This post is dedicated to my mum, Nancy.

Sometimes I forget how similar we are until I find myself describing her to another person, or when Jack tells me, "You looked just like your mom when you did that!"

When we meet new people together, or I meet friends she's known a long time, I am always told I'm a mirror image to her. Neither of us see it but it's an honour nevertheless, because I think she is one of the most beautiful faces I know, and age certainly isn't stopping that. In a way, she becomes more beautiful with each year.

Her passion for life is inspiring. She grew up in small town Minnesota where she dreamt of being an actress, and she stuck with that dream through graduate school where she continued studying theatre. Her spirit to love is an example everyone should follow; she was raised under a religion that discredited the value of certain people and activities and yet she was critical enough to see that it didn't make sense to hate someone because they loved people that were the same sex, or to believe pleasures like smoking a joint were inherently sinful. She is one of the most openminded people I know, and this continues to impress me. She met my dad in Thailand while volunteering with the peace corps, they travelled the world together and decided to settle down in BC to raise a family because they decided it was the best place on earth. They managed to buy - after much diligent planning and dedication - a wonderful home with a big yard in Burnaby and we've been sprouting here ever since. She's raised three very unique children - my older brother is studying in law school, my younger one wants to be a masseuse, and then there's... well, me - and she and my dad still maintain a healthy, loving relationship that frankly is becoming the exception to the rule. Now that we three kids can walk and talk all by ourselves she's jumped right back into her first love: acting. She's made a highly respected name for herself in the Vancity community and now she produces, directs, coaches and of course, stars, in film and theatre performances constantly (sometimes a little too constantly; we don't know how she does it, to be honest with you).

When my brothers and I were growing up I think the most valuable thing my parents did for us was stay out of the way. They gave us the freedom to bloom into whoever we wanted to be. They never pushed any political agendas, career expectations or moral obligations on us. I believe that's the reasons Greg, Dan and I all share one thing: critically thinking minds. We were raised to question everything ourselves and come to our own conclusions.

When I came to the conclusion that veganism is the most responsible lifestyle, my parents supported me. They did become a little antsy when I got into 100% raw foodism but fairly so because I let that go too far. I've since found my healthy balance and my mum has been there through the entire journey. She herself was vegetarian in her most intense hippie years, so she immediately understood. She started cooking vegan meals for the whole family and over the years she and dad have become what they call "vegan 99% of the time" or "flexitarian". My pride for them because of this is endless. She is my biggest fan and DOES NOT STOP telling people - often strangers - about what I do. She is my best critic; she tastes nearly all my recipes and lets me know exactly what she thinks so I can improve them. She periodically reminds me that if I ever need her for a hug, a talk, a cry, a laugh; she's there.

When people compare me to her, Nancy, my mother, I know I'm doing something right.

I've made these tarts for her special day (although she finds a way to make everyday special) and I hope they can bring a little joy into your life too. They are raw, vegan, gluten-free and soooo good for your body and your tastebuds. Let's eat!

Makes 3 huge tartlets

1 cup gooey dried figs
3/4 cup almond flour 

1 cup cashews, soaked in water for 3 hours then rinsed 
1/4 cup peeled and chopped red beet 
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 peeled and chopped orange

3 tablespoons chopped pistachios

To make the crust: blend the figs and almond flour together until you get a sticky, very thick paste that's similar to heavy dough. Press into lined tart tins. If the dough is too sticky when you're trying to press it into the tart tins, just wet your fingers a little.

To make the cream: blend all ingredients together until smooth and like very thick yogurt. Pour into your tart crusts and refrigerate overnight so the flavours can develop. Garnish with chopped pistachios and enjoy! Note: I had some left over cream so I blended it with water and got pink cashew beet mylk. Cool.

ADAPTIONS / SUBSTITUTIONS: Use any other gooey dried fruit instead of figs or if you don't have gooey dried fruit add some water to the crust mixture to compensate. Use any other unrefined flour instead of almond flour or grind up your own flour from oats, nuts, etc. Use young coconut meat or any other nuts instead of cashews. Use any other unrefined sweetener instead of coconut sugar.

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