Dips are my favourite food group. Yes, food group. If I ever got a tattoo, it would probably say something like: “pass the hummus”.
I was recently hosting a party-for-no-reason, and like most of my get togethers they involve a lot of food. But I didn’t feel like making a fallback dip, like tzatziki, or baba ganoush. No. I felt like leveling up and creating something I hadn’t tried to before. Something with BIG DIP ENERGY – a chunky, spicy, creamy, and above all impressive layer dip. I’d cooked pinto beans the night before, had a little tin of chipotle chilies kicking around the pantry, and I knew that if I cut a couple corners, this thing would come together so I’d still have time to tizz myself up before the guests arrived.
My childhood memories of layer dip involve many cans and jars of processed food being dumped into a large bowl, but the current-reality- holistic-nutritionist version definitely involves making every single one of those things from scratch. Mama don’t have time for that! So I simplified things by cutting out the guacamole (don’t yell at me like that – add it if you want to!), and using jarred salsa. Everything else was homemade, but came together quickly and easily.
First, I sautéed the pre-cooked pinto beans with onions, garlic, spices, and the chipotle peppers. While that was on the stove, I whipped up the hemp seed “queso” (no soaking required!). And the salsa got an upgrade with some fresh, chopped cherry tomatoes. This is such an easy hack btw, since it makes the salsa taste more alive and juicy, while giving it a lot more texture, which I personally dig. All it takes after that is mushing the beans up a bit in the pan, which you can do with a bean masher, or an immersion blender, if you don’t want to haul out yet another large piece of equipment. Then layer away! All in all, this took me about 20 minutes, start to finish, and the party people hung around this bowl like it was the last dip on planet earth.
The delicious, creamy “cheese” sauce is a riff off my cashew queso, but in the interest of keeping this allergen-free, I used hemp seeds instead. I love this change-up, since it’s less expensive, and contains way more omega-3 fats and protein. You can dial up the heat here if you like, but because both the salsa and the bean layer have quite a kick to them, I kept the queso pretty mild. Did I mention that this is delicious on its own next to a platter of veggie sticks?! Or chips. Let’s be honest.
Pinto Bean Dreams
See those beautiful beans? Don’t they look gorgeous in all of their tone-on-tone mottled-ness? “Pinto” actually means “painted” in Spanish, and when you take a close look at pinto beans you can clearly see how they’ve earned their moniker. Their speckles fade when cooking, and turn a lovely pale pink colour. They also gain a super creamy interior that is perfect in soups and stews, but also dips.
Pintos, like all beans, are a mixture of protein and complex carbohydrates, making them incredibly filling, but won’t spike blood sugar levels. Pinto beans are low in calories and fat, but contain the highest amount of fiber out of all the legumes (wow!). Key nutrients in pinto beans include potassium to maintain normal blood pressure, calcium for supporting muscle and nerve function, iron to enhance oxygen transport, and zinc for skin health.
Like all beans, pintos can cause an increase in intestinal gas (burps! farts! abdominal discomfort!), due to the oligosaccharides in the beans fermenting in the lower intestine. Because these starchy molecules live in the skin of the beans, a simple soak in water overnight usually does the trick. The soaking process will help leach out many of these fermenting properties, which is why it is so important to discard the soaking water and then boil them in fresh water. Adding a strip of kombu seaweed to the pot will further help to reduce the gas-producing potential of pinto beans (and all legumes), acting like a sponge to absorb those raffinose sugar toot culprits. Try these two tricks to reduce your toilet tunes, and stay social!
I used a clear glass bowl to serve the dip in so that they layers are visible, and it was not until after pouring in two layers did I have the idea to put cilantro stems up on the sides of it. Doh! But knowing it would be #worthit, I painstakingly scooped out the beans and salsa trying to keep everything separate, cleaned the bowl, and started over. I lightly brushed the tiniest amount of olive oil on the leaves to act as glue, then pressed them to the walls of bowl. This is completely unnecessary, but it makes the dip look less monotone and more enticing in my opinion – green always does it! This step takes an extra two minutes and adds a decorative touch, but it’s your call. Maybe you need those two minutes to tizz yourself up?
If you want to change up the recipe, try using black beans or kidney beans in place of the pintos. If you want to add another layer to this already boss situation, go on and add the guac! I was just trying to keep things a little easier for ya’ll. And if you’d like to make your own salsa, I have a stellar raw recipe right here.
Lastly, I want to add that my bowl for this was roughly 1½ quarts / litres capacity, and everything it fit perfectly. I would only suggest sizing up if you don’t have this exact container size.
Legendary Layer Bean Dip Serves 8-10
Ingredients: 1 Tbsp. coconut oil (or ghee) 1 medium yellow onion, diced ½ tsp. fine sea salt 1 clove garlic, minced 2 tsp. ground cumin 1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano (substitute with regular oregano) ½ tsp. ground sweet paprika 3 cups / 500g cooked pinto beans (about 2 cans) ½ can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (use more or less to suit your taste) water as needed
1 small bunch cilantro, washed and dried 1 pint / 280g cherry tomatoes, divided 1 green onion, sliced (white and green part) 1 small jar (15.5 oz. / 415ml) store bought salsa, mild medium or hot, depending on your tastes
1 cup / 145g hulled hemp seeds 1 medium red bell pepper, seeds removed and roughly chopped ½ tsp. fine sea salt 3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast 2-3 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste ½ clove garlic 1 small piece fresh turmeric, chopped (substitute with ½ tsp. dried) ground cayenne, to taste 3 Tbsp. water, if needed
Directions: 1. Melt oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, salt, and stir to combine. Cook until lightly caramelized (about 10 minutes), then add the garlic and cook for a couple minutes until fragrant. Stir in cumin, oregano and paprika, cook for 2 minutes, then add the beans and chipotles in adobo (use as much or as little as you like). Cover and cook on low heat while you make the queso. If the pot becomes dry, add a little water and stir.
