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I’m not one to count nutrients, calories, fat grams etc. I’ve talked about this on here before. I cook and eat based on the season, the colours, the market and where my body/mood is at. It’s a very simple and totally gratifying way to live. Having said that, I just finished a juice fast/feast and I’m starting to look at things a bit differently. Rather, I’m feeling things differently.

I did the juice feast because a) I am adventurous and love challenging myself and b)  I totally needed a little recharge/refocus kind of thing in terms of eating. I wouldn’t call it a cleanse but more of a body and mind reset. It makes you look at your eating habits differently and helps you get in tune with your bodily needs a bit. I’m only speaking from personal experience here. I’m sure this kind of thing is so incredibly varied from person to person.

Anyway, I feel good. Like crazy good. I have tons of energy right from the moment I wake up in the morning, amazing stuff. I’ve been slowly working the solid (mostly raw) food back into my routine. A huge role in that whole transition period? Smoothies. Protein shakes. Energy shakes. Whatever you wanna call them, they’re awesome in this kind of situation.  There’s a lot of high quality, plant-based protein mixes out there and I have my own personal favourites (Vega, Amazing Meal and Manitoba Harvest are all great). After a run or in the middle of a busy service when you can’t actually stop and eat, it’s a pretty satisfying substitute.

Taking a look at some of the ingredients, I knew I could make a homespun version on the cheap that might just taste a little better. Sometimes the plant-based protein mixes are decidedly… green tasting. So just for the fun of it, I give you a whole food-based, vegan, homemade protein mix that tastes pretty awesome. It’s got hemp, ground almonds, sesame seeds, chia, raw cacao, cinnamon, vanilla powder; all kinds of good things. And! According to my not exactly scientific, but still totally decent calculations, there’s 2.8 grams of protein in one measly tablespoon of the stuff. Not shabby at all if you end up using 3-4 spoonfuls per smoothie like me (up to 10 grams of protein!). Or if you use a dab of natural peanut butter and some almond milk in your little drink concoction, that number’s going even higher. Shall we get pumped? I think so.

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tasty, whole & vegan protein mix
note: Just use the cinnamon and vanilla powder in appropriate amounts. Like if you do 1/4 cup measurements of everything, use a tbsp of each or so.

1 part raw sesame seeds
1 part raw, hulled hemp seeds
1 part chlorella powder (or spirulina if it’s easier to find)
1 part ground chia seeds
1 part raw, ground almonds
1 part raw cacao powder (or regular cocoa, although the nutritional/mineral content will be quite different)
an appropriate amount of ground cinnamon  (optional)
ditto for vanilla powder (optional)

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and place into a container. Store in the fridge.

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  • Kate23/01/2012 - 1:40 pm

    This mix sounds great and I’m looking forward to trying it in my morning smoothies. I was just wondering what juice fast/feast regimen you used that made you feel so incredible. I’ve been thinking of doing the same, but I’m really unsure about where to start. Any helpful hints will be much appreciated!! Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laura23/01/2012 - 1:57 pm

      Hi Kate, I just literally feasted on fresh juice, water and herbal tea all day for 4 days. My morning juices were more fruit-based and then I progressed to veggie-based ones throughout the day to mirror my normal eating habits. Leading in and out of the fast, I ate primarily raw fruit and veggies. This blog post from My New Roots is really informative on the subject: http://mynewroots.blogspot.com/2010/05/great-juice-feast.html

      Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

  • Kate23/01/2012 - 3:30 pm

    Great! Thank you so much, Laura. I will definitely check out the website. What wonderful colors veggies have, whole and juiced :)ReplyCancel

  • Christina Lockwood29/01/2012 - 12:19 pm

    Thank you for your inspiration! I was so excited to try this mix and beyond delighted by the results! The taste is superb mixed with almond milk, the green color once mixed is a fun escape from the muted browns and grey of other drinkable proteins and I love that the ingredients were all whole without preservatives found in commercial drinks. Thank you again!ReplyCancel

    • Laura29/01/2012 - 2:25 pm

      So glad you liked it Christina! You rock :)ReplyCancel

  • Keelin29/01/2013 - 9:38 pm

    I just made this and I’m super happy with how it turned out. I used spirulina, and used flax meal instead of hemp seeds because it’s what I had on hand. I just tried it mixed with unsweetened vanilla almond milk and a dash of agave…. it was so good! Thanks for the empowerment!ReplyCancel

