Category: Baked Goods

Cinnamon Crunch Cereal and Hemp Milk

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“It is easier to change a man’s religion than to change his diet.”
– Margaret Mead

Yup. Pretty much.
This entire shift began when I had a particularly gnarly couple of months with manic mood swings that rivaled my adolescence, acne flare-ups, bloating, low energy, night sweats, and all-round malaise. Knowing what I know, I looked at my diet first to see what could be adjusted. Everything was organic, whole, plant-based and totally “healthy” by most peoples’ standards. But it just wasn’t working anymore. I knew something had to give.

Delving in deeper, a typical day for me was a whole-grain porridge in the morning, topped with all kinds of seasonal fruit, homemade granola etc. Lunch was a couple slices of organic sourdough rye bread from the local bakery, with homemade hummus, avocado, sprouts etc. Dinner was often a mixed bowl, the base of which was brown rice, quinoa, millet or buckwheat covered in a rainbow of vegetables, homemade pickles, superfood-loaded sauce, and fresh herbs. I wasn’t eating sugar, drinking coffee, I was keeping up with my exercise and sleeping well. So what was the problem? In this case, I had a feeling it was a big ol’ grain overload.

The idea of cutting back on my morning oats, bread, and grain bowls was literally devastating to me. I cried. On multiple occasions, just talking about giving up muffins made me weep, and I felt like there was just no way I could make even more changes, or think about my diet even more than I already did.

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I have had two serious experiences with orthorexia in my life. For those of you who don’t know what orthorexia is, it is defined as an obsession with healthy eating. It is considered an eating disorder, and one that is becoming more prevalent in Western culture as healthy eating becomes increasingly “trendy”. The first bout happened the year I moved out of the house to study at university. While many of my friends were bingeing on junk food and beer, I swung in the opposite direction entirely and took advantage of the incredible meal program that was offered at school, and fueled myself with enormous salads, delicious sandwiches and wraps, veggie-heavy soups and stews, and protein-rich smoothies. I also signed up for the free fitness classes at the university gym, got hooked on kickboxing, step aerobics, boot camp drills, and the weight literally fell off me. I lost about 25 pounds that year, and for the first time in my life I felt like I was in control of the way I looked. The sudden attention from guys – which I had never had before – further stoked the fires for my desire to be even thinner, even though my initial motivation to eat this way stemmed from a desire to be healthy. As my attitude towards food morphed from friend to enemy, I flirted with a full-on eating disorder at this point, playing games with myself to see how long I could go without eating, how many exercise classes I could fit in between classes and study groups, how long I could make my bean salad from lunch last (too long!). Eventually my energy levels dropped to the point where I had a very hard time getting out of bed in the morning and I couldn’t concentrate well in school. I realized that I had taken things too far and started eating in a more balanced way again. I put the experience behind me without giving it too much thought.

The second time this resurfaced was, ironically, while studying holistic nutrition. While I was learning all about foods and how my body worked, I became almost afraid to eat, toxifying my body, or “poisoning” it with sugar, gluten, dairy and the rest. I became obsessed with detoxing and subsisted only on “clean foods”; mostly vegetables. I was stressed, my hair started falling out, my acne came back and my energy hit an all-time low. Despite my obvious physical misery, I somehow felt validated since I wasn’t putting anything “bad” in my body. Eating as healthy as possible became obsessive for me and my classmates, and we’d all proudly bring our lunches to school, subtly scrutinizing each other’s Tupperware contents. Again, food had lost its pleasure, its joy, and had become something that I saw as more of an enemy than a friend. And that really scared me.

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After graduating, I finally got a grip, and once again slowly re-established a healthy relationship to what I was eating. It is for these reasons that food is such a tender subject for me, and changing my diet dangerous territory. I spent so many years struggling to achieve a positive connection with food, and when I finally got there and it felt like such a relief. The prospect of having to go “back to that place” of thinking about food more than I already did felt unsafe for me, and slipping back into an obsessive place felt like an inevitability. Meanwhile, the negative self-talk voices were loud and overpowering, telling me how I was fat, flabby, weak, old – things that I KNEW weren’t true. But that’s the sad thing about internal monologues, they don’t need to make sense to play like broken records in our minds all day every day. It’s enough to drive a person insane. The cruel voices coupled with my extreme fear of reverting back to my old thought patterns and eating habits absolutely terrified me. I felt like I had hit a wall of hopelessness. And all I wanted to do to feel better was to eat a piece of eff-ing bread.

