Sarah B’s Balinese Gado Gado

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First of all, hello you. It’s been a while. I can hardly believe that the holidays are behind us and even the whole of January. What happened?!

Well, before I launch into the recipe, I just wanted to update you all on a couple things.

I need to start by saying that the Wild Heart High Spirit Bali Retreat was, without a doubt, one of the coolest projects I’ve ever had the pleasure to work on. Mikkala Marilyn Kissi and I welcomed and held space for 16 women to totally transform, and come out on the other side of seven days, new humans. We all landed back into our physical bodies, rediscovering the euphoria of movement and breath, the taste of real food, the feeling of laughter in our cells, sun on our skin, smiles in our hearts. I could go on forever about how deeply moved I feel about the whole thing, but I will just say thank you to everyone who came, and that we are going to do another one very, very soon. There are a few photos from the retreat at the bottom of this post – I hope you enjoy, and join us next time.

Also. Cookbook tour. It’s happening. Naturally Nourished officially lands in North America February 14th and I am close behind. I’ll be visiting New York, Toronto, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. There are more details at the bottom of this post and on my Events page, so please have a look. For all other countries, please stay tuned!

Now, it’s recipe time.

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If you’re a vegetarian traveling through Indonesia, gado gado will save your life. It’s the dish that is on every single menu, a veggie-loaded, protein-rich salad drenched in the most flavourful, luscious peanut sauce that you’ve ever tasted. Combining raw and slightly steamed or blanched vegetables and bean sprouts, it is typically served with fried tofu or boiled eggs and prawn crackers, but so easily made vegan. The first time I traveled to this part of the world, I ate gado gado so often, that I almost grew tired of it. Almost.

What was my initial meal to celebrate the return to the magical island of Bali this time? Naturally, gado gado, and it did not disappoint. There is something incredibly satisfying about the dish, something that grabs a hold and makes you coming back for more – I believe it is the exquisite balancing act of flavours and textures. The veggies are light and tender (never mushy!), the sprouts are crunchy and fresh, but the true magic lies da sauce. It hits all the notes with its creamy, rich, salty, sweet, acidic, toasty and spiciness. While eating it you’re coming up with ways to justify pouring it on everything (Rice? Yes! Spring rolls? Obviously! Roasted veggies? Of course! Bean salad? Why not?!). Of all the dishes I taught during my retreat cooking classes in Bali, this is the one that the ladies really went wild for. Because sauce.

I will mention that I am taking major liberties with the traditional recipe, keeping my version vegan and soy-free, and switching out the peanuts for more health-supportive almonds. I realize that this is akin to making pasta out of vegetables (i.e. not at all pasta), but we often and readily make allowances for the promise of something healthier, so just roll with me on this one, okay? Thanks.

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But Sarah, what’s wrong with peanuts?
You may recall me tackling this subject before, but for those of you who are hearing just learning that peanuts and the things made with it are less-than-awesome, let’s recap! Although there are a lot worse things you could be eating, there are also plenty of healthier choices than peanuts, and here’s why.

First of all, peanuts are a bit of an odd duck plant. Not a true nut, but a bean in fact, peanuts grow underground in their thin-skinned pods, which come into direct contact with the surrounding soil. Because this soil is often moist and warm, it presents the ideal environment for fungus to proliferate. Now, it’s not the fungus that is the issue in this case, but the poison it releases, called alflatoxin, which is a cancer-causing agent that attacks the liver. What is the most shocking news, is that the highest levels of alflatoxin aren’t found in big brand peanut butters, but in the peanut butter ground fresh in health food stores.

Second of all, conventionally-grown peanuts are sprayed with very high levels of pesticides and are one of the most contaminated crops in the North America. They are also often genetically modified.

Thirdly, peanuts contain very high levels of Omega-6 fatty acids, an essential fat that we consume too much of in general. Ideally, Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats should be consumed in a 3:1 ratio (like the ratio found in hemp seeds!), otherwise inflammation erupts in the body.

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If you’re a serious peanut and peanut butter lover, there are a few things you can do. For starters, find a brand of peanuts that have been grown organically in a dry environment (New Mexico for instance). Dry environments mean drier soils, which means less fungus. Make sure the nuts you are buying are very fresh and raw, since the word “roasted” cruelly translates to “deep fried”. Dry-roasted are okay since they don’t use oil in the cooking process, but these nuts are typically old.

