Category: Dessert

Healthy Holiday Gingerbread Cookies

   83 Comments

Healthy Holiday Gingerbread // My New Roots

Hey guys. Remember how I like pretending that baking is easy? Well, I’ve done it again!

I actually wanted to make a gingerbread recipe last year. I even went out and bought a cute set of cookie cutters for the occasion as soon as they appeared in the stores. Let me just preface this by saying, this was at the very end of my pregnancy and pre-baby. Bahahaaa! How I thought that I would have time, energy, or sanity after giving birth to make cookies is beyond me, but I can at least laugh at my extraordinary naiveté.

So, fast-forward to the present moment: my mental wherewithal mostly in tact after the first 12 months of motherhood, and the desire to be involved in some kind of holiday tradition tugging at my heart strings. I was actually so excited to make gingerbread, once and for all, and blog about how easy it was.

If you follow me on Instagram, you will recall a certain Michelin-man-shaped gingerbread puddle that I posted last week. Yea. Like I said, I forgot that baking is not easy when you’re silly enough to invent recipes of which you have zero experience, under crushing time pressure. Okay, well, no big deal. Roll up my sleeves and start again, right? To rectify the poofing, I decided to eliminate the baking soda, baking powder and all liquid. Genius! Instead of a puffed up puddle, the cookies were rock hard and greasy.
Gingerbread: 2, Sarah B: 0.

At this point, in a frustrated frenzy, my husband chimed in for the pep talk. “Hun, you know that this happens every time you bake. It’s science! And you’re bad at science (I’m paraphrasing). Just give it one more try and I bet you’ll nail it, because in the end you always do” (he forgot about the carrot cake debacle, bless his heart). So this morning began in the kitchen, sleeves rolled up, and ready to face this worthy opponent with a veritable village of gingerbread casualties in my wake.
Except this time, I won.

Healthy Holiday Gingerbread // My New Roots

Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Molasses
Isn’t it ironic that the waste product of manufacturing white sugar, is a nutrient-rich, low-glycemic syrup? I’m talking about molasses. That gooey, rich, unmistakably black-brown nectar with a rather divisive flavour.

There are a few varieties of molasses, but to understand how they vary, let’s first look at how molasses is made.

Molasses is created from either sugarcane or sugar beets (but because the molasses made from beets can be quite bitter, sugarcane molasses is the most common variety available for human consumption). These plants are harvested, and then cut, crushed, and mashed so that the juice is extracted. “Fancy Molasses” is the first product to be made, but is in fact the only type of molasses that is not a by-product of sugar processing, but instead a direct product from sugar cane. This type is super sweet and is most commonly enjoyed as the syrup straight on pancakes or waffles, and as an ingredient in baked goods.

Varieties of Molasses
The real deal molasses comes from boiling the juice of sugar cane down to crystallize the sugars, producing a concentrate, the first of which is called First Molasses, First Strike Molasses, Barbados Molasses, Light Molasses, Mild Molasses, or Sweet Molasses. This comes from the first boiling of the sugar. It is light in colour and mild in flavour. Some people also enjoy this type directly on their food, like fancy molasses. It is about 65% sucrose.

Next up is Second Molasses, Second Strike Molasses, Dark Molasses, or Full Molasses. As you may have guessed, this is made from the second boiling of the extracted cane juice, a process that extracts even more sugar, producing a darker, thicker syrup typically used as a cooking ingredient in sauces, marinades and baked beans. It is about 60% sucrose.

Blackstrap molasses is likely the one all you health foodies out there know and love. This type of molasses is made by boiling the cane syrup a third time, which extracts even more sugar and concentrates the flavour. By this point, the sucrose content is so low (about 55%) that the syrup no longer tastes sweet, but slightly bitter. The colour is nearly black, and the consistency is very thick and viscous. Blackstrap molasses is used in baking, sauces, stews and even as a food supplement due to its high nutrient content.

Nutritious and Delicious
Blackstrap molasses is highly concentrated in essential minerals, such as iron, calcium, selenium, manganese, potassium, copper, and zinc. As I mentioned above, this type of molasses is sometimes used as a dietary supplement or tonic. One tablespoon stirred into warm water is a food-based way to boost mineral levels, especially iron, as this small amount contains a whopping 20% of your RDI. You can also enjoy it in foods such as smoothies, tea, warm cereal, or dressings, sauces and stews. Remember to eat iron-rich foods with vitamin C to enhance its absorption. I like to use a little lemon juice.