2. To make the queso, put all ingredients, except water, in a high-speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. If needed, add water one tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached. If you want a thick cream, use less water, for a thinner sauce, use more. (You will not achieve a perfectly smooth sauce with a food processor, but it is still delicious!).
3. Slice the cherry tomatoes into quarters. Add half of them to the salsa and stir to combine. Save the other half for later.
4. Smash the beans with a bean masher, potato masher, immersion blender, or put them into your high-speed blender (remove the queso first, but don’t worry about cleaning it). The goal is to get the beans creamy, but not perfectly smooth. Add water if necessary, and season to taste.
5. Pick out a few stems of the most attractive cilantro, brush them with a little olive oil and stick them to the inside wall of the bowl (this step is optional). Chop the remaining cilantro and set aside.
6. Combine the remaining cherry tomatoes and combine them with the sliced spring onion. Sprinkle with a little salt, and fold to combine.
7. To assemble the dip, Spread the bean layer in the bottom first, followed by the salsa and finally the hemp queso. Top with the chopped cilantro, and finally the fresh tomato mix. Serve with whatever you like to dip! Party on!
Hope you’re all doing well out there. If you are experiencing any semblance of Spring weather where you are, please send some my way. K thanks. Happy dipping!
When we committed to going to the ocean, I immediately felt the thrilling sensation that washes over me when I stand at the intersection of land meeting water. I smelled brine and dampness. I saw certain patterns and colours; light sand against dark water, wet stones, seaweed, driftwood, and feathers.
This was the second recipe I created for the dreamy on-location photoshoot with Christiann Koepke back in October (you can see the first one here). The inspiration for this dish came first in fact, fast and furiously. Just thinking about the seaside brought this recipe to me in a wave of total inspiration. I wanted the ingredients to reflect the elements in this environment, and for the final result to be a visual meeting of land and sea.
Now I’m not super into “fake meat”, but there is something undeniably satisfying about tricking someone into thinking a vegetable is flesh. Tee hee. Plus, Rene Redzepi does it all the time, so maybe it puts me in the cool cooking club too? Yes? Anyway, I knew something on the plate had to look like seafood, and I had my sights set on scallops. In my first cookbook, I made “scallops” out of leeks, and wanted to try something different, so going through the rolodex of tube-shaped white veggies in my mind, I fell upon king oyster mushroom stems. Naturally. Browned in ghee and well-seasoned, I knew that these morsels would look exactly like mollusks, and taste deceptively meaty.
A pool of herbaceous, vibrant green pesto, would be the land, and the perfect resting place for my mushroom medallions. I combined flat-leaf parsley and spinach to create a bright yet balanced sauce that complimented – rather than overwhelmed – the rest of the dish. But with all this creaminess, I knew that I also needed to include something for textural contrast, so toasted hazelnuts became the beach stones, along with fried capers, which added a bite of seaside brine.
This dish is surprisingly easy to make, and it is the prefect main to serve for family and friends that you want to spoil a little. It looks impressive, but it’s a cinch to get on the table without gluing you to the stove. The pesto can be made a week in advance (although the fresher, the better), so that the only thing you need to do before serving is cook the mushroom and capers, and warm the pesto a little. I love cooking the capers and mushrooms in ghee (recipe here) because it’s just so darn delicious, but the pesto is vegan and if you want the entire meal to be so, simply swap out the ghee for expeller-pressed coconut oil, which is refined for high heat cooking and has no tropical aroma.
Edible mushrooms are both medical and nutritional dynamos. Collectively, they not only provide us with plant-based protein, vitamin D, and a whole host of minerals, but most excitingly a group of polysaccharides called beta-glucans. These complex, hemicellulose sugar molecules enhance the functioning of the immune system by activating immune cell response and stimulating the production of white blood cells. These compounds also effectively mobilize immune stem cells in your bone marrow, and exhibit anti-tumor properties, so they’re often used supplementally in cancer treatment protocols.
Beta-glucans help to lower cholesterol, as this type of fiber forms a viscous gel during digestion, which grabs a hold of excess dietary cholesterol, prevents absorption by moving it through your digestive tract, and eliminates it. Through your poop! This same gel also slows down your digestion, which in turn stabilizes blood sugar, and minimizes the release of insulin.
King oyster mushrooms are of course a good source of beta-glucans, but you can get them in other places too: barley, oats, sorghum, mushrooms like shiitake, reishi and maitake, as well as seaweed, algae, and dates.
I wouldn’t put king oyster mushrooms in the “specialty” category of fungi, but I also know that they’re not available at every grocery store, so if you can’t find them, substitute with any other kind of mushroom you like and forgo the whole “scallop” charade. The dish will still turn out delicious, I promise.
If you want to change up the herb in the pesto, try basil instead of flat-leaf parsley. Cilantro could also be delicious, but potentially overwhelming, so use more spinach in that case. And instead of hazelnuts in the pesto and garnish, try almonds, pecans or walnuts. Yummm.
I like to serve this with a big hunk of crusty bread on the side to mop up any leftover pesto in the bowl. It also helps to have some good olive oil and flaky salt around for this situation, just sayin’. If you’d prefer the grain route, steamed brown rice, quinoa, or millet could be a decent accompaniment too. And if you want to go completely grain-free, roasted sweet potato, winter squash, or pumpkin would be totally lovely.
