I love the plant-based and whole food lifestyle for a few reasons (like, all of the reasons). But really? I’m the kinda gal that likes to eat A LOT. Once I hit my teens I developed a pretty voracious appetite and haven’t looked back since (that’s 17 years of enthusiastic, moderate to high-volume eating). When most of your diet is comprised of fresh produce, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and natural sweeteners (and dark chocolate, coffee + wine because LIFE), questions of caloric loads and fat grams become non-starters.
I’ve always admired Sarah Britton and her blog, My New Roots, because she seems to take the same approach to living with wellness that I do: Lots of plant foods, listening to yourself, and eating for taste and aesthetic pleasure too. Calorie countin’ be damned. Fine living and notions of the good life are built in to the plant-based lifestyle and her blog has always expressed that notion so vibrantly to me. Food as nourishment by way of sheer delight for all. I was lucky enough to receive a galley copy of Sarah’s My New Roots cookbook a few months ago, right when I was finishing up my own book proposal (which admittedly took a bit longer than I had planned). Its inspiring pages, all beautifully organized by season, helped me cross that finish line.
Sarah’s book is full of gorgeous dishes that you could serve up to your favourite people, knowing with good conscience that they will leave the table satisfied, significantly wowed, and (rather importantly) just full of life and energy too. I love a big, celebratory meal, but I absolutely detest that too-full-can’t-move feeling that sometimes comes along for the ride. This book is full of colourful and thoughtful feel-good food; the kind that makes you feel all glow-y and brimming with possibility as you make it. There are whimsical nods to nature and seasonal life cycles that open up to the big picture, as well as simple techniques that will add so much to your everyday life with food.
I know that there are a lot of blogs-turned-cookbooks in stores and in the works. It might be an end goal for one person and for someone else, it might be another feather in the cap. Everyone seems to have a decisive opinion on this semi phenomenon. Maybe it’s obvious, but most of my well-loved books are from blogs that I check every week for a new bit of inspiration. Those books come from a voice that I’ve built a healthy trust around because I get to check in with them on the regular. I mean, I like those “chef-at-home” type books as much as anyone else because you get to see Mario Batali in chambray making a roasted carrot salad right by an outdoor wood-fired oven or something. That’s cool in an “Aw gee!” sorta way, but I appreciate something that feels more within my grasp if I’m being honest. A book that is born out of a blog makes thoughtful, easy, and elegant home cooking seem a lot more realistic. My New Roots is certain proof of this.
Sarah also proves that you can make dessert out of whole grains, nuts, fruit, vanilla, spice etc and yes, everyone will be blown away and love you for feeding them nutrients wrapped up in decadence. I went for this healthy rip on that famous Ben & Jerry’s flavour because I had just froze a bunch of perfectly sweet and ripe bananas, which form the base of this luscious and raw ice cream. Combined with a thick cashew cream, a vanilla bean and maple syrup, I was surprised (and delighted) at how rich this raw and vegan chunky monkey was. Wine-y and lightly bitter cacao nibs add perfect crunch and a nice complimentary flavour profile here, but dark chocolate chunks would be somethin’ fierce. It was just the treat to wave hello to these warmer days we’ve been enjoying. Our grass is greening up and I saw some chives peeking up this morning. New beginnings in the works, all over again :)
raw + vegan chunky monkey ice cream recipe
from Sarah Britton’s My New Roots cookbook
print the recipe here!
serves: makes about 1 quart
notes: I drizzled some date syrup onto mine once it was in the pan (pre-freezing) and sorta twirled it in with a butter knife to get a “caramel ripple” vibe. It was delicious! You can get date syrup online (I like this brand), at health food stores, or you can make it yourself with Ashlae’s recipe. Also, I added a teeny splash of organic vodka to avoid super-hard freezing. I do this with all of my homemade ice creams.
2 cups raw cashews
4 very ripe bananas
1 vanilla bean
pinch of fine sea salt
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts
1/2 cup cacao nibs
Soak the cashews in filtered water for at least 4 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse.
Peel the bananas and break them into chunks. Place the banana chunks into a sealable plastic bag and freeze completely until you’re ready to use. Remove frozen banana chunks from the freezer 10 minutes before you’re ready to make the ice cream.
Combine the drained cashews and 1/2 cup of filtered water in a blender and blend on high speed until you have a completely smooth cream. Set aside.
Slice the vanilla bean down the center and scrape the seeds out with a paring knife. Add the seeds to a food processor along with the frozen banana chunks, cashew cream, sea salt, maple syrup, coconut oil, and lemon juice. Flip your processor to the highest setting and blend the mixture until smooth. Taste the mixture for sweetness and add more maple syrup if desired. Fold in the chopped walnuts and cacao nibs. Scrape the ice cream out into a glass or metal container and freeze for at least 4 hours.
To serve, remove the ice cream 5 to 10 minutes before you plan to enjoy so that it’s soft enough to scoop.