I turned 32 this last weekend. And 32 feels strikingly more adult than 31. I can’t really put my finger on it, but there is a definite difference, I’m sure of it. Maybe it comes with feeling more settled, not so transient anymore. Having come back to my roots a couple years ago, I finally feel home again. We have great friends, family, and co-workers here. A house that we can call ours (with stuff on the walls!).
This summer I was officially diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease. Having dealt with hypothyroidism in high school and college, I went through a good chunk of my 20’s seemingly healthy with no hypothyroid issues to be found. This last year, though, has not been so decidedly healthy. What for 8 months or so I mistook as the stress of work and an intense coaching schedule was actually my body trying to send me a message. When the symptoms got to a point where they might as well have been horns honking and cymbals crashing in my face (at the worst of it I was unusually short and moody with my sweet husband) I finally sought out a blood test to check out my thyroid.
Upon finally seeing the endocrinologist and taking in her reaction to my test results—she was shocked I had not yet been hospitalized—pure relief ran through me. Relief that I wasn’t crazy, that something was actually wrong, that getting through the work day shouldn’t feel like an endurance event. Through the swamp. In the middle of the night.
On medication for a few months now, things are slowly improving. Having previously dropped gluten has been somewhat of a saving grace. I have been reading a lot about this autoimmune disorder and the correlations between it and what we eat. In addition to forgoing gluten, I have since limited my intake of certain grains and cut out dairy for the most part.
So with the turn of 32, and as a toast to a new year filled with much more energy and better health, I made this peanut butter tart with chocolate crust. The ingredients are simple, the prep is easy, and it is gluten-free and vegan. The filling is a combo of natural peanut butter and coconut whipped cream, making for the creamiest of peanut butter decadence. If you end up using unsalted peanut butter, be sure to up your salt factor a bit. The chocolate crust, equally as simple, is made with almond flour and flavored with organic cacao powder (cocoa works too) and a hint of maple syrup.
- For Chocolate Crust:
- 2 cups almond flour
- 2 tablespoons organic cacao powder (cocoa powder will work too)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup refined coconut oil, melted
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup (I prefer grade B)
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- For Filling:
- 1 cup natural creamy salted peanut butter
- 1 can organic coconut milk, full fat, refrigerated overnight
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Organic cacao nibs or chopped dark chocolate, optional
- Start by making the chocolate crust. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl, add almond flour, cacao powder, baking soda, and salt, and whisk until blended. Stir in coconut oil (make sure it is no longer hot), maple syrup, and vanilla extract until dry ingredients are moistened. Complete blending mixture by using your hands, making sure coconut oil is evenly distributed.
- Press crust mixture into a 14 x 4.5 x 1 tart pan or 9-inch round pan, making sure to press dough halfway up sides of pan. Bake for 15 minutes. When done, cool in pan on wire rack.
- To make the filling, scoop the waxy solid from out of the coconut milk can into a small bowl, stopping when you hit liquid below. Using an electric mixer, beat coconut milk until it starts to thicken and soft peaks appear. In a medium bowl, beat together peanut butter, ½ cup maple syrup, vanilla extract, and salt. Fold in half of coconut whipped cream into peanut butter mixture and mix until blended. Add the rest of the coconut whipped cream and mix until thoroughly blended.
- When crust is cool, transfer filling into crust and smooth top with a spatula. Sprinkle cacao nibs or chopped dark chocolate over top. Serve immediately.