King Oyster Mushroom “Scallops” in a Warm Pesto Pool Serves 4
1 lb. / 500g king oyster mushrooms (choose ones with fat stems)
a generous amount of ghee (or expeller-pressed coconut oil)
fine + flaky salt
1 jar brined capers (about 1/3 cup / 55g)
a handful of toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped, for garnish
1 batch Parsley-Spinach Pesto (recipe follows)
cold-pressed olive oil, for garnish
a few leaves of parsley, for garnish
1. Remove any dirt or debris from the mushrooms with your hands, or small soft brush. (do not use water!). Slice the stems into enough rounds so that each person has 5 or 6. Keep the caps for another dish.
2. Drain the capers and pat them dry with a clean tea towel or paper towel. Heat about a tablespoon of ghee (or coconut oil) in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the capers and fry until split and crisp – about 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
3. Add more ghee (or coconut oil) to the same skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the sliced mushroom stems, a sprinkle of flaky salt, and cook on one side until golden, about 5-7 minutes. Then flip and cook on the other side until golden. Work in batches or use separate skillets – if you crowd the mushrooms they will steam each other and get soggy. That is not what we’re after!
4. While you’re cooking the mushrooms, place the pesto in a small saucepan, add a touch of water to thin, if desired, and warm over low-medium heat. Do not boil!
5. To serve, place about ¼ cup / 60ml of the warm pesto in the bottom of a dish, spreading it out to make an indent in the center. Place 5 or 6 mushroom stems in the pesto, then top with the fried capers and toasted hazelnuts. Drizzle with olive oil and a few grinds of black pepper. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.
Parsley-Spinach Pesto Makes about 2¼ cups
1 cup / 150g hazelnuts
1 fat clove garlic
2 cups / 35g flat-leaf parsley, lightly packed (tender stems only)
2 cups / 65g baby spinach, lightly packed
zest of 1 organic lemon
⅓ cup/ 80ml freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
¼ cup / 60ml cold-pressed olive oil
½ cup / 35g nutritional yeast
½ tsp. fine sea salt
½ cup / 125ml water, more if needed
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place hazelnuts on baking sheet. Toast in oven for 12-15 minutes or until fragrant and lightly toasted. Remove and set aside. Once cool, remove skins by rubbing the hazelnuts together in your hands. Set aside.
2. Remove any tough stems from the parsley. Roughly chop the leaves and tender stems (this prevents the parsley from bruising in the food processor).
3. Place garlic in the food processor and pulse to mince. Add the hazelnuts, parsley, spinach, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, nutritional yeast, and salt. Pulse for 30 seconds, then add the water and pulse again until it’s thick, but spreadable. Remove lid and scrape. Repeat until reaches desired consistency (I like mine a little chunky, but it’s up to you!). Store leftovers in an airtight glass container in the fridge for up to one week.
We’re home from Bali now, settling back into life in the cold Canadian winter. It feels good to be here, especially after a satisfying few weeks in the sunshine, hosting two glorious retreats. Now it’s time to ground and focus on the year ahead. I’m very excited for 2019 – so many exciting things to share with you, just on the horizon.
I hope you’re all well out there, and enjoying a vibrant start to the new year. Sending love and gratitude out to you all, always.
When I saw the number, I couldn’t believe it: 29 hours. It was undoubtedly going to be one of the longest travel days of my life. I’ve been to Bali twice before, but always from Copenhagen, which is about half the distance from Toronto. I almost gave it a second thought since spending that amount of time sitting upright just felt like it might end me, but the retreats were booked, and there was no backing out!
I knew what would get me through, and that was food. Lots and lots of delicious, nourishing, consciously-created food. I always always make a point of preparing meals for traveling, since eating mini, microwaved mystery munch seriously kills my vibe. Plus, the amount of calories in one of those airplane trays is barely enough to get me through one romcom and you know that I’m watching at least five in a row.
When you’re about to face any length of time on an airplane, there are a few things to take into consideration. First, fill your snack pack with foods that are hydrating: cucumbers, romaine, bell peppers, carrots, apples, oranges, celery, berries, grapes, and melon. Depending on where you’re traveling to, it can help to have the fruits and veggies already prepared or sliced, since some countries won’t let you bring in whole fruits and veg, but they will let you bring them in if they look ready to eat. It sounds nonsensical, but it works!
I love having huge vegetable salads with lentils and / or whole grains to keep me full too, since I have a tendency to stress-eat when I’m in transit and will totally mow down a bag of chips if they’re put in front of me (okay, sometimes I also eat those chips, and that is okay too, but I notice that it always prolongs my jetlag). For other filling munchies, I like my almond flour cookies, nuts like pistachios or walnuts, and granola – especially crossing so many timezones, which requires breakfast-y things. Veggie sticks are also nice, light fare that keep my crunch cravings under control.
As you can see from the photo, I bring my food in reusable containers, use washable wooden cutlery and a straw, all of which are convenient to have once I’m at my destination to use for my own cooking and storage. I also always have my 800-ml water bottle with me when I travel. I’ve mentioned it in previous posts, but it begs repeating: jetlag is exacerbated by dehydration, and drinking about half a liter (16 oz.) per hour of flight will make such an immense difference, you may never experience jetlag again. I used to suffer terribly from exhaustion for days post-travel (which really ruined my trip when it was a short one), and now it’s no big deal. I arrive, wait until a mildly appropriate time to go to bed, and wake up feeling about as normal as one could hope to. Yes, you’ll have to make friends with the flight attendants, since they are the keepers of the water, but go visit them at the back of the plane every so often for a refill, treat them like humans, and you’d be amazed at how accommodating and helpful they are. Make sure you fill your bottle before landing as well, since you never know how long it will take for you to get through customs, baggage claim and the taxi line. It always pays to have hydration close at hand.