  • Brittany25/02/2013 - 10:35 am

    This is such a great idea. Thank you for sharing the recipe.ReplyCancel

  • gluttonforlife25/02/2013 - 10:40 am

    Thanks for this excellent idea. I would be interested to know what the protein content is in a mix like this – any thoughts on how it might compare to whey-based powders?ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright25/02/2013 - 10:47 am

      Hello!
      I think I mentioned in the post that I did a really rough calculation of the protein content and it hit around 3 grams per tablespoon. So it definitely cannot compare to whey based mixes (I know they have really high protein counts in general). I mostly made this up as a little protein boost of sorts for my smoothies. Again though, my calculation is probably rather crude compared to the more scientific conclusions of actual for-purchase mixes.
      Best,
      LauraReplyCancel

  • FRANCES25/02/2013 - 1:43 pm

    I work for a company that routinely randomly drug test the employees. I cannot injest HEMP. Do you have a suggestion for a subsitute and still use the protein mixture.ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright26/02/2013 - 4:11 pm

      Hi Frances,
      I would replace the hemp seed portion with either ground flax seeds or more chia (or both if you like). Nutritionally and taste wise, hemp is rather unique, so the mix will be quite different. Hope that helps you!
      -LReplyCancel

  • Erik28/02/2013 - 9:15 pm

    Would adding brewers yeast to this mix be good or bad?ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright03/03/2013 - 9:52 am

      Hi Erik,
      I assume if you enjoy the taste of brewer’s yeast, it would be fine. Although I do think it will alter the taste significantly. This mix has a bit of a nutty/spicy/chocolate-y vibe going on, so I can’t imagine the brewer’s yeast contributing much to that. Hope that helps.
      -LReplyCancel

  • Anna22/09/2013 - 4:43 pm

    My little brother is in Afghanistan and has sent me this link on FB wanting me to make this for him to take back with him next time he’s home. I’m familiar with everything except for the vanilla powder… What is this?ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright23/09/2013 - 8:42 pm

      Hi Anna,
      Vanilla powder is a dried version of vanilla extract/beans that’s been ground into a powder, without the use of alcohol as a preservative. I’ve only ever seen in it in health food stores, but you can buy it on Amazon pretty easily. It isn’t completely necessary–you could certainly go without it and still have plenty of flavour in the mix. Hope this helps!
      -LReplyCancel

  • Paula24/11/2013 - 11:51 am

    I’ve been looking for a way to make my own protein powder. It seems there are always ingredients in the commercial products that I’m sensitive to eating. I did find one, but it’s incredibly expensive. I’ll be making my own now. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • […] Make your own vegan protein mix  […]ReplyCancel

  • michelle20/02/2014 - 4:56 pm

    hello! i just saw your blog post as i was doing a search online to make my own protein powder. after all is said and done, how much powder mix do you put with a liquid (almond milk, milk, water, etc?)? 2 tbsp? thanks so much!ReplyCancel

  • Sophie Beraud03/04/2014 - 1:35 pm

    Thanks for this recipe Laura!

    It inspired me to make my own, slightly different version using organic hemp protein powder rather than seeds (to “up” the protein content) and adding home-grown stevia leaves “powder” to satisfy my sweet tooth.

    PS: for those wondering where to get vanilla powder — just make it!! Dry out vanilla pods (air-dry, oven, or dehydrator), grind up using a spice/coffee grinder, and store in an air-tight container in the fridge. Awesomesauce!

    – SReplyCancel

  • Yanneke Josephus Jitta12/05/2014 - 12:51 am

    Any idea how long one could keep the ground mixture? ThanxReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright12/05/2014 - 7:25 am

      Hi Yanneke, As long as you store this in a closed container in the fridge, you could have it for a few months.
      -LReplyCancel

  • […] Yummy, vegan + totally empowering DIY protein mix by The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

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So how did you fare over the holidays? Oh me? Pretty great. There was plenty of food, amazing people, kisses, hugs, cookies  and unexpected (but still wonderful) gifts around every corner. Celebrating anything with those you love is definitely the best thing. Like ever. I never make new year’s resolutions, but this year I’ve decided that it’s important to infuse that celebratory feeling into my routine a little bit more. If it means cozying up to a book when I have a million other things to do, I am going to fully enjoy that luxury. Or maybe after the work week’s done and I wanna get myself some really fancy lady-level bath salts? No question. It’s happening.

