Category: Summer

Caramelized Onion White Lentil Hummus

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If there is one trick I’ve learned in all of my years cooking, both at home and in restaurants, it is this: caramelized onions can make almost anything taste amazing. They’re the ridiculously simple, yet magical ingredient that turns an ordinary dish into something so rich-tasting and satisfying that people go …oh hi excuse me, this is incredible.

I think the simple reason that caramelized onions taste so good, is because they are a labour of love. Not like an all-day stirring the pot kinda deal, but most definitely a food that you can’t just leave on the stove and dive into an Instagram vortex. No. Caramelized onions take care and attention, at least for the better part of half an hour, and the results are so worth it I bet you’ll catch yourself multi-tasking at the stove tonight just to have some on hand to gussy up your omelet this weekend (boss move there, by the way).

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The more accurate reason that caramelized onions taste so good however, isn’t technically caramelization – it’s called the Maillard reaction. The Maillard reaction is a browning reaction similar to caramelization, but with one distinct difference: caramelization is a chemical reaction between reducing sugars, while Maillard is a chemical reaction between reducing sugars and amino acids (proteins). And yes, there is enough protein in an onion to elicit this response – how thrilling for us! Although the Maillard reaction is very complex and complicated, what we do know is that it requires heat to transform and rearrange sugars and amino acids to create new and fantastic flavour molecules in and on your food, making it even more delicious. If you’ve ever eaten a golden slice of toast, enjoyed a rich cup of coffee, or nibbled on a grilled vegetable, you’ve experienced the pure pleasure that all of this this chemical commotion is responsible for. Science!

Harnessing the power of the Maillard reaction can make you a better cook, because things that are browned properly taste more intensely, more complex, and well, better. Without even being aware of it, it’s the reason you’ll reach for the roasted veggies with the crispiest edges, or the reason that you prefer a fried egg over a boiled one (no judgement!). There are a couple ways of making this spectacular series of chemical reactions work for you, and the first is high heat. Maillard will not occur at very low temperatures, especially in situations where the food is not in direct contact with the heat, like it is on a skillet or grill for instance. When you’re roasting veggies, make sure the oven is at least 400°F / 200°C. When you’re making pizza, you can crank it up even higher, to get those beautifully blistered crust edges that make your mouth water.

The second way is to keep the food you’re cooking on the dry side. For instance, have you ever noticed how if you wash mushrooms (which you should actually never do), they’ll never really get brown and crusty? Too much moisture! Instead, brush those fungi gently to remove any dirt or debris, then put them in a screeching hot pan with some ghee and don’t stir them. I talk more about this technique here. This is the same reason you need a large pan for these caramelized onions, since they’ll need the space to allow the water to evaporate around them. If the onions are too close together, they’ll only steam each other. Eew. If you’re oven roasting vegetables for dinner, cut them in the morning and leave them out all day uncovered so that the surface water will evaporate, and the veggies will brown more easily. Yes, this seems like a bit of a hassle, but the culinary nerd in me admits that it’s cool because it works.

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So, where does the hummus come into this story? Well, hummus is pretty much a food group in my world. I’ve made so many variations with so many kinds of legumes, spices, alt seed butters, toppings, and stir-ins, that I could hardly believe I had never tried it with the ingredient that could single-handedly save humanity: caramelized onions. I knew that deep richness of the onions would meld perfectly with the creamy dip, and make the flavour even better. I wasn’t wrong! The only thing that I wanted to improve upon, was the protein content – not because I’m obsessed with protein, but simply because I thought it could be higher. To do that I simply swapped out the traditional chickpeas for white lentils, or urad dal. We not only get more protein from this change-up, but almost double the fiber, with less sodium, less fat, and less sugar. Sweet.

This dip is the perfect, rich compliment to all the crisp and light, early summer veggies popping up. I went to my friend’s farm and picked some seriously beautiful radishes and young carrots, which paired so well with the caramelized onion flavour. I also had some Life-Changing Crackers on hand, which always make dipping more delicious. One thing I changed from the first version to the third, was the onions on top. Instead of blending all of them into the dip, I used about a third of them on top, which allows you to scoop a few tender morsels up with each bite. This delivers even more caramelized onion flavour and texture, which, let us be reminded, is the whole point of this exercise.

Even though this hummus keeps well for at least five days in the fridge (you can even freeze it!), it is best eaten freshly made at room temperature, since the flavour is at its peak then.

And because you’re wondering, you can find white or ivory lentils at Indian grocers, Middle Eastern markets, or some natural food stores. They are the skinned and split version of urad dal, which is black, so make sure you buy the huskless version! If you can’t find them at all, simply use chickpeas – it will be just as delicious.

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If it’s your first time caramelizing onions and you’re feeling intimidated, here is a stellar step-by-step tutorial from Bon Appétit. It varies ever so slightly from my method, but you’ll get the picture!

