Category: Raw Food

Adaptogenic Date Shake

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Each year, my now friend Sasha Swerdloff of Tending the Table genius organizes a trip for women in the food world (bloggers, cookbook authors, chefs, nutritionists, photographers etc.) to get together, hang out, share delicious food, and get to know each other beyond a screen (…see? Genius!) This year I actually got to attend – ok truth: I shamelessly invited myself because I wanted to meet this talented troupe of ladies IRL. The group decided to gather in Palm Springs, much to my delight as I needed to escape two kinds of hell: overdue home renovations and Ontario in February.

The days were magically sunny, delicious, and life-affirming. We cooked a lot, then let our food get cold taking too many photos of it. We swam, we hiked, we yoga-ed, we laughed, and conspired together. Besides all of the heart-warming togetherness, one of the highlights for me, was visiting a date farm just outside the city limits, to understand where our favourite whole food sweetener comes from (and to gorge ourselves, naturally). I had never seen dates on a tree before, and was moved to learn from the passionate farmer himself just how these sweet miracles grow.

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Dates grow on palm trees, and they fastidiously follow the calendar – you can practically set your watch to a date palm’s seasonal cycle. The first day of spring the tree is in full bloom and the hard work begins, as the farmer pollinates each one by hand. The ratio of male to female trees is about 1 to 30, since the male trees are only necessary to produce the pollen, and the female trees are the ones that produce the fruit. Between the first day of spring and the first day of summer, the tree sets up its entire crop for the year. All the work (trimming, feeding, etc.) must take place during this season, since it’s during this period is when the fruit ripens, turning from green, to yellow, to brown. The dates are ready to eat from the first day of autumn, and then the harvest begins. During this season, the fruit is either left on the tree and protected with cloth bags to prevent rain, birds and insects from spoiling the fruit, or picked when ripe. The farmer told us that the best place for the dates is to remain on the tree for freshness, but if the load is too heavy, it will not bloom as well the following year, thus effecting the trees’ output.

After decades of date farming, he was as wide-eyed and passionate about his fruit as an eager young man, which really made us all swoon. It is truly one of my favourite things in this world, to see how and where food is grown, and to meet and connect with the people who lovingly produce it. We all left with full bellies and hearts, and of course, our bags bulging with dates.   

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Along the dusty, desert road home we saw so many signs for date shakes, since this is the land where this indulgent treat was invented back in the 1930s. None of us caved and bought one, but my mouth was definitely watering, and I was excited to get back and make one for myself. The original recipe is simple, and calls for dates, vanilla ice cream, milk, and sometimes a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. I knew this was the perfect makeover opportunity, and high-vibed my date shake with coconut milk instead of dairy, hemp seeds, and adaptogens.

So why the adaptogens? Well, I felt like the already-pretty-healthy date shake could use a boost, and what better way to make something more supportive than with a dose of stress-reducing, adrenal-loving, hormone-balancing, potions to get you back into balance? Yahs! I had these four choices on hand, but there are a lot of options once you start to dig around the health food store a little. Here is a little about each one and why I chose them.

Ashwaganda: helps the body adapt to stress and bring us back into balance. It encourages deeper sleep, supports the immune system, and energy levels.
He Shou Wu: builds the blood, harmonizes adrenal gland function, nourishes hair, skin and nervous system, increases antioxidant activity.
Maca: increases stamina, elevates mood, helps to balance hormones in both men and women, supports fertility and healthy libido.
Licorice: balances hormones, helps the body adapt to stress, supports the immune response, and aids learning and memory.

*Some adaptogens during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and while on medication are not recommended, so check with your natural health care provider before trying any of them.

