Category: Lunch

Grilled Vegetable Ratatouille – And my second Cookbook!

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Ratatouille is one of those dishes that always sounds really good in theory: peak-season vegetables stewed together in a rich, tomato sauce with herbs and olive oil. How could this be anything but delicious? But whenever I’ve ordered it at a restaurant, my high hopes have been dashed with a pile of mushy vegetables that isn’t really a soup, or a stew or even a main dish.

After a farmer’s market blow out last week, I was preparing a bunch of veggies for the grill: eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and considering a tomato-basil salad for the side. As the veggies were grilling it dawned on me that I had everything I needed to make ratatouille. My first instinct was to run and grab the veg off the barbeque, but I stopped myself realizing the great potential of adding the grilled goodies to the tomato base instead of the traditional method of cooking everything together. Would this simple change-up make the difference and prevent mushy-ness? It was just crazy enough to work.

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I got to caramelizing onions on the stove to create the base, then added garlic, tomatoes, lemon slices and balsamic. So far, so good. The veggies were beautifully charred and grill-marked when I went to check on them, so I pulled them off, gave them a rough chop and added them to the simmering tomato mixture. So far, so really good.

As I was contemplating how to make this a more substantial meal, I remembered that I had cooked lentils in the fridge. If you recall my slightly gripe-y post about restaurants halfway catering to vegetarians with dishes that were delicious but not all that “complete”, you’ll see how traditional ratatouille definitely falls into this category. The quickest fix and simplest solution is adding lentils, in those cases and this one. So without hesitation the pulses took the plunge and not only added protein and fiber, but gorgeous texture and colour as well. For the win!

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The final result is something I am pretty stoked about and definitely making again. It’s a rich-tasting, chunky, hearty summer-in-a-bowl. My ratatouille may not have much in common with the classic version beyond its base ingredients, but I think that it’s far more filling and delicious. The grilled veggies prevent the mushiness from taking hold, as they miraculously hold their shape and tenderness while adding a bonus flavour layer of smokiness. If you don’t have lentils, chickpeas or white beans would make fabulous stand-ins. You can also leave the legumes out altogether, but they definitely turn this light side dish into a more complete meal.

To take my Grilled Vegetable Ratatouille over the top, serve it with plenty of olive oil drizzled over the top and a solid hunk of bread or toast on the side. This dish keeps well for up to four days in the fridge, or I imagine in the freezer for a few months. I’ve already made another batch for a future dinner – I can hardly wait for the next time I’m too tired to cook.

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The next thing I’m going to tell you has been the second most difficult secret I’ve ever kept…I’ve written another cookbook!!! It’s called Naturally Nourished: Healthy, Delicious Meals made with Everyday Ingredients, and it will be available for purchase February 14, 2017.

This book was a major departure from the first cookbook, and a true response to the feedback I’ve received from you. Some readers found the ingredient lists from the first book too daunting, expensive, or unfamiliar, so the recipes from this next one can all be found at a discount grocery store! I wanted to remind everyone (including myself) that we all have access to fresh, healthy food in our supermarket, and that by preparing it consciously with simple techniques, we can make incredibly tasty meals every day on any budget. I absolutely loved creating this book as it pushed myself to the creative limits. I am so proud of the recipes and I know you’re going to love them as much as I do!

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I’ll keep you all updated as far as pre-orders go and my book tour. Thank you all again for inspiring me to write this book!

All love,
Sarah B

Show me your Grilled Vegetable Ratatouille on Instagram: #MNRratatouille



Sanity-Saving One Pot Pasta

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Life is beautifully full these days. Between caring for an energetic toddler and running my own business while attempting to carve out some time to cook, have a social life, exercise, pursue creative things and do laundry? It’s full-on. And wonderful. And then there are days when I feel that I may just lose it.

We were sitting down to dinner the other night, to a very simple meal that I had thrown together in a mad dash. My husband took a few bites, looked up and said: “This is really, really good.”
“Really?” I asked in disbelief. “I actually cooked the whole thing in 10 minutes and in the same pot” (a triumph for me – I’m a bit of a tornado in the kitchen).
“This is the kind of thing you should blog, Sarah. People like simple things.”

Not that I had forgotten this fact, but I also feel the need to like, blow your minds most of the time. Or at least attempt to, ya know? This was not a blow-your-mind kind of dinner. It was made on a busy weeknight from stuff we had in the fridge and pantry, while a hangry 2-year-old clung to my bare legs since he had already pulled my pants off. If this situation sounds familiar, this dinner will be your new go-to. It’s simple, fast, easy, and most importantly, very delicious. Just because you’re going insane doesn’t mean that you’ve lost all sense of taste. In fact, saving one’s sanity often hinges on proximity to good food, as evidenced by post break-up ice cream binges, and bad-day-at-work pizza parties. I get it.

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Legume-based pastas have been popping up in regular grocery stores all over Copenhagen lately, and I am loving them! They are made from just legumes (red lentils, green peas, adzuki beans etc.), they cook in about 6 minutes and contain unbelievably high amounts of protein and fiber, thanks to the only ingredient being, well, legumes. Although I have some “rules” in my diet which exclude most things that I couldn’t recreate in my own kitchen, these pastas are a serious life-saver when I don’t have a ton of time to make dinner, and a seriously great alternative to wheat pasta. I will compromise a little when my sanity is on the line, won’t you?