Avoid the plane food if you can, since it is overly salted and often has added sugar. Our taste buds are actually less receptive at high altitudes, due to low air pressure, low humidity, and high levels of white noise. Yup – that is an actual thing. The way our brains interpret flavour signals is impaired, therefore, things taste different, so airlines pump up the levels of salt and sugar in their food to make them taste the way they would at ground level. If you ate that travel-sized “chicken or pasta” at your dining room table you’d be surprised at how exaggerated the flavours were.
Why is this the most epic travel salad? Because it’s got All. The. Things. Rich, hearty beets, protein-rich and satiating lentils, so it’s filling, but it’s not going to leave you feeling stuffed. And because of that whole flavours-being-less-powerful-at-high-altitudes thing, I endeavoured to add as many potent tastes as possible. Lemon, pomegranate, parsley, cumin seeds, and olives are like flavour fireworks that you can safely ignite at 30,000 feet. There is a Middle Eastern vibe going on for sure, and the multitude of textures tick every single box. You don’t want your mouth getting bored while you’re hurtling through the sky, and this combination will ensure that each bite is a surprise party.
Olives that come without their pits are often mushy and less flavourful, so I always opt to remove them myself, or leave them in until I eat them. The problem with leaving the pits in the olives in this situation, is finding a place to put them on your teeny table real estate (the airsick bag is a great option, just sayin’…and yes, I’ve really thought of everything). If you do want to remove them beforehand, it’s easiest to do so by smashing the olive with the flat side of a knife blade, then simply pulling the pit out. You can roughly chop the olives from there.
If you don’t have any black lentils, Du Puy or French lentils work just as well, with green and brown lentils as a passable fallback. I don’t dig these types of lentils in salads since they tend to be water-y and dilute the flavour of the dressing, but if it keeps you from making a special trip to the store, by all means just use them.
And normally I wouldn’t include alliums in a plane salad since your neighbours might give you the stink eye when you pop open your lunch box, but I’ve tempered their potency by pickling them ever-so-slightly. This is done in the same container that you’re going to put your salad in, preceded by mixing up the dressing right in there too. Easy peasy!
I guess I should mention that this salad is not just delicious on a plane – it’s also fabulous enjoyed at ground level. Perfect for road trips, picnics, school or office lunches, just make sure you make it the day before so that all the ingredients are cool. If you travel with this salad on the warm side, it could spoil in transit.
Maybe it’s a bit strange to have a travel salad as the first post of the year, but I’m a bit tired of the whole “new year, new you” rant. People expect me to talk about cleansing or detoxing in January, and although I’m all for reflecting and re-evaluating one’s lifestyle choices, I’m a bit bored of the narrative saying that the first day of the new year is the time to atone for all our dietary sins. Why do we need a specific day to act as a reason to start treat ourselves well?
If there a New Year’s resolution to pull out of this post, it should be to resolve to make yourself delicious food when you go anywhere. Avoid the overpriced convenience food, no matter how healthy it is, since nothing sold in a package will ever compare to the freshness, or high-vibrational energy of food you’ve lovingly prepared for yourself. Case closed!
If you’d like more travel food recipes, tips, and inspiration, check out my two previous articles here and here.
The Epic Travel Salad Makes enough for 2-3 meals
3/4 cup / 170g dry black / beluga lentils, soaked overnight if possible
2 ½ pounds / 1200g beets
1 shallot, sliced into rings
½ tsp. fine sea salt
zest and juice of 1 large organic lemon
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. cumin seeds
1/3 cup / 60g pumpkin seeds
1 tsp. honey (vegans sub with maple syrup)
3 Tbsp. cold-pressed olive oil
heaping ½ cup / 80g pomegranate seeds
heaping ½ cup / 100g olives, with pits
1 cup / 25g parsley
½ tsp. flaky salt, or more to taste
1 small head romaine lettuce
1. Preheat oven to 400°F / 200°C. Place whole beets (with the skin on) on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for around 45-60 minutes, until you can easily insert a sharp knife into the center (baking time depends on the size of your beets). Remove from oven, let cool completely, then slip the skins off. Slice into bite-sized batons.
2. While the beets are roasting, cook the lentils. Drain and rinse well (if you’ve soaked them overnight), and place them in a pot, cover with plenty of fresh water, and bring them to a boil. Reduce to simmer, place a lid on the pot, and cook until tender (about 15-20 minutes if you’ve soaked them, a little longer if you haven’t). Salt the lentils a few minutes before they’re done – if you salt them at the beginning of cooking, the skins will be tough and they’ll take longer to soften. Drain and rinse lightly. Set aside.
3. While the lentils are cooking, prepare the dressing. Slice the shallot into very thin rings, then place them in the container that you’re going to use to store the salad. Add the salt and combine them well. Wait about 2 minutes, then add the lemon zest, juice and apple cider vinegar (these ingredients will lightly pickle the shallots, plus act a as a base for your dressing).
4. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the cumin seeds until fragrant, set aside to cool. Without washing the pan, toast the pumpkin seeds until fragrant and popping, then set aside to cool.
5. Back to the dressing: whisk in the honey and olive oil. Add the prepared beets, lentils, pomegranate seeds, olives, parsley, toasted cumin seeds, pumpkin seeds and flaky salt. Fold to thoroughly combine. Taste and add more salt if necessary (remember that the ingredients will absorb some salt while marinating, and that it will taste milder in the air).
6. You can either chop the romaine lettuce up and place it on top of the salad (don’t mix it in – it will get totally mushy), or you can leave the head whole and peel off the leaves and use them as little salad boats. If you’re going for the latter, wrap the washed head in beeswax cloth to keep it fresh.
