Category: Lunch

Caramelized Onion White Lentil Hummus

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If there is one trick I’ve learned in all of my years cooking, both at home and in restaurants, it is this: caramelized onions can make almost anything taste amazing. They’re the ridiculously simple, yet magical ingredient that turns an ordinary dish into something so rich-tasting and satisfying that people go …oh hi excuse me, this is incredible.

I think the simple reason that caramelized onions taste so good, is because they are a labour of love. Not like an all-day stirring the pot kinda deal, but most definitely a food that you can’t just leave on the stove and dive into an Instagram vortex. No. Caramelized onions take care and attention, at least for the better part of half an hour, and the results are so worth it I bet you’ll catch yourself multi-tasking at the stove tonight just to have some on hand to gussy up your omelet this weekend (boss move there, by the way).

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The more accurate reason that caramelized onions taste so good however, isn’t technically caramelization – it’s called the Maillard reaction. The Maillard reaction is a browning reaction similar to caramelization, but with one distinct difference: caramelization is a chemical reaction between reducing sugars, while Maillard is a chemical reaction between reducing sugars and amino acids (proteins). And yes, there is enough protein in an onion to elicit this response – how thrilling for us! Although the Maillard reaction is very complex and complicated, what we do know is that it requires heat to transform and rearrange sugars and amino acids to create new and fantastic flavour molecules in and on your food, making it even more delicious. If you’ve ever eaten a golden slice of toast, enjoyed a rich cup of coffee, or nibbled on a grilled vegetable, you’ve experienced the pure pleasure that all of this this chemical commotion is responsible for. Science!

Harnessing the power of the Maillard reaction can make you a better cook, because things that are browned properly taste more intensely, more complex, and well, better. Without even being aware of it, it’s the reason you’ll reach for the roasted veggies with the crispiest edges, or the reason that you prefer a fried egg over a boiled one (no judgement!). There are a couple ways of making this spectacular series of chemical reactions work for you, and the first is high heat. Maillard will not occur at very low temperatures, especially in situations where the food is not in direct contact with the heat, like it is on a skillet or grill for instance. When you’re roasting veggies, make sure the oven is at least 400°F / 200°C. When you’re making pizza, you can crank it up even higher, to get those beautifully blistered crust edges that make your mouth water.

The second way is to keep the food you’re cooking on the dry side. For instance, have you ever noticed how if you wash mushrooms (which you should actually never do), they’ll never really get brown and crusty? Too much moisture! Instead, brush those fungi gently to remove any dirt or debris, then put them in a screeching hot pan with some ghee and don’t stir them. I talk more about this technique here. This is the same reason you need a large pan for these caramelized onions, since they’ll need the space to allow the water to evaporate around them. If the onions are too close together, they’ll only steam each other. Eew. If you’re oven roasting vegetables for dinner, cut them in the morning and leave them out all day uncovered so that the surface water will evaporate, and the veggies will brown more easily. Yes, this seems like a bit of a hassle, but the culinary nerd in me admits that it’s cool because it works.

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So, where does the hummus come into this story? Well, hummus is pretty much a food group in my world. I’ve made so many variations with so many kinds of legumes, spices, alt seed butters, toppings, and stir-ins, that I could hardly believe I had never tried it with the ingredient that could single-handedly save humanity: caramelized onions. I knew that deep richness of the onions would meld perfectly with the creamy dip, and make the flavour even better. I wasn’t wrong! The only thing that I wanted to improve upon, was the protein content – not because I’m obsessed with protein, but simply because I thought it could be higher. To do that I simply swapped out the traditional chickpeas for white lentils, or urad dal. We not only get more protein from this change-up, but almost double the fiber, with less sodium, less fat, and less sugar. Sweet.

This dip is the perfect, rich compliment to all the crisp and light, early summer veggies popping up. I went to my friend’s farm and picked some seriously beautiful radishes and young carrots, which paired so well with the caramelized onion flavour. I also had some Life-Changing Crackers on hand, which always make dipping more delicious. One thing I changed from the first version to the third, was the onions on top. Instead of blending all of them into the dip, I used about a third of them on top, which allows you to scoop a few tender morsels up with each bite. This delivers even more caramelized onion flavour and texture, which, let us be reminded, is the whole point of this exercise.

Even though this hummus keeps well for at least five days in the fridge (you can even freeze it!), it is best eaten freshly made at room temperature, since the flavour is at its peak then.