More importantly, I want to put in the effort to make more meals like this. I wouldn’t say that it files neatly away under the quick and easy column. It takes some time and consideration. Even if you buy sheets of pasta (rather than making them), it’s going to be a little time consuming making the filling, making the pesto and crimping the little raviolis shut just so. But it’s worth it! All of your hard work resulting in a delicious, wholesome, totally handmade meal with someone you like. I’m pretty convinced that there’s nothing better in life.

Santa brought me the pasta roller attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer this year (lucky girl, I know) so I tried a spelt and chia seed combo for the dough. The ground chia works as a binder and contributes perfectly to the confetti-like flecked appearance of the sheeted whole grain pasta. The sweet potato and pine nut filling is similar in texture to ricotta- whipped and airy with light, acidic notes of lemon. The kale pesto compliments the sweetness nicely with its heavy, cruciferous flavour. A  little sprinkling of buttery toasted pine nuts and you’re poised to have the most celebratory feeling dinner of recent times, guaranteed.

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spelt and chia seed ravioli with sweet potato filling and kale pesto
serves: makes 25-30 ravioli (like 4 servings-ish)
special equipment: a food processor
notes: This recipe uses a whole cup of pine nuts. I know they can be expensive, so feel free to swap in the nuts/seeds of your choosing (walnuts would be delicious). Most grocery stores carry decent quality fresh lasagna sheets in the refrigerated section if you don’t have a pasta roller at home (or don’t feel like making an extra hour of work for yourself).

dough:
2 tbsp ground chia seeds
1/2 cup + 3 tbsp water, divided
1 cup white spelt flour
3/4 cup whole spelt flour
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

filling
1 medium sweet potato, roasted or steamed until very soft
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 clove garlic, smashed
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper

kale pesto:
1/2 bunch of kale (about 4 stalks), leaves removed
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Make the dough: combine the ground chia seeds with 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp water. Give it a stir and set aside until it forms a thick gel. Place the flours, sea salt, remaining tbsp of water, olive oil and chia gel into the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on low speed until lightly combined (about 30 seconds). Switch to the dough hook on your mixer and knead on medium speed for 2 minutes (or knead by hand for about 5-7 minutes). Dough should be smooth and feel a bit sticky, but doesn’t leave residue on your fingers when you pinch it. Cover and set aside.

Make the filling: scoop sweet potato flesh into the bowl of a food processor. Add the pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pulse 10 times to break up the nuts. Scrape down the sides and turn it onto low for about 30 seconds until smooth and homogenous. Cover and set aside.

Make the pesto: place the kale leaves, pine nuts, garlic and 2 tbsp of the olive oil into the food processor. Pulse 10-15 times to break up the nuts and chop the greens a bit. Scrape down the sides. Put the food processor on high and drizzle the remaining oil into the feed tube until a smooth paste is achieved. Season to taste and set aside.

Sheet the pasta: cut the dough into 4 pieces. Take one of them and flatten it out, brushing some flour on both sides as you press into it. Feed it through the pasta roller at the “1” setting. Fold the sheet of dough in half and feed through again. Repeat this step 2 more times or until the sheet of dough is uniform width. Adjust the roller to setting 2. Feed lightly floured dough into the roller. Feed through at this setting 2-3 times. Flour the dough lightly again. Adjust the rollers to the “3” setting and feed the sheet of dough through twice. It should be fairly translucent, but not so thin that it would break if stretched too much. The sheets should be about 2 feet long. Repeat with remaining dough. Allow dough to dry for 15 minutes or so before filling and cooking.

Make ravioli: cut pasta sheets into 2 inch squares. Place a little bowl of water near your working area. Place a scant tablespoon of sweet potato in the middle of the square. Dampen two sides of the pasta square with your finger and fold the opposite side of the square over, pushing down on the seams to form a seal. Push down on edges with a fork to strengthen the seal. Repeat until dough/filling is used up. Lightly dust the shaped ravioli with flour, place in a dish and cover loosely with a tea towel until ready to cook.

Cook/plate ravioli: boil a large pot of water with a solid glug of olive oil in it. Place about 10 raviolis in the water at a time. When they all start bobbing at the surface (about 2-3 minutes), remove from the water with a slotted spoon. To serve: place a good schmear of kale pesto on your serving plate, place raviolis on top, put a few dabs more of pesto on top and a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts.

