VEGAN RECIPES | I’m not a vegetarian. But I reduced my meat consumption a lot. I think we call that a “reducetarian” nowadays. I’m not a vegan either. But I understand that vegans refuse to contribute to the human arrogant and cruel exploitation of animals, especially in the dairy industry where cows have holes to their stomachs sometimes. However, when I look at the Belgian countryside in the Ardennes, I think we’re still better off than in the US when it comes to the dairy industry. Cows seem to have lots of space and are fed with grass and not some bizarre and suspicious dry animal food. I agree they are still raised for human consumption, but we’re still far from stinky massive and overpopulated ranches.
I’m a little embarrassed about not having a story to tell for this recipe. When I started this blog, I thought I’d tell stories through cooking. But this time I don’t have any story to tell. So I’ll just explain why I suddenly cook vegan while I’m not necessarily a vegan. I’ve been spending quite a lot of time on instagram lately, especially following some vegan accounts, such as @shisodelicious, @earthlytaste, or @ritaserano. People around me usually think that being a vegetarian or a vegan automatically means eating tasteless, bland or unappealing food. Well hell no! On the contrary! I’ve never seen instagram accounts displaying food as colorful, yummy, and mouth-watering as vegan accounts! But I also know vegetarian people or people who’ve been vegetarians, but who haven’t learned how to adapt the way they cook to their new lifestyle in order to feed their organisms with all the necessary nutrients while enjoying delicious food. This isn’t the ideal situation because then you can develop serious deficiencies.
Being a vegetarian or a vegan doesn’t merely mean quitting eating meat or animal products. It also entails learning how to cook and feed yourself on a plant based diet while making sure that your body gets all it needs. And that’s when it becomes interesting. Nutrition and its effects on health. Because you don’t have to wait until you’re sick to start caring about your health. When you’re sick, it’s usually too late to reverse to a previous body state. You’d rather start learning how to preserve your health while you’re still young and healthy. And when you start learning about plants, their properties, and the benefits they can have on your body, you realize how beautiful our planet is. It suddenly becomes clear that nature was created to allow humans to live well and healthy. Ironically, we’re on our way to destroying what’s most beneficial to us…
Today, I’d like to share with you the result of my cooking experiments of this week: a gluten-free, vegan and raw strawberry tart!
For a 24 cm tart
For the crust:
- 200 gr almonds
- 100 gr grated coconut
- 200 gr pitted dates
- 1 pack vanilla sugar
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
For the cream:
- 400 ml coconut cream for whipping (I found some at färm; it has to be overnight chilled)
- 1 pack vanilla sugar
- 1 teaspoon maple butter (or maple sirup)
- 1 lime zest
- half a lime’s juice
For mounting the tart:
- about 25 strawberries of equal sizes
- flaked almonds
- some forget-me-not flowers
Process the almonds in a food processor until roughly chopped. Add the grated coconut and keep processing until the mixture starts sticking together (almonds are becoming sticky). Then add the pitted dates, vanilla sugar and coconut oil, and process until it become a hard, crumbly and sticky mixture.
In a large tart pan with removable bottom, press the almond dough with your fingers, to cover the whole pan, as well as the sides. Use the bottom of a glass and press until the thickness is regular over the whole pan. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, zest a lime, and press one half. Whip the coconut cream. It doesn’t quite react like dairy cream so you won’t get a firm whipped cream, but you can still whip it until it becomes a light coconut mousse.
Keep whipping and add the vanilla sugar, the maple butter, 3/4 of the lime zest (keep the rest for decoration), and the juice of half a lime. When the consistency becomes that of a light mousse, you can take the tart pan out of the freezer and spread the mousse on the dough. Place in the freezer for another 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, wash and prepare the strawberries. I cut them into thin slices and placed them in sort of a mandala-shape, but feel free to be creative and make your own design! Maybe you can use more strawberries. Roast some almond flakes on a dry pan (no oil) or with a grill (place them on a baking sheet under a very hot grill for about 3 minutes). Prepare some forget-me-not flowers.
The coconut mousse should have rested enough by now. Carefully take the crust out of the tart pan. Place the strawberries on the coconut mousse in a way that you like visually. Decorate with roasted almond flakes, some lime zest, and some forget-me-not flowers.
Doesn’t it look mouth-watering ?