When it comes to healthy food crushes this one is perhaps the original Content crush. We discovered Sarah Britton and her blog My New Roots back in 2008 when we first opened Content and it has been a go-to for inspiration, recipes and sound nutritional information ever since. So when Sarah recently came to town we snapped up tickets to her supper club and wanted to share some of her insights with you too.
What inspired you to start creating recipes and your blog?
During my design studies at university I found out about a place called Arcosanti – a sustainable experimental community in the Arizona desert. Something about it tugged at my heart strings – I don’t know what it was about it, but something called to me and I decided that when I graduated I would go down there and check it out.
I spent 5 weeks doing this workshop in organic farming and within two weeks I was so different: physically, emotionally and spiritually I was a new person. I also wondered what’s going to happen to the seeds that we just planted, they’re not going to come up in five weeks! This inspired me to spend the next year of my life growing food and also seeing what it actually did to my body and I had the most unbelievable transformation.
Through that process I realised that I’d been living in a way that was very disconnected from the natural world and that it was time to make some changes, so when I got back to Toronto I decided to study holistic nutrition and through that education I learnt almost everything about how our bodies work and what food does inside of us and the miraculous things that take place on a moment to moment basis through our bodies and I thought it’s very sad that we don’t know this, are not educated about this in school and through our family so I started the blog in hopes that maybe someone would stumble upon it one day and read it and discover that actually, food does have a real effect on us and if it is really beautiful and amazing it can change our lives for the positive – AND so My New Roots began.
What is your number one tip for adopting a more healthy lifestyle?
I think my answer is that you have to go really slowly, because I see a lot of extremism in what I do and I know that we live in the world of the ‘quick-fix’ and we want things now and we want things to be better “right now” and unfortunately with food and bodies, they take some time to adapt and we really need to take small steps.
Also, when you go slowly, you have the time to step back to appreciate and celebrate the small achievements. If we overhaul our diets overnight, for example “I’m gonna do a juice fast, eat a hamburger and then go on a juice fast for 10 days” it’s not going to lead to great things, because it’s not sustainable.
What I’m always trying to tell people to do is start with one thing - cut white rice from your diet and switch with brown rice. Start there! That’s a good beginning. Or if you have a particular goal like - I really want to start liking broccoli - then buy a couple of heads of broccoli and make two or three dishes that week with that broccoli – it comes down to making choices that are realistic for yourself and sustainable. That’s how you start eating and living a lifestyle, for sure. Baby steps!
We are loving your cookbook - which is your favourite Summer recipe from it?
Hah, it’s like asking me to pick my favourite song! I really do love the Berry Volcano Cake with White Chocolate Hemp Sauce, which we actually had at the London dinner. That’s one of my faves for sure! (Editor's note - We can't agree more. It was utterly delicious! Get the recipe here.)
Do you have a particular eating ethos?
Here’s the thing – I don’t have labels. I think labels are for tin cans. I really just believe that eating whole foods is the best. I’ve been vegetarian for 16 years but don’t walk around saying I’m vegetarian, as it’s boring and it’s labelling.
What if I want to eat a piece of bacon one day when I’m fifty? Will I still be a vegetarian then? I don’t know! I just say I’m a whole foods eater. I believe that eating foods in their least processed state is what’s best for us and what we’re meant to do, so that’s what I’m all about. If we can all relax a little bit and not put ourselves into boxes, we’ll feel a lot freer to just go with our instincts and do what we want.
What is your favourite everyday breakfast?
It depends on the time of year. In the warmer months I’m all about smoothies – one for breakfast, I try and make them as green as possible which is a really good way to get veggies in. And then in the winter, or colder months, I do soaked grains overnight and in the morning I cook them with seasonal fruit and lots of superfoods that I would put in the smoothie they go on top like bee pollen, maca and hemp seeds and things like that. I just make a big ol’ bowl of yummy, warm deliciousness- that’s my favourite for sure.
What do you keep on hand to snack on during the day?
Fruit – not very exciting but that’s what I snack on. I make the Life-Changing Crackers (a Content favourite too!) from my blog a lot – they are a great snack because they have a really nice balance of protein, fats, carbohydrates and they’re really filling and have good fibre content, they are delicious. You could eat them savoury or sweet, depending on your mood.
Other than water, what is your favourite ‘go-to drink’?
Tea. I’m a huge tea drinker! I really love all kinds of tea except black. Green, white and all herbal teas. I’ll even ice them in the summer time - I have a really nice iced tea in the fridge right now!
What is your favourite indulgence?
Bread. I love bread so much! I don’t necessarily think of it as an indulgence – but I guess because it doesn’t make me feel that great - I definitely want to have a nap after eating some. It’s because I’m like a doggy - if you put a loaf of bread in front of me I’ll eat the whole thing! I have very little restraint when it comes to bread. Hot and crusty hmm... with olive oil. Yes please!
What is your latest must-have super food?
The latest superfood I’m playing with is Chufa - also called ‘earth almonds’ or ‘tiger-nuts’. It’s interesting. I haven’t done much research into them yet, but people who are allergic to nuts can eat them. They have a really water chestnut consistency. I’m really excited about them - you can make nice milk with them and blend them to use in different things.
What is the number one supplement you’d never go without?
Spirulina is my number 1 supplement – I love it so much. I think of it as a food supplement, I definitely take it that way. In terms of vitamin B12 as my diet is primarily vegan, it’s kind of important for your brain and nervous system. If we’re talking vitamins, B12 is the one I couldn’t live without it. It would be disastrous! If there are vegans out there that aren’t taking it I would suggest you do so!
What is your favourite healthy dinner spot?
I really love Gracias Madre in SF in the mission district. Just ask me where I’d want to go for dinner at all times of the year and I would say that place anytime of the week. It’s amazing! It’s Mexican. I really love Mexican Food but it’s incredibly hard to find vegetarian versions because typically they make tortillas with lard and cook rice with chicken broth or beef broth. So I really appreciate some delicious vegan Mexican food that’s made traditionally, not the American versions! It’s really delicious.
Feeling inspired? For plenty more healthy and delicious vegan and wholefoods plant-based recipes, check out My New Roots.