The Wild Heart High Spirit Retreats are starting tomorrow, and I cannot wait to embrace each of the women who have traveled from every corner of the earth to join us here in Bali. We are going to eat the most delicious food, practice yoga, dance, laugh, learn, and celebrate the joy of being alive together! We have one space left for the second week, so if you’re interested in joining us in tropical paradise, please visit our site for more information.
Peace and blessings for an abundant, healthy, vibrant year ahead. Thank you for being here. I love you.
Everyone has strong food memories around holidays or special occasions in their life. I can completely recall the distinct taste boxed cake from my childhood birthdays. Summer vacations were steeped in melting grape juice popsicles made by my grandmother. And one of my favourite treats during Christmas, was undoubtedly Turtle chocolates. The iconic striped box was always within arms reach during the holidays, so as soon as the tree went up, it was like a Pavlovian response…the Turtle cravings began! If you live outside of North America, you may not be familiar with these pecan-chocolate-caramels (and for this, I feel very sad for you), but no matter. Today I’m posting my own version, which is a healthier spin on this classic candy that you can whip up yourself with just six simple ingredients.
The original Turtle candies are relatively simple: pecans, caramel, and chocolate, but seemingly so much more than the sum of these parts. There is a magical synergy in this trinity, each ingredient complimenting and highlighting the others in perfect union. There isn’t much to improve upon, so my mission was clearly to health-ify the caramel and find some high-quality chocolate to steer us all away from refined sugar, modified milk ingredients, and emulsifiers. Blech.
I started off on my journey by looking online and found that healthyish Turtle recipes exist, but they all use dates and I didn’t want that to be the predominant flavour. Plus, I knew that the caramel needed some serious creaminess, so I started by blending up cashew butter with vanilla as the base, then added brown rice syrup to achieve that distinctive gooey-ness that makes Turltes so crave-able. The results were sooooo right on the money, confirmed by several of my closest friends, lined up to taste test.
Pecans are one of my favourite nuts because they are tender-crisp and so naturally sweet. I love them in baked goods like pecan pie, on top of waffles or pancakes, or in candies like my delectable Healthyish Turtles!
Pecans are native to North America, and grow in tough, wood-like shells on large, sprawling trees, some of which can live up to 200 years. The word pecan is a Native American name used to describe nuts that require a stone to crack – but you can easily open them by crushing two of their hard shells together.
Along with macadamias, pecans contain the lowest amount of protein (5-10%) and the highest amount of fat (80-95%) of all the nuts. The fat that they do contain however, is mostly monounsaturated, with some polyunsaturated fat as well. Pecans are high in minerals, like manganese, copper, and zinc. They also contain a good amount of fiber and protein.
There are a wide variety of pecans, but if you live outside North America, you may only have access to one type. That’s okay! The thing to look for is shelled pecans that are uniform in size and colour. Check the date on the package or bulk bin, and smell the nuts beforehand if you’re able to – they should be nutty and sweet. If you’re shopping in bulk, visit a shop that has a high turnover to ensure that the nuts are fresh. Once you get them home, store shelled pecans in an airtight container at room temperature for up to six months (although try to eat them sooner) and in the freezer for up to a year. Pecans are highly susceptible to absorbing other smells, so keep them locked up tight in glass to prevent them from tasting like garlic, onions, or last night’s casserole.
I had hesitations about using brown rice syrup in this recipe, since I know it’s one of those harder-to-find ingredients, but it’s just SO perfect in this context that I had to! If you cannot find brown rice syrup, try whipped or creamed honey in its place. I recognize that this isn’t an alternative for vegans, but I think it is the only sweetener that would work due to how thick and viscous it is. If the caramel is too runny, if will be impossible to work with. Trust.
It’s best to store your Turtles in the freezer, and take them out about 10-15 minutes before serving. They’re also fine at room temperature, but will keep better cold. I actually dig them a little on the frozen side – the caramel is extra thick and chewy at subzero temperatures!
Healthyish Salted Caramel Turtles
Makes 30 candies
1 cup / 100g raw pecans
400g dark chocolate, 75% or higher (chose organic and fair-trade, if possible)
1/3 cup / 80ml cashew butter (raw or roasted)
1/3 cup / 80ml brown rice syrup
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ tsp. flaky sea salt (I used Maldon), plus a little more for garnish
1. Find a baking sheet or tray that will fit in your freezer, then line it with parchment paper.
2. In a medium sized bowl, stir together the cashew butter, rice syrup, vanilla and flaky salt until thoroughly combined. Taste (yum), and adjust the saltiness and vanilla levels to your liking.
3. Scoop a teaspoon of the caramel onto the lined baking sheet, using another spoon to help remove it – this stuff is seriously sticky!
4. Press a whole pecan on one side of the caramel blob, allowing the nut to peek over the edge just a bit, then add two halves to the sides, peeking over the edge just a bit too. Repeat until you’ve used all the caramel. Place in the freezer for at least one hour, up to 24 hours.
5. Once the caramels have chilled, prepare the chocolate. Heat a few inches / centimetres of water in a small pot and heat on high. Roughly chop the chocolate bar into small chunks and place it in a heatproof bowl. Lower the heat to simmer, then set the bowl over the pot of so that it is sitting well above the water itself. Stir occasionally until the chocolate has completely melted.
6. Remove the caramels from the freezer. One at a time, drop each caramel into the melted chocolate pecan side-down, flip and ensure that the top is entirely coated. Remove from the chocolate with a fork, and drag the bottom along the edge of the bowl to remove any excess chocolate. Place back on the lined baking sheet and sprinkle with a couple flakes of salt. Repeat until you’ve coated all the turtles in chocolate. Place them inside the freezer until set, then transfer them to an airtight container and store in the freezer or fridge until ready to serve. If you want to see some of the pecans, drop the caramels on their bottom side first, then remove and place on the lined baking sheet. Drizzle enough chocolate over the top to fully cover the caramel (if you don’t coat it completely, it may spill out at room temperature), but allowing a few parts of the pecans to show through.
