Category: Grains

Poke-Inspired Beet Bowl

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Poke seems to be everywhere these days, from fine restaurant menus, to fast-casual and even food trucks. Chefs are coming up with clever combos and creative reinterpretations – even fish-free versions for the veg set. I knew had to take a stab at it. Or at least a poke. Sorry.

For those of you hearing about poke for the first time, this fresh and tasty dish (pronounced POH-kay), hails from Hawaii. In its most unadulterated form, poke is raw fish, originally combined with sea salt, candlenut and seaweed. It evolved over the years as ingredient availability increased, and the salt was replaced with soy sauce, the seaweed with spring onion, the candlenut with sesame and so on. Once it hit mainland America a few years ago, poke mania ensued and the dish evolved to become more of a meal – not just a snack. Now it is often served atop rice and garnished with all manner of innovative ingredients. Fully-focused poke restaurants have established themselves in major cities across North America. Many of these eateries allow their patrons to customize their bowls with veggies, sea weed, pickles, beans, nuts, and alt-grains, tapping into the to the fact that fast, fresh, healthy meals are becoming mainstream. Which totally rocks.

I had most of the elements for my own poke-inspired version in my head…except for the fish (the most important part?). I racked my brain to come up with something that looked just like tuna or salmon, but didn’t want to use fruit, like watermelon or papaya, since I didn’t want the dish to be sweet. It wasn’t until I was trying to fall asleep one night, that it came to me…chiogga beets! Chiogga, or candy-striped beets are gorgeously two-toned when they are raw. Sliced thin horizontally, they reveal rings of deep pink pigment and creamy white, resembling something that your grandmother keeps on her coffee table in a crystal dish. But for anyone who has ever roasted these stunning creatures will know that the magic doesn’t last; the magenta bleeds into the white during cooking, resulting in an almost homogenous pale pink, with slight variegation. WHICH LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE TUNA. I almost couldn’t sleep. Too excited.

The next day I gathered up all the things I’d like in a poke bowl: short grain brown rice (not long grain – an important distinction), spring onion for bite, carrot for crunch, edamame for pop and protein, and avo for creaminess. I took this last one a step farther and blended it with lemon and wasabi for the most boss sauce ever. This alone would be delish on most things…please try it. And for the fishy component, I thought back to the raw vegan “tuna” I made for my first cookbook, and how effective adding a sprinkle of nori was to boost that fresh-from-the-sea flavour. This is not a deal breaker for the overall dish, but it definitely made it taste complete. If you can’t find nori flakes, just crunch up a couple sheets of the stuff that you’d use to make sushi. Easy fix!

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I like to use wasabi powder in the avo cream since the pre-made stuff in a tube is questionable. Have you ever read the ingredient list on one of those packages? It can be scary stuff. In a pinch, use it, but tracking down the powder is worth it from a nutrition standpoint, and also a flavour one. The real stuff tastes infinitely better! What a shocker.

Wasabi is Japanese horseradish, and like its western counterpart, it belongs to the Brassica family, like cabbage, broccoli and mustard. The root is dried and then pulverized, which gives us the powder that we can blend with water to create wasabi paste. It is a difficult crop to grow, which explains the high price for the genuine product. Most wasabi powders don’t contain any wasabi at all, but are instead a mix of mustard powder and regular horseradish mixed with green food dye. A high-quality wasabi powder should be organic and contain only horseradish and wasabi. The colour should be pale green – not disco neon. Most health food stores carry wasabi powder. This is a good brand.

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Everything unfolded just as I’d hoped it would. The beets came out perfectly pink with those thin white stripes that look just like fat striation. The marinade that I tossed them around in was acidic and ginger-y and just plain yum. Building the meal up with the rice, the beans, the veggies, a dollop of cream, a sprinkle of nori and roasted sesame, was ever so satisfying and fun. This healthy, fresh meal is calling you. No need to poke about, just make it. Again, sorry.

