Hey everyone, it’s Matt. I’ll hand it off to Christine in just a second, by I believe I owe you some shirt winners!
Ready? The five winners of the No Meat Athlete t-shirts are: Bridget (from Pounding Pavement and Plants), sals, Larissa, Kelsey, and Shannon (from Tri 2 Cook). Congratulations, and thank you again for all the encouraging comments about my blog birthday.
And speaking of shirts, I just got in a shipment of 72 new ones, including about 15 each of the coveted women’s small and medium technical shirts, which I just cannot seem to keep in stock. So if you’ve been waiting for one, get it before they’re gone again!
And I always love when people send me photos, here are some of the recent NMA representers!
Blogger and veggie mom, Mama Pea:
Nicest commenter in the world, Erica from Itzy’s Kitchen:
Twitterer and homebrewer Andy, who sported the carrot pride in his first half marathon:
Casey, husband of Emily from the Front Burner, pounding a green monster:
Thanks for the photos everyone, keep ‘em coming!
Ok, here’s Christine…
Vegan Lemon Bars from Veganomicon
Happy Sweet-Tooth Friday! This is Christine, at your service with another healthy dessert! Though I’m totally smitten with last week’s wholesome quinoa muffins, I couldn’t let the month of Veganomicon go by without exploring the more indulgent side of their recipes. There are were so many yummy choices, but I finally decided on Vegan Lemon bars.
Agar agar: The final frontier
I think up until now I had tried almost every vegan trick in the book…except agar agar! I got my agar powder from iHerb.com with Matt’s first time customer code so I pretty much just had to pay for the shipping. Agar powder is a vegan alternative to gelatin —you’ve probably heard by now that your Easter Peeps and gummy bears are made with pork, cow and horse products.
Agar, on the other hand, is actually derived from red algae or seaweed. It thickens when heated which makes it perfect for jellies and custard-style desserts (but makes me nervous that the ocean may gel over some particularly hot day!). It also can be used as a vegan filtering agent in beers (remember when I learned that some beer wasn’t vegan?)
“Cafe-style lemon bars are here!”
I was a little skeptical of that claim, but healthy-bakers can rejoice! These are indulgent and tangy just like the egg-yolk, gelatin, and butter versions. For the vegan margarine, I used Earth Balance’s natural shortening, which only has four ingredients: expeller pressed palm fruit, soybean, canola, and olive oil. I know these are called lemon bars, but my dad just got back from Key West so I actually used the key lime juice he brought me! Even he was impressed how much these tasted like little key lime pies.
Vegan Lemon Bars
reprinted with permission, from Veganomicon
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus additional to decorate the finished bars
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 cup nonhydrogenated vegan margarine
- 1 1/3 cups water
- 3 tbsp agar flakes
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/8 tsp turmeric
- 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 tbsp arrowroot powder
- 1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest (from 2 large lemons)
- 1/4 cup soy milk
Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
Prepare the crust:
Pulse the flour, confectioners’ sugar, and cornstarch in a food processor. Add the margarine in spoonfuls and blend 8 to 10 seconds, and then pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared baking pan and press firmly into an even layer with slightly raised sides, so that it can hold in the filling. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the unfilled crust for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, and let cool.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling:
In a saucepot, soak the agar in the water for 15 minutes. Use the time while it soaks to zest your lemons and squeeze your lemon juice. Mix the arrowroot into the lemon juice to dissolve.
When the agar has been soaked for 15 minutes, turn on the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes, or until the agar is completely dissolved. Add the granulated sugar and turmeric, and boil until they have dissolved, about 3 minutes. Turn down the heat to medium and add the arrowroot mixture, then add the lemon zest and soy milk. Whisk constantly until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. It should not be rapidly boiling, but low bubbling is okay.
Pour the mixture into the prepared crust. Let cool for 20 minutes and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours, until the filling is only slightly jiggly and has set. Use a sifter or a fine-mesh strainer to sprinkle the bars with confectioners’ sugar. Slice in squares and serve.
Ta-da! Perfect vegan lemon bars! Using the turmeric to get that lemony-yolk color is genius, and you can’t taste that little bit at all. Maybe next time I can use a pinch of matcha powder to help show off the key lime. This recipe says it makes 12 bars, but those are definitely 12 huge cafe-sized bars. If you’re serving them at a get-together, I think they could be cut into 24 or more pieces for easy snacking.
That’s it for this week! Thanks again to Isa and Terry for letting us showcase some recipes this month.
Until next time, stay sweet!