This will be my last post before the New Year, my friends! I’m off to Bali in a mere 10 days (!!!) and words cannot describe how excited I am for the Wild Heart High Spirit Retreat, and meeting women from all across the world. If you’d like to know more about my retreats, visit the Golden Circle Retreats website. We’re planning another round for 2019, so sign up to mailing our list to be the first notified when we announce the dates.
We are also taking orders for the Life-Changing Loaf of Bread Subscription Box! What better way to start off the new year than with a delicious monthly gift of health to yourself? If you want to learn more, or place your order, visit the shop pagehere.
All love from Canada, and happiest of holidays to you and yours!
You know the feeling: it’s twenty minutes after dinner. You’re full and seemingly suffonsified, when it hits you. I NEED A TREAT. Raisins will not help. Granola won’t cut it. Coconut chips? Pfff. That teeny square of dark chocolate you were keeping as a fallback has mysteriously gone missing (blame the kid!) and you’re desperate for an indulgence without anything in sight…sound the alarm!
That’s what happened to me recently, which lead me to frenetically probe the internet for something that could satisfy me in a hurry, which lead me to a 5-ingredient Almond Tahini cookie recipe from Cook Republic. The cookies looked really tasty, super simple to make, and I had everything I needed to get baking right away. Within 20 minutes I was eating said cookies, and I hadn’t even panicked. That much.
This recipe turned out to be so brilliant that I made the cookies again a few nights later. Then about a week after that. Each time, adjusting and adding ingredients for more flavour and texture each time until they were perfect. And now, I really feel like these cookies are my go-to, since they’re grain-and-gluten-free, high in protein and good fats, naturally sweetened, and endlessly customizable!
The best thing about these cookies however, is their dream texture: crispy outsides, and super chewy insides. And they are so satisfyingly dense that they really feel like food – not just a treat to curb a craving. They are also deliciously not-too-sweet, especially with the flaky salt on top that comes at you like firework flavour sparks.
For this post, I’ve made two variations for those who can’t decide on which festive flavours they love most: sweet and warming Orange-Spice to put us all in the holiday mood, and a rich and piquant Ginger-Molasses that is delightfully reminiscent of classic gingerbread. I used maple syrup to sweeten both cookies, but cut the amount in half for the Ginger-Molasses to make room for the blackstrap goodness! If you’d like to keep this version even lower on the glycemic index, you can replace all the maple syrup with molasses, just know that they will be very intense, and for molasses-lovers only. If you’d like to learn more about the health benefits of blackstrap molasses, how to purchase the right kind, and how to store it, check out my blog post here.
You’ll notice down below that I specify runny tahini in the recipe. This is because the tahini acts as part of the liquid component here, along with the maple syrup and molasses. If you only have thicker tahini, I suggest warming it together with the syrup(s) on the stove over low heat to achieve the runniness you need for the recipe to work. I got my tahini at a local grocery store that has a pretty decent ethnic food section. It’s perfect for baking since it’s inexpensive, and because the flavour of it gets overwhelmed by the other ingredients anyway. Save your expensive tahini for toast!
Grain-free Orange-Spice Tahini Cookies Makes 20 cookies
2 cups / 220g almond flour (not almond meal)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cardamom
¼ tsp. ground star anise
½ tsp. flaky sea salt, plus more for garnish
pinch black pepper, optional
¾ cup / 175ml tahini
½ cup / 125ml pure maple syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange (preferably organic)
2 Tbsp. crushed cacao nibs to garnish
Preheat oven to 325°F / 170°C. Lightly grease, or line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, black pepper and salt. Set aside.
Whisk tahini, maple syrup, vanilla, and orange zest together in a small bowl. If it is too thick, warm it in a small saucepan over medium heat until runny. Pour over dry ingredients and stir well to combine. The dough will be thick and you may need to use your hands to finish mixing.
Roll about a tablespoon and a half worth of the dough in the palm of your hands, into a ball. Flatten slightly, then place on the prepared tray, sprinkle with cacao nibs and a pinch of flaky salt. Lightly press the toppings into the dough.
Bake for 10 minutes until the bottom is golden brown.
Cool on wire racks. Store in air tight containers at room temperature for up to a week.
Grain-Free Ginger-Molasses Tahini Cookies
2 cups / 225g almond flour (not almond meal)
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
½ Tbsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp. flakey sea salt, plus more for garnish
¾ cup / 175ml runny tahini
¼ cup / 60ml unsulphured blackstrap molasses
¼ cup / 60ml pure maple syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2-3 Tbsp. chopped pistachios to garnish
Preheat oven to 325°F / 170°C. Lightly grease, or line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
Whisk tahini, molasses, maple syrup, and vanilla together in a small bowl. If it is too thick, warm it in a small saucepan over medium heat until runny. Pour over dry ingredients and stir well to combine. The dough will be thick and you may need to use your hands to finish mixing.
Roll about a tablespoon and a half worth of the dough in the palm of your hands, into a ball. Flatten slightly, then place on the prepared tray, sprinkle with chopped pistachios and a pinch of flaky salt. Lightly press the toppings into the dough.
Bake for 10 minutes until the bottom is golden brown.
Cool on wire racks. Store in air tight containers at room temperature for up to a week.
