really delicious! Super refreshing and bright.

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Soy-free Protein Boosters for Smoothies

Sprouted Nuts
Soaking or “sprouting” nuts before you eat them not only makes them a lot easier to blend up in a smoothie, but massively increases their digestive qualities and nutrient content. Simply by placing a handful of nuts in water overnight, their complex protein chains are broken down into separate amino acids, making their protein easier to digest and assimilate.

Some of my favorite nuts to add to smoothies are almonds, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts and cashews. Make sure you purchase the nuts raw. Discard the soaking water and rinse them very well before consuming.

To learn more about the process and importance of soaking nuts, see my article here.

Dark Leafy Greens
Calorie for calorie, dark leafy greens are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. And if you’re skeptical about their protein content, consider the fact that some of the largest and strongest mammals on earth are vegetarian.

I like to blend kale and spinach into my smoothies when I need a boost of protein, and also vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. I find that these two greens taste the best and break down fairly easily, avoiding any grittiness.

Protein Powder
I don’t always put protein powder in my smoothies, but I like it on occasion if I need a real boost and if my diet has been lacking in protein that particular day. I can often “hide” nearly one third of my daily intake in just one drink, which is convenient and tasty.

There is so much to discuss when it comes to protein powder, since there are some really great choices out there and some serious gobbledygook.

But, how does one pick a high-quality product without a lot of additives, and which source of protein is best? I stick to plant-based protein sources that don’t include any soy, such as hemp seed, pumpkin seed, sprouted gluten-free grain, and pea. These foods are dehydrated and pulverized, and often combined with stevia for sweetness or with a bonus of superfoods, such as spirulina or chlorella. The basic rule is one that applies to anything that comes in package: if you don’t recognize or can’t pronounce the ingredients on the label, don’t buy it – good quality protein powders will have only whole food ingredients! I also make sure that the ingredients are organic and non-GMO.

Here is an extensive and well-researched article on various brands of soy-free vegan protein powders. This girl certainly did her taste-testing…thanks Kathy!

Hemp Hearts
Hemp protein is totally remarkable, as it is complete (meaning it contains all 20 amino acids, including the 9 essential ones), something not so easy to find in plant-based protein, making it an ideal choice for vegetarians and vegans. The protein in hemp is also highly digestible and easily absorbed by the body. Especially perfect for post-workout recovery, hemp is a good source of branch-chained amino acids, needed for repair and growth of lean body tissue. Two tablespoons of hemp hearts contain approximately seven grams of protein.

Hemp hearts add a creaminess to smoothies, which I love. Make sure to buy the hulled hemp hearts, and not the ones in the shell (see pictured).

Bee Pollen
Most people aren’t aware of just how much protein is in bee pollen, but it is in fact the richest animal source of protein trumping beef, eggs and dairy of equal weight. Bee pollen is 40% protein and contains free amino acids that are easily digested and absorbed by the body. In addition, bee pollen contains enzymes to aid digestion, vitamins, minerals, trace minerals and phytonutrtients.

Bee pollen has a floral flavour and is really delicious in fruit-based smoothies. If you are new to using bee pollen, start off with just a little bit and work your way up over the course of a few weeks. It is a very powerful food that your body need time to adjust to.

To learn more about bee pollen, see my article here.

Spirulina and Chlorella
Spirulina and chlorella are both algae, and their protein content cannot be beat! Spirulina contains roughly 60-70% protein by weight, and chlorella hovers around 60%. Although they are not the tastiest of foods, a little goes a long way and they blend beautifully into smoothies. Start small, with half a teaspoon and work your way up to one or two teaspoons (if you can stand the taste).

To learn more about the benefits of chlorella, see my article here.

Nut or Seed Butter
A convenient and delicious way to boost the protein in your smoothies is to add nut and seed butters. Two tablespoons of almond butter contain about 6 grams of protein and tahini is around 5 grams.

I often blend nut or seed butter with water to start off my smoothie, which makes a “cheater’s nut milk”, then add the other ingredients.

Rolled Oats
Oats are a surprising source of protein – a half a cup containing around six grams. If you are using rolled oats in a smoothie, make sure to soak them first to increase their digestibility. Soaking also helps the oats blend up into a creamy textured delight. I love the thickness that comes from adding soaked oats to a smoothie – it’s a real meal in a glass!

For best results, use whole grain rolled oats instead of instant.

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I am very excited to announce that, after much inquiry, I am holding the second annual My New Roots Potluck Picnic in the Park! After such a successful event last summer and meeting SO many amazing people (not to mention the incredible food!) I just had to throw another one.

Come join us in Toronto at Trinity Bellwoods Park – we’ll be located at the north-west corner of the park at Dundas and Shaw corner. Come for 6:00pm and bring your yummiest vegan dish to impress – bonus for gluten-free recipes too! No, you certainly do not have to make a recipe from My New Roots, as we all want to taste something new and exciting (but if you have an absolute favourite, I won’t complain either). Please feel free to bring friends as well, or show up solo and make some new ones in three or four minutes. We’re all coming out for healthy, tasty food so you’ll be in good company!

I hope that you’re as excited as I am! Looking forward to seeing you all there.

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