Category: Gluten-Free

Deluxe Butternut Macaroni ‘n’ Tease

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I’m over winter, but winter definitely isn’t over. Although I really can’t complain about the balmy temps here in Denmark, it’s dark and damp and I would probably pay a lot of money to see the sun right about now. And my heart does go out to all my family and friends freezing their tooshies off stateside. Yikes! I’m here to help. Or at least, this recipe is here to help.

Like most kids, I ate a lot of macaroni and cheese growing up, the kind that came in a blue box with the magical, neon orange flavour powder. Sometimes my mom would toss in a few slices of bell peppers and cocktail wieners and my brother and I felt like kings. Kings! Those were the days. In fear of falling short of that level of awesomeness, I haven’t actually attempted to make mac ‘n’ cheese on my own past the days of high school. Until recently this winter, a gnawing hunger for warmth, comfort and nostalgia took hold and just wouldn’t let go. If you’re anything like me (a human) you’ll love tucking into this tasty meal every week until spring hits.

So, what makes this mac ‘n’ tease a tease? It’s vegan! Not one speck of cheese or milk or butter or cream in sight. Nope. Instead the delectable sauce is a winning combination of roasted butternut squash and garlic, creamy butter beans, and cheesy nutritional yeast. Although not exactly like the cheese sauce of yore, it is still completely smooth and creamy, rich, unctuous, and deeply satisfying when combined with fat noodles and the most amazing non-breadcrumb-topping made out of sunflower seeds. That’s right.

Deluxe Butternut Mac 'n' Cheese // My New Roots

Nutritional Yeast: A Cheesy Tease
Although the name is slightly unappealing, nutritional yeast is a delicious and versatile seasoning to have in your pantry. Made from a single-celled organism called, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, the yeast is grown on cane or beet molasses, fermented, then deactivated with heat to stop the growing process. The yeast is sold both as flakes and powder (use half the amount of powder if a recipe calls for flakes). The natural colour of nutritional yeast is vibrantly golden. The flavour is often described as cheesy, which makes it a perfect substitute for dairy products in dressing and sauces. I sprinkle nutritional yeast on popcorn, salads, sandwiches, soups, blend a little into hummus and other savory dips. Because of its high nutritional content, many people treat nutritional yeast as a food supplement.

First and foremost, nutritional yeast is an excellent source of B-vitamins, and in many cases B-12 (though not all brands, read the label to make sure). Our bodies need B-vitamins to convert food into energy, keep stress at bay, alleviate insomnia, nervousness, fatigue, PMS, and mood swings (so, kind of important). Nutritional yeast also contains high amounts of protein with 4 grams per tablespoon, and contains 18 amino acids. It is a good source of dietary fiber, folic acid, selenium, and zinc. It is gluten-free and vegan.

In North America nutritional yeast is available at natural grocers and bulk food stores. In the UK, it is sold under the brand name Engevita; in Australia, it is called savory yeast flakes; in Scandinavia it is sold as yeast flakes or B-yeast / B-gær (due to the high B-vitamin content). Among cool kids, nutritional yeast is referred to simply as nooch. Drop that bomb at your next vegan potluck for major street cred. It should also be noted that nutritional yeast is not the same as brewer’s yeast, dry active yeast or baking yeast. Do not use these as a substitute for nutritional yeast in any recipe. It will be gross.

If you suffer from Candida or suspect that you have yeast issues, not to worry. Nutritional yeast is totally safe and will not infect you or exacerbate yeast conditions. It should be avoided however by those that are allergic to yeast and yeast products, like bread products, grapes and beer.

Deluxe Butternut Mac 'n' Cheese // My New Roots

The shape of pasta you use for this really matters. I chose a large, deeply ridged, tubular pasta that said “macaroni” on the package, but it’s much closer to rigatoni if you ask me. Rigatoni, penne, classic macaroni, ziti, or even conchiglie (shells) would work here, as the ultimate goal is to get as much sauce in and around each noodle as humanly possible. In fact, I guarantee when you make the sauce you’ll be questioning my recipe amounts – there is a lot of it, people. But once you pour it over the cooked pasta and start stirring, it magically disappears into the nooks and crannies only reappear later in your mouth, like a rich and savoury flavour explosion from heaven. Tubes work best for obvious reasons, but I’ll let you decide how you want your sauce delivered. And I hope that it goes without saying that you should make an effort to find the most high-vibe pasta you can. There are so many on the market these days, even at regular grocery stores, so no excuses! No white pasta!