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The farm we visited grew seven types of dates, and we loved trying them all. The unanimous favourite was the grower’s very own variety that he created himself, called Black Gold. He also mentioned that this was the best type of date for a date shake, but considering the fact that you maaaaay not get a chance to visit Palm Springs anytime soon, I’ll go ahead and recommend using Medjool dates for the shakes, since they are widely available, and their thin skin blends very easily into a smooth consistency. If you cannot find Medjool, try Deglet Noor instead, or soak your dates in warm water for half an hour before blending.

Dates are a great source of energy, and provide a generous amount of filling dietary fibre with very little fat. Dates are mineral rich, delivering potassium, manganese, magnesium and copper, as well as an assortment of B-vitamins. Seek out dates that are plump and juicy-looking (if you’re buying from a market, ask to try them first), that their skin is intact, and that they are neither glossy or dusty. I store my dates in an airtight glass jar in the fridge to extend their shelf life, and protect their flavour and nutrients. Kept this way, dates will last up to six months. Outside of the fridge at room temperature, dates will last about a month and a half, or you can freeze them for up to a year.

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The banana in this blend up is totally optional, and I actually really liked the version without, even though it was less thick and “milkshakey”. If you want to add more dates for sweetness and flavour, live it up. I found that this amount, about 3 Medjool dates, was just perfect for me, even without the banana. The spices are also optional, but help to disguise any strong flavours from the adaptogens, which admittedly can sometimes taste like the inside of a barn, or everyone’s favourite: feet? Mmmmm. Right. Let’s cover that up.

All in all, this is a delicious and filling way to start your morning, or the perfect afternoon pick-me-up. It’s creamy, smooth, sweet and totally balanced. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!   

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I just want to give a huge shout out to Sasha and all the women who attended the retreat – it was truly a beautiful experience. And if anyone out there is looking for some inspiration and general awesomeness, follow these wonderful people, below:

Sasha Swerdloff – Tending the Table
Renne Byrd – Will Frolic for Food
Lily Diamond – Kale and Caramel
Kimberly Hasselbrink – Kimberly Hasselbrink
Shelley Westerhausen – Vegetarian Ventures
Lindsay Kluge – Ginger Botanicals
Trisha Hughes – Go Eat Your Beets
Carly Diaz – Carly Diaz
Eva Kosmes Flores – Adventures in Cooking
Sophie MacKenzie – Wholehearted Eats

Hope you’re all enjoying the first breaths of Springtime. Sending love, gratitude, and sunshine,
Sarah B.

Show me your shakes on Instagram: #mnrdateshake

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Hey ya’ll! One more thing before I go: new Wild Heart High Spirit retreats are being planned! I’ll share more news about the retreats soon, but if you want to be the first to know when tickets are available, go to www.goldencircleretreats.com and join the email list. I’m so excited to welcome another group of women to this magical experience!

Secret Ingredient Frozen Hot Chocolate

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When I was in high school, the cool thing to do at lunch was eschew the basement cafeteria (obvi), leave the grounds altogether, and go to the local coffee shop. This made us feel like “adults” or something, sitting on plush velvet sofas, gossiping about so-and-so’s new haircut, and whose older brother we’d make out with while sipping a beverage that cost at least an hour’s worth of babysitting. Of course none of us really liked coffee, so we would blow our money on Italian sodas, fruity teas, and smoothies. When the warmer months rolled around, sandwich boards everywhere would announce that our very favourite, coffee-free drink was back in town: the Frozen Hot Chocolate.

Now, if you have never lived in North America, the name and entire concept of this beverage I’m sure eludes you. Isn’t it an oxymoron, frozen hot chocolate? Yes, I suppose it is, but then I also suppose that is the point – to confuse you enough that you want to buy one. There is a famous restaurant in New York City that first came up with this drink, and although I’ve never had the original, plenty of franchised cafes have made their own versions of what it essentially, a frothy chocolate milkshake.

In the past few weeks the weather here in Copenhagen has warmed up and I’ve finally been in the mood for cool, blended drinks again. But instead of using frozen bananas and other blood sugar-spiking fruits, I’ve been experimenting more and more with frozen veggies instead. The results are surprisingly delicious and I’m thrilled to have a few new veg-centric smoothies on lock. This is just one of them.

