Category: Main Dish

The Spring Abundance Bowl

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Hey guys, it’s spring.

I go for a walk in the forest everyday with my little babe. Even though he’s too young to even know he has feet, I still take time to point out the buds growing on branches, cherry blossoms opening, and explain how the earth is waking up from its wintry slumber. I think that this year, more than ever, I’ve relished the unfolding of this season because I am seeing it for the first time in so many ways. It’s pretty cool stuff.

I’ve been looking forward to this post for a very long time now. Since I wrote about eating simply and not trying to impress everyone all the time, the idea of Abundance Bowls has really got me jazzed. And you too, as I take it. It seems like we are all hungry for realistic eating these days, and to me that means fast, fresh, and flexible. This Abundance Bowl, like the last one I posted, is just that, taking advantage of seasonal produce and the fresh flavours of now. Living in the moment, and eating in the moment go hand in hand after all.

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Pretty Peas
I think peas are a rather underestimated vegetable, considering they are veritable storehouses of essential vitamins and minerals. That’s right. A measly ½-cup serving provides more than 20 percent of the RDA for vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese! True! Peas are a also good source of iron, folate, vitamin B1, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, and copper. You’ll be getting a serious dose of soluble fiber too, which helps lower cholesterol and control blood sugar.

Peas offer up some heart-healthy vegetarian protein, providing a whopping 9 grams per cup. They are not a complete protein however, so make sure to combine them with a whole grain, like quinoa as I’ve done here, to ensure you are getting the complete essential amino acid profile.

If I can find fresh peas in their pods, I like to shell them and eat them raw. If you prefer to steam them, do so right in the pot of quinoa. Simply place them on top of the quinoa about 3-4 minutes before it’s finished steaming, cover again with the lid until they are tender. So easy! If you can only find frozen peas, place them in the pot of quinoa about halfway through cooking the quinoa so that they thaw and cook – this shouldn’t take more than 8-10 minutes. Frozen peas contain about 10-15% fewer vitamins than their fresh counterparts, which isn’t too bad for such a convenient food! If frozen peas are all that is available to you, use them anyway – they are still super good for you.

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If the last Abundance Bowl proved anything to me, it’s that you people really love sauce. For reals. Well, here’s a simple one I’ve been digging lately: a garlicky-dilly-creamy yogurt sauce that compliments peas and asparagus like nobody’s business. I’ve also been drizzling it over crisp greens, sprouts, various grains and open-faced sandwiches. If you’re not into dairy yogurt, soak some cashews and blend them up instead, the results will still be delectable.

The other accoutrement in this sublime springtime bowl of mine, is Quick Pickled Radishes. I think it’s essential to have an acidic hit in all recipes, whether it’s a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or a handful of brine-y capers, so these zesty pink medallions definitely fit the bill. I love the spiciness of radishes, but find that they can be slightly overwhelming raw. When pickled, they still have bite, but it’s more vinegar-y than earthy. These are delicious on sandwiches with creamy avocado, with eggs in the morning, tucked into tacos and folded into salads. I like to pile them up on the side of whatever I’m eating and ceremoniously add them to each bite. The very easy recipe below makes more than you’ll need for four servings of The Spring Abundance Bowl, so enjoy discovering the yumminess they bring to all sorts of meals.

And if you don’t have a particular ingredient on hand, or if you’re just not into one of them, improvise! Think of the recipe here as a guideline and put your own spin on it.

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I hope you’re all enjoying the warmer weather, longer days and brighter light as much as I am. Gosh, it’s good to see green all around again, in the forest, in the field and on the table. Let’s celebrate the abundance of spring and be grateful for everything that lies ahead! We made it! Wahoooooo!

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Show me your bowls on Instagram: #springabundancebowl

Genius Chickpea Tofu

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As someone who eats a predominantly plant-based diet, you can imagine that I’ve enjoyed a long history of consuming soy-based foods. When I became a vegetarian at 16 and vegan thereafter, there wasn’t the variety of plant-based protein foods readily available as there are these days, nor was I educated about alternatives to meat back then. Soy became my answer and my replacement for everything from dairy to eggs to chicken nuggets (eew). Before I knew it, I was eating some form of soy up to three or four times a day, when things started to get weird. Without going into too much detail I’ll just say that my PMS and menstrual issues became incredibly, ahem, challenging. I didn’t even like being around me. Period.
Ha.