Deluxe Butternut Mac 'n' Cheese // My New Roots

And yes, there is topping. In keeping with the gluten-free theme I went with a Sunflower Crumble Topping that I am quite chuffed about. It’s savoury, crunchy, and totally takes this meal to the next level – better than breadcrumbs I tell ya! And it’s delicious not only on mac ‘n’ cheese, but garnishing avocado toast, grain salads, and roast veggies. You may have a little extra of the topping, but my casserole dish is relatively deep and narrow compared to most, and I wanted to make sure you had plenty to cover the top of yours. If you want to save time and skip steps, the pasta and sauce alone is super delish all on its own. But. The topping.

After cooking up this meal, I looked around the kitchen at the dish carnage and shrugged my shoulders. You know why? So worth it. Yes, you will use pretty much every cooking element and piece of equipment you own, but make it a Sunday project, invite some buds over and have them clean up. You did cook them a totally awesome meal after all, it’s the least they can do. 

Deluxe Butternut Mac 'n' Cheese // My New Roots

Chocolate Chunk Nut Butter Blondies

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Chocolate Chunk Nut Butter Blondies // My New Roots

My friend Adam is a serious health-foodie. He teaches sprouting workshops, is part of a vegetarian soup club, and appreciates a good sourdough as much as I do. He’s also quite fearless in the kitchen, combining tastes and textures I would never dream of, most often successfully. There was that one time however he put peppermint oil in a batch of his granola, and it tasted like breakfast and toothpaste all at the same time. I admire his gumption, but he will never live that one down.

One day while I was over at his place, I was really craving a cookie. He lives near a very high-vibe bakery so I was nearly out the door when he said, “wait! I have something you should try”. He proceeded to tell me that his experimental cookies were flour-free, grain-free in fact, and contained only six ingredients. I was scared – this sounded like a treat from wrong town. But when I took my first skeptical nibble, I was shocked. This cookie was everything I had ever wanted: rich, moist, not-too-sweet and deeply satisfying. Then he told me that it was just almond butter, eggs, maple syrup, chocolate, baking soda and sea salt. Um, what?! No flour? How was this even possible? Inexplicable, culinary wizardry at its best, that’s for darn sure, and an experiment gone absolutely right.

After googling almond butter cookies, I discovered that this kind of recipe had been floating around the interwebs unbeknownst to me. Anyway, I got Adam to make them for me again this past summer at his cottage, posted them on Instagram, and many of you asked for the recipe. I tinkered with them a lot to make sure they were just right, changing up the nut butters, using different sweeteners, various add-ins etc. (it’s a tough job, I tell ya). Then it dawned on me: what if I put the dough into a pan and made blondies?! For the win.

Now I don’t know about you, but I take my indulgences seriously. When I crave something sweet, I definitely don’t mess around with mousses, flaky pastries or light-n’-airy items. Heck no. I want to sink my teeth into something substantial, for it to announce its presence to my stomach with a fulfilling thud, and feel like I actually ate something. These blondies are just that. Aside from their incredibly rich, satisfying flavour, the texture of them is ultra chewy and have that dense brownie quality I love so much. It still baffles me that there isn’t any flour in the recipe, since it just feels like there is, from a “this-must-be-really-bad-for-me perspective. Like I said, there is some serious alchemical conjuring taking place, proving that the universe loves us, so don’t ask any questions.

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Being choosey about your Chocolate
Yes, yes, we’re talking about blondies here, but don’t all blondies have chocolate in them? I’m no expert, but I do believe this is a necessary addition. How do we go about choosing our chocolate though? Is there really a difference between cocoa mass percentages? Does organic really matter? Does milk chocolate count? Here are my top four tips for making sure your chocolate isn’t total junk food.

4 Tips for Choosing the Healthiest Chocolate

Choose dark chocolate varieties. The darker the bar, the higher the cocoa mass percentage will be. When a bar says it is 70% cocoa that means it has a relatively high concentration of health-promoting compounds, like polyphenols and antioxidants. It also means that there is less room for schwaggy stuff like refined sugar, processed oils, and flavourings. Always choose a bar with a minimum of 70% cocoa solids for maximum benefits. If the chocolate bar does not list a cocoa percentage, don’t buy it.

Read the ingredients. High quality chocolate should only contain three to four ingredients: chocolate, cocoa butter/ cocoa mass, and/or cocoa liquor, plus sugar. If the bar contains any oil, milk or milk products, soya lecithin, emulsifiers, ‘natural flavour’, or preservatives don’t buy it.

