Vegan, Gluten Free, Soy Free, and Sugar Free Blackberry Almond CobblerRead More
I have broken my silence to bring to you this rich, silky, sinful vegan peanut butter chocolate pie. I first introduced this pie to my husband a few months after we started dating, right around Valentines Day. I guess I wanted to impress him or something...boy how things have changed!!
Back then we weren't vegan, and neither was this pie. Far from it, actually! So after some adaptations and substitutions, this pie has been reborn into a delicious vegan pie that is arguably better than the original version!
Usually people designate certain recipes for certain times of year, associating them with holidays or annual celebrations. I definitely associate this recipe with Valentines Day, which is why I have waited until now to share it with you! I think I have that association partially because of the time I made it for my husband for Valentines Day that year, but also because it is the perfect pick-me-up pie. What does that even mean!? You see, I spent a great part of my life living in the tundra that is Western New York, where most years winter started around Halloween and didn't end until early-mid April. That is a long time to be cold. The beginning of winter isn't so bad because you had the holidays to look forward to and everyone is cheerful and happy to see snow again and spend time with friends and family despite the frigid temperatures. But then January hit and people grew tired of it, and then February hit (usually bringing a major snow storm with it) and many days I just wanted to give up. Or flee to Hawaii. To me, February always sucked. It was dark, ridiculously cold, and just blah. My cabin fever and seasonal depression started to set in big time, and all I craved were warm days and sunshine.
Making this pie, only to be devoured by me and only me (ok, maybe I shared a little!), was just the kick in the butt I needed to get through the next few weeks of winter. And then I felt obligated to hit the gym of course! It sounds kind of sad and slightly pathetic when I write it down, but its the truth and I can sense that many people around me are ready for warmer air and blooming flowers right about now. If you can relate, I urge you to make this pie, cut yourself a huge slice, and know that Spring is coming!
This past weekend, I took a trip to the Olympic National Forest in Northern Washington State. Oh my gosh, was it beautiful. We hiked along the Hurricane Hill trail, and for most of the hike there were snow topped mountain peaks that extended into the distance for miles, and on the other side of the trail were panoramic views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The scenes were breathtaking, and I can't imagine a better way to spend my 30th birthday. Plus, what a better way to make yourself feel young on a day you generally feel old than hiking up to what felt like the top of the world.
Before I left on my weekend getaway, I had the craving for banana bread. Rather than making a traditional banana bread (which don't get me wrong, plain old banana bread is incredible!), but why not mix two well known favorites like peanut butter and banana. Its obvious that the pair go well together, but I wasn't quite sure how it would translate in a loaf of bread. Well I can confirm that the combo works well together as the two main ingredients in this quick bread recipe, and the only thing I'd change next time is to add some cocoa powder!
Ever since entering the vegan recipe blogging world, I've had the opportunity to "meet" so many inspirational bloggers through social media. I love how interconnected and supportive the vegan community is, and this has become even more evident as I have started using Instagram regularly.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to actually meet, in person, someone who I've been following on Instagram for a while. It sounds kind of creepy to say that I "follow" someone, but trust me, its not! Caitlin is a vlogger (video blogger) and has a really successful YouTube Channel and Instagram account. She was visiting Portland from Miami, and decided to have a meet up in one of our parks. I always love meeting other like-minded people, so I thought, why not?! I wanted to bring a new recipe to share, and I knew it was going to be a warm day so I decided on something light, summery, and flavorful.
I knew that I wanted to make a gluten free (and obviously vegan!) granola bar, but I also had some peaches that I needed to use before they went bad, I love the ginger-peach combination, so there was my concept...an almond-peach-ginger bar that could be eaten as a dessert or a breakfast grab-n-go bar. It would contain protein, fiber, and be only lightly sweetened. I also didn't want to turn on my oven (I don't have air conditioning, so summertime baking is limited in my house!), but I needed the bars to hold up well in the heat. These bars met all of the requirements and I'm happy to say that they turned out fantastic. They were also a hit at the meet up, which you can watch on Caitlin's vlog here.
Last Friday we decided to go out to eat to a vegan cheese shop and restaurant that makes the best cheese I've ever had, vegan or not. This is by far one of my favorite restaurants of all time because they make beautiful (and incredibly delicious) vegan cheese plates, amazing panini sandwiches, and unbelievable mac and cheese. Seriously, if you're ever in Portland, be sure to visit Vtopia.
This restaurant was recently up for sale as the super sweet owners are moving to Australia this Spring (jealous!), but luckily another vegan in the community bought it so we can all enjoy their amazing food for years to come. Thank God! The night we decided to go there for dinner was just one week after the new owner had taken over, and true for any new business owner in transition, things were a little hectic. So I offered to help out over the weekend and to my surprise, they said yes! It was such a fun experience to help in the kitchen, meet customers- both local and visiting from out of state, and get to know other vegans in my community.
One woman I worked with in particular was such an inspiration. She is my parent's age, has beautiful rainbow hair (yes, literally), with a personality just as colorful to match...no one could forget her! We talked about her work as a vegan fusion instructor (see below*), the vegan food cart she is starting this fall, her vast involvement in the vegan community, and recipe ideas. We also talked about different ways to turn vegetables into dessert and she mentioned that cauliflower makes a great lemon tart "custard." I won't lie; at first I doubted her. Cauliflower...sweet? It seemed too odd. But then my imagination took off and I thought about using strawberries, tons of lemon juice and zest, and agave as a sweetener to cover the savory nature of cauliflower. I used a basic crust dough to make the tart shells as well, but plan to experiment with other ingredients to make a healthier crust and different flavors for the custard in the future. Chocolate? Apple? Cranberry? Sweet Potato? This could get crazy!
*Deb Kay will be instructing two upcoming vegan fusion workshops here in Portland. If you're local (or not!), you can find more info here.