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The surprise ingredient in my frozen hot chocolate is…wait for it…cauliflower. Now this may sound totally weird, but please trust me, it’s delicious. Not even in a compromising way. The first sips are pure chocolate paradise, followed by a slight cruciferous waft, which then disappears again, conveniently, for those of us who perhaps don’t like vegetables at all (I’m looking specifically at my three-year-old son right now). All in all, this is one frosty, chocolate-y miracle of a drink for summer and I’m making it every morning to celebrate liquid vegetables tasting like candy.

Cauliflower Power
Did you know that a cauliflower is actually a little head of thousands of compact flowers? Call me a hippie, but I like the idea of mowing down on a meadow. It makes me smile. Cauliflowers are white because they do not contain any carotene, the pigment found in things like carrots and broccoli, but what it lacks in vitamin A, it makes up for in potassium, folic acid, and vitamin C. And it may surprise you to learn that cauliflower is 25% protein and among the cancer-fighting cruciferous family that includes Brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale.

Since this recipe calls for frozen cauliflower, I know some of you will be wondering if that changes the nutritional content in any way. I’m happy to report that a recent study done on the freezing of cauliflower has shown its nutrients to be fairly stable after one-year freezer storage. Cauliflower in the study was blanched in near-boiling water for three minutes prior to freezing for one year. Numerous phytonutrients were evaluated in the study, including cauliflower’s sulfur-containing compounds. While nutrients levels were typically reduced after this year of freezer storage, loss of nutrients averaged about 15-35%. Although I always recommend eating fresh vegetables, there are some (fun!) applications that benefit from using the freezer. And it’s great to know that it doesn’t pose too much a treat to those precious nutrients. Plus, frozen veggies (and fruits) can be lower cost, especially when the fresh version is out of season. If you’re on a budget, frozen produce is a respectable way to get your plants in!

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The important part of this recipe is that you use frozen cauliflower, either purchased that way, or a head of cauliflower prepared ahead of time – washed, chopped into florets and frozen overnight. Similarly to how a frozen banana behaves in a blender, cauliflower too takes on a creamy-frothy consistency that works extremely well in this context. I also like to freeze the milk into cubes since this helps to keep the drink very cold and light. Dates sweeten the mixture, and you can scale these up or down depending on how hardcore you are. The cacao powder I’ve used is raw, but you can also use regular cocoa powder in a pinch, or if you’re on a budget.

This recipe is a mere 4 ingredients, but if you feel like gettin’ fancy, by all means top that frozen hot chocolate with coconut cream (from a can of coconut milk, chilled in the fridge overnight) and some cacao nibs. You can also add some ingredients to the blend itself, like a handful of soaked cashews for extra richness, a scoop of protein powder (I like sprouted pea, sprouted brown rice or hemp), vanilla, or even fresh greens (spinach is very good at hiding in this too).
The point of all this is to have fun and enjoy something that tastes like it’s pretty indulgent, but secretly good for you.

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Secret Ingredient Frozen Hot Chocolate
Serves 2-3

Ingredients:
2 cups / 250g frozen cauliflower florets
1/3 cup / 100g pitted dates
6 Tbsp. raw cacao powder
approx. 1 ½ cups / 350ml plant-based milk (I used oat milk)
handful of ice cubes (made from either plant-milk ice or water)

Optional ingredients:
Pinch of vanilla powder
coconut cream (from the top of a can of coconut milk)
cacao nibs
handful soaked cashews
protein powder

Directions:
1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Add more liquid if necessary (mixture should be relatively thick).