Buy Organic whenever possible. Cacao plants are some of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world. As pesticide residues can end up in the final product, choose chocolate that has been made from organically grown beans.

Learn about the process. Although it will require a little reconnaissance work, finding out how your chocolate was manufactured is important in determining how healthy it is. Drying cacao beans in the sun instead of roasting them preserves many of the chocolate’s delicate nutrients. Make sure that their processing temperature is not over 110°F. Avoid chocolate whose processing includes “Dutching”, an alkalization method that actually removes the polyphenols, as they lend characteristic bitter flavour to the finished product.

I also encourage you to purchase Fair Trade Certified chocolate whenever possible, as it makes a huge difference to the lives of cacao farmers and their families. Fair Trade is an international certification that ensures that farmers are guaranteed a minimum price for their product, decent working conditions, and that the processes they use protect the natural environment.

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The blondies are not overly sweet, which I appreciate. If you like your desserts on the more saccharine side, I believe that swapping out ¼ cup of coconut sugar and replacing it with maple syrup would work very well. This would also help keep the blondies moist on the second and third day (although they won’t last that long. Trust.). You could also choose a chocolate with a lower cocoa mass, such as 70%, but don’t go lower than that, as the sugar in it will outweigh the health benefits of the chocolate itself. I chose a bar at 85%, which tends to be a little bitter, but I find it pairs well in this dessert.

As far as nut butter goes, anything goes.  I used a homemade almond and hazelnut butter blend in these, which was unreasonably delicious (for a blended nut butter recipe, check out my post here). Because my nut butter was a deep caramel brown, my blondies turned out more like brunettes (tee hee), so the colour of your finished product depends on the nut butter you use. I tried a homemade sunflower butter in my experiments and it worked really well. I would also like to try tahini and pumpkin seed butter, although I know the colour in that case may be a little weird! I have a feeling cashew butter would taste out of this world, and pecan or walnut as well. And I definitely recommend roasted nut butter over raw for depth of flavour, and because you’ll be baking these anyway.

I will say that I really tried making these darn things vegan, but guys, it just didn’t work! Eggs in this case are crucial because they not only bind the ingredients, but they give the blondies air and volume. Using chia and flax works to bind, but you’ll end up with a tasty puddle. If that’s okay with you, go for it! I obviously ate all of my experiments, and quite happily indulged in many yummy, almond butter “pancakes”. I did not try vegan egg replacers though, and that may work better. If you have success in this arena, let me know.

And can we take a minute to talk about my favourite part of all? The corner pieces. If you actually own one of those funky all-corners brownie pans, you get where I’m coming from friend, and this is the time to use it. The edges are extra dense and chewy, slightly crisp and oooohhhhh my goodness I can’t even write about this anymore. On to the recipe.

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Seeing as it’s February and we’ve been so very behaved since the first of January (right…?) I thought it was time to pull out the big guns and celebrate with these ladies. I hope you drop everything you are doing right now and go make them. It’s true, blondies have more fun!

xo, Sarah B

Show me your Blondies on Instagram: #MNRblondies

Seriously Super Cereal

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Seriously Super Cereal // My New Roots

If you were to nominate one meal a day for a facelift, would it be breakfast? I thought so. Breakfast can be a challenge for many people, including myself. I get into super groovin’ streaks with morning meals for weeks on end at times, feeling like I’m sooo on top of everything in my life. Then something happens, breakfast becomes less of a priority and I end up making the same smoothie or sourdough smeared with almond butter over and over again. Okay, now that I am writing this down, it really doesn’t sound all that dreadful, but for me, starting the day in not only a conscious, but enthusiastic way sets me up for the rest of my waking hours. It fuels me in ways that go beyond calories: it’s self-love, ceremony, and celebration.

Ironically, I make a very complete and healthy breakfast for my 14-month old every single day without even thinking about it. Before I go to bed at night, I soak whole grains, nuts and seeds, rinse them in the morning and cook them with fresh fruit, spices and superfoods. So, um, what about mum? Funny how it wasn’t until recently that I thought about myself and how I would like the break the fast. I guess that’s just “being a parent” sometimes, but I am now committed to making a change. It is a New Year after all.

Seriously Super Cereal // My New Roots

Serious Cereal and a Plea for Carbohydrates
When someone says that they eat “cereal” for breakfast, what do you picture? A bowl of steaming hot whole grains, or sugary flakes in milk? I tend to imagine the latter, and I suppose it’s because that was my breakfast growing up. We had a few kinds of packaged cereal, and not total junk food, but I do recall the odd time we could convince my mom to buy some rainbow-hued concoction in a moment of weakness. I get it: boxed cereal is mindlessly easy, requires no cooking, soaking, stirring or waiting.

