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Grilled Pumpkin Bread with Honeycomb

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There are so many unexpected things I’ve gotten from blogging. Big and small things. A cookbook. A reason to use designer muffin cups. A community. A career. New friends. Offers to try a new line of microalgae.

But my favourite things however, are those that involve super passionate people wanting to share their awesome, healthy, and often geeky fervor with me. I’m all in! Recently, I received an email from Oliver Maxwell, the founder of Bybi (translation: City Bee), which is an urban beekeeping collective here in Copenhagen. As a blog reader, Oliver was keenly aware of just how much I love bees and the things that they make, so he was kind enough to invite me out to his operation to see how this incredible grassroots company works. And meet the bees, of course.

After a full tour, thorough honey tasting and hive visit, Oliver offered me what I can only describe as the holy grail of all bee things: honeycomb. And not just a chunk of the stuff, but an entire hive frame of it! Um, okay, really? I almost kissed him. But my husband was there too and that would have been awkward.

I carried the frame of honeycomb home cradling it like a baby. I could see the paper bag that Oliver had put it into beginning to darken in spots where the honey was oozing and pooling. My heart raced. These are the things I live for.

Grilled Pumpkin Bread with Honeycomb // My New Roots
 
Bursting with excitement and trepidation as to how I would put this delicacy to due use, I scurried home, took the honeycomb out of the bag and stared at it, praying it would reveal a grand plan for itself. But nothing came. Nothing. And all I wanted to do was dive face first into the thing, devouring it all in an animal-like frenzy just because I could, but instead I gently put it down and walked away.

A few weeks went by. Still nothing. And I remembered asking Oliver before I left how long the honeycomb would keep. He looked at me quite seriously and replied “not forever”. What does that even mean?! I could hear his words echoing in my head like a cautionary character in a horror film. The pressure continued to build to an almost crushing weight. I had to do something.

And then, as if by magic, Yotam Ottolenghi’s newest book, Plenty More, arrived on my doorstep, a gift from my publisher. Gleefully absorbed in the rapturous inspiration of pure genius, all thoughts of my self-imposed assignment drifted away. Until I hit page 319. There it was, like a beacon in the blackest of nights, the recipe title: Grilled Banana Bread with Tahini and Honeycomb. HONEYCOMB. I was saved.

Thoughts turned to alternative loaves (I couldn’t flat-out copy Ottolenghi!) and pumpkin was the seasonal flavour I excitedly committed to. I took my classic banana bread recipe, tweaked it ever-so-slightly and came up with what you have in front of you today. The loaf itself is moist, flavourful, and so very pumpkin-y, punctuated with warming spices, crunchy walnuts and dark chocolate. It is not overly sweet like so many other recipes and commercial versions of pumpkin bread I’ve tried, and I did this on purpose: if you do serve it with honeycomb, it’s important to have a little contrast, you know? The pumpkin loaf recipe is vegan, but of course the honeycomb is not. If you are vegan, or honey just isn’t your thing, the bread is delicious with date syrup, jam, or apple butter. You can grill it (highly recommended) or choose to eat it fresh – both are fantastic! But when using honeycomb, it’s a treat to have the wax melt just a little bit on the warm bread, and the honey sink into the cozy nooks and crannies of the loaf. Guh. Then you sprinkle the whole thing with flaky sea salt and devour. It’s a serious, loss-for-words kind of situation (which is convenient because your mouth will be very, very full).

Grilled Pumpkin Bread with Honeycomb // My New Roots

 
Bee Mine, Sweet Honeycomb
Honey is made by female honeybees that collect nectar from flowers, mix it with enzymes and regurgitate it (yum!) into honeycomb cells. Once the water content of this concoction reduces to less than 20% (the bees beat their wings in the hive to help evaporation, wowzers!) it is considered honey. The bees then put a seal on each cell and it is stored for times when they need food, like the winter. Kept this way, honey, will in essence, last forever – this is why it is considered the only food on planet earth that never spoils.

Honeycomb is altogether miraculous. To behold its sheer geometrical perfection is like a religious experience, and to see evidence of the deep, clear intelligence that built such a structure is humbling. It is altogether delicate and strong, housing the clear, liquid gold inside each of its cells so perfectly. Made of natural wax that the female bees excrete, it is built into the ingenious, space-saving, hexagonal cells that contain their larvae, store pollen and honey. The wax itself is totally edible, but some folks like to chew it up and spit it out after they’ve gotten all the honey out of it. The flavour of the wax depends greatly on the flowers the bees were collecting nectar from, but for the most part it is mildly sweet and mellow-tasting.