But the best alternative of all? Other nuts! Like almonds. Almonds are high in vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that makes our skin look radiant, and helps protect again heart disease. Almonds have been proven to help lower cholesterol, the risk of weight gain and diabetes. They have about half the amount of Omega-6 fats that peanuts do, along with fewer calories. I snack on almonds and almond butter whenever I can, and have successfully replaced peanuts with this healthier option. I hope you’re inspired to do the same!

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The cool thing about this dish is that you can make it any time of year with seasonal veggies and prepare them the way that suits you and the outdoor temperature, while keeping the sauce exactly the same. I like to eat veggies almost entirely raw in the summer, and include things like cucumber, green beans, radish, and lettuces. In the winter however, gado gado is truly the prefect cold-weather salad since everything can be slightly cooked and enjoyed warm. For this version, I chose two kinds of cabbage, kale, carrots, sweet potato, and freshly sprouted mung beans. An improvement I’ve made since teaching this recipe at the retreat was tossing the still-warm vegetables in virgin coconut oil – best decision. This adds a whole other layer of flavour and creaminess, plus adds even more richness, which need this time of year. Did I mention there’s also sauce?!

There are a couple ways of making my version of gado gado sauce. The best method, for sure, is roasting your own almonds and making your own fresh nut butter. The flavour will truly blow your mind if you go in this direction. But! If you are pressed for time and / or don’t feel like going through the rigmarole, you can totally use store-bought almond butter. Just make sure that it is unsweetened and made from roasted almonds, not raw. We want the full depth of flavour here – raw almond butter is too mild and will be overwhelmed by the other sauce ingredients.

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Here are some shots I took during the retreat in Bali. It was beyond magical.
If you’d like to stay updated about the next one, please sign up for our newsletter and be the first to know once we announce!

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And now for the book tour! I am so insanely excited to get on the road with my latest cookbook, Naturally Nourished, which you can preorder here. I’ll be in New York City and Toronto first, and tickets for the events in those cities are now available. Check the Events page, Instagram and Facebook for the remaining cities, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. See you soon!

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February 20th
My New Roots x The Aerie Collective: WisdomShare
“Turning Your Creativity Into a Career”
Spend an evening with Sarah for an inspiring presentation about how she has grown her food blogging passion into a thriving career.
Her book is available for purchase & signing.

Click here for tickets and more details


February 21st
My New Roots + Food52 Livestream

Tune in to Food52’s Facebook at 3pm EST, for a live broadcast of Sarah Britton demonstrating two of her favourite recipes from her new cookbook Naturally Nourished.

Live event link: www.facebook.com/food52


February 21st
My New Roots + Jessica Murnane + Julia Turshen
A very special night of inspiring conversation + a celebration + great women in food! Join us for the launch party of two beautiful & brilliant new cookbooks: Sarah Britton’s Naturally Nourished and Jessica Murnane’s One Part Plant With the conversation led by the highly acclaimed author & chef, Julia Turshen. Come for the bites, drinks, and book signings by all three women – stay for the good times & (selfies)!

Click here for tickets and more details


February 22nd
My New Roots + Amy Chaplin + The Finch: Plant-based Dinner Celebration
We’re thrilled to invite you to a very special dinner collaboration at Michelin-starred restaurant The Finch, celebrating two fantastic women in food. Join us for this inspired & intimate gathering.

Click here for tickets and more details


TORONTO


February 24th
My New Roots x The Aerie Collective: WisdomShare
“Turning Your Creativity Into a Career”
Spend an evening with Sarah for an inspiring presentation about how she has grown her food blogging passion into a thriving career.
Her book is available for purchase & signing.

Click here for tickets and more details


February 25th
Naturally Nourished Book Launch at Appetito!
We’re very happy to welcome you to join us for an excting interview with Sarah, Q&A, recipe tasting from the cookbook, book purchasing & signing.

Click here for tickets and more details


February 26th
My New Roots + The First Mess: Cookbook Celebration Gathering
Together with Sarah, Laura and an incredible community we would love to invite you to meet, feast & celebrate in their cookbook launch!

Click here for tickets and more details

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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Plant-Powered Sloppy Joes

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When I was in elementary school I ate in the cafeteria. It was the “cool” thing to do after all, since homemade brown bag lunches were sooo kindergarten. At the time, I thought that the highly processed offerings behind the sneeze guard were a dream come true: pizza, burgers, chicken fingers, fish sticks, mac n’ cheese. But the very best thing of all in my first-grader opinion? Sloppy Joes.