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  • Kelsey02/01/2012 - 11:01 pm

    Love the new look, woman! Chia seed pasta? Um yes. And I’m with you on the bath salts.ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer02/01/2012 - 11:48 pm

    This looks outstanding!ReplyCancel

  • Cathy03/01/2012 - 11:52 pm

    WOW. I am so excited about this ravioli! I will try it. Maybe this weekend. So cool.ReplyCancel

  • Courtney04/01/2012 - 12:14 pm

    These look amazing! It’s a perfect balance of health, flavor, and beauty!ReplyCancel

  • Shelley04/01/2012 - 7:43 pm

    Laura… I’m speechless. This recipe, the photos… simply amazing! And, if I am not mistaken, a new blog theme? Either way.. everything looks beautiful.

    Happy New Year! Been very wonderful meeting you this year, albeit online. Many good thoughts for a wonderful year! XOReplyCancel

  • Heather05/01/2012 - 4:49 pm

    Your Blog is so adorable!
    Congratulations on the Liebster Award ;-)ReplyCancel

  • […] oil into the feed tube until a smooth paste is achieved. Season to taste and set aside. Source: http://www.thefirstmess.com/2012/01/02/sweet-potato-ravioli-with-kale-pesto/ Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in […]ReplyCancel

  • […] & pumpkin garlic knots Sun. lunch: more pumpkin chili & pumpkin garlic knots Sun. dinner: homemade pumpkin ravioli with kale-sunflower pesto M/T/R lunch: spaghetti squash with homemade pasta sauce & sweet peppers Mon. dinner:  random […]ReplyCancel

  • […] from freezer Mon. dinner: spaghetti squash with feta, basil & sun-dried tomatoes Tues lunch: homemade pumpkin ravioli with Swiss chard/parsley pesto Tues. dinner: eggs & tortilla chips (It was a rough, long day. I […]ReplyCancel

  • Jess02/11/2012 - 7:13 pm

    Just found this recipe and my foodie brain is literally bursting with excitement! What a fabulous recipe! Really want to try this perhaps with some rocket instead to use up the surplus in the garden an the moment. Love love it!ReplyCancel

  • Merlin05/11/2012 - 5:35 pm

    I made this tonight for my first meal in my new house; it is absolutely sensational. I would NEVER have thought to combine these ingredients, it’s really opened my eyes to something. Thank you so much!ReplyCancel

  • […] & apple with a side of kale Mon. lunch: barley soup, radishes & cornbread Mon. dinner: sweet potato ravioli with arugula pesto sauce Tues. lunch: red beans & rice with salsa & tortilla chips Tues. dinner: butternut squash […]ReplyCancel

  • […] lunch: eggs & home fries Tues. dinner: egg & cream cheese baguette sandwiches Wed. lunch: sweet potato ravioli with arugula pesto sauce Wed. dinner: smashed potatoes & bleu cheese/beet salad Thurs. lunch: homemade vegetable noodle […]ReplyCancel

  • veronica04/01/2013 - 1:50 pm

    oh my goodness, this looks delicious!! hope i can use whole wheat instead of spelt flour…ReplyCancel

    • Laura04/01/2013 - 8:30 pm

      Hi Veronica,

      Whole wheat flour should work out just fine. The texture might even be softer, which is always a bonus :)

      -LReplyCancel

  • Food Wine Fashion30/01/2013 - 12:43 pm

    Laura – saw this recipe over at The Kitchn and I’m an instant follower! This will be a much needed break from my soup making over the past two weeks (it’s been so cold in Denver and I just want something warm and savoury). I LOVE the use of the chia seeds, I’m a big believer in their health benefits.

    So happy to find you!
    -JessicaReplyCancel

  • Val07/02/2013 - 7:16 pm

    I’ve been interested in making homemade pasta for ages and looking for an egg-free recipe and came across this deliciousness through Kitchn! Amazing…chia! Can’t wait to try this tonight!ReplyCancel

  • vanessa20/02/2013 - 2:23 pm

    This looks amazing! Could this work with brown rice flour or gf all-purpose flour? (I have to use these two up somehow!)ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright20/02/2013 - 4:52 pm

      Hi Vanessa!

