Amber St. Peter, a Maine native who now lives outside Los Angeles, is a rising vegan star.

She’s best-known for Fettle Vegan, a popular blog that she began in 2010, but her first cookbook, “Homestyle Vegan,” came out in November.

St. Peter, 26, contributes to the lifestyle website One Green Planet; she maintains a well-followed Instagram account, and she regularly works for LA-area food companies doing product shoots, recipe development and other projects.

Oh, and she and her fiancé, Alex Owens, occasionally host a pop-up vegan restaurant called Tacolepsy.

I caught up with her on an icy January morning in Portland. She’d taken a red-eye from LA into Boston, then driven to Maine. St. Peter was in town for a wedding, and she was wearing sneakers and no socks, though the temperature was well below freezing. We huddled over hot beverages at the all-vegetarian Dobra Tea in the Old Port.

She told me that she jumped at the opportunity when publisher Page Street called to offer her the book deal, though writing the cookbook meant leaving her day job as a nanny and chef.

“It took me from a part-time blogger to full time,” St. Peter said. “Being a full-time blogger is fun, and I hope I can do it forever, but there are months when I make a lot of money and others months when I make no money. It’s still a tricky balance. Summers are tighter and holidays are better.”

St. Peter grew up in Whitefield and graduated from Hall-Dale High School. After school she enrolled at the University of Maine at Orono, but it wasn’t a good fit and she soon left. A visit to a friend in southern California convinced her to move there, where she met Owens, went vegan and started her blog.

“Originally it was a way to show my mom and dad that this is a healthy diet,” said St. Peter, who as a teen had dieted and didn’t always have a positive relationship with food. “I started the blog so I could put up recipes and my mom could see it had nutrition.”

Soon her mom wasn’t her only fan.

Last spring Erin Wysocarski, who blogs at the vegan site Olives for Dinner, interviewed St. Peter and wrote: “I especially love how Amber takes all of the fuss out of cooking, and just gives us warm and welcoming dishes.”

St. Peter discovered that as traffic on the site grew “even if it wasn’t a great recipe or photo it was getting shared and pinned because it was vegan. So I realized if I had a great recipe and a great photo, it would really get shared.”

Fettle Vegan is now known for both, as well as being on-trend in terms of both ingredients (think jackfruit, cauliflower and chickpeas) and dishes (fig + almond chia oat pudding; San Pedro style fish-less market tray; and shredded kale and Brussels sprouts salad).

For her book, “Homestyle Vegan,” St. Amber “veganizes” traditional comfort foods and baked goods. The book has 80 recipes – the vast majority of them new. Each is paired with an appealingly composed and styled photograph. Among the Maine-influenced recipes are apple cider donuts, lobster-mushroom bisque, creamy corn chowder, blueberry crumb cake, needhams (see recipe) and pumpkin whoopie pies. The book contains no recipes that call for tofu or faux meat. St. Peter told me that she is allergic to soy, and avoided recipes with plant-based “meats” because she was concerned readers in rural areas might have trouble finding them.

As we talked over tea, St. Peter noted a big difference between the vegan culture in Maine and in LA. Portland has vegan options, she said, but such choices are far fewer elsewhere in Maine. By contrast, when St. Peter is in California, she can get a smorgasbord of vegan meals delivered to her doorstep.

“If we want to go out, there are hundreds of vegan places,” St. Peter said, going on to list some of her favorites, including fellow Maine native Matthew Kenney’s Plant Food + Wine in Venice (“It’s like the next level of food”); Crossroads in LA where she met Alicia Silverstone (“the nicest restaurant I’ve ever been to”); and Seabirds Kitchen in Costa Mesa, where she and Owens held their engagement party (“my family was blown away”).

With all-vegan eateries firmly entrenched in LA’s restaurant culture, St. Peters said the next trend appears to be all-vegan restaurants that “don’t say anywhere they’re vegan.” An example just opened near her home: an all-vegan cinnamon bun bakery that doesn’t advertise itself as vegan.

While St. Peter has a keen eye for food trends, she is less sure what her own future holds.

“This whole business is such a weird thing,” St. Peter said. “I don’t know where I’ll be in five or 10 years. Maybe blogging will be out of style and Instagram won’t exist, but I think a food focus will always be important to me.”

Avery Yale Kamila is a freelance food writer who lives in Portland. She can be reached at:

[email protected]

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

CHICKPEA NOODLE SOUP

Recipe from Amber St. Peter’s “Homestyle Vegan.” “Whether you’re sick with a fever or a broken heart, this soup is the answer,” St. Peter writes in the book. Leftover soup can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen and reheated as needed.

Serves 6

2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 medium onions, chopped

4 medium carrots, thinly sliced

4 celery stalks, thinly sliced

6 to 8 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

2 quarts (2 L) vegetable broth

8 ounces (227 g) whole-wheat rotini noodles

1 cup (200 g) cooked chickpeas

Salt and pepper

Chopped fresh parsley

Crackers or bread

In a cast-iron Dutch oven or large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.

Add the garlic, onions, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf and sauté until the veggies are softened, but not browned.

Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil.

Once the soup is boiling, add the noodles and chickpeas and cook for about 8 minutes, until the noodles are almost completely cooked (they’ll continue cooking in the water). Add salt and pepper to taste.

Remove from the heat and serve with freshly chopped parsley and salty crackers or bread.

NEEDHAMS (POTATO) CANDY

Recipe from Amber St. Peter’s “Home Style Vegan.” “Growing up in Maine meant eating potatoes with almost every meal,” she writes in the book. “They’re a huge crop for the state, and I still eat them several times a week. I LOVE potatoes! Any way you cook ’em, really. I can’t remember the first time I had needhams, but I remember the first time I realized I could make them at home, from scratch, using only vegan ingredients.” Leftover candies will keep for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator and indefinitely in the freezer.

Makes 20

2 cups (260 g) powdered sugar

¼ cup (75 g) plain mashed potatoes

1 tablespoon (6 g) vegan butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

¾ cup (68 g) unsweetened, finely shredded coconut

½ pound (227 g) vegan chocolate chips or chopped bar chocolate

1 tablespoon (11 g) coconut oil

Using a large saucepan with a glass bowl or another pan over the top, create a double boiler. Pour the powdered sugar into the glass bowl, creating a well in the middle. Add the mashed potatoes, butter, vanilla and salt to the well, gradually stirring in the powdered sugar until a smooth paste forms, about 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the shredded coconut. Pour the mixture into 20 small candy molds or form it into a large, 1-inch (2.5-cm) thick square on a baking sheet. Place the candy molds or baking sheet in the freezer to harden, at least 20 minutes.

While the candies harden, use the same double boiler method to melt together the chocolate and coconut oil. When the candies have set, pop them out of the molds (or, if using the baking sheet method, cut into 20 equal squares). Dip each square into the melted chocolate mixture, coating it completely. Place the coated candies onto a baking sheet in the refrigerator or freezer to set, about 1 hour. Enjoy!