Since 2011 there’s this initiative in (the Flemish part of) Belgium called “dagen zonder vlees” [days without meat] that challenges people to abstain from meat (and fish) during the 40 days of Lent. A good initiative, as it might help some realize that, one, their standard way of eating is very much centred around animal products, and two, that eating vegetarian is not as hard as they initially thought it would be. A few among those already adhering to a vegetarian lifestyle might seize the opportunity of this challenge to take their vegetarianism one step further and look into the new horizons veganism might open up for them. One of my friends is currently doing exactly that, and has become aware of how dairy and egg-based her day-to-day diet actually is. Another acquaintance made the actual switch to veganism during such a previous edition.
So what’s in it for vegans? Well, there are of course some options for them (us) too if one wishes (but I don’t 🙂 ). One acquaintance decided to go raw during those 40 days a couple of years ago, and another edition inspired him to temporarily ditch sugar. Whereas I absolutely can’t see myself either limiting myself to a raw-food lifestyle, even if it isn’t but for a short period of time, or cutting out all sugar – I neither aim for such a restriction, nor do I see the point if one already eats a balanced plant-based diet -, I can see the benefits of increasing the amount of non-processed foods and limiting the use of sugar. The latter inspired me to make a healthier version of the vanilla-apple tartlets I’ve been making for nearly a decade (apples needn’t always be paired with cinnamon – vanilla makes for more than a worthy variation). This healthier version includes – instead of ready-made puff pastry – a homemade crust containing chickpea flour and olive oil, and also subs date caramel for the cane sugar in the apple filling. Although this date-sweetened version is slightly less sweet than the original, it definitely tastes as good, and I liked the – very neutral tasting and easy-to-handle – crust so much, that I definitely regard it as a keeper.
So go ahead, try this, and enjoy!
And if you’re short on time or don’t have dates at hand, just go for the quicker, puff pastry- and sugar-based tartlets after all :-).
- 4 sweet apples: peeled, cored and finely chopped
- 60 g sugar or for the sugar-free option: 5 soaked and subsequently pureed medjool dates + 2 TB of the soaking water
- 70 g, finely chopped (I used a mix of almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts)
- 60 g raisins
- 100 g flour
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp vanilla (I used scraped vanilla)
- 2 tsp vanilla-infused rum (which is basically vanilla essence)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1 3/4 cup spelt flour
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup soy milk
- 1/2 cup soy yoghurt
- 2 tsp agave syrup
- pinch of salt
The amount of dough is sufficient to either make 8 handpies, or to line about 12 tartlet forms like the ones I used.
Mix all ingredients. (See, this was easy, wasn’t it?)
Making the dough is as uncomplicated as making the apple filling: mix all ingredients and knead until you obtain subtle dough.
Roll out and either use it to line your tartlet forms or to make handpies (I used a breakfast bowl to obtain the round shape for the handpies).
For tartlets: line the forms with rolled-out dough, and scoop some apple filling into them.
For handpies: spoon some apple filling onto one half of the (round) dough, then fold the dough and press the edges (I didn’t need/use water to seal the edges).
Bake in a preheated oven (175 degrees C) for 20 minutes, or until the crust turns golden.