Blackstrap molasses is one of the few sweeteners that is low on the glycemic scale with an index classification of 55. This means that it metabolizes slowly in a controlled way, demands less insulin production and won’t cause a spike in blood glucose levels. All in all, blackstrap molasses is a fantastic, healthy sweetener to which I enthusiastically give a thumbs up!

Buying and Storing
When purchasing molasses, read the label to ensure that what you are buying is 100% pure molasses (some companies will cut blackstrap molasses with corn syrup to make it sweeter) and that it is “unsulfured”. Sulfur dioxide can be added to all grades of molasses to help preserve it, as it prevents the growth of bacteria and mould. From a health perspective, sulfur can cause reactions in sensitive people (you can read more about that here). Sulfur dioxide also has a very bitter flavour, and can drastically alter the flavour of the dish you are making. Look for organic molasses whenever possible too.

Store unopened molasses in a cool, dark place for up to one year. Opened containers must be stored in the fridge and will last for up to six months.

Healthy Holiday Gingerbread // My New Roots

So this gingerbread, this is really it. It’s deeply spiced, perfectly balanced in sweet and salt, and super addictive. I love the special flavour and richness that molasses brings to the cookies as well. It’s a must-have component of this recipe for sure, and should not be substituted with other sweeteners due to its properties in the baking itself. The cookies are totally vegan (!!!), made with whole spelt flour and natural sweeteners. But the coolest part of this recipe? If you like a chewy cookies, bake them for 7 minutes, and if you like a crispier version, bake it for 10. Science! I tried two versions with this batch of cookies, and although I prefer the chewy ones, my husband really likes the crunch of the longer-baked variety.

I am really, really proud of my gingerbread, especially after persevering through three rounds of total uncertainty and insanity. Although the first two recipes, according to some were “just fine”, I couldn’t post a recipe here on My New Roots that is just fine. Never! I want everything I put out into the world to be my best, and this, I am so pleased to say, (finally) qualifies. Whew.

Healthy Holiday Gingerbread // My New Roots
As I was very anxiously waiting for this last trial to bake, I whipped up a Cashew-Cacao Butter Icing to decorate the little guys with (I got it on the first try too!). As I was making it however, I used honey to sweeten it, and then promptly delivered myself a swift forehead slap realizing that the rest of the cookie recipe was vegan! Argh. So, if you don’t want to use honey to sweeten this icing, I am confident that maple syrup or coconut nectar would work in its place. I haven’t tried making this recipe in a regular blender, only a Vitamix, so I know that the icing consistency may be a little grainy if you don’t use a high-powered machine.

Healthy Holiday Gingerbread // My New Roots

For those of you living in Copenhagen, I’ve only found one shop that carries molasses and it’s the Super Brugsen on Nørrebrogade. I know at least one of you is going to ask!

And finally, I want to say a HUGE Happy Holidays to everyone out there. I hope that your days are filled with wonder and delight, family and friends, and above all, delicious food. I can’t help myself – it’s what I live for!

All love and sparkling winter holidays,
Sarah B.

Show me your gingerbread on Instagram: #MNRgingerbread

From my Cookbook: Raw Vegan Eggnog

   75 Comments

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.
eggnog5
 
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

 

Grilled Pumpkin Bread with Honeycomb

   115 Comments

pumpkinbread
 
There are so many unexpected things I’ve gotten from blogging. Big and small things. A cookbook. A reason to use designer muffin cups. A community. A career. New friends. Offers to try a new line of microalgae.

But my favourite things however, are those that involve super passionate people wanting to share their awesome, healthy, and often geeky fervor with me. I’m all in! Recently, I received an email from Oliver Maxwell, the founder of Bybi (translation: City Bee), which is an urban beekeeping collective here in Copenhagen. As a blog reader, Oliver was keenly aware of just how much I love bees and the things that they make, so he was kind enough to invite me out to his operation to see how this incredible grassroots company works. And meet the bees, of course.

After a full tour, thorough honey tasting and hive visit, Oliver offered me what I can only describe as the holy grail of all bee things: honeycomb. And not just a chunk of the stuff, but an entire hive frame of it! Um, okay, really? I almost kissed him. But my husband was there too and that would have been awkward.

I carried the frame of honeycomb home cradling it like a baby. I could see the paper bag that Oliver had put it into beginning to darken in spots where the honey was oozing and pooling. My heart raced. These are the things I live for.

Grilled Pumpkin Bread with Honeycomb // My New Roots
 
Bursting with excitement and trepidation as to how I would put this delicacy to due use, I scurried home, took the honeycomb out of the bag and stared at it, praying it would reveal a grand plan for itself. But nothing came. Nothing. And all I wanted to do was dive face first into the thing, devouring it all in an animal-like frenzy just because I could, but instead I gently put it down and walked away.