Once I started studying holistic nutrition, I began to think that perhaps my issues lay in the hands of the health food industry’s little darling. Yes, soy. Seeing as I was really grooving on being a human guinea pig while studying, I decided to give up the soy for other foods, such as hemp, chia, nuts, seeds, leafy green, other legumes just to see what would happen. Call it a coincidence, but after a couple months, my symptoms started to clear up and I returned to my regular, only slightly neurotic self, every 28 days. Did I miss tofu? Actually, yes. And I still do from time to time, which is why I’m pretty darn excited to share this recipe with you today. A recipe for tofu, made from chickpeas.

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But first, let’s discuss soy. I’ve gotten a lot of emails and inquiries from many of you regarding this topic, because soy and soy foods are drowning in controversy these days. What is all the fuss about? Well, there are two schools of thought: one being that soy is a highly valuable source of plant-based protein because it is complete (meaning that it contains all essential amino acids). The other school of thought is that soy is “bad”, or even harmful for you if it is not fermented.

This brings up a good point, and it’s great to hear that more people are turning toward fermented foods, especially legumes and grains. But the idea that unfermented soy is downright dangerous to eat is blowing things a little out of proportion if you ask me. If we are going down that road, then we also have to say that all legumes, grains, nuts and seeds are harmful if not fermented. The process of fermentation neutralizes some of the naturally occurring phytic acid (a compound that binds to minerals in the digestive tract making them difficult to absorb), while breaking down some the hard-to-digest proteins. Soy actually contains less phytic acid than some of its vegetable counterparts, like flax, sesame, Brazil nuts, and pinto beans. This is why soaking legumes, grains, nuts and seeds before eating them is important for better digestion, nutrient assimilation, and therefore overall health. That is a statement I can get behind.

Fermented soy foods include tempeh, miso, and naturally brewed soy sauces, like tamari. I for one have been eating fermented soy foods exclusively for the past few years just because I feel better eating that way. I also choose non-GMO and organic soy because I support those agricultural practices.

In conclusion, I will say that eating any food in balance is okay, as long as it is minimally processed. That definitely excludes tofu chicken nuggets, soy cheese, soy eggs, and even most soymilk (always check the ingredient list – some brands are good and some contain a laundry list of un-pronounceables). My rule of thumb with any food, is that if you can’t make it at home, don’t eat it. Although tofu and tempeh are bit of an ordeal to make yourself, I’ve done it and it is possible. Tofu chicken nuggets? Good luck with that one.

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Okay, onto the Chickpea Tofu! Although this stuff is pretty genius, I am not the genius who came up with it. It’s a traditional food originally from Burma, and often referred to as Burmese tofu or Shan tofu (here’s the original recipe I followed). It is easy to make with just a few basic ingredients and is a tasty, soy-free alternative to regular tofu that I think will be on the regular rotation in my kitchen.

I think the really surprising thing about Chickpea Tofu is its texture. It is lusciously creamy and silky, not unlike silken tofu in fact. It is delicate yet firm, and kind of melts in your mouth. I’ve found it works really well fresh in salads (a traditional way of serving it), and in soups. This way you can really enjoy its unique consistency. I liked the it in a simple miso-ginger broth with a few rice noodles swirling around too. I’ve even seen recipes online for “egg salad” sandwiches and coconut curries. Yum!

The downside of Chickpea Tofu is that it doesn’t do all the things that tofu can do. It doesn’t fry very well (deep fried however, I’m sure would be ah-mazing), nor can you really bake it to crisp up as I had hoped. But, I am pretty new at this game and looking forward to trying out more recipes with it. If anyone out there really knows how else to work with Chickpea Tofu, please clue me in down below in the comments section! I am so curious to learn more.

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Some thoughts on the recipe…
You can purchase chickpea flour at most health food stores, but it is also available (and tends to be much cheaper) at ethnic grocery stores. Chickpea four is also called garbanzo bean flour, gram flour, and cici flour. It also falls under the name besan, an Indian flour made from both chickpeas and yellow split peas. This will work just fine for the recipe.