Big love and happy hummus,
Sarah B.

Show me your hummus on Instagram: #mnrcaramelizedonionhummus

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Hello dear friends!

There are only a few spots left for our January 2019 Wild Heart High Spirit retreat and we’d love to see you in Bali! 

Join us along with 15 other women to unwind, reconnect, and find the inspiration to ignite you on your health journey. Our thoughtfully-designed program will awaken and nourish your entire being – body, mind, and spirit! This is a true celebration of life, and we get to do it together in paradise! Come see what all the magic is about. 

Much love,
Sarah B, Mikkala and the Golden Circle Retreats team

Chickpea Pasta with Basil-Pea Pesto

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It’s pretty redundant to say that I love cooking. So much. But even though I find myself enamoured with some small detail of every meal that I make, this chickpea pasta was next-level emotional. In fact, was one of the few recipes I’ve made in my entire life that turned me into a wide-eyed child again, and reaffirmed my deep, unrelenting passion for creating food. Kneading the dough, rolling the pasta through this perfectly designed machine, seeing it transform before me, mysteriously almost nothing into so very much. I’m not ashamed to say it nearly brought me to tears. There is something about cooking – and cooking something so ancient – that delivers a feeling of satisfaction that can hardly be described. It’s entirely transcendental. And the best part? You get to eat it.

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It all started when one of my dear friends suggested making pasta out of chickpea flour and that she had seen a vegan version using ground flax seeds. I found the recipe and followed it, but it didn’t work, I tried again, and after another pretty epic fail where I felt totally out of my depth, I decided to go the classic egg route. Not only was it better, it was absolutely, unbelievably delicious. In fact, I could hardly trust that what I was eating was made from chickpea flour, since it tasted so much like the beloved white pasta of my past. How is this not a thing?!  It’s so easy and infinitely healthier, why isn’t everyone and their uncle Bob making pasta with chickpea flour?

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I made this pasta three time in a week and found the prefect al dente cook time, all kinds of things to dress it with (olive oil, Pecorino, black pepper – guh.), and that I could freeze it to come back later and pop a nest into boiling water for almost-instant dinner that even my three-year-old loves. Rejoice!

The only potential issue with using chickpea pasta like this is that since the chickpea flour is made from ground raw chickpeas, and some people who are sensitive to legumes may find this difficult to digest (i.e. lots of farts). I don’t know how to overcome this issue since sprouting the chickpeas, then dehydrating them, then grinding them seems like a whole lotta rigmarole, so I’m using chickpea flour and calling this an indulgence, like socca. If you know you have legume issues, I suggest purchasing sprouted chickpea flour, which is a little more challenging to find, but you can certainly buy it online.

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Now that I understand the correct moisture levels and consistency, I’m going to go back and try the vegan version again, perhaps using something other than flax this time. If any of you have had success, please let me know!

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Do you need a pasta machine for this recipe? Kind of. Unless you are very skilled at rolling out pasta by hand, I recommend picking one up (there’s always one at the second-hand store). Pasta machines are simple to use, and make this process very fast, fun, and satisfying. The one I have is pictured below (it’s Atlas brand #notsponsored), and it creates flat sheets that are perfect for lasagna or ravioli, or you can run the thin sheets through the spaghetti or tagliatelle roller, like I have done for this recipe.

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And there’s another recipe in this recipe, and that is for the delightful Basil-Pea Pesto. Herb-y, nutty, and bright, it’s a cinch to whip up and keeps for 2-3 days in the fridge, so you can make it ahead or use the potential leftovers for many delish things (it’s a great dip or sandwich spread). Use frozen peas if that’s all you have – no stress! And I like to use even more peas and basil to finish this dish off, so that it is even more satisfying with all the bright flavours and textures. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does.

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I’m currently on holidays in Canada and I’m going to keep this post short and sweet so that I can get back to all of my funky food projects, reading on the dock, and naps. So many naps. I hope you’re all having a glorious summer so far!

Big love,
Sarah B

Show my your pasta on Instagram: #mnrchickpeapasta

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Dear friends! I am getting SO excited about hosting my next wellness retreat in Ibiza, Spain, September 5-10 and September 17-23. And I’ve decided to offer the same program twice so that more of you can join in. This is going to be an intimate group of 12 women only, housed in a stunning, 400 year-old finca in the hills surrounded by fig trees, wild herbs and carob. Come join me for seven days of total inspiration and rejuvenation – delicious and healthy meals, cooking and nutrition workshops, yoga, pilates, dance, and meditation that will balance your body and mind, and empower you to move forward on a path to greater wellness. I can’t wait to see you there!

Click the image below to go to the retreat page or click here for the booking page at Supersoul Yoga: Week 1 (Sept. 5-10) or Week 2 (Sept. 17-23)

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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.