Grilled Pumpkin Bread with Honeycomb // My New Roots
 
The wonderful thing about purchasing honeycomb is that you know the honey is raw, unpasteurized, unclarified, unfiltered, and real. Nothing has been done to it. It is loaded with all the things that make honey good for us, like enzymes, propolis, and all of its antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal properties. It may surprise you to learn that most of the commercial honey available in the grocery store has been pasteurized and ultra-filtered, rendering it rather ineffectual. It is also important to check the label on your honey, as some brands cut their product with less expensive high-fructose corn syrup and other processed sweeteners. Like with so many foods these days, purchasing locally from a reliable source is the only way to ensure a clean and totally natural product.

Look for honeycomb at farmers markets and natural food stores. Late summer and autumn are usually when farmers harvest their honey so it will be freshest at this time of year. If you purchase fresh honeycomb in plastic, transfer it to a sealable glass container when you get home. Store in a dark place at room temperature.

Grilled Pumpkin Bread with Honeycomb // My New Roots
 


Grilled Pumpkin Bread with Honeycomb // My New Roots


 

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Hey friends! Check out the article I wrote about Copenhagen’s greenest hot spots on Melting Butter and Forbes.

There are also some albums from the Amsterdam events up on my Facebook page. Thank you again to everyone who came out!

Cream of Broccoli and Cashew Soup

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Cream of Broccoli and Cashew Soup // My New Roots
 
Have you ever convinced yourself that something is delicious so you can actually handle eating it? Let me count out a few of my least favourite-tasting healthy things that I consume with disdain: spirulina, chlorella, most sea vegetables, flax seed oil, and wheatgrass juice. I have also been like this with broccoli, probably my entire life. Especially after studying nutrition and learning just how incredibly good this veggie is for us, I’ve really forced myself to eat more of it, regardless of how yucky it tastes to me.

The challenge lives on. Although I have found suitable homes for most of the aforementioned foods in smoothies (thank goodness for smoothies), broccoli just doesn’t work all that well blended up with banana. Call me crazy.

My first introduction to broccoli was cream of broccoli soup, of the canned variety: salty white mire with infinitesimal flecks of green, which I suppose was supposed to make whoever is eating feel a little healthier. But the broccoli? Is it even in there? All I remember is a hot bowl of thick, sulfur-flavoured cream, and the only indication of broccoli being the putrid fart-y stench. My five-year-old self was put off to say the least, and broccoli quickly made it to the top of my ick list.

Although I’ve made it a habit to cover up the taste of broccoli more often than letting its true flavour shine through, this soup is different. First of all, it’s mostly broccoli. And it’s scrumptious. It doesn’t hide underneath crazy cheese sauce or dressing because it doesn’t need to! It’s earthy and delightful. It’s shockingly green and decidedly not fart-y because the broccoli isn’t overcooked. It’s rich and creamy with a hint of spice that you can dial up or down depending on whom you’re cooking for.

I used cashews to deliver that unctuous richness, and nutritional yeast to mimic the cheese-y taste of dairy. Not only does this really take the soup to a whole other level, swirling that velvety cream through the bowl of green creates a beguilingly beautiful result. I mean, just look at it. This is satisfying and stick-to-your-ribs kind of fare, which is perfect as the autumn wind begins to blow. I am proud of this soup. It marks a grown-up kind of shift in my palette and my diet. A soup to celebrate not just health, but deliciousness.

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How to make Broccoli not a bummer
Brassica vegetables! Repulsing children since the beginning of time!

Okay, why do kids hate this group of veggies so darn much? Even adults tend to shy away from them in many cases. I believe sulfur is to blame – that uber-healthy, yet stinky and gas-producing compound naturally found in broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale and the like.

There is a very important trick to remember when cooking these beauties up, and that is to not cook them very much at all! Broccoli contains good amounts of chlorophyll, the “life blood” of plants, which actually helps counteract the sulfuric taste, smell and wind-making properties. Chlorophyll, however, is very sensitive to heat and once it’s gone, that rotten egg scent which would otherwise be neutralized, will likely spoil all hope of your munchkins munching the veg. Five minutes is all it takes to lightly cook most brassicas, while maintaining their high levels of chlorophyll and vitamin C. This will also reduce gas, and that makes everyone happy.

Steaming is the healthiest way to enjoy broccoli, especially if you consume the steaming water as well. In this case of this soup, the water in which the broccoli is cooked, gets blended up into the final dish, making this a mineral-rich soup where very little nutrition is lost.

If you are going to cook the stems of broccoli (waste not want not!), steam them 2-3 minutes before adding the florets, as they take a little longer. Remember that the broccoli leaves are completely edible as well and loaded with nutrients.

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By the way, thank you all SO much for an absolutely fabulous time in Amsterdam! The cooking classes, lectures, cookbook event, and Restaurant De Kas dinner were tons of fun for me and I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did. I have plenty of beautiful photos so stay tuned to Facebook where I will share them very soon!

