Good morning bloggies!

Happy Friday! You might be wondering why you’re not getting a Fit Bit Friday post today, but don’t worry – I haven’t forgotten. Instead, we’re switching things up this week. I’m currently running around and throwing last-minute items into my suitcase, but here to fill in for me is the lovely Lisa of Vegan Culinary Crusade. I was first introduced to Lisa at a blogger meet-up in Toronto, and you may remember seeing her appear on Eat Spin Run Repeat when the two of us, along with several other local bloggers got together for lunch at Thrive Juice Bar. A social worker by day, Lisa is also a certified Raw Food Chef. She hosts several cooking demos and contributes recipes to organizations like the Toronto Vegetarian Association, and once you get your first taste of one of her desserts, you’ll see that this lady knows her stuff! Want proof? Here she is to give it to you first-hand.

 

When Angela invited me to write a guest post to share while she’s off on an Australian adventure, I jumped at the chance. I started 2012 with a visit to Sydney and Melbourne. It was my first time in Oz, so of course, I stood in awe of the iconic Opera House, waded into the waves at Bondi beach and marvelled at the magnificence of  the Blue Mountains. But now, three months later, what has stayed with me is the brilliant flavour of the fresh, local fruit I feasted on during my stay.

Australia’s food scene is spectacular. Growing up in Canada, January has always left me craving foods like sweet potatoes, lentils and kale. In Sydney, January means bananas, passionfruit, mangoes, cherries, apricots and strawberries. I ate everything with enthusiasm. The vibrant flavours of local food, enjoyed in season, is so incredibly satisfying.

My stop in Australia came in the middle of a much bigger journey through India, Thailand, Bali, New Zealand and Hawai’i. For me, the most incredible gift of travel is the insights and inspiration you’re left with long after you’ve unpacked and resumed your regular routine. I came home with pages and pages filled with ideas for recipes, ingredients to source and plans for field trips to farms and markets in my own backyard. But it was February, in Toronto…so I knew I had to wait.

Then, just the other day, I saw the first pint of organic strawberries arrive at the store. I figured while I was still pining for market season, I’d create something special to signal the spectacular moment in Ontario when plants are just starting to blossom and our enjoyment of the harvest still lies ahead.

With one bite of this tart I was transported to the strawberry fields I often frequent in late June but also to those memorable days I spent savouring the scene in Sydney.

Essence of Spring – Strawberry Tart

Serves 10-12
Crust:
1 cup raw almond
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1/3 cup Medjool dates, pitted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
Cream:
1/4 cup cashews
1 frozen banana, peeled
zest of 1 lemon
2 TBSP water
Topping:
2 cups strawberries, chopped
1 TBSP agave syrup (optional)*
4 leaves fresh mint
1 TBSP shredded coconut

Directions:

In a food processor pulse the almonds and walnuts into a coarse meal. Add the dates, vanilla and sea salt, and pulse to combine. The crust should hold together when firmly pressed between your thumb and fingers. Distribute evenly in a medium sized tart pan (a springform pan would also work well).

In a food processor churn the cashews into a paste. Add the remaining filling ingredients and blend until smooth. Spread an even layer of the filling into the prepared tart pan – an off-set spatula works well for this task.

Top the creamy filling with the chopped strawberries, a chiffonade of mint and a spring of coconut.

Chopping the strawberries allows for a rustic sprinkle across the tart. Thinly slicing the berries would allow for a more artistic arrangement. To chiffonade the mint, simple roll up the leaves into a cigar shape and thinly slice widthwise.

Chill the tart until ready to serve.

*If your strawberries need a boost of sweetness, toss in agave before topping the tart.

Enjoy!

Wow! Thanks Lisa, for this gorgeous recipe, and for sharing a little bit about your incredible travel adventure. It’s heading into autumn in Australia now, but hopefully there’s still plenty of fresh juicy fruit to be had when I arrive! So tell me, friends…
  • Are you starting to see bright, juicy organic produce pop up in your area? Has it been inspiring any fresh and healthy recipes in your kitchen? Feel free to link to them below! 
  • Of all of Lisa’s tour stops (Australia, India, Thailand, Bali, New Zealand and Hawai’i), which country would you most like to visit and why?
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