Beverage, Breakfast, Gluten Free, Pantry Staples



Popping in to add something to the pantry staple arsenal. Malk? Mylk? I can't. It's just milk made from nuts and seeds and has made no sense to my parents how one "milks" a nut so I hope I can clear some things up for them, if perhaps visually, here. See the nipples on that cashew, Dad? ;)

It's been chilly lately, so my coffee and tea consumption has been a pretty steady stream through the day until happy hour. I typically use an unsweetened coconut milk creamer from the market but have more recently fallen in love with homemade cashew milk in there instead (after the coffee has cooled down quite a bit, the milk just separates and falls to the bottom of a super hot cup). We also have a family wide adoration of peanut butter Puffins cereal that floats beautifully in the almond milk.  I am including a few recipes for nut and seed milk (for those with nut allergies) below. You do need a nut milk bag or small sieve (cheesecloth optional) to strain the almond milk. I tend towards the cashew milk because the fibers all blend into the milk enough that you can just include them in the finished product, leaving you with something that resembles whole milk versus skim. If you prefer it the viscosity of store-bought, strain it. I make muffins with the leftover pulp (reference this pumpkin muffin recipe, swap in overripe bananas for the pumpkin and use a dry sweetener instead of the maple to compensate for the wet pulp). The suggested soaking step helps break down the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, making the nuts easier to digest. Overnight is easiest for me, it's all hands off time, then I can blend them in the morning, but at least 4 hours would likely do the trick. More notes on why to soak them on My New Roots

Are you thinking "Sara, I can buy this?" I know, I think that too, and usually do, so I won't sell this too hard. I will say this turns out much creamier and has a fresher, stronger nut flavor and you can personalize the sweetness or lack thereof and it is more cost effective and less wasteful. It's like anything homemade, I buy store-bought marinara sauce and cookies and such all the time, but making something from scratch has the extra magic you can't buy. Perhaps that is just from being close to the process. 

I use about 3 1/2-4 cups water and find that to be my optimum nut and seed milk viscosity - a little thicker than store bought stuff. You can play with that 1/2 cup either direction for something on the thicker or thinner side. Two dates in 4+ cups of nut milk is just barely sweet. Using maple to taste instead will be a bit more of an obvious sweet flavor. 

// almond milk //

1 cup almonds, soaked overnight
2 dates, pitted
pinch of sea salt
4 cups filtered water
1/4 tsp vanilla extract or seeds from half a vanilla bean

Soak the almonds and dates overnight. Drain off extra water from the top. Put all the nuts and dates in a high speed blender with 4 cups fresh water, a pinch of salt and vanilla. Blend on high for 2 whole minutes. Strain through a nut milk bag for a smoother milk, this is optional. 
Store in the fridge, covered, for a week. 

// cashew milk //

1 cup cashews, soaked overnight
2 dates, pitted
4 cups filtered water
pinch of sea salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract or seeds from half a vanilla bean

Soak the cashews and date overnight. Drain off extra water from the top. Put all the nuts and dates in a high speed blender with 4 cups fresh water, a pinch of salt and vanilla. Blend on high for 2 whole minutes. Strain through a nut milk bag for a smoother milk, this is optional. I leave the fibers in.
Store in the fridge, covered, for a week. 

// pumpkin + hemp seed milk //

1/2 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1-2 dates, pitted
3 cups water
pinch of sea salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Soak the nuts/seeds and date overnight. Drain off extra water from the top. Put all the seeds and dates in a high speed blender with 4 cups fresh water, a pinch of salt and vanilla. Blend on high for 2 whole minutes. Strain through a nut milk bag for a smoother milk, this is optional. 
Store in the fridge, covered, for a week. 





I cook for another family once a week. I spend a half day in their home planning a menu, shopping, cooking and packaging up a few dinners and a baked good for them to enjoy during the week. A few of you have asked how I got into doing this and honestly, it sort of fell into my lap by way of a family friend. I generally haven't found catering to be lucrative with all the work it entails on the backend as I am a one-woman show, but I do enjoy cooking for people and getting paid for it so this particular situation works well. I don't have the confidence to be much of a teacher but I get to cook alone in the quiet of an empty house which is dreamy for me, given what feeding a family and work has become in my own home with two toddlers underfoot. There aren't a lot of guidelines - they are all pretty flexible eaters - and it makes me think about complete meals which is good for me. 

Anyway, I post about it on Instagram every now and then and I am always reminded by the comments and feedback of what a chore it can be to make dinner every night. I don't mean to sound dramatic but really, it comes along so frequently right?! I am a snacker and nibbler, I don't really eat full meals very often because I eat all day, so meals aren't my strong suit as you may have noticed. At the end of the day, I have a table of four to feed and eating all together beats standing over the sink with a banana and spoonful of almond butter. Meal ideas are what people are most often looking for inspiration for, as it is typically the time a family or couple or individual is home from work or the busyness of the day and you sit at a table and enjoy a meal together. It is so special, but also a bit... fussy.