For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about (ahem, mostly everyone outside North America), a Sloppy Joe is like a stew-y, wet hamburger. I’ve also heard it been called a “loose meat sandwich”. Stay with me, people – I realize how riduclously unappetizing this sounds. As a kid, eating a Sloppy Joe was like getting permission to make a mess – a rare, sanctioned moment to smear sauce all over your face, drip on your plate, and have your whole meal basically deteriorate into a pile of savoury, saucy, deliciousness that you were allowed to eat with your hands?! Isn’t this every kid’s dream? Because eating a Sloppy Joe is just that: it’s sloppy. And that is why it’s awesome.

Sloppy Joes are definitely not on top of the “sophisticated food” list, but that does not mean that they should be discriminated against. When made with plant-based, whole food ingredients, they are in fact quite the respectable meal. Perfect for chilly autumn and winter nights when all you want to do is tuck into something super cozy and comforting, Sloppy Joes are a one-way ticket to the land of savoury satisfaction. Since the temperatures have dropped here in Copenhagen, I’ve been craving this kind of meal like crazy, so I’m more than happy to have a healthy solution at hand, and of course to share it with you.

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The classic Sloppy Joe recipe includes ground beef cooked with onions and garlic, crushed tomatoes, ketchup, sugar and some spices. Sometimes there are some token carrots and celery tossed in, sometimes vinegar, mustard, or chilies, but the basic idea is a moist mixture that you pile on top of a bun. But! In my vegan Plant-Powered version, I’ve replace the ground beef with black lentils and mushrooms. I suggest using this type of lentil for this recipe since they are very small, and they maintain their shape and texture while cooking. And if you care about appearances, or perhaps “fooling” someone, they look the most like ground beef. Just sayin’.

The flavouring elements of the Plant-Powered Sloppy Joe mix are diverse and potentially strange-sounding, but trust me, altogether just right. Balsamic for a sweet hit of acidity, Sriracha for a little heat, and cumin and paprika add smoky complexity. I also tossed in some walnuts because I am a firm believer in texture, and all that mushiness needed buffering! I toasted them lightly before giving them a rough chop and a stir through the thick lentil mixture. I love how their nuttiness comes through the rich sauce and adds even more deliciousness. I also made a simple slaw from red cabbage to add more crunch and freshness, plus some token sprouts. These items are optional, but I really love the bright contrast they provide against the rich lentil filling.

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Fill up on Folate
Lentils are one of the yummiest sources of folate. Just one cup of cooked lentils provides you with almost 90% of your daily recommended intake! And why is folate so important? You’ve probably heard about this vital B-vitamin in regards to pregnancy, as it is critical in the prevention of birth defects, but folate also functions to support red blood cell production and help prevent anemia, allows nerves to function properly, helps prevent osteoporosis-related bone fractures, and helps prevent dementias including Alzheimer’s disease.

Folate received its name from the Latin word folium, meaning “foliage”, so it’s not wonder that other excellent sources of folate are dark leafy greens (yum, your favorite!) – kale, romaine lettuce, spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, beet greens, mustard greens, parsley, and collards to name a few. This may explain why North American diets seem to be on the deficient end of things when it comes to this B-vitamin, as folate is available from fresh, unprocessed food. The good news is it is easily absorbed, used, and stored by the body. Folate is also manufactured by intestinal bacteria (remember those probiotics?), so if colon flora is healthy, we have another good source of this important vitamin.

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Find the most high-vibe buns or bread you can get your hands on for this recipe. I used wholegrain sourdough buns from my local organic bakery, then toasted them lightly before drowning them in vegan sloppy goodness. You can also eat these open-faced if you’d like to cut back on the bread. Or pull an alt-bread move and wrap it in socca, a cabbage leaf, or use it to top a crispbread (although, let’s be honest: the bun rules).

I should also mention that the sloppy joe filling was totally delicious on its own as a stew, and thinned with a little water to make soup! Bonus.

Show me your Sloppy Joes on Instagram: #MNRsloppyjoes

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Dear friends!

I’ve made a super special pack of holiday recipes that you’ll get FOR FREE when you pre-order my new cookbook, Naturally Nourished. This vegan and gluten-free menu was designed with co-ordination in mind: all the dishes compliment each other perfectly to be your special dinner party start to finish, so that you don’t have to think! Just cook 🙂 The delicious dishes are Garlicky Sautéed Kale with Chili, Maple and Ginger-Roasted Carrots with Hazelnuts, Sweet Potato and Mushroom Tart, and Vegan Peppermint Truffles. Click here to read more about my cookbook, preorder, and download the PDF today. Happy Holidays from me to you, and thank you for your ongoing support of My New Roots!

xo, Sarah B