I planted the first seeds for a food blog when I was living in Paris in 2010. I was attending Sciences Po to study international affairs and political science, but my real passion was wellness. I had just completed my yoga teacher training the summer before and was practicing Ashtanga avidly. On weekday mornings before school, I would walk from the 4th arrondissement across the bridge to the 5th to attend a morning Mysore practice in a very small, very French studio. After class, I would wander the streets to explore new farmer’s markets. Each day of the week, a different neighborhood would hold a small market. The street would be transformed into a vibrant mesh of fresh veggies, seafood, meat, cheese so pungent it’d make you sneeze, and other brined, pickled and prepared goods. I was enamored with all the sights and smells. It made me feel alive, and I loved every second of it.
I would gather a bag full of fresh produce, stop at the Bio Market (the only organic grocery store you could find around in 2010), and make my way home to my little studio kitchen to see what I could create for dinner. It always felt luxurious and rich, bringing home fresh veggies from the farmer’s market, opening my apartment windows to the loud Paris streets below and dancing in the kitchen to Edith Piaf while I cooked…like something I’d seen from the old foreign films I’d watched as a teenager.At the time, I only had a little point and shoot camera. This was pre-instagram, Facebook was just a college friends platform, food blogs were few and far between, and wellness was definitely still a fringe industry. Nonetheless, I would read David Lebovitz and 101 Cookbooks, and dream of starting my own food blog. My vision: to document all the markets I went to around the world, what I made from my market finds and to feature a vegetarian recipe inspired by each region.
By late spring, the charm of traditional French food had worn off and I couldn’t bear to eat another baguette or see a creamy sauce smothering my vegetables. After yoga one day, a woman in class invited me to a raw food potluck she was hosting. I was thrilled, as I had gone deep into the raw food lifestyle years before. I’d never met another person, in the flesh, who’d been so passionate about raw foods as I had been. As if eating vegetarian in college didn’t already feel fringe, moving into the raw food world in Paris was like living on the moon. But I dove deep into the raw food lifestyle again that spring and into the summer. In my internet searches for recipes, I came across a little blog called Golubka, a mother-daughter natural foods blog. In fact, this was the exact post, a recipe for raw avocado truffles. It was such an inspiration to find a blog devoted to organic, living foods and self-care at that time. Golubka became a bookmarked staple of mine from then on, and through the years I’ve returned to their recipes for kitchen inspiration. It’s been beautiful watch them evolve and grow through the years, incorporating a nice blend of raw and cooked food recipes always centered around healthy, plant-focused ingredients and fun flavor combinations. The site now has a breadth of recipes and videos to explore. Their most recent book, Simply Vibrant, has all my favorite elements of their site – vibrant photography, approachable plant-centered recipes, and bold tastes. I’ve always appreciated how Anya has been able to create recipes that focus on seasonality and sustainability, playfully using what one might consider waste to be the highlight ingredient (think watermelon rind marmalade).When I received their book over the winter, I dove right in and cooked for days from their seasonal sections. The lentil meatballs and spaghetti squash pasta, to die for! And their morning millet porridge with rosemary grape compote, yes please! But these crumble bars are the ones I decided to photograph to share my love for this new book because of their versatility. While the original recipe calls for cranberries and pears as a fall/winter dessert feature, I love that early spring allowed the last of the apples and the beginnings of strawberry season to be featured here. As you move into summer, I’m envisioning stone fruit as the center focus for this dish…which can be enjoyed for breakfast or dessert. Pick up a copy of Simply Vibrant and dig in, it’ll be a companion through the seasons that will bring vegetarian cooking to life in a vibrant and dynamic way in your home!
For the Dough
1 large, very ripe banana
1/2 cup neutral coconut oil, at room temp
1 cup rolled oats, ground into a flour or 1 cup whole spelt flour
1 cup almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking baking soda
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 cup purified water
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 9×11 baking dish with parchment paper, extending it up the sides of the dish. Place the bananas, coconut oil and coconut sugar in a food processor and puree until smooth. Add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and two thirds of the ground cardamom. Process everything until well incorporated. With the motor still running, pour the water through the feed tube and process until well combined. Add the ginger and vinegar, pulse to incorporate. Alternatively, you can mix all the dough ingredients by hand. First, mash the banana with a fork, then keep mixing according to order above. When done, press all the dough into a baking dish and distribute evenly with a spoon.
For the Fruit
2 cups fresh strawberries (or seasonal berries of choice, recipe traditionally uses cranberries)
2 ripe apples (or dense fruit of choice, recipe traditionally uses pear), cored & chopped in bite-size cubes
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom (recipe traditionally uses nutmeg for fall)
Combine the fruit of choice with the coconut sugar and spices in a bowl. Distribute the fruit mixture evenly on top of the dough in the baking pan.
For the Crumble
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup raw pecans, walnuts, or almonds, chopped
1 tbsp coconut sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of sea salt
3 t tsp neutral coconut oil, chilled and cut into small pieces
In the same bowl you used for the fruit, combine the oats, nuts, sugar, cinnamon, salt and the remaining ground cardamom from the dough ingredients; mix well. Add the oil to the bowl and use your fingers to work it into the other ingredients, until everything is well combine. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit.
Transfer the baking dish to the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, until the berries are bubbling through the topping and the crumble is golden in color. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool, then use the parchment paper to lift the cake out of the pan and onto the cutting board. Slice it into bars and serve warm or at room temperature. Store the bars at room temp if consumed within 1 day, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to three days.
Makes around 18 bars
*Recipe from Simply Vibrant Cookbook