And because you’re wondering, you can find white or ivory lentils at Indian grocers, Middle Eastern markets, or some natural food stores. They are the skinned and split version of urad dal, which is black, so make sure you buy the huskless version! If you can’t find them at all, simply use chickpeas – it will be just as delicious.

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If it’s your first time caramelizing onions and you’re feeling intimidated, here is a stellar step-by-step tutorial from Bon Appétit. It varies ever so slightly from my method, but you’ll get the picture!

Big love and happy hummus,
Sarah B.

Show me your hummus on Instagram: #mnrcaramelizedonionhummus

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Hello dear friends!

There are only a few spots left for our January 2019 Wild Heart High Spirit retreat and we’d love to see you in Bali! 

Join us along with 15 other women to unwind, reconnect, and find the inspiration to ignite you on your health journey. Our thoughtfully-designed program will awaken and nourish your entire being – body, mind, and spirit! This is a true celebration of life, and we get to do it together in paradise! Come see what all the magic is about. 

Much love,
Sarah B, Mikkala and the Golden Circle Retreats team

Sweet Potato Sandwiches

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Sweet potato sandwich - My New Roots

Necessity is the mother of invention, and when you’re missing all of your kitchen equipment, you get creative. We’ve been living out of a single suitcase for some months now, and although I have found a couple of major necessities in the mountain of unpacked moving boxes, I haven’t been able to locate my silicon loaf pan. As someone who makes the Life Changing Loaf of Bread on the reg, it’s been a challenge living without, but a stellar opportunity to come up with bread alternatives that don’t involve a lot of ingredients or special equipment. As I was chopping up some sweet potato for a soup a couple of weeks ago, it dawned on me: what if I cut the sweet potato the other way and turned it into a slice of bread?! It was just crazy enough to work. And it did.

Ever since then, I’ve been roasting sweet potato slices once a week, keeping them in my fridge and having a sandwich-like-thing when the mood strikes. It’s delicious! Not to mention wildly satisfying and so easy to make. I’ve experimented with different herbs and spices on the sweet potatoes, using special salts, and even drizzling with flavoured oils once they’re out of the oven. So far, I’m digging smoked salt and garlic powder, but the cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom combo was a close second at breakfast, smeared with chunky hazelnut butter.   

The spread I’ve come up with as a pairing to this sandwich sitch, is a horseradish and beetroot “schmear”. Partly because I like saying the word schmear, but mostly because it’s incredible in combination with the sweet potatoes. It’s earthy, spicy, and complex – a great counterpoint to the sweetness of the spuds. I also like the texture difference: the sweet potatoes are so smooth and creamy, while the beet schmear is chunky and toothsome. If you’ve never had fresh horseradish before, be prepared to be blown away! This stuff is so, so special and delicious, I have no idea why it’s such an under-utilized root veggie.

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A part of the Brassicaceae family, horseradish shares ties with mustard, broccoli, cabbage, and wasabi. In fact, most commercially-available wasabi is made of horseradish (along with mustard, starch, and green food dye) since wasabi is challenging to grow and therefore much more expensive. But that familiar and addictive rush of sinus-clearing pleasure-pain? That’s the action of isothiocyanate, the compound found in wasabi, horseradish, and strong mustard that gives off heat when crushed, grated, or chewed. This stuff tends to mellow out once it hits the air, which is why horseradish snobs (they exist!) insist on grating it fresh. In the case of my schmear here, it will still taste delish a day or two after you’ve made it, but you may want to grate a little fresh over the top for a boost. It’s the best way to clear out those nasal cavities this side of a neti pot!

Horseradish has been used as powerful winter medicine for hundreds of years. Widely recognized for its expectorant capabilities, it is incredibly effective at removing mucus, and aiding with bronchial and lung disorders. Horseradish is a good source of vitamin C and zinc, two key players in immune system support, so consuming it in the colder months will help ward off the seasonal bugs flying around. For sore throats and coughs, combine one tablespoon of freshly grated horseradish with one teaspoon of raw honey, and one teaspoon of ground clove to some warm water. Sip the brew slowly, or use it as a gargle.