I think making a half batch of this would be a good idea. This made so much tofu that I had to freeze the majority of it, and I have no idea what it will be like after thawing.

I used turmeric in my recipe, which is a traditional ingredient for colour. This is optional but gives the tofu a lovely golden hue. I also added garlic powder – a decidedly untraditional ingredient but I am really happy that I did because it gave the tofu a mellow garlicky flavour, which I love. This is also optional.


The salad in the top photo was a very quick dish I threw together to enjoy the tofu with, and it turned out so well I thought I should share it with you. I took the dressing from this recipe and combined it with shredded purple cabbage, spring onion, and plenty of cilantro. Later in the evening for dinner, I tossed the leftovers together with brown rice pad thai noodles, and it went over very well with the husband. He said it tasted better than junk food, which, coming from him, is the biggest compliment ever.

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In other news, I am thrilled to mention that I’ve been nominated again this year for the Saveur Best Food Blog Awards! Super cool. And congrats to the other nominees in my category of “Special Diets” – what an honor to be in your company! If you’ve been enjoying My New Roots in the past year, show some love and vote for me (scroll down to the bottom of the page to the last category). Thank you a ton for your support. I’m still wild about writing this blog and it feels good knowing you’re wild about reading it.

Hugs and Chickpea Tofu,
Sarah B.

Sweet Pea & Pearl Onion Pesto Smothered Zucchini Noodles

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I have such a special treat for you today. Since I am in the final stretch of writing my manuscript (!!!), I’ve asked Julie from the Alkaline Sisters to take over this week. She’s created a gorgeous spring recipe for all of you who really need a bite of brightness (I figure that is anyone who has survived the polar vortex, am I right?). I’ve been a fan of Julie’s site for a long time now, but we met in person for the first time last summer and the serendipitous sparks flew! We’ve been online pals ever since. She is an expert on achieving alkalinity, and I’ve asked her to give us the low-down on this very topic. After curing her own health issues with an alkaline diet, she is sharing her inspiring journey and culinary creations on her beautiful blog. She also has a book in the works and I know it is going to be absolutely amazing! Can’t wait.

I will be back very soon, but in the meantime let’s all sit back and learn something from this very wise woman. Thank you Julie, for sharing your knowledge with us! What a blessing.

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I’m so pleased that I could support Sarah by sharing a recipe with you today as she nears completion of her book.  I can only imagine the juggling that is happening as she cares for her wee babe in between wielding her heavy camera and cooking up some tasty business to style and photograph, not to mention the writing required to explain the recipe.  Lord knows I understand the process since I just recently handed my cook book manuscript in to my publisher, phew!

When we had lunch last summer we realized that we were both working with the same publisher, what are the chances of that?  We’ve both been feverishly working away on our cook books but I certainly didn’t give birth to a newborn baby as I worked thru the chapters of my book!  I swear Sarah has somehow acquired super powers as she’s hardly missed a beat here on the blog!  She’s managed to continually inspire you and I with a fabulous new recipe pretty much every week since she started the book, save for popping out a beautiful baby boy!  That’s more than I can attribute to since I took a bit of a hiatus from my blog to work on my book while caring for my family of 4, trying to stay sane and enjoy the journey.

So here I am, happily giving her a bit of relief so she can wrap up the final details of her book. Now she can focus, take good care of her precious family, knowing that you are inspired for yet another week. So lets do this:)

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With Spring making it’s way here I can’t wait to begin tasting the seasonal flavours that I have missed since last year.  Sweet green peas always make me think of brighter sunnier days and the bursting greens of budding trees.  I may be jumping the gun on the spring pea season here, just a little, hehe but you’ll be glad I did if you are a fan of sweet peas!  I’m cheating with frozen peas so please forgive me for my enthusiasm with the lead up to my favourite time of year.  Because my horoscope is Aries, I come by it honestly:)

This tasty dish is a little bit raw and a little bit cooked, keeping as many nutrients in tact as possible. It’s kind of a nice combo for this in between time of year. And guess what? It’s alkalizing too….well of course!   This Alkaline Sister here is happy to inspire you with a recipe that will help you balance your alkalinity.  (If you are keen for a wee bit more information about the alkaline lifestyle read on below the recipe.) This is a quick and easy recipe to pull together, even for lunch.

