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Friends find commonality in vegan dessert

Peanut Butter Bar

I started my freshman year of college in the fall of 1999. Back then, everyone I knew ate steak and potatoes, had dairy-based ice cream for dessert, and ordering a soy latte was implausible.  

I was an innocent, naïve 17 year old. I remember very clearly that the first meal I ever had in the school’s dining hall was a chicken patty with mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato. My roommate, and now life-long friend, sat next to me with a giant salad and no dressing. She explained to me that she recently decided she was going to change her eating habits. She was going to be a vegan! My mind was blown. I said to her, “Doesn’t that mean you can’t have any animal product, including dairy?”

I just couldn’t wrap my head around the thought of not eating any animal product. This is how I was raised. My friend explained to me that she was a true animal lover. She had watched many horrible videos on animal cruelty, and how animals are really treated just so we can consume them on a daily basis. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love animals, but I also love steak.

Years have gone by since we graduated from college. We both got married, bought a home and have children. I am proud to say that I do try to eat less meat to reduce my carbon footprint and stay healthy, although I am in no way a vegan. I do believe; however, everything in moderation.

Emilee, my friend from college, is still a proud steadfast vegan. She describes why she thinks it is important to be a vegan.

“At this point in human history, the reasons for eating a vegan diet are undeniably compelling. Those reasons include; increased life expectancy and improved health, reducing your carbon footprint and helping to slowdown climate change, and of course stopping the senseless cruelty to our fellow creatures. In the recent decades, culinary talents have made vegan dining exciting and delicious! Even increasing the number of vegan meals you eat per week can have positive benefits for your health, the environment, and animals, not to mention your palette,” explains animal activist Emilee Gayle Wyner, Esq.

I don’t get to see my friend as often as I would like because of the 85 miles between us, but we do try to get together every year for my annual dinner party. I wrack my head to come up with a vegan dessert for her every year. This year, I stumbled upon this gem, a decadent peanut butter chocolate crispy square. Don’t tell anyone it is no-bake and super easy to throw together quickly. This vegan-friendly dessert will even please your steak and potatoes friends.  

Peanut Butter Bars

Bars:

1 Cup Rolled Oats
½ Cup Dates
1/3 Cup Peanut Butter
1/3 Cup Honey*
1-2 Tbsp Water
1 Cup Puffed Quinoa

*Some vegans do not eat honey; however, it can be substituted. Look for pure maple syrup, molasses, or agave syrup/nectar.

Peanut Butter Filling:

½ Cup Peanut Butter
2 Tbsp Melted Coconut Oil
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup

Chocolate Layer:

1 Cup Chocolate*, melted with 1 tsp Coconut Oil

*Most high-quality dark chocolate is vegan. However, be sure to check the ingredients to ensure they don’t include whey or other milk products.

Instructions:

  1. In a food processor, blend rolled oats until they form a very fine, flour consistency.
  2. Add in dates, peanut butter, and honey, and process until fully blended.
  3. Add in 1-2 tablespoons of water as needed to get the ingredients moving, scraping down sides as needed.
  4. Pour into a bowl and add the puffed quinoa. Stir until fully combined.
  5. Flatten into brownie pan, or bread pan depending on desired thickness. Place in freezer for 15 minutes.
  6. In a saucepan, combine peanut butter filling ingredients over low heat.
  7. Spread evenly over quinoa base. Freeze for at least 30 minutes.
  8. Cover with melted chocolate and put back in the freezer.
  9. Store in freezer until ready to eat. Enjoy!

By Shari Van Fleet, Rowan College at Burlington County culinary and pastry arts coordinator and alumna, for the Courier-Post. For more information on RCBC's culinary and pastry arts programs in Mount Holly, visit rcbc.edu/culinary