      I think you could sub either flour, but you may have to introduce a better binder like xanthan gum or perhaps extra ground chia + water mixture. I can see it crumbling without the gluten as a structural component. Let me know how it works out!
      -LReplyCancel

  • Cecilie23/05/2013 - 7:10 am

    Hi,
    I love your blog, the look of it, the recipes… and this is no exception. It looks amazing! But the thing is, I don’t have any chia seeds, and they’re quite expensive. Is there any way I can use ground flax seeds instead?

    – CecilieReplyCancel

  • […] dinner: lentil burgers with your favorite toppings, potato wedges & teamed veggies Fri. lunch: sweet potato ravioli (make a lot some Sunday & store it in the freezer) Fri. dinner: pita & hummus turned into […]ReplyCancel

  • Megan06/11/2013 - 1:47 am

    We made this tonight and it was delicious! We made a few adjustments based on what we had on hand. We substituted 1 cup of whole wheat flour for white spelt flour and added an extra tablespoon of water to the dough mixture (for a total of 3/4 cup of water). We went up to “4” on the pasta maker, and I might even try “5” next time since the dough was quite stretchy due to the whole wheat flour. To compensate for only adding half of the required lemon juice to the filling (oops!), we sprinkled just a touch of fresh lemon juice over top of the kale pesto after plating and this really made the pesto flavor wonderfully bright. We’re so happy we found your thoughtful stories and thoroughly tested recipes through TheKitchn!ReplyCancel

  • Beth | {local milk}09/12/2013 - 7:18 pm

    Was trolling the internet for sweet potato ravioli inspiration for tomorrow’s post, looking for something other than the usual sage & brown butter (though don’t get me wrong…that is awesome) and *of course* here you are with a totally original spin on the whole thing. Totally inspired!ReplyCancel

  • Teffy09/01/2014 - 6:17 pm

    That looks incredibly delicious, so so good.
    I love sweet potato on anything, and this seems like the perfect combo.
    ReplyCancel

  • […] Sweet Potato Ravioli with Kale Pesto Chia seeds and spelt flour combine to make ravioli dough for this dish. It may be homemade, but […]ReplyCancel

  • janey bray09/08/2014 - 12:32 pm

    i could not find spelt flour at the store. i am planning to use quinioa flour instead. will that work?ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright12/08/2014 - 8:46 am

      Hi Janey, I’ve never tried using quinoa flour, but I’m fairly positive that it will not work. Spelt is a relative of wheat, but a more ancient form. So it has a higher protein content and a better starch ratio, which is why it works for this dough. Suitable substitutes for this flour would be: kamut flour, einkorn flour, wholewheat flour or wholewheat pastry flour.
      -LReplyCancel

  • Bon15/09/2014 - 7:24 pm

    Another resounding success, we are quickly learning that if it’s a first mess recipe, the meal is guaranteed to be delicious!
    We made a second flavour alongside the sweet potato ravioli- roasted pumpkin (with only a splash of lemon juice), not surprisingly that also works beautifully.
    Also, I substituted the white spelt with all purpose flour by necessity and it turned out fine.ReplyCancel

  • Lucy the Vegan20/11/2014 - 8:56 am

    As a vegan and ravioli fan, this is a must-try recipe for me. Kale is not my biggest favorite though, so if maybe you can recommend me something else instead of the pesto, I would really appreciate it. Anyway, it’s still a really good recipe. :)ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright20/11/2014 - 9:58 am

      I think you could get away with a traditional basil pesto on this one! Or even using spinach in place of the kale would be delicious :)
      -LReplyCancel

  • […] Sweet Potato Ravioli with Kale Pesto from The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Sweet potato ravioli? Always a go. Try it from […]ReplyCancel

  • Janey27/03/2015 - 11:31 am

    I love ravioli but I’ve never seen something like this, need to try it asap :) looks wonderful!ReplyCancel

  • […] Beat the sugar rush with raw strawberry twizzlers! 2. Get your nom on with sweet potato ravioli! 3. Grab canvas, modge podge, and magazines to mimic this canvas feel. 4. Gluten free, vegan banana […]ReplyCancel

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Aside from the odd book or kitchen do-dad here and there, I am a homemade gifts kinda girl to the hilt. I have everything I need in life, but some lovely homemade granola? Or preserves and rustic pickles from your garden perhaps? A pair of chunky-knit mittens with a home-screened tea towel? All of those kinds of things warm my heart and make me feel pretty alright with the world. You know what else does? A big, hot cup of dreamy spicy chai on cold and bright winter mornings in Ontario.