So how can we make this whole dinner thing work more efficiently for us? I find that dinner is the best place to set yourself up for another meal the next day, as we'll inevitably find ourself in the same place. I make extra rice, chop extra veggies, prepare more than we need to ensure leftovers, which can either be eaten again or repurposed into something different. While you're there futzing in the kitchen, do yourself a favor for the following day. Does this take a second thought? It does, but less so than an entirely new meal the next day. These wraps are a great example. They get wrapped in lavash or tortillas so they're easy for the kids to eat (I just tell them they're burritos for less resistance). I like mine in bowl form, always. I make extra sweet potatoes and kale to put in a frittata or into enchiladas with some black beans and cheese the next day. The extra rice gets made into veggie burgers or served with curry or Asian bowls with stir fry vegetables. The biggest complaint from people wanting to eat healthier is that it takes more time and costs more money. Both of which are true, but I think it pays off. So this recipe here, an inspiration for your next dinner, is both affordable and healthy. Full of fiber and color and so much produce and a delicious creamy sauce that makes the whole situation unique. Most of our meals are different versions of the same thing - a whole grain or veg alternative (zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash), roasted seasonal vegetables, greens, maybe a legume or a grilled protein and a yum sauce. The sauces are what pull everything together, and I love the one listed below because tahini is creamy, non-dairy deliciousness. I usually make a mustardy vinaigrette, jalapeno ceasar, an avocado or nut based creamy something...maybe we need a post on this, yes? Just a dressing/sauce arsenal?

So here we are, with dinner. From someone who doesn't always like making it, but likes eating it in good company. 

This post is sponsored by McCormick spices. All recipes, photos and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting sponsored content so we can continue to do the work we love to do here!


If four sounds like too many wraps, know the components save well to be made up for lunch the following day. Not into wraps? Make these into bowls. 
If pickled onions aren't your thing, sub shredded cabbage or beets for color and texture.

2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. dried basil

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cane sugar
1 small red onion, sliced thin

1/3 cup tahini
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
2-3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. turmeric
dash of cayenne
fresh ground pepper

1 bunch of kale, stemmed and chopped
oil and lemon juice

1 cup cooked brown rice
2 large avocados
microgreens, optional

4 tortillas or wraps of choice (here is a grain-free option)

Preheat the oven to 425' and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Pile on your sweet potatoes, drizzle with the oil, salt, basil and toss to coat. You want all the potatoes lightly coated. Spread them in an even layer. Roast the potatoes for 25 minutes. 

Quick "pickle" your onions. Put the vinegar, salt and sugar in a bowl and stir. Add in the sliced onions and let them sit (if you like yours softer, warm up the vinegar first). 

To make the dressing, combine the tahini, garlic, oil, water, salt, maple, cider vinegar, turmeric, cayenne, fresh pepper and stir everything to mix. Taste and season as needed. 

Put the kale in a bowl. Drizzle with a bit of oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt and massage it all to soften and marinate. 

Assembly time! Or do bowls. Lay out your wrap. Smash in some avocado and then big spoonfuls of rice, kale, sweet potatoes, onion, microgreens and then a generous drizzle of the sauce. Wrap everything up tight. Slice in half and enjoy! 


Entrée, Gluten Free, Soup, Winter



I feel weird that I called it a "minestra." That is the Italian word for a mixed vegetable sort of soup, think minestrone, and it sounds way more intriguing that way right?! I skipped the pasta here, though you could totally add it or some brown rice or shredded chicken to fill it out if you're into that sort of thing. I have a tough time with salads when it's chilly out, so this pot of goodness serves as an alternative to pack in the vegetables. It is made of easy, pantry staples and some easy to find produce. Boring on its own (sell it, girl!), as brothy, all-vegetable soups go, so a heavy hand with the parmesan croutons is necessary. It tastes better the next day, so lunch leftovers or delivering it to a sick friend is encouraged. 

Inspired by Williams and Sonoma
I understand wine and vinegar are not often subs for each other, but I hate when I have all but one ingredient. It's winter, I stock red wine in the cool months ;) The recipe listed here leaves you with a fairly stewy soup. Add a bit more broth, and you can add in a cup of cooked orzo, brown rice, some shredded rotisserie chicken or what not to bulk it up. 
Use a rich tasting vegetable broth if dietetically preferred, but a bone broth or fresh stock will add more body to this light soup. The soup can be made in advance, add the kale in the warm up to preserve its bright color. 

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 small fennel bulb, cored and sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
sea salt and pepper, as needed
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed (3 cups)
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 sprigs of thyme
1/2 cup white wine (or 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar)
1 tsp. dried oregano
dash of cayenne
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 14.5 oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 14.5 oz. can white beans
3 cups low sodium broth, vegetable or chicken
1 bunch of kale, stemmed and roughly chopped

parmesan croutons
1/2 a loaf of day of bread (gluten free bread works too)
1-2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
grated parmesan, plus more for serving

In a large dutch oven or heavy pot, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel, garlic and a generous pinch of salt and pepper and saute until they begin to brown. Add the butternut squash, another pinch of salt, whole herb sprigs and saute. Add the white wine and let it cook down, leaving the lid ajar so the squash softens, about 6 minutes. Stir in the oregano, cayenne, tomato paste, roasted tomatoes, white beans and broth (more or less based on how thick you like your soups). Bring the soup to a gentle simmer, leave the cover ajar and cook for 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning. If it tastes flat, it likely needs more salt, maybe more cayenne and a squeeze of lemon. Stir in the chopped kale until it just wilts, about a minute or two.
While the soup cooks, make your croutons. Preheat the oven to 375'. Rip the loaf into rough 1" pieces. Toss them in the oil to coat, pinch of salt and pepper, and parmesan. Bake the croutons for 12 to 15 minutes until dry an browned on the edges. Set aside to cool.

Ladle the soup into bowls, finish it with a drizzle of olive oil, a heavy handful of croutons and more cheese.