The pea pesto is made with a generous portion of peas that are action packed with phytonutrients that provide us with key antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Peas also contain an impressive amount of health promoting omega-3 fats in the form of alpha-linolenic acid or ALA as well as omega-6 fats called linolenic acids.  One cup has about 30 milligrams of omega-3 and 130 milligrams of omega-6.  As for protein and fibre, green peas pack about 8-10 grams per cup.  These two macronutrients keep your blood sugar levels well regulated since they support the break down of the natural sugars and carbohydrates as they pass through your digestive track.

Once thought of as being a starchy vegetable peas are proving to be much more than that. They are effective in lowering our risk of chronic health issues related to inflammation.  And studies show that inflammation is at the root of most health issues, so eat your peas!  While you’re at it, eat your zucchini and some onions too!  All of these alkalizing vegetables in this recipe provide the body with beneficial cancer-preventive nutrients.  You can’t go wrong here so give this recipe a whirl and see how you like it.

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Thank you kindly Sarah, for trusting me to share a nourishing alkaline recipe with your treasured readers that you take such good care of.  It’s been an honour and I am grateful for the opportunity to share my alkaline message with your loyal followers.

Here’s an extra special mini lesson on alkalinity and how it can be of benefit to your healthy lifestyle:

The most alkaline foods are green and of high water content as in cucumber, celery, broccoli, and greens like kale, chard, romaine etc. Lemons & limes are also highly alkaline once metabolized even though they are acidic outside the body before you ingest them.  This chart shows the degree of alkalinity of many foods to give you a better idea.  On this chart you’ll also notice the list of foods that are acidic and their scores that you can pay attention to with regard to the ratio that you include in your daily meals. Pretty much any food that is a concentrated food with low water content, is highly processed or contains sugar–including fruit, is acidic to the body and should be consumed in approximately a 20-30% daily proportion.  If you are seriously ill this ratio will be more like 0-5%.  Please remember to always consult a medical professional when considering a drastic lifestyle change.

Choosing alkaline foods in a 70 to 80% ratio with the balance of acidic foods allows you to still enjoy some of the wholesome foods you are accustomed to. A visual measurement for each meal or over the period of the day is all that is necessary to maintain a balanced intake of alkaline foods.  No weighing or counting of calories is necessary. And guess what?  By following a highly alkaline lifestyle you’ll discover that a bonus side effect is weight loss or a return to your natural body weight.

You may already be very conscientious with your healthy lifestyle but with a bit of tweaking in the alkaline department you might find you have even more energy, fewer colds and any nagging symptoms slowly dissipate.

To increase your alkaline foods intake it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3…a,b,c…
1. add a green smoothie to your morning or a green juice

2. add a big salad to your lunch or make it your lunch

3. add a salad and steamed veggies to your dinner

And we all know that we need to….
a. drink more water— 3-4 litres of filtered, hopefully alkaline water each day- to flush acids and hydrate the body

b. exercise to flush your lymph, blood and tissues of acidic matter

c. stay on top of your stress levels and find ways to deal with negative thoughts- meditation, yoga etc. (stress causes acids to form within the body)

By slowly adapting your lifestyle and following these basics along with doing a seasonal detox you will keep disease at bay and the cold and flu bugs will leave you for good!

Six years ago, with a dramatic shift to this alkaline lifestyle, I resolved the excruciating pain that I was experiencing from a seriously herniated disc that stopped me in my tracks from living my life. This lifestyle shift resulted in a welcome side effect of easily and quickly dropping 40lbs of post baby excess weight that I was struggling with.

Our modern diet is often overly acidic even if we consider it to be healthy thus many of us suffer from a myriad of illnesses that are directly related to an overly acidic body.  But the good news is….. that you can turn your health around by flooding the body with alkalinity.

A green smoothie cheers to your good, alkaline health :)
Julie the Alkaline Sister