Category: Vegan

Deluxe Butternut Macaroni ‘n’ Tease

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I’m over winter, but winter definitely isn’t over. Although I really can’t complain about the balmy temps here in Denmark, it’s dark and damp and I would probably pay a lot of money to see the sun right about now. And my heart does go out to all my family and friends freezing their tooshies off stateside. Yikes! I’m here to help. Or at least, this recipe is here to help.

Like most kids, I ate a lot of macaroni and cheese growing up, the kind that came in a blue box with the magical, neon orange flavour powder. Sometimes my mom would toss in a few slices of bell peppers and cocktail wieners and my brother and I felt like kings. Kings! Those were the days. In fear of falling short of that level of awesomeness, I haven’t actually attempted to make mac ‘n’ cheese on my own past the days of high school. Until recently this winter, a gnawing hunger for warmth, comfort and nostalgia took hold and just wouldn’t let go. If you’re anything like me (a human) you’ll love tucking into this tasty meal every week until spring hits.

So, what makes this mac ‘n’ tease a tease? It’s vegan! Not one speck of cheese or milk or butter or cream in sight. Nope. Instead the delectable sauce is a winning combination of roasted butternut squash and garlic, creamy butter beans, and cheesy nutritional yeast. Although not exactly like the cheese sauce of yore, it is still completely smooth and creamy, rich, unctuous, and deeply satisfying when combined with fat noodles and the most amazing non-breadcrumb-topping made out of sunflower seeds. That’s right.

Deluxe Butternut Mac 'n' Cheese // My New Roots

Nutritional Yeast: A Cheesy Tease
Although the name is slightly unappealing, nutritional yeast is a delicious and versatile seasoning to have in your pantry. Made from a single-celled organism called, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, the yeast is grown on cane or beet molasses, fermented, then deactivated with heat to stop the growing process. The yeast is sold both as flakes and powder (use half the amount of powder if a recipe calls for flakes). The natural colour of nutritional yeast is vibrantly golden. The flavour is often described as cheesy, which makes it a perfect substitute for dairy products in dressing and sauces. I sprinkle nutritional yeast on popcorn, salads, sandwiches, soups, blend a little into hummus and other savory dips. Because of its high nutritional content, many people treat nutritional yeast as a food supplement.

First and foremost, nutritional yeast is an excellent source of B-vitamins, and in many cases B-12 (though not all brands, read the label to make sure). Our bodies need B-vitamins to convert food into energy, keep stress at bay, alleviate insomnia, nervousness, fatigue, PMS, and mood swings (so, kind of important). Nutritional yeast also contains high amounts of protein with 4 grams per tablespoon, and contains 18 amino acids. It is a good source of dietary fiber, folic acid, selenium, and zinc. It is gluten-free and vegan.

In North America nutritional yeast is available at natural grocers and bulk food stores. In the UK, it is sold under the brand name Engevita; in Australia, it is called savory yeast flakes; in Scandinavia it is sold as yeast flakes or B-yeast / B-gær (due to the high B-vitamin content). Among cool kids, nutritional yeast is referred to simply as nooch. Drop that bomb at your next vegan potluck for major street cred. It should also be noted that nutritional yeast is not the same as brewer’s yeast, dry active yeast or baking yeast. Do not use these as a substitute for nutritional yeast in any recipe. It will be gross.

If you suffer from Candida or suspect that you have yeast issues, not to worry. Nutritional yeast is totally safe and will not infect you or exacerbate yeast conditions. It should be avoided however by those that are allergic to yeast and yeast products, like bread products, grapes and beer.

Deluxe Butternut Mac 'n' Cheese // My New Roots

The shape of pasta you use for this really matters. I chose a large, deeply ridged, tubular pasta that said “macaroni” on the package, but it’s much closer to rigatoni if you ask me. Rigatoni, penne, classic macaroni, ziti, or even conchiglie (shells) would work here, as the ultimate goal is to get as much sauce in and around each noodle as humanly possible. In fact, I guarantee when you make the sauce you’ll be questioning my recipe amounts – there is a lot of it, people. But once you pour it over the cooked pasta and start stirring, it magically disappears into the nooks and crannies only reappear later in your mouth, like a rich and savoury flavour explosion from heaven. Tubes work best for obvious reasons, but I’ll let you decide how you want your sauce delivered. And I hope that it goes without saying that you should make an effort to find the most high-vibe pasta you can. There are so many on the market these days, even at regular grocery stores, so no excuses! No white pasta!

