Category: Picnic

The Life Changing Crackers

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The Life Changing Crackers

The funny thing about writing a blog, is that I never know how popular my recipes will be. Often, I think I have a real zinger and no one really seems to appreciate it on the same level as I do. Then I post something rather simple and everyone goes nuts about it. Curious.

You can imagine then, that when I posted The Life Changing Loaf of Bread, how incredibly shocked I was at the response. Although I was pretty confident that I had a winning recipe, I never expected the explosive reaction that it got. After checking up on it today, the post has over 1,200 comments. WHAT?! That is insane. And thank you. I’m so glad it changed your life too.

In the spirit of recipes that shake up our routine, I thought I would introduce you to the very same one all over again. That’s right. The same recipe with a new method to make the most life-changing crackers you have ever tasted.

The Life Changing Crackers

The story goes like this: it was the night before a long trip, and I knew that I needed to make some food to take with me on the journey. I didn’t have a lot on hand, nor did I have a lot of time. Searching through the cupboards I realized I had almost everything to make The Life Changing Loaf of Bread, but because I was traveling with it, I wanted it to be a little more transportation-friendly (nothing like biting into an entire loaf of bread on an airplane to make you look like a total kook). A light bulb moment: what if I made the dough and just flattened it out like a cracker? It was just crazy enough to work! Crispy, crunchy, flaky, seedy, and so tasty, this crispbread that is my new go-to for every meal of the day, and snacking in between.

The wonderful thing about the Life Changing Cracker recipe is that you can customize the flavours by adding different gourmet ingredients. You can take them to sweet or savoury town. You can throw in some superfoods if you like, or just stick to the plain, yet delicious base recipe. I love dividing up the dough and creating multiple kinds of crackers all in the same batch. I made two different versions last time: Rosemary, Garlic & Smoked Sea Salt, and Fig, Anise & Black Pepper. Both were totally delicious and worked well with dips, spreads, and cheese. I also really enjoyed them on their own, totally unadorned. Because I loved these combos so much, I’ll give you the recipes for them below – just remember that they are for half a batch of dough respectively.

The Life Changing Crackers can be made into any shape you like too, so get creative. Use cookie cutters, biscuit cutters, pasta or pastry cutters if you have them. A simple knife works too. And if you like things rustic bake the whole tray until crisp, then break them up in free form pieces before storing them.

The Life Changing Crackers

And to remind you of why this recipe is so awesome and life changing, I repeat: The Life-Changing Crackers are made with whole grain oats (choose gluten-free if necessary), and seeds. They are high in protein and high in fiber. They are completely vegan. Everything gets soaked for optimal nutrition and digestion. They are easy to make, require no special equipment and are pretty darn hard to mess up. Even if you have never made the Life Changing Loaf of Bread before, you’ll be a pro at making these crackers.   

The Life Changing Crackers

 

Show me your crackers on Instagram: #lifechangingcrackers

 

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.

Kaniwa Farewell to Summer Salad

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And suddenly, it’s autumn.

Strange how a season can sometimes just roll in and take over, from one day to the next. Tuesday I was wearing sandals and now, 48 hours later, that seems like a pretty impractical thing to do. Sniff.

I thought I should send summer off in style with a fresh salad celebrating the waning produce that tastes of long days, bright sun, and warm winds. And! A newcomer in my life, Kaniwa; a very groovy little seed that whispers of autumn in all its burnished amber glory.

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New Kaniwa on the Block
I have been hearing more and more about Kaniwa lately, some of you out there even asking me how to use it and feature it in a recipe. Well, it’s our lucky day because this stuff is tasty, versatile, and power-packed with nutrients!

Much like quinoa and amaranth, kaniwa is a seed – not a grain – and therefore gluten-free. And although kaniwa is often referred to as “baby quinoa” it is in fact not from the same plant and has slightly different properties. For one, kaniwa does not contain any saponins, the natural, protective coating that gives quinoa a bitter flavour if not properly rinsed before cooking. Secondly, kaniwa seeds are teeny tiny, almost like amaranth, and are a deep reddish-brown colour. The taste is similar to quinoa however, especially red quinoa, with a rich nuttiness that pairs wonderfully with both sweet and savory dishes. And also like quinoa, kaniwa is very high in protein, fiber, calcium and iron.

Kaniwa cooks in 15-20 minutes so it makes a quick breakfast porridge – just simmer the seeds in milk (dairy or non-dairy milk – it’s up to you), maybe add some warming spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, a sweetener like honey or maple syrup, chopped seasonal fruit, and some crunchy toasted nuts and seeds. Simple, delicious and full of good energy to fuel your morning! Kaniwa is also a great protein boost to add to soups and stews while they’re simmering on the stove. Simply toss some in at the start of cooking, and make sure that there is enough broth or water in the pot to cook the kaniwa. Of course kaniwa is the perfect salad base too, so start experimenting with all the textures and flavours that compliment its slightly crunchy, nutty qualities.

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There is something so nostalgic and summery about grilling so I thought it would be only fitting to use that cooking method to bid farewell to my favorite season. I don’t have an outdoor grill in my apartment, only a grill pan, but it worked just as well as the real deal.

I am always astonished at how much flavour is added to foods just by altering the way you expose it to heat. Grilling makes veggies smoky, while caramelizing the natural sugars inside, so much I find that there is little need for a dressing. This salad had big plans for a mustard based sauce of sorts, but once I took my first bite of the dish undressed, simply drizzled with olive oil, I knew that it had the gumption to stand naked all on its own. Here I am world, grilled and gorgeous!

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