So in the spirit of the season and wanting to share those warm and lovely feelings with some friends, I made up a batch of really simple chai concentrate. The flavour is leaps and bounds away in deliciousness from the stuff you can buy at coffee shops (which costs more money than anyone should ever have to pay for tea, sugar and spices). Plus! You can mix it with whiskey if you fancy a spicy little hot toddy on a brisk evening. How many coffee shops can do that?

I will definitely recommend that you use some loose leaf tea from a local purveyor of fine quality for this. The taste will always be better because there’s a greater quantity of actual whole leaves (not dusty, icky leftovers) and the freshness can’t be beat. I love to use assam tea here. It’s a variety of black tea from India that has a typically rich and malty flavour profile that stands up to the spices and tangy citrus flavours quite well. A particularly good varietiy from my favourite teashop ever can be ordered here.

Happy sipping and warmest holiday wishes,
Laura :)

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spicy chai concentrate with an orange twist
serves: makes about 2 litres or 16 one cup servings once mixed
notes: Try to remove most of the white pith from the orange peel to avoid bitterness. Also, this isn’t limited to beverages! A little dab with some steel cut oatmeal would be delicious.

9 cups filtered water
1 orange, peel removed in large strips (save the fruit for a snack)
2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
4 cinnamon sticks (the big ones)
3 star anise
5 whole cloves
10 green cardamom pods
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
a few twists of black pepper
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp black loose leaf tea (try rooibos for a caffeine-free version)
2/3 cup maple syrup or agave nectar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Once boiling, turn off the heat and add orange peel strips, ginger, spices and tea leaves. Steep this mixture for 10 to 15 minutes depending on how strong you want it.

Strain the steeped tea into a large bowl or pitcher. Stir in the maple syrup and vanilla extract. Allow the concentrate to cool completely before pouring into clean mason jars/other container of your choosing.

When heating with non alcoholic liquids, use concentrate in a 1:1 ratio (ie with hot milk, cider, other juice etc). Using booze? Totally your call!

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  • Michelle20/12/2011 - 10:38 pm

    This. looks. amazing. Chai is the best!ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey21/12/2011 - 11:17 am

    Mmm, this sounds perfect. I’m with you. A hug and some good salt is the best kind of gift, to me. Happy Holidays, friend.ReplyCancel

  • shelley21/12/2011 - 6:59 pm

    Laura – This looks amazing. I love chai! After the holidays, when things slow down a bit, I will have to try this. Homemade is always better than anything mass produced for a coffee house! Thank you for the recipe. Have a wonderful holiday season! XOReplyCancel

  • Bhakti29/12/2011 - 11:07 am

    Hi,
    What an interesting recepie to come my way…. was looking for a change in my chai. Will def try it soon :)
    Thanks!!!ReplyCancel

  • Genevieve04/01/2012 - 10:50 pm

    I love chai lattes, but I’ve never made my own from scratch…this is a great homemade gift idea, and I love the spice tree too :)
    Just wanted to let you know as well that I included your lovely blog in my nominations for the Liebster Award http://www.vanilla-and-spice.com/2012/01/new-years-eve-asian-feast-liebster.htmlReplyCancel

  • […] with caffeine for good measure. This could be easy enough to produce at home with a batch of homemade chai concentrate, some strong coffee and the milk of your choice. Heat it all up together and get […]ReplyCancel

  • Cookie and Kate07/10/2012 - 11:03 pm

    I am so excited that you linked to this post. Trying this asap.ReplyCancel

  • Shelley27/11/2012 - 7:26 pm

    hi! do you know if this would last at room temperature or in the fridge, and for how long? I would like to make these as gifts this year.ReplyCancel

    • Laura27/11/2012 - 8:37 pm

      Hi Shelley,
      You could keep the mix sealed in the fridge for 2 weeks. Hope that helps!
      -LReplyCancel

  • […] the ginger. Promise. Or if you still want chai but don’t want to take all the time, Laura has a fantastic chai concentrate that comes together […]ReplyCancel

  • […] store in fridge until use. Or, if you have a bit more time (and ingredients) on your hands, make this, only boil it for waaaaay longer than she tells you to (for me, it took an hour or so) to get that […]ReplyCancel

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Cauliflower is one of those more economically efficient and deeply satisfying cold weather vegetables, in the league of root veggies, onions and alliums, various other crucifers and tubers. Cellar vegetables. Stick to your ribs fare. I find, like most other winter veggies, the method of preparation is really important when you want to make it appealing. I could eat cauliflower roasted at a high temperature every day in the cold months with just a pinch of salt and pepper. Seriously. It gets all toasty, a bit crunchy and it develops some lovely colouring, ranging from pale golden brown to almost black little flecks on the edges. It’s beautiful and crazy affordable.