If cookies aren’t your thing (are you a robot?), then check out the list below for a bunch of edible presents from My New Roots that are the perfect make-ahead gift to bring to all of those holiday parties, family get-togethers, and work socials. Some are sweet, some are savoury, but they all can be made in large batches and have a long-ish shelf life.
I will also mention that we’re taking holiday orders for the Life-Changing Loaf Subscription Box up until this Sunday, November 25th. That means if you order your box for yourself (or someone else to send as a gift!), it will arrive before the holidays. If you decide to order after November 25th, the box will come in the New Year. Remember that each box contains the ingredients for two loaves of Life-Changing Loaf! Thank you to everyone who has already ordered – your box is on the way!
The first time I heard the word, I knew I would love it. Clafoutis. Clah. Foo. Tee.
It felt so good just to say it, like a laughing cloud floating off my tongue, I was certain it would taste even better. I was right.
Clafoutis is a classic French dessert; a custard tart of sorts but without a crust. It is traditionally made with flour, milk, sugar, and eggs, and a fruit, the most popular being black cherries. Arranged in a buttered dish, the fruit is bathed in rich batter and baked, then served lukewarm with a dusting of powdered sugar and sometimes cream. The concept is brilliantly simple and I knew that with a few adjustments, the clafoutis of my dreams could become a reality.
For my first cookbook, I took the plunge and came up with an easy, grain-free and dairy-free foolproof recipe that I can honestly say I make more than any other dessert in my repertoire. I always have the batter ingredients on hand, and I always have seasonal fruit, so when I need something sweet on short notice, this dish often makes a delicious appearance. The only teeny issue with my original version, is that it required a food processor to blend up toasted almond flour. When I set out to make a clafoutis a couple weeks ago, we were living pretty simply at the family cottage in Denmark without any kitchen equipment to speak of, and I was left scratching my head. I knew I could simplify the calfoutis even more, so I endeavoured to make it an equipment-free recipe, and edited a couple of steps so that there wasn’t even a bowl to wash.
Instead of roasting the almonds in the oven, I purchased almond flour, then toasted it in a large skillet over medium heat until golden brown. Then, once the pan had been removed from the heat and cooled a bit, I mixed the remaining ingredients right there in the skillet! The last step was to simply pour the batter into the prepared baking dish with the fruit, and place it in the oven. So easy! The final results were just as good – if not better – than the more complicated version of the recipe.
Since blackberries and red currants were absolutely dripping from the bushes around the island, I knew that these two berries, as untraditional as they were, would be delicious in this context. The sweet batter in contrast against the sour-tart, juicy jewels worked so perfectly.
Some notes on the recipe: the reason that I measure the fruit out by volume may seem unusual, but it’s because the physical space that the fruit takes up in the clafoutis is more important than the weight of it. The goal is to fill the bottom almost entirely with few gaps, so that every bite contains tons of juicy fruit pieces.
You are welcome to use any fruit that is available to you, with the exception of anything with a very high water content – melon, citrus, and pineapple make the tart too soggy. I love rhubarb in the spring, cherries in the early summer, stone fruits in the late summer, and figs in the autumn. You can also add spices to the batter, such as cinnamon and cardamom, and even dried fruit like raisins, cranberries, apricots, figs or dates.
I have not tried making a clafoutis without eggs. The vegan versions I’ve seen online rely on either tofu or aqufaba for body and binding, and I’m not overly enthusiastic about either one of those ingredients. Plus, I really love eggs. It may be groovy to try with a coconut milk + chia + arrowroot combo, but I cannot reliably say it would work since I’ve never tried it before – this is just a hunch!
Blackberry and Currant Clafoutis Serves 6-8
1 cup / 100g almond flour
3 large organic, free-range eggs
¾ cup / 100g coconut sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup / 250ml full-fat coconut milk
¼ tsp. flaky sea salt
4 cups / 1 litre fresh blackberries and currants
coconut oil for greasing
coconut yogurt or other cool, creamy thing to serve with (optional)
In a large skillet over medium heat, toast the almond flour, stirring often until golden. Remove pan from stove and let cool.
While the almond flour is cooling, preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C. Wash the fruit and remove any stems or debris. Rub just a little coconut oil on the bottoms of a 9” / 23cm tart pan or any ovenproof dish. Scatter the fruit in the pan.
Crack eggs into a small bowl and whisk well.
To the skillet with the almond flour, add the eggs, coconut sugar, vanilla, coconut milk and salt and stir until smooth and fully combined.
Pour the batter mixture over the fruits and bake for 45 minutes on the middle rack until risen slightly and golden brown. Serve warm with a dollop of coconut yogurt and more fresh fruit, if desired. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to four days.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that look of the blog has changed a little bit. I felt that it was time for a freshen up, and I hope you take a moment to visit my homepage and have a look around. And for this first post since the redesign, I decided to make a small photo essay to convey the gorgeousness of our village on Bornholm. Bornholm is a small, Danish island in the Baltic sea off the southern tip of Sweden. My husband’s family have a cottage there, in an old fish smokery right on the ocean. The light on the island is particularly special, the colour of the sea an unique shade of blue, and the air is soaked with the scent of rose hips, sun-baked rocks, salt water, and elderflower. It’s one of my favourite places on earth, and I always leave feeling so inspired, and connected to nature. I hope you enjoy.
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Something exciting on the way!
I have some very exciting news to share…we are releasing the first official My New Roots Subscription Box! Each box will be filled with ingredients to make one of my vegan and gluten-free recipes, a beautifully designed recipe card, and a few products I’ve personally selected that will compliment your cooking experience. And everything about this box – from the packaged products inside right down to the packing tape – was scrupulously selected and designed to have as little environmental impact as possible.