Sweet potato sandwich - My New Roots

This is more of a concept than a recipe, and a chance to try out sweet potatoes in a new way. Cut them as thick or as thin as you like. Mine are around 1cm, but that is just my personal preference. Remember that the slices will definitely shrink a bit during cooking, so slice them a tad thicker than you would want the finished roasted slice to be. You can even make shapes with a cookie cutter – great for kids lunches! Let your imagine run with this one, and keep me posted on which spreads and seasonings you’re vibing on.

Sweet potato sandwich - My New Roots

Although the past few months of life limbo have been pretty frustrating, there are so many exciting things on the horizon that I cannot wait to share with you! First, my family and I are getting closer and closer to our new move-in date (you can watch house renovation updates on my Instagram Stories). Second, I’m heading to Palm Springs for an EPIC bloggers’ retreat organized by my friend Sasha Swerdloff at the end of this month. And I’m finishing up details on a sweet collaboration with one of my favourite juice bars in Toronto, that we will launch with a free public event! Stay tuned for more details on all the things.

Love you guys. Now go have a sandwich,
Sarah B

 

Kichadi: The Realistic Reset

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Happy 2018 dear friends! I hope that you all had a restful and relaxing holiday, and that you’re ready to take on the new year.

As most of you know, the past few months have been all-over-the-place (literally) for my family and I, so I’ve been giving myself plenty of freedom when it comes to what I’m eating and how often I’m exercising. With my regular routines out the window, I’ve felt an immense sense of liberation – it’s great to let go once in a while! – but now it’s gotten to the point where my body is really craving some stability and grounding, especially after the holidays. Sometimes I like to go drastic and embark on a 10-day juice fast or something like it, but my body and my mind aren’t feeling a hard-core anything at the moment, so I’m turning to kichadi to gently ease my way back into eating with more balance.

Kichadi, sometimes called and spelled khichdi, kitchari, kitcheree or khichri, is the famous one-pot wonder Indian dish that combines rice and lentils or quick-cooking pulses or legumes, such as mung beans. Its best known in Ayurvedic tradition as a cleansing and complete protein meal, very easy to digest, and a cinch to make! It is delicious, super comfort food, and even if you’re not down with eating the exact same thing for every meal for several days in a row, you’ll be thrilled to learn it’s also the perfect thing to tuck into on a cold winter night.

Because of its simplicity and ease, many people find that doing a kichadi “mono-diet” is very pleasant and far less of an ordeal than a juice fast for example (although I need to be clear that a juice fast is far deeper and more effective). Taking three to seven days to eat this dish exclusively gives the digestive organs a serious break since kichadi is very easy to break down and assimilate. And because digestion is at the core of human health, putting a practice in place that supports this essential process makes room for the miracle of self-healing: something the body is constantly striving for, but often distracted from by poor dietary and lifestyle choices. When we forgo processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, and common allergens for a few days, we give our bodies the space it needs to do what it naturally does anyway: clean itself up!

I like to eat a kichadi diet in the colder months when the weather is unfriendly and I need some reassuring, grounding, warm food – and juicing sounds about as fun as a hole in the head. It’s also a wonderful way to glide yourself into the process of cleansing if you’ve never tried it before. Since it doesn’t involve abstaining from food, most first-timers find it totally do-able, and dare I say it, enjoyable! I’ve just completed three days of eating kichadi for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I’m feeling sooo much more balanced, clear-headed, and energized – the ways I would like to feel at the beginning of a brand new year! I hope that this simple and realistic reset is up your alley, and that you give it a go.

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First things first, you’re going to need to do a bit of planning for the kichadi diet. Set a realistic goal for yourself – ideally you’ll be eating this dish for at least three days, up to seven, but if one is all you can handle, that is okay too. Since you’re eating throughout this practice, going about your regular life is usually fine, but if you want to go the extra mile and give yourself a real treat, do the kichadi diet over a long weekend or break from work so that you can focus on some other cleanse-enriching experiences, such as a massage, a sauna visit, daytime napping, reading an actual book, and maybe even going offline completely. Gasp! I started my kichadi diet on a Monday and carried out my normal routine with work and family life, and just made sure to give myself lots of juicy personal time in the evenings (essential oil bath, yin yoga sesh, early lights out etc.). Aside from a cleanse-classic mood swing on the last day, no one around me even noticed what I was doing. Since they were too busy eating pizza.   

Before you begin you’ll want to start by cutting back on alcohol, caffeine, sugar, meat, dairy, processed foods, and anything else you know is throwing you off balance. If you abstain from these things for at least a couple of days before you begin, your experience will be much smoother, as you won’t be distracted by gnarly withdrawal symptoms while you’re trying to chill. You can also add any bad habits you have to your hit list, and reduce or eliminate the daily practices that aren’t making your life extra groovy.