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The reason I suspected the grain thing was because of the unique relationship that blood sugar has to our hormones. If we’re consuming carbohydrates at a faster rate than our bodies are utilizing them for energy, that extra glucose gets stored in the fat cells of the liver, which decreases its ability to breakdown excess estrogen, and allowing it to hang around in our systems longer than it should. This excess circulating estrogen causes a whole host of symptoms, including, you guessed it: mood swings, bloating, sluggish metabolism, tender breasts, fatigue, foggy thinking, PMS, and many more less-than-desirable issues. Now, these things can be exacerbated by stress (shocker), inadequate fat and protein intake, and environmental factors, all of which I was likely suffering from.

I set out by making a plan, since I know how hard it is to make positive changes without preparation. Instead of focusing on the all the things I wanted to reduce or eliminate, I focused on the foods I could have, foods higher in fat and protein, since I knew that those things would naturally elbow out the things I would normally fall back on (I’m looking at you, banana bread). I made a list that I could refer to when I was grocery shopping for ingredients. I cooked and froze things. I stocked the fridge and pantry. I was ready.

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Within the first few days I already noticed a difference: my energy was incredibly stable, my emotions were in check, the bloating in my stomach dissipated, and I just felt good. As the days rolled on my compulsive urges to down half a dozen muffins subsided, and it was like I could clearly see that what I had actually been battling was blood sugar issues – not just “too many” grains or carbohydrates. It became clear that I had been taking my bod on a wild rollercoaster of high and low blood sugar for years, which had in turn been tossing my hormones around like a pair of sneakers in a washing machine. Stabilizing blood sugar is the first step in managing your endocrine’s system ability to do its job properly. I realized that if I was going to eat grains (or any carbohydrate-heavy food), I had to eat them in smaller amounts, balance them out thoughtfully with enough fat and protein, and make sure that I was actually using that energy instead of letting it sit around in my body. So far, things have been going incredibly well, and I am so darn proud of myself for not only identifying the issue, but actually doing something about it.

We are fluid beings with needs that evolve and change over time. Our diets need to reflect that, which is why it’s imperative to listen to our bodies and be advocates for our own health. No one knows your body better than you, and once you quiet all the noise out there telling you “how” to eat in black-and-white terms, you’ll be able to hear yourself, without judgement, and choose the way of eating that is just right for you, right now. It may be different tomorrow, and that is okay too. In sharing this all with you, I am trying to set an example, because you too have this intuition that is telling you just what you need to eat and do right now. It’s actually fun to be connected to yourself, your unique rhythms and needs. Learning about how you operate and designing a plan that caters to your exceptional self means that you can celebrate, instead of berate your body the whole month through, and experience pleasure in every stage of our cycle. I promise.

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This is undoubtedly a huge topic, and one that I plan on chipping away at over the next few blog posts. Some things I want to reiterate here are, that I do not believe that grains or carbohydrates are bad. No natural food group should be vilified, just as no macronutrient should be either. If you’re thinking about giving up carbs, I’d advise you not to. Glucose, the sugar found in carbohydrates is your brain’s primary fuel source, and when consumed responsibly, carbs will help you on your wellness journey, not hinder you. I still stand behind each and every one of the recipes that I have created for this blog, the app, and both of my cookbooks, and I believe that they are appropriate for many people to enjoy. However at this stage of my life, some of the recipes do not serve my needs any longer, and I’ve had to make small changes to them, or put them on the shelf for another time. I’m okay with that.

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Whew! Now for some notes on the recipe.

The base recipe for my Cinnamon Toast Crunch-inspired cereal is grain-free, but it does rely on almond flour, which can be expensive. If you can tolerate pseudo-grains, feel free to top up the base with buckwheat flour. This will bulk up the cereal considerably so you’ll have more for less money.

This cereal is r-i-c-h. You really only need a small amount to fuel you in the morning – not like the bottomless bowls of that we’re used to consuming in the morning without every really feeling satisfied, ya know what I mean? And paired with a luscious liquid like my Super Creamy Hemp Milk will keep you full for even longer, help stabilize your blood sugar, not to mention flood your bod with the delicate nutrients and powerful enzymes that store-bought, plant-based milk is missing. This recipe is dead simple and pretty much like cream – I shouldn’t even call it milk, since it’s so rich and thick. And since we’re thinking outside the cereal box here, don’t stop at breakfast…this milk is amazing in coffee and tea, in raw treats and baked goods, soup, smoothies, ice cream and popsicles. You’re gonna love it!

