Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Israel, Documentaries, & Vegan Date Toffee, Banana, and Quinoa Custard Pie

I've been on a vegan kick lately. My behavior during the last five weeks I spent abroad warrants that kind of repentance and detoxification... to say the least. Not to mention, one of the first things I watched upon arriving home was Forks Over Knives. In a mostly un-PETA-like fashion, it illuminated some of the destruction caused by the animal products - mainly meat and dairy - as well as processed foods in the Western diet in a clever, relevant way. It's pretty biased (as in, don't start praying to Colin T Campbell or believe his claims about the China Study without researching the actual results first), but any skeptic should be able to recognize that aspect of the film. If you haven't seen it yet, it might be a good idea to check it out... with a critical eye, of course.

On another note, I spent the last 40 days enjoying nothing but dairy in Israel! Dairy 24/7! Here's a sampling:
Shoko B'Sakit - Chocolate milk in a bag, in delicious flavors like mocha and milkshake

Tnuva Cottage Cheese - Fluffy, creamy cottage cheese best eaten with scrambled eggs, against which US curds-in-water-cheese can't compete

Kinder Bueno - Perfection in a chocolate bar: crisp wafer and light  hazelnut ganache covered in milk and dark chocolate

Labneh - A Lebanese soft, white cheese made from yogurt that's good on just about everything

Magnum Ice Cream - in flavors like dark, hazelnut truffle, white, almond, and gold... best eaten on the beach.
(Beware, they've recently infiltrated the US).
Being dairy-free has been easy since getting home; this I accredit to an overload of superior dairy abroad and the "duh" moments I experienced during Forks over Knives (What's this you say?Processed, low fat, bovine byproduct is bad?); however, being sweet-free would just be blasphemous. Here's the recipe for last night's pie - and it's layered with everything you (I) have ever wanted. Overall, it's not difficult to prepare, and it's hands down the most delicious, nutritious pie ever finished by everyone at an entirely carnivorous BBQ... plus, it's so full of health benefits that it would only be appropriate to have it again for breakfast the next morning, right? I thought it was. B'tayavon & bon app├ętit! 

Vegan Date Toffee, Banana, and Quinoa Custard Pie

- 1 1/4 C blanched almond flour (you can use whole-wheat or all-purpose if you don't mind gluten)
- 1/3 C hemp milk
- 2 tbsp almond oil
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp maple syrup

Date Toffee:
- 1/4 C dates, finely chopped
- 3/4 C hemp milk
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 tsp maple syrup sugar
- 1 tsp blackstrap molasses
- 2 bananas, sliced

Quinoa Custard & Coconut Cream:
- 1 cup quinoa seeds or flour (I used seeds, but if you prefer a more smooth custard, use flour).
- 3 1/2 C hemp milk
- 1/2 C maple syrup
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon or espresso powder
- pinch of salt
- 1 C coconut milk
- 1 tbsp cornstarch or kuzu root

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat an 8-inch pie pan in non-stick spray. To prep the toffee, soak the 1/4 C of chopped dates in 3/4 C hemp milk. 

In a large bowl, combine all crust ingredients until consistent (do not overwork dough), and press into the pie dish. Prick with a fork, then bake for about 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

To prepare the custard and cream, place the quinoa (seeds or flour) and 1 1/2 C of hemp milk in a saucepan, bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Add another 1 1/2 C hemp milk and beat well with an electric mixer or handheld blender. Simmer for another 5 minutes, then add the maple syrup and divide the mixture between 2 bowls. To one, add the cinnamon/espresso powder, 2 tsp vanilla, and salt, mix thoroughly and set aside. To the other, add the coconut milk, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 heaping tbsp cornstarch or kuzu root (you may want to dissolve this in hot water first to avoid clumping), then beat cream until smooth.

Now that the crust, custard and cream are ready, make the date toffee layer (remember the dates soaking in hemp milk?). Except for the bananas, blend all toffee ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Spread the date toffee cream into the pie crust to harden and top with a layer of sliced bananas.

Finally, spread the quinoa custard on top of the bananas and chill pie in the refrigerator. Serve cold, topped with coconut cream and cocoa powder. Note: similar to Thanksgiving leftovers, as good as it might be the night you make it... it tastes even better the next morning. Enjoy!


  1. This looks absolutely gorgeous!
    Labneh and Magnum were two childhood favourites - thank god for vegan dairy and ice cream.

  2. Oh my. wow. This looks so delicious... With the banana topping. Love your pictures!

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