2. Top with coconut cream and cacao nibs, if desired. Enjoy immediately.

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You guys!!! I am so pumped to finally announce my upcoming wellness retreats this fall. We are going to two spectacular European locations: Ibiza, Spain and Comporta, Portugal. Both simple and luxurious, we have found the perfect settings to unwind, and press the reset button. Our Wild Heart High Spirit program combines inspiring cooking classes and nutrition workshops (lead by yours truly) with delicious movement classes, yoga, pilates and dance by Living Yolates that will both strengthen your body and open your heart. These seven days will nurture you on all levels of your being, help you realign with your internal guidance system, and ignite you on your journey towards greater health! Join us for this incredibly special, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, with Golden Circle Retreats.

It’s Alive! Sprouted Chickpea Hummus

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The first job I landed after moving to Copenhagen, was working as a chef in a little cafe. After a few weeks of consistently not burning lasagna and under seasoning everything, I was asked if I was interested in cooking on a few episodes on a local, public TV station. The producers suggested I choose a few dishes that I love, and filmed me in a friend’s kitchen, since mine was too small. My husband gently warned me beforehand that Danes don’t respond well to overly-enthusiastic, hyperbolic Americans, so I faked it and was awkwardly not myself as I spoke lukewarmly about whole grains and beans, fermented things and dark leafy greens. The first recipe I made on the show was sprouted hummus, and although the recipe turned out well, I felt like a fraud. Because above all things, sprouts were, and still are, my true love.

The show was on at 2 or 3 in the morning, and because I didn’t have a television, I never actually saw it on air. Instead, I watched it on my computer on a borrowed CD, long after it had been on TV. Much to my dismay, the producers titled the show “Cooking with Sareh”, which still baffles me considering the fact that my name is spelled the exact same way in Danish. The program was poorly edited, badly lit, awkward in every sense, and in my attempts to come off as cool and nonchalant, I seemed utterly bored as I fondled chickpea sprouts – something that otherwise would get me pretty riled up. On the whole, this experience was totally mortifying, except for one small, redeeming factor. I was suddenly being recognized at work in the café, and on the bike paths of Christiania: “hey sprout girl!” they’d call at me. “It’s you! I didn’t make your hummus, but your show is great, sprout girl”, they’d say. If there was any consolation, this was it. I was Sprout Girl.

So in case you missed my break out performance on Cooking with Sareh, and my reined-in, lackluster pitch about sprouts, here it is again. Because I am Sprout Girl forever and always.

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Sprouting is like any other kitchen endeavour: it seems pretty daunting until you actually do it, then you’re left wondering what took you so long to try – a real facepalm moment. With simple equipment that you most likely have in your cupboard, and seeds that you already have in your pantry, it’s a fun and empowering practice that brings you one step closer to your food.

Sprouts are so nutritious because they are life potential, ignited. When we soak a seed, we end its dormancy, and awaken the nutrition inside it needed to grow a plant which will in turn make more seeds and more plants. When we eat a sprout, we eat this potential! Pound for pound, sprouts have the largest amount of nutrients of any food. Did you get that? This is a big deal! And it’s all because sprouting increases vitamin content significantly, especially vitamin A, B’s, C and E, along with boosting calcium, iron, selenium, and zinc. The quality of protein and carbohydrates improves, as the sprouting process begins to break down the complex proteins and starches into amino acids, peptides, and simple carbohydrates needed by the seed to grow. At the same time, anti-nutrients such as phytic acid, protease and amylase inhibitors are neutralized. This makes a sprout very easy to digest with highly absorbable nutrients.

Who is responsible for this influx of awesomeness? It’s enzymes! Enzymes are compounds found in raw plants that are needed for nearly every biochemical process that takes place in our body, and something many of our modern diets are lacking. Sprouts are virtually loaded with them. There are up to 100 times more enzymes in sprouts than uncooked fruits and veggies! Enzymes are also what sets living food apart from raw food. Yes, raw foods still offer us enzymes, but eating a food that is alive guantees more enzymes, and in fact more nutrients altogether. As soon as a food is picked, it begins losing its nutrients. Imagine how much vitamin C is left in that orange, which has traveled hundreds, if not thousands of kilometers to get to your plate, and spent weeks, if not months in a storage facility before being dropped off at your local grocer. Sprouts are the remedy to this, pulsating with life and life-giving nutrients, and pretty much the freshest food you can eat outside of a garden.