I do enjoy some of the more gourmet items here and there, maybe when I’m out or I’ve received a nice gift from a friend or something. A dab of truffle oil is sometimes appropriate, high quality vanilla extract is a generous gift to be sure or some rare heirloom vegetable variety at the farmer’s market is usually too cool to pass up. But all things considered, I mostly love turning a humble and unassuming vegetable into something delicious and hearty. I appreciate accessible food and what it means to others to try and make the most of it. The best way to eat and live well is to cook and share that wealth with everyone you know.

So I’ve taken a basic roasting method and classed it up a teeny bit with some add ins that you combine the beautifully browned cauliflower with: sweet chopped dates, briny green olives, a sour squeeze of lemon, earthy thyme and crunchy little sesame seeds. I was trying to evoke a bit of a za’atar flavour, thinking it would be a good match for the robust cauliflower. The sesame seeds hug the cauliflower as it roasts and a nice dusting of parsley flecks makes it colourful. I’m so grateful to still have parsley in the garden, a vibrant, nutritious and green patch sticking out of the mud and browned leaves. Great proof that with a little mindful tending and effort comes deeply nourishing results.

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sesame and lemon roasted cauliflower with dates & olives
serves: 4
notes: Feel free to squeeze the lemon on top after, but I kind of like the slightly more caramelized flavour it develops throughout the roasting.

1 small to medium head of cauliflower, cored and cut into medium-sized florets
2 tbsp raw sesame seeds
1 sprig of thyme, leaves removed and chopped (or 1/2 tsp dried)
2 tbsp grape seed oil
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper
3-4 dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1/4 cup green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
2 sprigs of parsley, leaves removed and finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss the cauliflower florets in a medium sized bowl with the sesame seeds, thyme, grape seed oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Dump the bowl onto a parchment lined baking sheet, making sure to scrape out all of the little sesame seeds.

Roast cauliflower for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown and tender. Stir mixture a couple times throughout the roasting to avoid burnt sesame seeds.

Once removed from the oven, toss hot cauliflower with chopped dates, olives and parsley. Adjust seasoning if necessary and serve.

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  • […] Sweet and Sour Roasted Cauliflower – I’m a big fan of the sweet and salty combination, and I love the unlikely combination of the salty olives and sweet dates in this recipe. Seems like a really festive and flavorful side dish. Will be trying soon! […]ReplyCancel

  • Lysa23/01/2012 - 8:51 pm

    This is a beautiful recipe, Thanks for sharing!!ReplyCancel

  • […] chickpea pancakes, one must make some veggies to roll up inside of them. I’ve been eyeing Laura’s Sesame and Lemon Roasted Cauliflower with Dates and Olives since she first published the post a bit less than two months ago, falling in love with the idea […]ReplyCancel

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There’s something about pomegranates and their tiny fuschia, jewel-like seeds that is so undeniably festive. They shine and sparkle so beautifully wherever they land. There is also something so inherently frustrating about their construction, webs of honeycomb-ish pithy rind gripping onto those gorgeous seeds for dear life, spattering hot pink juice everywhere when you try to extract them. In recent years I’ve figured out how to go about deseeding those iconic pink fruits without making a giant mess. Just a little plunge in some water, a cut here and there and voila! Instant glamour on everything: salads, granola, yogurt and more importantly, roasted brussels sprouts. Oh yes.

The tart juiciness of the pomegranate seeds is a nice match for the strong, cabbage-y flavour of the roasted brussels sprouts. Add some toasted hazelnuts, lime zest and juice to the mix and you’ve got yourself a lovely and incredibly easy holiday side dish. Although I’d say it’s perfectly appropriate to enjoy throughout all of the cooler months.