I made the cereal the first time with just almond flour and a full half-cup of applesauce. It was definitely delicious, but I loved it just as much when I cut this amount in half. If you don’t want all the sweetness, use just ¼ cup / 60ml of applesauce instead of the full amount. If you’re using buckwheat flour, you will need the full amount of the applesauce’s moisture to bind it all together. I haven’t tried a version without the coconut sugar, so if you’re not into that stuff feel free to play with the recipe on your own.

Initially, I was really afraid to come out about any of this stuff – the changes my diet is undergoing, the orthorexia, the internal voices! But I know in my gut that if I’m going through it, someone else out there is too. And the reason I wanted to start My New Roots in the first place was to create a safe space for everyone to share and support each other on our health journeys, so I have to be as transparent and honest as I feel I can be to set that example. I want to say a huge heartfelt thank-you to all of you who have stood by me all of these years and continue to do so. It feels pretty amazing to have you, and to be getting better all together.

In light and gratitude,
Sarah B.

 

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Also… There’s one spot left for the upcoming retreat in Ibiza, click here to join me for a week of total inspiration and rejuvenation!

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Breakfast Buckwheat Florentines

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“Done is better than perfect.”

I can’t tell you how many times I repeat this to myself on a daily basis, as a sort of mantra to soothe and convince the perfectionist inside me to just follow through. To just put it out there.

I almost pushed “publish” on this blog post yesterday afternoon, but something was holding me back. Two things, in fact. First, the photos weren’t what I wanted them to be: they were on the boring side without a lot of colour, and not really inspiring. Second, the recipe itself just wasn’t there. I was trying to make a vegan yogurt coating with coconut butter and although it was tasty, the texture was all wrong: chunky and gritty. Was it good enough? Probably. Would anyone have noticed what I saw as shortcomings? Probably not. But could I deal with it? Apparently, no.

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As I was putting the finishing touches on the post, it hit me like a bolt of lightening: I needed to use cashew butter to achieve the silky consistency I was after. Noooo! It was the solution I had been calling in, but to arrive at the witching hour just seemed cruel. How could I start all over at this point? Was I crazy to even try, considering I didn’t know for sure that it would work out? With only minutes to make a decision, I hopped on my bike and cycled to the health food store. Again. Cursing myself, my brain, my ridiculous inability to know when to let go, and my insistence that what I put out in the world is my absolute best, really started to annoy me.

I bought all the ingredients for the third time, raced home, and got to work. The cookies were the best they’d ever been. Perfect, in fact. But was it worth it?

For anyone out there nodding their heads in recognition that they too, have these borderline masochistic tendencies to achieve an arbitrary portrait of perfection, may I ask what it is that drives us to create and then hold it all back if it’s not exactly what we imagined in our heads? Because nothing is perfect! When do we draw the line and just push “publish”? Is done really better than perfect? Because done for me it seems like settling for mediocrity a lot of the time. Even if it’s just a friggin’ cookie.

I’m not looking for answers here, just venting I suppose. But if you want to share your similar struggles, feel free in the comments. It’s not often I open up or vent in this space, so maybe we can all throw a perfectionist party, and make sure to have these very perfect cookies on the table.

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Speaking of! Florentines are traditionally almond-centric biscuits, sometimes with the addition of dried fruit like cherries and orange zest, with a rich chocolate coating on the bottom. Because I really love dessert for breakfast, I was motivated to make a morning-appropriate version that wouldn’t make me feel like a glutton. I chose to add some buckwheat to the mix since I love to start my day with whole grains, and swapped out the chocolate for a vanilla-cashew butter coating that I basically want to pour over my entire life. Like I mentioned, my original thought was to go with something yogurt-like, but once I made this saucy concoction, there was no need to pretend it was something else. Pure, divine, silky-smooth pleasure glaze! Ahem.

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I love these cookies because they are so simple to make with just a few ingredients, and incredibly fast. On my third testing, they were done – mixed, baked and glazed – in 20 minutes. If you’re in a rush to get your treat fix, leave the cashew coating out of the equation, and you’ll still have a gorgeously tasty and satisfying little snack.

As far as additions and flavours go, these wicked little morsels are kind of a blank slate. I made a couple batches with orange zest and one without. Personally, I really loved the citrusy warmth that the orange lends, and its nod to morning fodder, but you can also omit it for a more neutral taste. Instead, spice them up with cinnamon, cardamom, lemon zest, rose, lavender, coconut etc. I think adding cacao nibs would also be really delicious, as would dried blueberries, dried figs, or apricots. Whatever you choose to do, get ready to be very excited to get up in the morning. Couple these cookies with a turmeric latte, a piece of fruit and you’ll be good to go. Until 4 o’clock when you want another one.