Deluxe Butternut Mac 'n' Cheese // My New Roots

And yes, there is topping. In keeping with the gluten-free theme I went with a Sunflower Crumble Topping that I am quite chuffed about. It’s savoury, crunchy, and totally takes this meal to the next level – better than breadcrumbs I tell ya! And it’s delicious not only on mac ‘n’ cheese, but garnishing avocado toast, grain salads, and roast veggies. You may have a little extra of the topping, but my casserole dish is relatively deep and narrow compared to most, and I wanted to make sure you had plenty to cover the top of yours. If you want to save time and skip steps, the pasta and sauce alone is super delish all on its own. But. The topping.

After cooking up this meal, I looked around the kitchen at the dish carnage and shrugged my shoulders. You know why? So worth it. Yes, you will use pretty much every cooking element and piece of equipment you own, but make it a Sunday project, invite some buds over and have them clean up. You did cook them a totally awesome meal after all, it’s the least they can do. 

Deluxe Butternut Mac 'n' Cheese // My New Roots

Seriously Super Cereal

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Seriously Super Cereal // My New Roots

If you were to nominate one meal a day for a facelift, would it be breakfast? I thought so. Breakfast can be a challenge for many people, including myself. I get into super groovin’ streaks with morning meals for weeks on end at times, feeling like I’m sooo on top of everything in my life. Then something happens, breakfast becomes less of a priority and I end up making the same smoothie or sourdough smeared with almond butter over and over again. Okay, now that I am writing this down, it really doesn’t sound all that dreadful, but for me, starting the day in not only a conscious, but enthusiastic way sets me up for the rest of my waking hours. It fuels me in ways that go beyond calories: it’s self-love, ceremony, and celebration.

Ironically, I make a very complete and healthy breakfast for my 14-month old every single day without even thinking about it. Before I go to bed at night, I soak whole grains, nuts and seeds, rinse them in the morning and cook them with fresh fruit, spices and superfoods. So, um, what about mum? Funny how it wasn’t until recently that I thought about myself and how I would like the break the fast. I guess that’s just “being a parent” sometimes, but I am now committed to making a change. It is a New Year after all.

Seriously Super Cereal // My New Roots

Serious Cereal and a Plea for Carbohydrates
When someone says that they eat “cereal” for breakfast, what do you picture? A bowl of steaming hot whole grains, or sugary flakes in milk? I tend to imagine the latter, and I suppose it’s because that was my breakfast growing up. We had a few kinds of packaged cereal, and not total junk food, but I do recall the odd time we could convince my mom to buy some rainbow-hued concoction in a moment of weakness. I get it: boxed cereal is mindlessly easy, requires no cooking, soaking, stirring or waiting.

But this. This is serious cereal. Real cereal. The kind that stands behind its name, and not the kind that has led us so far astray from what cereal actually is that we’ve mostly forgotten it’s meaning. It’s unprocessed, unrefined, completely whole and natural, and the real way we are meant to eat grains.

And while we’re on the subject, I would like to make a case for carbs. When yet another friend of mine felt the need to accuse all carbohydrates of being evil, I wonder how we’ve become prejudice against macronutrients?! It’s like the diet dark ages.

Carbohydrates are not the devil. Many modern eating plans out there vilify them for various reasons, but we need to remember that the majority of grains and grain-related products that people in developed counties consume are highly processed, refined, and stripped of nearly all their nutrients. This was originally done to prolong shelf life, but continues as we’ve developed a taste for them! It turns out we prefer sweeter food that is faster to cook and easier to chew (go figure). From a biological standpoint, this makes perfect sense, so it’s rather difficult trying to convince people to spend more money on food that spoils faster, takes longer to cook and eat! Argh. I can only promise you it is worth it. And once you start replacing refined grains with whole grains you will feel why. Eating them in balance with both fats and proteins is a much healthier and quite simply, a more sustainable way of living.

My point here is this: let’s stop looking at food in its respective parts (carbs, fats, proteins), and get back to the whole picture, the whole food. Choosing a balanced way of eating, as close to nature as possible is the most realistic plan for eating long term. Going to extremes (low-carb! no-carb! fat-free! high-protein!) is not a sustainable way of eating or living. What I propose instead is a sensible, flexible dietary strategy that we can incorporate successfully, and joyfully, over a lifetime.

