And so it’s the week of November 24, 2016. It’s been a full year. I’ve had multiple family members go through major medical procedures, lost my father in law, ran my longest run of 20 miles, enjoyed a great professional year & even visited both Dallas and New Orleans with the AHA while marking my year anniversary as a vegetarian for heart health reasons.
While it’s been relatively easy to make the switch between meat to a plant based diet it is significantly more difficult to cut out fat based dairy. Including all that amazing cheese I used to freely enjoy without guilt and fear. Given the effects of dairy fat on cardiac health however I am motivated to continue the elimination process of these products.
It was however during a “pie off,” at the office I am contracting out of, that I had an opportunity to work with cashews and silken tofu for the first time in the creation of a vegan pumpkin pie with pecan streusel. Over the past year I’ve had a couple misguided friends tell me that this or that brand of vegan cheese “is great and you can’t tell the difference.” I tried a few only to find myself completely disillusioned with the meaning of life.
There are no vegan equivalents for cheese, meat or cream and that’s OK. This thought reminds me of a bit I read in the NY Times food section recently about offering vegan meat substitutes to guests over the Holidays. The suggestion was to avoid that temptation. You have to think about vegetables in the most basic of ways… enjoying them as they are and as a main course. Some folks have the moral advantage driving various food choices. As a former meat based foodie I believe you should enjoy what you want to and push your culinary boundaries every chance you get. This made the shift to a plant based diet a little challenging for me at first. In the end and along the way however experiments like these really help to reset my relationship with food a bit further and give me a deeper understanding of how good plant based living can truly be..
The vegan pumpkin pie was not an exact match but it’s cheesecake like texture, the streusel and the graham cracker crust worked so well together that it was something that I would look to repeat again and maybe play on with fruits or chocolate.
This is the original article posted in the New York Times “Can you bake a vegan pie” by Tara Parker-Pope was really great. I’d highly recommend trying it even if you aren’t vegan.
I am truly grateful for all my family and friends. Happy Thanksgiving to all!