But this. This is serious cereal. Real cereal. The kind that stands behind its name, and not the kind that has led us so far astray from what cereal actually is that we’ve mostly forgotten it’s meaning. It’s unprocessed, unrefined, completely whole and natural, and the real way we are meant to eat grains.

And while we’re on the subject, I would like to make a case for carbs. When yet another friend of mine felt the need to accuse all carbohydrates of being evil, I wonder how we’ve become prejudice against macronutrients?! It’s like the diet dark ages.

Carbohydrates are not the devil. Many modern eating plans out there vilify them for various reasons, but we need to remember that the majority of grains and grain-related products that people in developed counties consume are highly processed, refined, and stripped of nearly all their nutrients. This was originally done to prolong shelf life, but continues as we’ve developed a taste for them! It turns out we prefer sweeter food that is faster to cook and easier to chew (go figure). From a biological standpoint, this makes perfect sense, so it’s rather difficult trying to convince people to spend more money on food that spoils faster, takes longer to cook and eat! Argh. I can only promise you it is worth it. And once you start replacing refined grains with whole grains you will feel why. Eating them in balance with both fats and proteins is a much healthier and quite simply, a more sustainable way of living.

My point here is this: let’s stop looking at food in its respective parts (carbs, fats, proteins), and get back to the whole picture, the whole food. Choosing a balanced way of eating, as close to nature as possible is the most realistic plan for eating long term. Going to extremes (low-carb! no-carb! fat-free! high-protein!) is not a sustainable way of eating or living. What I propose instead is a sensible, flexible dietary strategy that we can incorporate successfully, and joyfully, over a lifetime.

McKel Hill wrote a couple stellar articles about carbohydrates over on her site, Nutrition Stripped. Check them out – very clear and thorough reads for those of you who want to know more!

Seriously Super Cereal // My New RootsI made this cereal blend with a few things in mind. For one, I wanted the mix to be gluten-free so that we can all enjoy it. I wanted something that could keep outside of the fridge, as rolled grains spoil relatively quickly if left at room temperature (how long have those quick oats been sittin’ in your cupboard, ya’ll?) so I chose only whole grains that are relatively shelf stable. And of course, I also wanted the cereal to actually taste good, which it does. The texture is also very pleasing, not mushy or glue-y like some of the other porridges I’ve tried. The sunflower seeds add a wonderful tooth and the grain size differences make for a satisfying mouthfeel (yes, I just used that word).

Although I highly recommend soaking the cereal overnight, you can of course cook it from raw the morning you are eating it. In both cases however, rinse the cereal under cool running water before cooking. I use a very fine mesh sieve for this, as the chia and amaranth seeds will fall through large holes.

Seriously Super Cereal // My New Roots

Once cooked, add whatever you like to the porridge. I love a little nut milk poured over the top for creaminess, plus a drizzle of maple syrup or honey, which makes everything delish. I made up a couple seasonal bowls in hopes of inspiring you: one with pear, roasted hazelnuts, and pomegranate seeds; the other with persimmon, toasted coconut flakes and bee pollen. Warming spices like cinnamon and cardamom are tasty stirred in, as are dried fruit, like apricots, raisins, goji berries, mulberries, or figs. Basically, this breakfast is infinitely customizable for every palate and season. Find your groove and just enjoy filling yourself with nourishing goodness from morning’s first light.

Seriously Super Cereal // My New Roots

The below batch recipe is a good starting amount, and will make 18-19 portions if you go with ¼ cup / 50g servings. I find this amount is perfect for me once I add in fruit, some nuts or seeds and superfoods, but if your calories needs are higher, go for 1/3 or 1/2 cup servings. If you want to double, triple or quadruple the batch amount, feel free to do so. I just recommend making this amount first and testing it to make sure you really like it, then you can make it your go-to cereal.

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My New Roots: Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every Season

For those of you that follow me on Instagram will know that I received the first hard copy of my cookbook this week! Eek! I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all SO MUCH for the incredible love and enthusiasm. I couldn’t write this post and not tell you how much I appreciate your words. Sheesh! I am bursting with gratitude.

I have to mention again that the book is only available for preorder at this time, here. The book drops in North America March 31, UK and Australia April 9, Denmark May 21, Netherlands in June and Germany this summer. Thanks everyone!!

with a full heart,
Sarah B

Show me your Seriously Super Cereal on Instagram: #seriouslysupercereal