Subscriptions will officially open up Friday Oct 5th. Since we only have a limited supply of boxes available, I want to give you the chance to be notified when we launch before I make the announcement across my social platforms. To stay in the loop, visit the this link and enter your email. Everyone who provides their email will also be entered for a chance to receive their first My New Roots box free of charge! 3 emails will be selected from the list at random.
We’ve been working on this project for a long time and I’m so thrilled that it’s almost here! Thank you in advance for your support and ongoing love for all things MNR.
Summer is HERE! Wowee zowee it’s been a beautiful July filled with plenty of sunshine, swimming, fresh fruit, and family time. It’s also a very special feeling being in Canada for the whole spring-to-summer transition once again. It’s one of my favourite things, watching this little part of the world turn green and warm, for the lakes and rivers to invite us in, for the farmers’ markets to burst with local goodness, and for the long days to stretch into equally enchanted nights.
I don’t cook a whole lot this time of year – I like to keep my food really fresh, mostly raw and pretty light. If I am turning the stove or oven on, it’s often to make staples that I can keep on hand in the fridge to amp up a salad or sandwich. Lentils, beans, and quinoa are some rotating essentials that I can add a bunch of fresh veggies to, or turn into a dip. I also love to have some coconut bacon from my second cookbook, Naturally Nourished, on hand to add awesome flavour and texture to something as basic as avocado toast.
The inspiration for this salad came when I had just made a fresh batch of this magical stuff, and I was trying to come up with some alternative uses for it (besides the best B.L.T. ever) when I remembered another classic bacon meal: the Cobb Salad! If you live outside of North America, chances are you’re not familiar with this iconic dish, a texture-rich combination of chopped romaine, avocado, tomato, chives, hard-boiled eggs, bacon, and chicken. It’s a rich and protein-heavy “salad”, often smothered in a creamy blue cheese dressing. Whoa! Major. Needless to say, I knew that this was perfect makeover fodder, and I had everything I needed to get started.
To turn this indulgent dish into something just as delicious, but actually a salad, was relatively easy. First, I decided to turn up the green and add some spinach to the mix. This small addition delivers more iron, protein, vitamin C and folate. Instead of chicken, I pointed my garden arrow at peas, to add body and filling fiber. Cooked chickpeas, butter beans or French lentils would also work beautifully in their place. Watermelon radishes just came into season here, and it was a total no-brainer to add them to this version, since they add great crunch, delicious earthiness, and pink. Because pink! And of course I kept the avocado…duh.
The Creamy Chive Dressing is such a win here. I created it in hopes of maintaining that rich and satisfying mouthfeel that blue cheese dressing lends to the classic Cobb, but without the cheese, cream, sour cream and mayo (I mean, holy cow). Instead I used hemp seeds, which are rich in Omega-3 fats, and protein to energize our summer bods. It’s tangy, a little garlic-y, and super fresh. And since my recipe makes more than enough for this salad, pour the rest over thickly sliced beefsteak tomatoes, grilled eggplant and zucchini, or fold it into cooked grains and greens.
My version of Cobb Salad is more of a concept than a recipe – so feel free to play around a bit with what you have, in the amounts that you have. And if you’ve got some other salad-y things kicking around that would work here, toss them in! No rules, just a clean-out-the-fridge kinda deal. It’s summer. Let’s keep things easy and flowin’!
To say I’m obsessed with this salad is an understatement. It’s the perfect summer meal and has everything going on with its fresh, crunchy, garden-fresh veggies and greens, creamy avocado, juicy tomatoes, rich and smoky coconut bacon, smooth and tangy chive dressing, satisfying eggs, and if you don’t want to dive face first into that bowl right now I don’t think we’ll ever be friends ; )
Summer Cobb Salad with Coconut Bacon Serves 2 as a meal, 4 as a side
1 head of romaine lettuce
a couple large handfuls of spinach
a few handfuls fresh peas, raw or lightly steamed
2 medium watermelon radish
1-2 ripe avocados, depending on how hungry you are
2-3 soft-boiled eggs, optional
a couple handfuls of Coconut Bacon (recipe follows)
a generous drizzle of Creamy Chive Dressing (recipe follows)
chives for garnish
flaky salt and pepper for garnish
1. Roughly chop the romaine and spinach, and place in a large salad bowl.
2. Thinly slice the watermelon radishes, peel and slice the avocado, cut the eggs in half, and add these ingredients to the greens. Scatter peas throughout, toss on the Coconut Bacon, drizzle with the Creamy Chive Dressing and garnish with chives, salt and pepper. Devour and rejoice.
Coconut Bacon Makes 5 cups / 200g
¼ cup / 60ml tamari
¼ cup / 60ml maple syrup
3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil
1 Tbsp. liquid smoke
1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
½ tsp. garlic powder
5 cups / 200g coconut flakes
1. Preheat oven to 325°C / 160°F.
2. Whisk all wet ingredients together in a large bowl. Add coconut flakes and toss well to coat. Let the coconut sit and marinate in the liquid for about 5 minutes.
3. Place coconut on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spreading it out evenly. Bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 7 minutes or so, until fragrant and crispy. The coconut will crisp up outside the oven as well, so take that into consideration. Store in an airtight container for up to three weeks.
Creamy Chive dressing Makes 1 ½ cups / 375ml
¾ cup / 100g hemp seeds
zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup / 60ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic
2 Tbsp. cold-pressed olive oil
2 tsp. pure maple syrup
¼ tsp. fine sea salt
¼ cup / 60ml water, or more as needed
3 Tbsp. finely minced chives
1. Place all ingredients in a blender (a high-speed blender is definitely recommended) and blend on high until completely smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. If the dressing is too thick, add a little water and blend well again.
2. Pour dressing into a glass jar and store leftovers in the fridge for up to one week.