I've really been neglecting my blog lately, and for that I must apologize. I am trying to pick it back up and begin posting again with some regularity. You see, for a while now I've been trying to eat really simple, easy foods. In my mind, I wanted this to mean lots of whole grains, steamed vegetables, and fresh fruits. In reality, it has been something more along the lines of cereal with rice milk, and peanut butter sandwiches. Lots and lots of peanut butter sandwiches. Peanut butter and jelly. Peanut butter and banana. Peanut butter, jelly, and banana. Peanut butter, banana, and agave. Peanut butter and, a few times, vegan cheese slices. I haven't gone for peanut butter and pickles... yet. If you haven't guessed it by now, I'll tell you my news: I'm pregnant!
I've been waiting and waiting to be able to share the news with everyone and it feels great to finally be able to do so. This is our first child, due to arrive towards the end of November. I'm not feeling too bad, going into my second trimester, but the first trimester was filled with the typical nausea, food aversions, and an almost comical level of fatigue. I'm talking near-narcolepsy over here. I've never been so tired in my life and the last thing I wanted to do was stand in my kitchen to cook ANYTHING.
My energy and taste buds are very slowly starting to come back to me, although some things that I usually love to eat are still kind of unappealing, like asparagus and some other green vegetables for that matter. Fortunately, so far, I haven't experienced any non-vegan pregnancy cravings. If anything, meat, eggs, and dairy seem even more repulsive to me than usual. If in the future I do find myself suddenly drooling over something I wouldn't normally eat, I hope that I will have the presence of mind to evaluate the underlying reason for my sudden craving - am I not getting enough iron? Enough fat? (I know I get enough protein, I won't even entertain that as a possibility.) But I'm trying to not think too much about what I might do in that situation, and instead just focus on maintaining what has so far been a very healthy and happy vegan pregnancy.
But this is a food blog, not a pregnancy blog, and I intend on keeping it that way. Therefore, in celebration of my good news, and in homage to my constant peanut butter and jelly cravings, I decided to make these peanut butter and jelly bars to share with you.
I saw this recipe in the March issue of Bon Appetit, and knew that I wanted to make a vegan version as soon as I felt like standing in the kitchen for more than ten minutes. That day finally arrived, hurray! These are SO good and were well worth the wait, perfect for dessert, breakfast, or a snack any time of the day, really. They were very easy to make and would also be a great recipe for bake sales.
Vegan Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars (adapted from this recipe)
makes 16 bars
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) Earth Balance or other vegan butter, room temperature
1 flax "egg" (mix 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed with 2 Tbsp. water)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup jelly or jam (I used raspberry, but feel free to use your favorite flavor)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped salted dry-roasted peanuts
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 8 x 8 x 2-inch metal baking pan with heavy-duty foil, leaving 2-inch overhang around edges and pressing firmly into corners and up sides of pan. Coat foil with nonstick spray.
2. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in small bowl. Using electric mixer, beat peanut butter, sugar, and Earth Balance in large bowl until smooth. Add egg and vanilla; beat on low speed until smooth. Add flour mixture; beat on low speed just to blend. Note: batter will be coarse and pebbly, not smooth.
3. Transfer half of dough to prepared pan (about scant 1 1/2 cups). Place remaining dough in freezer for 10 minutes. Using fingertips, press dough evenly onto bottom of pan. Spread jelly over in even layer. Remove dough from freezer and scatter small pieces over jelly layer. Sprinkle chopped nuts over.
4. Bake bars until top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cool bars completely in pan on rack. Using foil overhang as aid, lift bars from pan. Gently peel foil from edges. Cut into 16 squares. Enjoy with a glass of non-dairy milk!