Interview

With Sarah Britton my new roots

Wellness contributor Rebecca Leffler sat down with the vegetable visionary to talk about her book and how she stays true to her “roots” despite worldwide success.

Sarah Britton has been pioneering plants since back before kale was kool and chia became the new black (and white) seed.
She started her blog My New Roots in 2007 to show people how to make healthier choices every day without sacrificing pleasure and has since become a global phenomenon.

Her witty, elegant prose, skilled photography of dishes bordering on works of art and rare combination of humor and health have made this Canadian blogger living in Denmark a household name across the globe.
From taking Martha Stewart Living readers through a delicious detox year after year to recently being crowned “Queen of Greens” by The Guardian newspaper, Britton has successfully turned her passion for plants into a career.

After several years of anticipation, the avant-green talent has finally released her plant-based opus, the “My New Roots” cookbook.

BWB’s wellness contributor Rebecca Leffler sat down with the vegetable visionary to talk about simultaneously giving birth to a baby and a book at the same time, how she stays true to her “roots” despite worldwide success and her new passionate love affair… with a sprouter.

BWB: Tell us about your own “roots”. How did your wellness journey begin?

It started when I went to live on a farm in Arizona in the desert. I went for a five-week workshop in organic farming in the US and ended up staying for an entire year!

Every time I plant something in my garden, I think how it’s just amazing that this infinitesimal seed can grow into something so huge. Roots are so permeating and so strong.

BWB: So it all began with –literally! – planting seeds! What’s the meaning behind the title of your blog and now book “My New Roots”?

Towards the end of my education, I took a class called “professional practice” and each of us had to create a name for our made-up future business. I chose “New Roots” and it just stuck. I liked the metaphor of a root since roots are incredibly tenacious.
Every time I plant something in my garden, I think how it’s just amazing that this infinitesimal seed can grow into something so huge. Roots are so permeating and so strong. If there’s an obstacle in the way, they’ll do whatever they need to do to get around it.

When people find out that I’m a nutritionist, I’m suddenly the most popular person in the room. Why? Because everyone has a body and everyone eats and we all want to know more!

BWB: How do you think the wellness world has changed since you started your blog in 2007?

There’s been an astronomical shift. When I first got started, I was asking, is food really going to change how I feel? Is food medicine? Can food prevent illness? Now, yeah, duh, everyone knows! I’m so excited that this is part of our conversation.
When people find out that I’m a nutritionist, I’m suddenly the most popular person in the room. Why? Because everyone has a body and everyone eats and we all want to know more!

BWB: Do you see differences in the approach to nutrition in the US vs. in Europe?

Yes, people in Europe cook! Danes make dinner every night. They go to the market on the way home from work – No bulk shopping at Costco on Sunday to stock up for the week! They make their own bread, everything is made from scratch, people are much more connected to their food and there’s much more of a culture of sitting down to a family meal every night. It’s called …dinnertime!

Sarah Britton

BWB: You left your native country, family and friends to follow your heart and moved to Copenhagen in 2009. What have been the challenges of being an expat abroad?

The hardest thing about moving was that, back then, you couldn’t get hemp seeds or sweet potatoes or quinoa. Now, things are completely different! There are a number of health food stores in Copenhagen that carry products even I’ve never seen before.  It is, however, a very insulated country so sometimes it can feel culturally isolating.

If I’m working on a recipe, I’ll eat that for lunch. Lunch is typically my main meal – I’ll have a slice of rye bread, some salad, a soft-boiled egg and maybe an avocado. I prefer richer things midday.

BWB: What does a typical day of eating look like for you?

In the wintertime, I soak different porridge mixes, like the “supercereal” recipe on my blog. It’s a mix of around four or five different grains and seeds that I soak overnight and cook in the morning. It also now becomes my son’s breakfast too! I’ll mix in seasonal fruit like apples, pears or persimmons. In the warmer months, I have a smoothie almost every morning. I love them so much –  it’s like having dessert for breakfast!
If I’m working on a recipe, I’ll eat that for lunch. Lunch is typically my main meal – I’ll have a slice of rye bread, some salad, a soft-boiled egg and maybe an avocado. I prefer richer things midday. At dinner, I prefer a soup or a big salad with beans or lentils, nuts and seeds. And I always start my day with warm water and lemon.

Chufa! (Aka tigernuts) I just got some the other day and haven’t played with them too much yet, but they’re really interesting and I’m excited to have a new food to explore.

BWB: This month’s BWB is focused all things NEW. Are there any ingredients or appliances that you’ve recently discovered that you’re now into?

Chufa! (Aka tigernuts) I just got some the other day and haven’t played with them too much yet, but they’re really interesting and I’m excited to have a new food to explore. They’re my new jam. I’m also in such a buckwheat phase – it’s kind of the perfect food.