A few weeks went by. Still nothing. And I remembered asking Oliver before I left how long the honeycomb would keep. He looked at me quite seriously and replied “not forever”. What does that even mean?! I could hear his words echoing in my head like a cautionary character in a horror film. The pressure continued to build to an almost crushing weight. I had to do something.

And then, as if by magic, Yotam Ottolenghi’s newest book, Plenty More, arrived on my doorstep, a gift from my publisher. Gleefully absorbed in the rapturous inspiration of pure genius, all thoughts of my self-imposed assignment drifted away. Until I hit page 319. There it was, like a beacon in the blackest of nights, the recipe title: Grilled Banana Bread with Tahini and Honeycomb. HONEYCOMB. I was saved.

Thoughts turned to alternative loaves (I couldn’t flat-out copy Ottolenghi!) and pumpkin was the seasonal flavour I excitedly committed to. I took my classic banana bread recipe, tweaked it ever-so-slightly and came up with what you have in front of you today. The loaf itself is moist, flavourful, and so very pumpkin-y, punctuated with warming spices, crunchy walnuts and dark chocolate. It is not overly sweet like so many other recipes and commercial versions of pumpkin bread I’ve tried, and I did this on purpose: if you do serve it with honeycomb, it’s important to have a little contrast, you know? The pumpkin loaf recipe is vegan, but of course the honeycomb is not. If you are vegan, or honey just isn’t your thing, the bread is delicious with date syrup, jam, or apple butter. You can grill it (highly recommended) or choose to eat it fresh – both are fantastic! But when using honeycomb, it’s a treat to have the wax melt just a little bit on the warm bread, and the honey sink into the cozy nooks and crannies of the loaf. Guh. Then you sprinkle the whole thing with flaky sea salt and devour. It’s a serious, loss-for-words kind of situation (which is convenient because your mouth will be very, very full).

Grilled Pumpkin Bread with Honeycomb // My New Roots

 
Bee Mine, Sweet Honeycomb
Honey is made by female honeybees that collect nectar from flowers, mix it with enzymes and regurgitate it (yum!) into honeycomb cells. Once the water content of this concoction reduces to less than 20% (the bees beat their wings in the hive to help evaporation, wowzers!) it is considered honey. The bees then put a seal on each cell and it is stored for times when they need food, like the winter. Kept this way, honey, will in essence, last forever – this is why it is considered the only food on planet earth that never spoils.

Honeycomb is altogether miraculous. To behold its sheer geometrical perfection is like a religious experience, and to see evidence of the deep, clear intelligence that built such a structure is humbling. It is altogether delicate and strong, housing the clear, liquid gold inside each of its cells so perfectly. Made of natural wax that the female bees excrete, it is built into the ingenious, space-saving, hexagonal cells that contain their larvae, store pollen and honey. The wax itself is totally edible, but some folks like to chew it up and spit it out after they’ve gotten all the honey out of it. The flavour of the wax depends greatly on the flowers the bees were collecting nectar from, but for the most part it is mildly sweet and mellow-tasting.

Grilled Pumpkin Bread with Honeycomb // My New Roots
 
The wonderful thing about purchasing honeycomb is that you know the honey is raw, unpasteurized, unclarified, unfiltered, and real. Nothing has been done to it. It is loaded with all the things that make honey good for us, like enzymes, propolis, and all of its antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal properties. It may surprise you to learn that most of the commercial honey available in the grocery store has been pasteurized and ultra-filtered, rendering it rather ineffectual. It is also important to check the label on your honey, as some brands cut their product with less expensive high-fructose corn syrup and other processed sweeteners. Like with so many foods these days, purchasing locally from a reliable source is the only way to ensure a clean and totally natural product.

Look for honeycomb at farmers markets and natural food stores. Late summer and autumn are usually when farmers harvest their honey so it will be freshest at this time of year. If you purchase fresh honeycomb in plastic, transfer it to a sealable glass container when you get home. Store in a dark place at room temperature.

Grilled Pumpkin Bread with Honeycomb // My New Roots
 


Grilled Pumpkin Bread with Honeycomb // My New Roots


 

* * * * * *

Hey friends! Check out the article I wrote about Copenhagen’s greenest hot spots on Melting Butter and Forbes.

There are also some albums from the Amsterdam events up on my Facebook page. Thank you again to everyone who came out!