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Once I started editing the new photos for this post, I realized that the last batch of Florentines weren’t as golden, or as flat as the previous batches. I decided to let that one go. And I’m very proud of that.

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Hey Copenhagen! Just a reminder about my first two cookbook events in CPH this Spring. The first will be an intimate talk and demonstration at SLOW Copenhagen, and the second will be a magical, celebratory dinner in collaboration with the local, organic grocer and kitchen, Kost. Click on the images for more info and tickets! Can’t wait to see you there. 

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Double Chocolate Chunk Sunbutter Cookies

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Dear friends! I’m on tour! And what a total blast and a half it’s been so far – my mind is blown by the outpouring of enthusiasm and pure LOVE here in New York City. Thanks to all of you for coming out to the events with your biggest smiles and warmest hearts. Taking my book on the road sure is a change of pace from my quiet, private, and relatively introverted life in Copenhagen. But, seeing as I like humans so much, I welcome the explosive energy, side-splitting laughter, and long hugs that this tour has brought so far. I feel like you, dear readers, are the most beautiful sort there are, and I am so lucky to have friends wherever I go. Thank you. Cannot wait to see what the next few weeks hold! Just a reminder that I am heading to Toronto, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Fran and LA – check out my Events page for updated info!

In case, you haven’t heard, this latest cookbook of mine, Naturally Nourished, is all about how to take grocery store staples and turn them into powerfully delicious and nutritious meals for you and your family. The recipes are on the simpler side than my first cookbook, and use only familiar ingredients. It was really fun to create this work, since you know how much I dig on the weird stuff: chaga, mucuna pruriens, schisandra berry, ho shu wu, pearl (yup, pearl). But let’s get real, how many of you are going to go out and find ground up pearl to put in your morning elixir? Right. So, this book was a response to the way “health food” can be sometimes: inaccessible, alienating, and even elitist. I don’t like to see the system moving in that direction because I believe that health is everyone’s right, and since we all have access to the good stuff at the local supermarket, let’s not lose sight of the powerful foods that are right under our noses. Dark leafy greens, brassicas, root veggies, squash, stone fruit, citrus, herbs, garlic, ginger – you get where I’m going with this. Naturally Nourished is a celebration of simple, honest, real food, and it will show you how to prepare it in a way that is easy, and crazy-tasty too.

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So these cookies. I am pretty over the moon for them. And they are definitely the most decadent recipe in the cookbook – loaded with serious chunks of dark chocolate, a moist, cake-y crumb and unparalleled richness. The sunflower seed crust around the outside adds fabulous texture and tooth, and the perfect crunchy contrast to the creamy chocolate.

I know that the vegans out there may be a little disappointed with this recipe, but please know how darn hard I tried to make them just as good without the eggs! This cookbook was a challenge to see if I could use only very basic grocery store ingredients for every single recipe in the cookbook, so I couldn’t cheat and employ a fancy vegan egg-replacer here, but I am pretty sure it would work. The eggs are important in the recipe not only to bind the ingredients together, but to dry out the dough in the oven, and create the fluffy consistency. Therefore, do not try this with a flax or chia “egg” – sad, sad results will ensue. Trust.

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Just a note for when you do make these: the cookie dough is very wet. You’ll be raising an eyebrow for sure, wondering if you’ve done everything correctly, but stay the course and drop those cookie dough balls into the sunflower seeds – they not only act as a tasty, crunchy coating, they also help you with handling, and prevent the cookies from turning into total puddles in the oven.

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If you’re pressed for time, skip making your own sunflower seed butter and just use store-bought. To ensure the cookies turn out just the way they are supposed to, use an unsalted, unflavoured sunbutter or another type of seed or nut butter altogether! I’ve tried them with almond butter and they were bangin’. You can also coat the cookies in another seed or chopped up nuts. Hazelnuts would be delightful. Or cacao nibs!

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I am beyond thrilled to be on tour with this second book. To be meeting so many of you who have been following my kitchen adventures for years and years, is beyond amazing. I feel like I’ve said it a thousand times, but I really mean it: your generosity of spirit and support with all that I put out in the world truly humbles me. I feel so lucky to do what I do, and you are the ones that make it possible.

With joy and deep gratitude,
Sarah B.

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