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I’m on my last few days of I just ended the North American cookbook tour. Honestly, it’s been just magical and I am so grateful to all of you who came out to show some love and connect with the healthy community around them!

All love and smiles,
Sarah B

Show me your bowls on Instagram! #mnrpokebowl

Emma’s Tahini, Orange + Coconut Muesli

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Tahini Orange Coconut Muesli

I can’t recall the exact day that I stumbled into Emma Galloway’s world, but I do remember being completely and utterly awe-struck, inspired, and grateful. Her blog, My Darling Lemon Thyme has been on my highly edited list of sites that I actually read, and her delicious, innovative recipes have been making regular appearances in my kitchen ever since.

Joy of joys, Emma released a cookbook, and just like the blog, it is a true gem. Flipping through this book is kind of like shopping in a store where everything fits you perfectly, is the exact colour you want, and strikes the perfect balance between need and want. For instance, I need a recipe for gluten-free sourdough bread, and, I want another recipe for granola. She takes familiar ingredients and genius-ly transforms them into something unique and special that makes you ask: why didn’t I think of that?! Sweet Potato and Kale Latkes, Mung Bean Pancakes, Buckwheat Tabouli – the list goes on. Emma uses exclusively plant-based, gluten-free, whole food ingredients, and taste comes first! I want to tuck into every single one of her meals and treats.

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Although it was nearly impossible to choose just one to share here, the recipe I settled on was Tahini, Orange + Coconut Toasted Muesli, as it sounded like the best and most exciting new way of enjoying granola, and the perfect way to bid farewell to those last winter oranges in the market. The idea of adding tahini to granola was totally brilliant (thanks again, Emma), along with the flavours of toasted coconut and oranges. Yum. After baking, the additions of dried fruit are really special and deliver bright, juicy hits throughout the toasty nuts, seeds and grains. It’s incredibly balanced and tasty, and makes a stupendous topping for yogurt, porridge – even as snack eaten right out of the jar. A bag of this on a recent trip halfway across the world proved to be a real lifesaver!

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The next time I make this recipe, I am going to try it with rolled oats instead of the quinoa flakes. Although it was a nice change to use a different grain, I find the texture of quinoa flakes a little too light and powdery – I prefer the heft and crunch that oats give to granola. I’ve even wondered about using buckwheat groats, which I love in cereal. I will keep you guys posted when I try something new!

Tahini Orange Coconut Muesli


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Thank you, Emma, for sharing your gifts with the world. We love granola, and we love you.

xo, Sarah B

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I’m also really excited to share some (hopefully) helpful information for you in the new Resources section here on the blog. Since I get many, many emails with similar questions about the practicalities of running My New Roots, I have decided to write a few pieces on the inner workings of this food blog – and where I don’t have the answer I have asked my team to kindly chip in… you know, about hosting and coding and technical stuff that makes my brain hurt 😉

Have a look and let me know if there is anything else, you’d like a writeup about!

xo, Sarah B.

Sri Lankan Beetroot Curry & Kale Mallung

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Beetroot curry

Where do I even begin?

I guess I’ll start by saying that I feel like I am waking up from the most spectacular, flavourful, technicolour dream. Sri Lanka deeply touched me, from its incredible landscape, beautiful people and of course, the food. The food! The food.

When I was first invited by Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts to go on a food tour of Sri Lanka, I was a bit uncertain – to be honest, I didn’t know anyone who had visited Sri Lanka before, and I especially had no idea what the cuisine was like. I assumed that it was probably very much like Indian, but what I discovered is that it has its own totally distinctive flavours and cooking techniques.

