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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.

Whole-Roasted Cauliflower with Skhug

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If you’ve been reading My New Roots for a while, you’ll be familiar with my obsession with Middle Eastern cuisine. Ingredients like tahini, lemon, pomegranate, sumac, za’atar, cardamom, thyme, and sesame have big, bold flavours, and act as strong backbones for plant-based recipes, so I enjoy them on a regular basis and rely on them heavily in my recipe development. And if I am out and about in the world, I seek out restaurants serving this style of food, knowing that they’ll have a solid selection of vegetarian options with satisfying flavours.

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Speaking of which, whenever I am back home in Toronto, I love going to a restaurant called Fat Pasha. It’s an Israeli place that serves the most decadent, delicious, over-the-top versions of all my favourites: falafel, hummus, fattoush, pickles, salatim, shakshuka…but the menu show-stopper is their whole roasted cauliflower. Brought to the table like a holiday roast, a giant knife sticking out of the top, ready to be carved, I love the ceremony of the entire thing, and the myriad of flavours and textures that it delivers. Slathered in tahini sauce, topped with glistening pomegranate jewels and golden toasted pine nuts, it is savoury, salty, sweet, herby, spicy, crunchy, creamy, nutty, BAM. Stunningly beautiful and deliciously satisfying.

At Fat Pasha, they also serve the whole roasted cauliflower with an incredibly spicy, tasty concoction called skhug. Skhug is a Yemeni hot sauce made from chilies, spices and fresh herbs, mainly cilantro. It ranges from wicked hot to warmly herbaceous, with cumin, coriander, cloves, and black pepper providing added depth and complexity. I friggin’ love this stuff (*pours skhug over entire life*). It’s delicious with hummus and pita, but also yummy folded into a grain salad, stirred into soups and stews, and drizzled over roast veggies, and to whisked into dressings and sauces.

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Skhug comes in two varieties, red (skhug adom) and green (skhug yarok). Both are delicious, but I chose green for my version since it tends to me more common, and I was trying to get into the festive spirit and looking for a contrast to the pommies, which were so assertively red. Use the kinds of chilies you can get your hands on, and add them to suit your taste. I (embarrassingly) only used one green Thai chili for my sauce, but I also wanted to enjoy the other flavours coming through (and also because I am a wuss). It was still very spicy, but not so much so that I couldn’t generously dollop it on my cauliflower.

Trying to recreate the whole roasted cauliflower dish at home is all too easy and the results are extraordinary. First, the cauliflower is doused in a spice-infused coconut oil before being roasted to golden perfection (this on its own is waaaay delish). But taking it to the next level is easy with a simple tahini sauce and the skhug, followed by a generous topping of toasted pine nuts and pomegranate seeds. This thing becomes unreasonably beautiful, just a warning, and if you’re looking for something truly special to serve at a holiday meal this year – whether you’re vegetarian or not – this recipe will impress the pants off anyone.

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This will be my last post before 2017, so I want to wish all of you out there a warm, happy, healthy holiday and an abundant new year! Thank you for all for your love and support with all of my projects this year: the My New Roots appNaturally Nourished, the Gourmet Print Shop and the blog too. You will never know how much you all mean to me! For real.

In health and happiness,
Sarah B.

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Exciting announcement! The Gourmet Print Shop is officially open! My vision of creating affordable and beautiful art for your walls is now a reality. After so many of you have requested high-res images of my food photography to print, I’ve answered the call with larger-than-life photo files that you can download and print yourself. It’s a fast, easy, and inexpensive solution to fill that blank space above the sofa, add some colour to the desk at your office, and keep you inspired in the kitchen. Did I mention it makes the most perfect holiday or hostess gift? Obviously. Check out the Gourmet Print Shop today and get printing!

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Pumpkin Miso Broth with Soba

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Danes are not big pumpkin eaters. Carrots, sure. Cabbage, indeed. Potatoes, definitely. But even though they seem to have caught on to the Halloween jack-o-lantern carving thing, actually consuming pumpkins is not high on their list. Just last week I was at the grocery store and saw a display of huge spaghetti squash on clearance, being promoted as “autumn decorations”.  Pfff, what?! I scooped up as many as I could (I mean, they were less than two bucks a pop) and I excitedly starting telling the cashier about the wild and crazy deal in the produce aisle, all the amazing things you could do with this gourd, and how it turns into freakin’ noodles. She raised an eyebrow, but was largely unimpressed. Maintaining conviction, I awkwardly carried my bushel of spaghetti squash to my bike, but not before telling two random customers on the way out as well. Just trying to spread the word, people!