My new obsession is my terracotta sprouter. It’s changed my life. If the house was burning down, I’d grab my baby and this sprouter! It has three layers of terracotta pots with holes, it’s antibacterial, antifungal and stays cool and moist so it’s the most ideal environment for growing sprouts. I used to find sprouting arduous and now I love it!

BWB: If you were on a desert island and could only bring 3 foods, what would they be?

I would definitely bring bee pollen. You can actually live off of bee pollen alone – it’s that nutritious. I’d also bring avocados and lemons…and the sprouter, of course!

BWB: Have you ever met a vegetable (or fruit) you didn’t like?

I hate raw mushrooms. I love cooked mushrooms but raw mushrooms can just get out of town. I can’t do it.

To nurture myself, I paint and write poetry and play my guitar.

BWB: Other than eating healthy foods, what else do you do to nourish your body and mind?

Lately, I’m really into Jillian Michaels’ bootcamp, which I know may sound strange. I’m not a gym person. I work out at home, but I’m quite disciplined about it. I try and get on my yoga mat for at least five minutes, which usually turns into 30 or 45 minutes.  I also have to go for a walk every day.
To nurture myself, I paint and write poetry and play my guitar. My background is actually in painting. I have a lot of creative outlets.

BWB: It’s not surprising since you take all of your own photos for the book and blog and it’s clear you have the artist’s eye. Have you had formal photo training?

I taught myself. It’s been such an evolution. Sometimes I look at very old blog posts and I want to erase the photos! I’m proud that I took the photos for my book. Everyone said I couldn’t do both, but I welcomed the challenge and I’m so proud because I’ve come from not having any idea how to do it to… well, I just did it. My understanding of composition and color and light from my art background helped of course.

BWB: What was the biggest challenge of writing the book?

I just felt so much pressure because I’m the last of my peer group to do a book. Everyone’s been asking about it for a long time, so when I put it out in the world that I was writing the book, many people said “It’s going to be my new bible.” I thought I’d let everyone down. I’m not a professional chef, I’m not a writer, I’m not a professional photographer on paper.
It brought up a lot of insecurities and questioning “Am I good enough?” The recipes just come to me –  that’s not the problem. I questioned whether the package as a whole was good enough. My readers are so passionate that I didn’t want to let anyone down. I’m very hard on myself.

I’ve had a bit of hormone-based acne since stopping breastfeeding and I use a chased treeberry supplement for that – it brings the hormones back into balance.

BWB: You’re glowing on the outside too – any secret natural beauty tips to share?

Water! It’s really boring, but I used to struggle with my skin. I have so many emotional scars from having acne as a teenager.
So I say… Water, water, water!
I’ve had a bit of hormone-based acne since stopping breastfeeding and I use a chaste tree berry supplement for that – it brings the hormones back into balance.
I don’t wear makeup unless I’m doing a photo shoot – I just don’t like the feeling.
I do like a more natural RMS makeup when I need to wear something.

BWB: What’s your favorite meal to serve to carnivores/ healthy food-haters/ family members who may not share your love for kale?

I like the “skinny dip white bean fondue” from the book. It’s rich and unctuous and satisfying…and my husband’s personal favorite. I of course dip roasted veggies into it or eat with sprouted grain wraps, but you can eat it with a ton of bread if you want. Everyone loves it – it’s super creamy and smooth and tastes like cheese sauce, but it’s made with beans. Or try my “Mac ‘n Tease” on the blog.

BWB: Do you have a great recipe from the book to recommend for summertime?

Try my grilled zucchini and hazelnut salad ! HERE

BWB: What’s next for you? We’re all hungry for your next book – give us the scoop (of nut butter?) !

I hope there will be a next book because I had a lot of fun writing the first one. I’m really hoping to do more chef collaborations. I’m enjoying traveling and meeting chefs and making meals together. It’s a very cool coming together of minds. It’s interesting to see what we can come up with. I just want to teach more cooking classes.

BWB: How do you find balance between your incredible success and being a new Mom?

I’m riding this incredible wave. I’ve been waiting for so long to be able to do this of course, but I’m still torn between wanting to be with my baby and going out on the book tour. It’s bittersweet. In the end, I’m just a Mom!

Rebecca Leffler

Rebecca Leffler is a writer, journalist and wellness consultant. She is the author of best-selling French book Green, Glam & Gourmande and follow-up title Green, Glam & Happy. Her book “Très green, très clean, très chic: Eat (and live!) the new French way with plant-based, gluten-free recipes for every season” was released in 2015. Follow Rebecca at Lafleurparisny.com.

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