We never really grew up eating much of these cruciferous veggies. Any exposure I’ve had to them up until recently was in a rather blah and mushy steamed/boiled format. The first time I tried them roasted I was totally sold. Nice little salty crust on the outside contrasts the slightly tender leaves within just right. Aside from this method, it’s the only way I can really, sincerely enjoy them. I’ve specified a 1/4 cup of the pomegranate seeds. Now I know you’ll never find such a fruit that contains that amount, but here’s some lovely ideas from around the internets to use up those extras:

Pomegranate, Kale & Pearl Onion Orzo from Happyolks
Chick Pea and Lentil Curry with Pomegranate from Cook Republic
Poppy Seed Crusted Butternut Squash with Kale and Pomegranates from My New Roots

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festive brussels sprouts with hazelnuts and pomegranate
serves: 4
notes: Wanna know the best way to de-seed a pomegranate? Look right here.

1 lb (454g) brussels sprouts, outer leaves trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
1 tbsp grape seed oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper
1/4 cup raw hazelnuts
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (or arils, if you will)
zest and juice of 1 lime

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the halved brussels sprouts in the oil, cumin, salt and pepper. Place on a lined sheet pan or oven-safe baking dish and roast for 20 minutes, tossing at the 10 minute point.

While brussels sprouts are roasting, place hazelnuts on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast in the same oven for about 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, rub the skins off of the hazelnuts, chop them roughly and set aside.

Remove brussels sprouts from the oven and toss with the chopped hazelnuts, pomegranate seeds, lime zest and juice. Serve immediately.

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  • Kelsey12/12/2011 - 2:22 pm

    I have tried so many ways to prepare brussel sprouts… I must say, it’s been a tough sell over the years. I love the lime and the texture from the nuts and pom seeds though – I will certainly give it a go. Thanks for linking :)ReplyCancel

  • Char @ www.charskitchen.ca12/12/2011 - 2:39 pm

    Omg, I love brussels sprouts! I eat ’em every day :) I love the sound of a sweet/crunchy combo with the pomegranate and hazelnuts! And they look so festiveReplyCancel

  • Sian12/12/2011 - 4:57 pm

    These look great. I may well be using the idea on the big day.ReplyCancel

  • janet @ the taste space12/12/2011 - 7:15 pm

    I recently had Brussels sprouts for the first time and loved them.. this is what I am doing when I buy them next. :)ReplyCancel

  • Chelsea15/12/2011 - 9:39 pm

    I made this recipe last night and it was absolutely delicious. The tip for getting all those pomegranate seeds out was a huge help. :) I had leftovers today for lunch and decided to add some avocado chunks in – it was a great combination!ReplyCancel

  • Yolanda14/01/2012 - 3:14 pm

    What an amazing recipe and what a great site I have just discovered. I am going to cook this salad tomorrow, blog it and have a link to your wonderful, delicious site. I am drooling :)ReplyCancel

  • Yolanda16/01/2012 - 5:43 am

    My take on Festive Brussels. http://lemonlovenotes.blogspot.com/2012/01/brussels-sprouts-salad-w-walnuts-zataar.html
    Thank you for the inspiration. It was an amazing salad. love xoxoReplyCancel

  • Alyssa27/01/2012 - 11:06 pm

    I just made this recipe tossed with coconut quinoa, and it was SO good. Your photos are beautiful and I adore all your healthy recipes! The pomegranate seeds added the perfect amount of sweetness. This is definitely a new favorite!ReplyCancel

    • Laura28/01/2012 - 8:49 am

      So glad you liked it, Alyssa. Love that you added quinoa too :)ReplyCancel

  • […] The second source was via Laura from The First Mess who wrote about her incredibly festive combo of brussels sprouts and pomegranates. Inspired, I decided to have a go at making something that was more than a side and this is what I […]ReplyCancel

  • […] The second source was via Laura from The First Mess who wrote about her incredibly festive combo of brussels sprouts and pomegranates. Inspired, I decided to have a go at making something that was more than a side and this is what I […]ReplyCancel

  • Jeanie14/12/2013 - 10:45 pm

    Made these tonight and loved them. It was a very simple dish, I had nearly all of the ingredients on hand, and it was festive to boot. People went back for seconds. Thanks for your wonderful recipes, they have never failed me.ReplyCancel

  • […] Festive Brussels Sprouts and Pomegranate Seeds: view the full recipe and images here […]ReplyCancel