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The brilliance of this dish, besides the fact that it is so fast to make, is that it’s cooked in just one pot! Although it differs from the one-pot pastas I’ve seen online where everything is cooked together from the beginning, my version requires a little bit of timing on your part, adding the asparagus and peas about three minutes before the pasta is cooked. Theoretically, you could toss everything together in the same pot from the get-go, but this produces overcooked veggies, and no one really digs that.

You can use any legume-based pasta you like this, in any shape that appeals to you. And, you can really pick any seasonal veggies that cook in the same amount of time or slightly less than the pasta. It’s great with broccoli, sweet potato, green beans, zucchini or snap peas. I even enjoy this dish cold – so it’s the perfect make-and-take meal for a picnic dinner.

If you are not vegan, this is delicious with some grated Pecorino Romano grated in, or crumbled feta.

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Show me your pasta on Instagram: #MNRsanitypasta

Chickpea Tortilla Nachos

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Chickpea Tortilla Nachos

My husband and I come from two different worlds: a potato chip world and a tortilla chip world. I distinctly remember the moment we realized this, on our honeymoon, deep in a Whole Foods vortex deciding which chips to buy for our three-week road trip across California. We were undoubtedly surprised and perhaps a little dismayed that we had committed our lives to each other without discussing this one rather important preference, but in the spirit of everlasting love and compromise, we pretended like it was no big deal. We bought two bags of chips and ate them separately. We remain happily married to this day.

I guess growing up in North America has had a real influence on me (shocking, I know). Tortilla chips and salsa was a classic childhood snack, especially at backyard barbeques, birthday parties and sleepovers. We would take a family-size bag out on picnics, road trips, and sometimes my dad would toss a few in my lunchbox, right beside the Wonderbread sandwich and fun fruits. Not joking. Anyway, I don’t really eat a lot of chips these days (another shocker), but that doesn’t mean that the occasional one doesn’t somehow sneak past my lips from time to time. I’m only human.

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This idea to make tortilla chips from chickpea flour literally came out of nowhere. I don’t even remember what I was doing when the lightening bolt struck me, but it was fast and furious and I dropped absolutely everything to make them immediately, almost like I didn’t want the inspiration to get away on me! Thirty minutes later, the chips were in my belly. So fast and easy, I couldn’t believe it. Which lead my overly-excited mind, hepped on folate and molybdenum, to turn towards nachos. I mean, why wouldn’t I go there?

These chickpea tortilla nachos are crisp and golden, just like tortilla chips, but with a more satisfying and substantial heft to them, delivered by pure chickpea goodness. They are so filling and rich that it’s impossible to overeat them (that is not a challenge). And with really just two ingredients, how can you go wrong?! I’m going to experiment with making large rectangular flatbreads out of this dough too, which will be prefect for lunches, maybe with some seedy add-ins, spice blends, and I am dying to try a Doritos knock-off! I have a Cool Ranch makeover itch that needs to be scratched, if you know what I’m sayin’.

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Snack smarter!
If you’re an enthusiastic snacker like myself, you’ll relate to the challenge in finding snacks that are balanced, healthy, and actually sustain you for some time until the next meal. “Food satiety”, is the measure of how full food makes us feel and how long it keeps our appetite at bay. Although calories definitely contribute to the of feeling fullness, a high calorie count does not always reflect the satiating power a food has. Factors that effect food satiety also include fiber, protein, and water content. And it is surprising that high fat foods, which are typically very caloric, tend to have lower satiating power.

Because of their high fiber and protein content, along with their remarkable ability to stabilize digestion, chickpeas and things made with chickpea flour (like these chickpea tortilla nachos) fall into the category of serious filler-uppers, even though they only contain a moderate amount of calories. It’s a win-win. One serving of these chips (about one-quarter of the recipe / 12 chips) delivers 11 grams of protein (!!!) and 5 grams of fiber for under 300 calories. Not that I am a numbers girl at all,  it can be helpful to take note of these things, especially if you are someone interested in weight management.

Other snacks that rank high on the food satiety scale are popcorn, pears, raspberries, oatmeal, beans, avocado, and chia seeds. Fill up on these guys to get, well, full.

If you’re buying chickpea flour for the first time, know that it’s available at most health food stores and natural grocers, where it can sometimes be sold under the names garbanzo bean flour and cici flour. Your most reliable source however, is an Indian grocer or market, where it is typically labeled besan or gram flour

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So yea, nachos. The chips kind of demanded it. And I had more legal fun making a mountain of food than you could ever imagine. Layer upon layer of black beans, lime, avocado, onion, toasted pumpkin seeds, chili…bah! And the cilantro avocado crema is soooo delicious – not essential – but a major flavour and texture bonus. You can dollop it throughout the nacho pyramid as you build, kind of like tasty spackle, or put the crema into a squeeze bottle for drizzle fun. Everyone loves drizzle fun. The plate comes together like you’re witnessing some sort of awesome miracle take place, and then you get to eat it.

And just for the record my potato chip-loving husband devoured these tortilla chips. He would like to add that he is not a convert, just appreciative.

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I hope you guys dig this recipe as much as I do. These chips are going to be a new staple in my house! I can’t wait to really start playing with different flavours and add-ins – let me know if you do the same.

xo, Sarah B

Show me your chips on Instagram: #MNRchickpeatortillachips #MNRnachos