Category: Summer

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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Purple Power Salad for a Picnic

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Another year, another great success! The second annual My New Roots Potluck Picnic in the Park was So. Much. Fun. But no surprise there. Combining several of my favourite pastimes: cooking, eating, picnic-ing and meeting new friends, this little get-together has become a real highlight of my summer. I loved seeing so many familiar faces from last year, as well as all the enthusiastic newcomers, arms full of tasty delights in tow.

This year, everyone really went all out and as a result the food was incredible. So many amazing colours, textures, creative combinations of superfoods and super tastes! I was in heaven. I often joke that the only reason I hold this event in the first place is to get a good meal, but I cannot tell a lie. It’s hard to believe that you can put one dish together to share, and get a plate loaded with so many insanely delicious and healthy delights in return (plus get a few dinner invites out of it too). Some favourites of mine this year included the quinoa and kimchi stew, raw pickles and saurkraut, oven-roasted baba ganoush, the chunky toffee bites, and raw cacao-bee pollen truffles. Gorgeousness!

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Last year I had planned out what I wanted to make for the picnic days in advance, but for some reason this year, I had drawn a complete blank! The only thing I knew for sure was that I had a huge bag of purple heirloom carrots from some generous farming friends, and the urge to use rosewater. Random. After much consideration on how I could possibly combine these two, I decided playing up the purple pigment angle with some red cabbage and dried black mission figs to create a kind of Moroccan-flavoured salad would be yum. Mint, parsley, and some warming spices came to play, as well as crunchy, toasted pumpkin seeds. All together with the tangy-sweet rosewater dressing, it was a surprising and delightful combination that only comes along when I try to hook up two seemingly unrelated foods. Hmm. I should do that more often.

Purple Equals Power
The colour purple is your hot ticket to healthy town! This particular pigment signifies the presence of anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant that combats inflammation, contributes to heart and brain health, while protecting and preventing a number of diseases. For instance, studies show that anthocyanins may aid in the prevention of macular degeneration by protecting the eyes from free radical damage, increasing circulation and stabilizing collagen structures (which hold tissues together).

For more purple pigment power load up on beetroots, eggplant, blueberries, blackberries, black cherries, black raspberries, açaí, black currants, plums, elderberries, bilberries, raisins, and pomegranates.

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Although I found that the flavours and colours in this salad were perfect, if I do say so myself, don’t make an extra trip to the store for purple carrots, black mission figs or rosewater. Orange carrots would be just fine instead, and any dried fruit in place of the figs would be fabulous. Prunes, dried black cherries, currants, and dark raisins would still give you all the benefits of the purple pigments however, so try and stick with one of those if you can. As for the rosewater, it’s a really special addition that lends a unique, floral-kissed flavour to the salad. It can be overpowering, so if it’s your first time working with it, use a light hand – otherwise your salad will taste like grandma’s perfume instead of a rosy whisper. You can find rosewater at Middle Eastern grocery stores and gourmet food shops.


A big thank you to everyone who came out this year to eat, drink and meet a few new like-minded friends. I am so grateful to the whole community of awesome people you are – and that we are able to gather in celebration of healthy, conscious, delicious food. Can’t wait until next year!

All love,
Sarah B.

Peachy Keen Creamsicles

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Do any of you have the experience of reverting back to your childhood self when you go back home? Well, I do. Something about being around my parents in my old house brings out the most juvenile side of me, and I find myself called to run through the sprinkler, catch fireflies, and eat things like creamsicles. Yea, the kid in me won’t ever grow tired of those.

This summer has been spent mostly at my family’s cottage where I participated in all of the aforementioned activities, as well as the making of some seriously amazing, and kid-friendly desserts. Perhaps it’s this little babe in my belly that has inspired me to create healthy versions of my old favorites, or just a raging sweet tooth, but either way, the adults in my life have been very happy about it. My latest and greatest makeover has been creamsicles, where I have put a healthy and sophisticated twist on the classic.

Instead of the traditional orange flavour, I decided to use fresh peaches since they are probably my favorite fruit of all time and in their absolute glory at the moment. And instead of dairy, I whipped up a quick cashew-vanilla cream to swirl into the lush, sweet fruityness – a gorgeous combination! This is an incredibly fast and simple dessert that even brought out the little girl’s spirit in my 91-year-old grandmother.

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Late Beta-Carotene Bloomers
Perhaps it’s just the delicious anticipation, but having to wait all year for that extraordinary, bright first bite of a ripe peach is like an epiphany. It is on those occasions when I feel pretty stoked that peaches are actually healthy, because I eat them like, well, they are going out of season. The orange colour of peaches is thanks to beta-carotene, the same phytonutrient responsible for giving carrots their pigment, as well as sweet potatoes, and winter squash. Beta-carotene protects your cells from free radical damage, which causes cancer, heart diseases, arthritis and other diseases related to aging. It is also responsible for good eyesight and formation of the mucous membrane of the urinary, digestive and respiratory tracts.

Beta-carotene is fat-soluble, meaning that it requires the presence of dietary fat in order for your body to absorb it. Bonus! The cashews in this tasty treat deliver the healthy-fats your body needs take in all that beautiful beta carotene and your cells can bathe in orange, healing goodness – at least that is what I picture going on.

If peaches aren’t your thing, any fruit here would do – raspberries, blackberries, plums, bananas, mango etc. You could even make a combination of fruits for a beautiful rainbow effect. Ask your kids (or your inner child) which fruits they would like best and customize to suit your tastes. And if you want to go sweeter, add a tablespoon of sweetener to the fruit puree. I found that the peaches were perfect just on their own, but I like to taste the fruit itself. If you are using tart berries, like blackberries, you’ll likely want to balance with a little honey or maple syrup. You may also want to strain the puree to remove seeds for a smoother texture.

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Just a reminder that the My New Roots Potluck Picnic in the Park is tomorrow evening and you’re all invited! I am so excited to meet you and taste your beautiful creations (no pressure). Please note that if it is pouring rain at 6pm, I’ll have to cancel the event and postpone it until next year, so all you Torontonians send your positive good-weather vibes please!
See you there…

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