So aside from decorative (and reminder: totally edible) spaghetti squash, there is really only one proper pumpkin here in Denmark, and that is the Hokkaido. These spherical, bright orange beauties are available at most grocery stores, and for good reason: they are a very delicious and super versatile variety. They are yummy roasted, stuffed, baked, blended into dips, or in soups and stews. I dig them because you can eat the skin, which gives a serious boost of carotenes and fibre. Hokkaido pumpkins can also be called “Kuri” squash, and similar varieties include red Kabocha, Hubbard and Ambercup. As a PSA to Denmark, I would love to suggest growing these or other varieties of pumpkin since every single type has something special to offer, besides a being a decoration that is.

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Anyway, on to the recipe!

As soon as the one-and-only pumpkin hit the stores a couple weeks back, I made this soup. Craving something creamy and soothing to combat autumn drizzle, I blended the steamed pumpkin with ginger and miso for the most luscious of broths, made even more satisfying with the addition of soba noodles. A few nights later I made it again and added even more goodies: spring onion, seaweed, toasted sesame and sautéed shiitake mushrooms. So. Good. I am obsessed with the combination of the sweet pumpkin and savoury miso, especially with the spicy warmth of the ginger to bring it all together. I also love the consistency of the soup, which is thinner than most of the purées I make. It’s really more broth-like, and coats the soba in the perfect way. Unbelievably comforting on a chilly fall night, this dish will be on heavy rotation here this season, and I hope in your home as well.

Pumpkin Miso Broth with Soba comes together in under 30 minutes, so it’s the perfect weeknight dinner. Plus, it is made mostly with pantry staples, so all you need to pick up at the store is a pumpkin! If you want to make this meal even faster, you can skip the toppings altogether, as the soup on its own is totally delicious, and can be made in under 20 minutes. It also freezes well, so make a double batch and store half in the freezer for your next there-is-nothing-to-eat emergency. You can thank me later.

Miso delicious!
Most people are familiar with miso from Japanese restaurants where miso soup is served, but beyond that I think Westerners greatly under utilize this miraculous umami gift from the gods! It is a consistent condiment in my kitchen repertoire and most times when I use it in something I’ve served to guests, they often ask why the dish tastes so special. The answer is miso.

Miso is a Japanese word meaning “fermented beans”. Traditionally, miso is made from soybeans and is found in the form of a thick paste. The process of making miso involves soaking cooking, and mashing soybeans, then finally inoculating the mix with koji (a specific mold spore) and salt. This mixture is transferred to a crock or barrel where it is left to ferment for months or years.

Miso comes in various colours, depending on whether or not other legumes or grains were used in the fermentation process, and the length of fermentation. White, yellow, red, brown and dark brown miso are some of the shades you’ll see in the store. In general, lighter miso tends to be sweeter and milder, while darker miso leans towards the saltier and pungent. I generally keep two kinds in my fridge, since they taste so incredibly different. This recipe calls for light miso, and I really stress using this variety since a dark miso would be far too rich and overwhelming. I prefer to use dark miso in things like gravies and sauces. Either way though, miso is an explosive umami bomb that will add tons of complex, satisfying flavour to many of your favourite foods. Because of this “six taste”, miso gives plant-based foods that umph that it can be lacking.

When buying miso, look for an organic or non-GMO product that is raw / unpasteurized. Unpasteurized miso will always come in the form of a paste, whereas the “instant miso soup” that you can find on the dry goods shelf is likely pasteurized and therefore not as health-promoting. If your miso comes packaged in plastic, transfer it to an airtight clean glass jar or ceramic crock when you get home, and store it in the fridge for up to a year.

Unpasteurized miso is full of live cultures and for that reason it should never be boiled. If you read this recipe through, you’ll see that I only add the miso at the end when the soup is in the blender. This is to ensure that we preserve all of those delicate nutrients and precious enzymes that would be destroyed with high heat. If you are going to reheat this soup, make sure to do so gently and stir constantly to avoid scorching.

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Some notes on the recipe ingredients: if you absolutely cannot find light miso, a simple vegetable stock or bullion can be used in its place. But it’s worth tracking down.

Soba noodles can be found at Asian supermarkets, health food stores, and gourmet foods shops. Make sure to look for noodles that are 100% buckwheat flour, as many brands of soba will add wheat flour to act as a binder, and keep in mind that these will not be gluten-free. Some people also find the taste of pure soba noodles off-putting since buckwheat can taste very strong, but I love it! Finicky kids (and adults) may prefer the milder-flavour of brown rice noodles, or even whole grain pasta.

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This soup is wildly tasty and saisfying, and will probably make you look forward to cooler temperatures and nights spent in. I hope you all are having a lovely fall so far. Sending big love and cozy moments to you all,
Sarah B.

Show me your soups on Instagram: #MNRpumpkinmisobroth