Whatever day you are starting the kichadi on, soak the rice and pulses / legumes together the night before. This step is important for improving the digestive qualities of kichadi, but if you are really pressed for time or you forgot, get them in water as soon as you can. Remember that even soaking for an hour is better than nothing! Cook the kichadi daily if possible, since the fresher the food is, the more energy, or “prana” it contains. My recipe makes about six servings for my appetite (eight for people who eat less) and I can easily stretch one batch over two days if no one else in my family wants it. Regardless, you’ll have to make at least two batches if you’re going for three days, and I would not recommend keeping kichadi around for longer than that. Freezing is an option, but freeze it in the portion size you’d want to eat so that you’re not heating more than you need at one sitting.

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Daily routine
The night before: soak the rice and pulses together in plenty of filtered water overnight.

Morning: upon rising, drink a large glass of warm water with freshly squeezed lemon juice, followed by another glass of pure water. Make your first batch of kichadi, and enjoy it for breakfast. Store leftovers in the fridge.

Midday: Drink a couple large glasses of water at least 30 minutes before eating. Heat your desired amount of kichadi and enjoy it for lunch.

Evening: Drink a couple large glasses of water at least 30 minutes before eating. Heat your desired amount of kichadi and enjoy it for dinner.

Night time: Drink a cup of herbal detox tea if desired, enjoy something that nourishes you (bath, meditation, stretching) and go to bed early.

Repeat for three to seven days.

Kichadi Reset tips
1. Eat when you’re hungry. This may seem like an obvious one, but many people eat according to the clock, instead of listening to their bodies. Take these days to really tune in and see when your body actually desires food, and how much you need to eat to feel satisfied. When you feel real hunger, your body is giving you the signal that it is actually ready to receive.

2. Cook mindfully. Remember that cooking is something to be grateful for. If you normally approach cooking from a “let’s get this over with” standpoint, use this opportunity to make your meal prep a ceremony, and see it as a gift to yourself. Take your time washing and cutting vegetables, delight in the sound of the spices popping, the scent that wafts up while you’re peeling ginger. The attention and intention you put into your food will come back to you, and nourish you in ways that you never thought possible.

3. Keep things interesting, by adding a squeeze of lime instead of lemon to your kichadi. You can use parsley instead of cilantro, and adjust the spices to suit your personal taste. If you really need some variety, top the kichadi with some of your favourite sprouts, grated raw carrot, or fold in some spinach while it’s still hot.

4. Cravings are normal, especially when you’re knowingly depriving yourself! If you feel a craving coming on, first identify what the craving is. Be curious…maybe it has nothing to do with the food, but more your emotional or mental state. If you really can’t shake the feeling, drink water first, then try a piece of fruit, or some raw veggie sticks.

5. Drink a lot of water. The body functions optimally when properly hydrated. It is especially important when we’re resetting, since we’re letting go of things that need to be flushed out. Water is essential to this process, but it will also prevent cravings, combat fatigue and brain fog, and keep the bowels moving. Remember to drink water away from mealtimes for optimal digestion (30 minutes before eating, 2-3 hours after unless you’re very thirsty). Other beverages, even if they are “mostly water” like coffee and tea, are not water. Only water is water.

After the Kichadi diet
Although it is extremely tempting to celebrate and indulge after denying oneself certain things, this is not the best time to do so. Even though this process keeps your digestive system humming along, your body is still in a sensitive place. Introduce new foods slowly, and keep combinations small and uncomplicated (i.e. don’t have a meal with 20 different foods together). Limit meat, dairy, sugar, and processed foods for as long as possible. That congratulatory slice of cake should wait until you’re pretty much back to “normal”, or maybe even find an alternative ; )

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I hope that many of you try the kichadi diet out, and rejoice in the fact that there is no need to do something radical and overly deprivational during the winter. This is a time for closing in, for being quiet and gentle, and nourishing oneself in a tender way. And remember, you can enjoy this delicious kichadi even for a day, and any season of the year when you need to find your equilibrium once again. It’s a tasty way to come back to center, every time, anytime.

In health, vibrancy, and abundance for the year ahead,
Sarah B.

Show me your kichadi on Instagram: #mnrkichadi