McKel Hill wrote a couple stellar articles about carbohydrates over on her site, Nutrition Stripped. Check them out – very clear and thorough reads for those of you who want to know more!

Seriously Super Cereal // My New RootsI made this cereal blend with a few things in mind. For one, I wanted the mix to be gluten-free so that we can all enjoy it. I wanted something that could keep outside of the fridge, as rolled grains spoil relatively quickly if left at room temperature (how long have those quick oats been sittin’ in your cupboard, ya’ll?) so I chose only whole grains that are relatively shelf stable. And of course, I also wanted the cereal to actually taste good, which it does. The texture is also very pleasing, not mushy or glue-y like some of the other porridges I’ve tried. The sunflower seeds add a wonderful tooth and the grain size differences make for a satisfying mouthfeel (yes, I just used that word).

Although I highly recommend soaking the cereal overnight, you can of course cook it from raw the morning you are eating it. In both cases however, rinse the cereal under cool running water before cooking. I use a very fine mesh sieve for this, as the chia and amaranth seeds will fall through large holes.

Seriously Super Cereal // My New Roots

Once cooked, add whatever you like to the porridge. I love a little nut milk poured over the top for creaminess, plus a drizzle of maple syrup or honey, which makes everything delish. I made up a couple seasonal bowls in hopes of inspiring you: one with pear, roasted hazelnuts, and pomegranate seeds; the other with persimmon, toasted coconut flakes and bee pollen. Warming spices like cinnamon and cardamom are tasty stirred in, as are dried fruit, like apricots, raisins, goji berries, mulberries, or figs. Basically, this breakfast is infinitely customizable for every palate and season. Find your groove and just enjoy filling yourself with nourishing goodness from morning’s first light.

Seriously Super Cereal // My New Roots

The below batch recipe is a good starting amount, and will make 18-19 portions if you go with ¼ cup / 50g servings. I find this amount is perfect for me once I add in fruit, some nuts or seeds and superfoods, but if your calories needs are higher, go for 1/3 or 1/2 cup servings. If you want to double, triple or quadruple the batch amount, feel free to do so. I just recommend making this amount first and testing it to make sure you really like it, then you can make it your go-to cereal.

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My New Roots: Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every Season

For those of you that follow me on Instagram will know that I received the first hard copy of my cookbook this week! Eek! I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all SO MUCH for the incredible love and enthusiasm. I couldn’t write this post and not tell you how much I appreciate your words. Sheesh! I am bursting with gratitude.

I have to mention again that the book is only available for preorder at this time, here. The book drops in North America March 31, UK and Australia April 9, Denmark May 21, Netherlands in June and Germany this summer. Thanks everyone!!

with a full heart,
Sarah B

Show me your Seriously Super Cereal on Instagram: #seriouslysupercereal

A Winter Weekend Cleanse

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Simple 3-Day Cleanse // My New Roots

Happy 2015, dear friends!

I wasn’t sure about doing a detox post this year simply because it seemed predictable, but over the past couple weeks, my body told my brain to stop thinking so much and just do what I feel. Smart body.

There are many reasons people feel the need to press the reset button this time of year. Overindulgence, chronic stress, feelings of fatigue or sluggishness are the usual suspects, but there are also positive grounds for clearing out the cobwebs such as wanting to gain more energy and increase vitality, achieve higher levels of clarity, and realign with our internal guidance systems. I know the telltale signs for myself, and they usually involve a slight disinterest in eating (sounds crazy, I know), along with the desire to examine my food-body-mind relationship. Since I am often cooking everyday for a living, I can sometimes lose sight of the total magic that food is. If I slice open a head of red cabbage and fail to swoon, or that pomegranate doesn’t bring me to my knees in awe, I know it’s time to take a break, simplify, and make space for those feelings again.

But how can we make this really easy? I’ve gotten so much positive feedback from my past cleanses and detox programs for Oprah magazine and Whole Living magazine, (all of which are still online here, here and here), but one thing that people mention is how much food there is! Taking that into consideration, I thought I would design a super-simple plan this year with only two recipes and you can make the decision how long you want to go for.