With gratitude and broccoli,
Sarah B

Show me your soup on Instagram: #MNRbroccolisoup

Recipes and Tips for Healthy Travel II

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First of all, wow. I won the Saveur award! Because of you! Seriously friends, I cannot thank you enough for voting, and for supporting what I do. This achievement means more than you know and I feel more motivated than ever to keep on going. I love this blog and knowing you do too makes every post all the more worthwhile. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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So, I am writing this from 30,000 feet in the air, somewhere high over the Middle East. The digital map on the screen in front of me revealing the names of cities I’ve never even heard of. It feels good to be traveling again in totally unfamiliar territory. We are off to Bali, my family and I. For six weeks we will be living there, tucked away in a rice field somewhere, completely away from the life we know in Copenhagen. We have never been to Asia before, and feeling excited for the adventures that lay ahead. It’s been a dream of mine to visit Bali since I was about 18, and I am sure that my high school self never would have believed that my first time going would be with my husband and baby.

This trip is not an epic one in distance per se, like the 38-hour schlep last year to Kauai, but throw a breastfeeding 5-month-old in the mix and suddenly I’ve got calorie and nutrient requirements totally un-fulfillable by miniature airplane meals. So what am I bringing along this time? Here’s my list:

Black Bean Quinoa Salad with Cumin-Roasted Carrots (recipe below)
Curried Hummus (recipe below)
– mung bean and lentil sprouts
– cucumber sticks
– dried figs
– apples
Chunky Chocolate Buckwheat Granola (recipe here)
– Crispy Seed Flatbread (recipe coming!)

In all the years I’ve been traveling, I’ve learned quite a few things about which foods work on the road and those that turn into an unpalatable mess after a few hours outside of the fridge. I’ve also figured out which foods fuel the body in the proper way; nothing too heavy, as I’m sitting for most of the trip after all, and sticking to high protein and carbohydrate-rich foods definitely seem to be best for me. Including fruits and veggies with a high water content is also important, as nothing is more dehydrating than flying. Cucumbers and apples are always high on my list.

On today’s menu, I’ve got a pretty wide selection of plant-based delights, all quite simple, but that require a bit of planning ahead. The Black Bean and Quinoa Salad with Cumin-Roasted Carrots is delicious, filling, and travels very well. One thing I cannot stand about plane food is the singular texture (i.e: mush), so that is why my meals always cover the bases with lots of different consistencies: creamy beans, tender carrots, crunchy cabbage, and crispy toasted seeds. I don’t want my mouth getting bored halfway through my dinner, after all. If you are not a fan of cabbage, or you tend to become rather, ahem, windy, form eating it (soooo not awesome on a plane), choose a sturdy leaf that doesn’t cramp your style. Kale would be a good choice, or perhaps romaine. Do not choose a wimpy lettuce that’s going to wilt and goop up the rest of the dish – that would be ever so sad.

Although it’s great for a plane ride or road trip, this salad is tasty enough to make the small journey from your kitchen to the dining room table too. If you are going to make it for traveling though, I would suggest keeping the cabbage (or greens) on top of the salad, instead of mixing it in right away. This will help keep the cabbage crisp until you are ready to eat.

The Cripsy Seed Flatbreads are actually amazing, but I want to perfect the recipe just a little more before putting it out, so you’ll have to wait just a bit. Deal? Thanks.

I also made a really simple hummus for the trip, because dipping is fun no matter what altitude you’re at. I have been on a bit of a curry kick lately, so curried hummus is was – but feel free to toss in any spice mix you have, or just kick it classic style it with cumin. I do remember saying that curry was a no-no in my previous travel post, but I kept things pretty mild since I knew I’d be on a plane rubbing shoulders with unappreciative co-passengers.

My biggest piece of advice for getting any dip through security is to keep things thick. If your hummus is runny at all, or resembles “paste” they may confiscate it (and be prepared to throw out your container too if this happens). It can help to actually put the veggie sticks into the Tupperware with the dip itself, so the discerning agents can get a handle on the fact that you’re just an über-prepared foodie.

Prepare the salad and hummus well in advance of leaving for your trip – the day before is ideal. You need to make sure all the ingredients are cool before you make both dishes, so that they will keep for many hours outside of the fridge. If they are warm when you leave, they may spoil en route.

If you want lots more travel tips, check out my post from last year which discuses everything from avoiding jet-lag to how to make a thoughtful homecoming for yourself. Happy trails!

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Although my time in Bali is most definitely a holiday, I’ll still be blogging (can’t help myself!) and on Instagram, where you can follow my culinary adventures. Good grief, I cannot wait to EAT! I hope the island is prepared for me and my hollow leg.

If any of you have been to Bali, I’m totally up for advice, tips, recommendations on stuff to do, where to eat, etc. Let me know in the comments, and thank you in advance!

Until the next post, here’s to flying high with happy meals.

Much love and gratitude,
Sarah B

…and because I know someone will ask, my bamboo travel utensil set is made by To-Go Ware.