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Sprouts are also incredibly low in calories, yet deliciously filling due to their high fiber and water content. A fantastic food to binge on, especially if you’re trying to elbow out some of the other stuff from your diet. I love the versatility of sprouts, not only are there so many varieties, but they can be used in so many ways. Like this hummus for example! You can also go classic and top your sandwiches with sprouts, or fold them into grain salads, puree them into soups and even smoothies. I also love freshening up cooked dishes, like stir-fries, curries and pizzas with sprouts. Their crunch and earthy brightness are a welcoming balance to heavier, richer meals.

If you’re on a budget, sprouts are a sweet deal. Because the amount of food you sprout triples or quadruples in size, you’ll end up with way more to eat than you started with for the same price. It’s kind of magical. What’s more, is that properly stored sprouts can last over a month, and some varieties up to 70 days. If you’re prone to tossing away spoiled produce, sprouts will save you money, big time.

Sprouting can take place anywhere you have access to fresh, clean water twice a day. I’ve sprouted on road trips, beach holidays, visiting the in-laws…all over the place! And the groovy thing about taking your show on the road is that you can convince other people to get sprouting too.

And sprouts are not just great for our health, but also the planet. Consider the fact that you’re growing a garden right in your kitchen, using your own energy to make the magic happen. It’s hyper-local food at its best! No chemicals or pesticides during the growing process, or fossil fuels for transportation. Could sprouts be the perfect food?! The answer is yes. But I may be a little biased. I am the Sprout Girl, after all.

If you are concerned about mold or bacteria contamination, please understand that commercially-grown sprouts are propagated in an ideal environment for pathogens to proliferate. Just one more reason to grow your own sprouts at home where you can be sure of proper hygiene and care. Make sure that your jar or sprouting container is thoroughly clean, that you’re rinsing your sprouts with cool water twice daily, and that your sprouts have plenty of airflow. After I drain my sprouts, I make sure that the seeds / sprouts aren’t blocking the entire opening of the jar (see photo). If you follow these tips, you shouldn’t have any problems.

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Scoring Seeds
You can sprout just about anything, but the cheapest and easiest things are found in the bulk bin of your health food store! Lentils, beans, chickpeas, rice, buckwheat, wheat are all widely available and inexpensive. It’s imperative that you choose organically-grown ingredients, as conventionally grown seeds are often irradiated, making them difficult, or even impossible to germinate. You can also purchase seeds online, especially the more specialty ones, like alfalfa, radish, onion, broccoli etc.

Finding Equipment
There are plenty of sprouting apparatuses that you can buy, but if you’re just starting out, use a jar! I bet you already have one.

– 1 sterilized, large-mouth, quart-sized glass jar with an airtight lid
– small piece of cheesecloth
– rubber band
– a bowl or dish rack

How to Sprout
There are countless resources on this topic online, and even whole books written about sprouting, so I am presenting you with a very simple, yet rather foolproof technique. If you want to learn more (which I encourage you to do!) here’s a great place to learn about different methods, applications, as well as help and advice: Sprout People


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I hope that this process seems simple enough for you to try. I promise that once you start sprouting, you won’t be able to stop! It’s so easy, fun, and connecting – not to mention delicious. Good luck and happy sprouting, dear friends!

xo, Sarah B

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Hey Copenhagen! I am thrilled to announce my first two cookbook events in CPH this Spring. The first will be an intimate talk and demonstration at SLOW Copenhagen, and the second will be a magical, celebratory dinner in collaboration with the local, organic grocer and kitchen, Kost. Click on the images for more info and tickets! Can’t wait to see you there. 

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