One smoothie. One soup. Both are alkalizing, filling yet detoxifying, mega green but super tasty. In fact, I’ll wager that you’ll love both of these recipes so much that you’ll be enjoying them long after the cleanse is over! The Ginger-Mint Pear Smoothie is luscious, sweet-and-spicy with cooling mint and creamy avocado. The Cilantro Spinach Sweet Potato Soup is like eating a crazy-delicious hug.

Simple 3-Day Cleanse // My New Roots

Detoxifying Habits

It’s true that certain foods and herbs can aid in the detoxification process, but what else can we do to boost our cleansing process on a daily basis?

Exercise: Moving our bodies is essential for balance and overall health because it creates the conditions to breathe deeply, stretch, circulate the blood and lymph, and sweat. The more we move, the more efficient our body becomes at circulating and flushing out toxins. Gentle, low-intensity exercise such as yoga, stretching, or walking is best during a juice fast or reduced-calorie diet (such as this weekend cleanse), while high-impact exercise is recommended at least 3 times a week once you are back to eating a regular, healthy diet.

Dry skin brushing: Dry skin brushing helps stimulate your lymphatic system, which is responsible for ridding the body of toxins. Skin brushing improves the surface circulation on the skin and keeps the pores of the skin open, encouraging your body’s discharge of metabolic wastes, and resulting in an improved ability to combat bacteria, plus helping your skin to look and feel healthier and more resilient! Skin brushing also strengthens the immune system and helps aid the digestion system, both of which are greatly involved in the detoxification process.

Take a sauna: Although it is a major eliminative organ, most people’s skin is very inactive. Sweat is a most important elimination route for toxins. Repeated use of the sauna can help slowly restore skin elimination. Viruses, toxin-burdened cells, and tumours are weaker than normal cells and tolerate heat poorly. The heating of the tissues, which takes place in a sauna helps the body heal from infections and disease more quickly. I make it a habit to go to the sauna once a week for a deep, cleansing sweat. It feels amazing and does a body good!

Simple 3-Day Cleanse // My New Roots

Below is a sample plan for the Winter Weekend Cleanse. You can do the program for just one day, but I would recommend at least two to really feel the benefits. You can also go longer if you like, and include one or more of the recipes from my previous programs to compliment the new one, just so those taste buds of yours stay excited! Drink as much water as you feel like / need, but consume at least 1½ liters throughout the day. Always begin the day with warm water with lemon, as this will assist in flushing your digestive system, preparing your tummy for food by increasing stomach acid, and alkalizing your entire system. Herbal teas are acceptable, but choose ones that are particularly detoxifying. Burdock, cleavers, chickweed, yarrow, nettle and plantain are some of my favourites. I also have a wonderful Detox Tea Blend recipe here.

You can eat your smoothie for breakfast and afternoon snack, but it also fills in for a lunch if that is all you feel like. You can make up the entire batch for a day (the recipe makes about 3 cups / 700ml) if you know you’ll be on the go and sip on it when you need a pick-me-up. Or you can divide the ingredients in half and make it fresh if you’ll be near a blender.

Since we are in the colder months of the year here, I’d encourage you not to use frozen fruit, as it’s important to keep warm when the weather is not! I like to enjoy this smoothie at room temperature, and I promise it’s just as delicious as its cold counterpart.

The soup can be eaten for lunch and dinner or as a snack too. I really like it blended, but feel free to keep it chunky too!

Simple 3-Day Cleanse // My New Roots

Winter Weekend Cleanse Plan

Upon rising: warm water with lemon

Breakfast: Ginger-Mint Pear Smoothie

Throughout the day: water! Aim for 1½ – 2½ liters a day (about 6-10 cups), depending on your activity level

Lunch: Cilantro Spinach Sweet Potato Soup

Snack: Ginger-Mint Pear Smoothie

Dinner: Cilantro Spinach Sweet Potato Soup

Repeat on the following day, for as many days as you like.

Things to Avoid: caffeine, sugar, alcohol, tobacco, computer time, television, stressful situations.

Things to Embrace: sleep and rest, time outdoors, yoga, meditation, deep breathing, sauna, dry skin brushing.

 

I hope you all find your own reasons for trying out this simple cleanse, and that it proves to be as helpful as it is delicious! Remember to take things slow, set realistic goals for yourself and be celebrate each small victory! I truly wish you all the best for 2015 – this year is going to be the cleanest, greenest yet.

Love and light,
Sarah B

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Check out my interview with the gorgeous McKel over at Nutrition Stripped!