Sri Lankan people are very passionate about their food and the culture around it. From my perspective, they seemed especially connected to the earth and the bounty that springs year-round from their incredibly fertile land. Many of the world’s spices are grown on the island, so you can imagine how rich and complex their traditional dishes are. Sri Lankan food is also hot. Like, crazy hot. Chilies play a dominant role in everything from curries to relish and are accompany every meal of the day – even breakfast. An interesting way to start your morning, I might add, is being startled awake by an explosive plate of food. And with coconuts quite literally dripping from the trees everywhere you look, the backbone of many Sri Lankan dishes, both savoury and sweet, is coconut water, milk and flesh. Heavenly. And a welcome antidote to all that chile.

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Rice and curry is a Sri Lankan staple, and in fact the word “food” there is synonymous with this combination. Happily for me, there are countless vegetarian and vegan options to choose from. My favourites were jackfruit curry (mindblowing!), cashew curry (yes, a whole pot of cashews cooked in coconut milk), wingbean curry, mung bean curry, eggplant curry, lentil curry, and pumpkin curry. But my favourite curry of all? Beetroot curry. Surprising, eh? The first time I was offered this dish, I kind of thought that it was an accommodating east-west mashup or something, but no! It’s a thing. And a wildly delicious thing at that. I never imagined combining beets and coconut before, but it works incredibly well. The earthiness of the beets contrasts perfectly with the sweetness of the coconut milk, and the beets are neither crunchy or mushy, but a perfectly balanced succulent-tender texture that pairs so well with rice.

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The other major love affair I had in Sri Lanka was with all the little side dishes that come with the curries themselves: sambol and mallung (or mallum). Sambol is like a relish, typically based on freshly shredded coconut (but not always), with a featured vegetable, along with chilies and lime. Pol sambol (coconut sambol) is ubiquitous and served at every meal I can remember. It varies in spiciness from table to table, but more often than not I couldn’t eat more than a couple teaspoons with my curry – which was already insanely hot enough, thank you.

Mallungs are “green dishes” made with cabbage, kale, broccoli, beans or other leafy veg. These are always cooked without any oil, and instead use just the heat of the pan and a little bit of water to steam the vegetable – a groovy technique in my opinion. Spices are used in mallung as well, and vary from recipe to recipe. They can be served warm or at room temperature, almost like a lightly cooked salad.

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Curry leaves are an essential ingredient in Sri Lankan food. Many people are confused by this name because they associate curry with a spice blend, and assume that curry powder must then come from dried and ground curry leaves. In truth the word curry vaguely refers to a dish prepared with spices, but means very little to Indian or South Asians, where “curries” originate.

Curry powder is largely a Western creation, and should in fact be referred to as masala, meaning a spice mix. Most curries in Sri Lanka rely on whole spices, not ground or pre-mixed ones, so that the cook can balance flavours according to his / her tastes.

Anyway, back to the curry leaves. Small, dark green and glossy, they are deeply aromatic with a distinctive savoury-smoky scent that is difficult to describe. And no, they don’t smell like curry powder – we’ve already established that. They can be difficult to find fresh here in Copenhagen (and I would imagine, many places in the world!), but dried ones are available at most ethnic grocers or specialty shops. With about half the pungency of fresh curry leaves, the dried ones are an okay substitute if that’s all you’ve got, but do try and seek out some fresh ones – you’ll never look back! Plus, if you find them fresh, you can easily freeze them until your next curry.

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It was very difficult to decide what kind of Sri Lankan dish I would post first (oh yea, there’s more to come…) but I chose beetroot curry and kale mallung because they are both relatively seasonal here in Denmark, and because I think that both of these recipes take us out of our comfort zone with familiar veggies, and make use of entirely unique cooking techniques. You’ll find both applications totally surprising, I guarantee that, and I hope that they inspire you to make curry out of things you wouldn’t normally, or try an oil-free, steamy stir-fry. Yum town.

There is so much complexity and diversity to Sri Lankan food and I am forever inspired. I cannot wait to go back to this enchanted island to explore, and eat, once again.

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A huge thanks to Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts  and Sri Lankan Airlines for making this incredible trip possible!