Avocado Brownies (Vegan Option)

My foray into sweet treats using avocados began a couple of years ago, when MauiSandCastlewe were in Maui and had the opportunity to go to a Luau in Wailea.  That experience altered my entire perception of the expansive uses of this magical fruit! Now, I’ll admit, senses are a little more “alive” for me when I’m hanging out on a beach…  it’s as if the sun, sand, and waves wake not only my skin, my toes, and my breathing but also my taste buds! The whole sensory experience can be hard to duplicate but I’m giving it my best shot.

Eating out can be a challenge in our family, as my son, Nathaniel, has multiple life-threatening food allergies.  Balancing the unwanted attention he can receive in the vein of, “Oh, that must be so hard for you!” (not a fun message for a kiddo) with both cultural and culinary opportunities always calls for some mindfulness.  So we take caution in putting ourselves in situations where there’s a good chance he could feel left out.

This Maui Luau, however, opened my mind to some new possibilities.  When it came time for dessert, I was pretty certain none of the items offered would be safe, so made a quiet request to our waiter as to the availability of an alternative that would be free of dairy, egg, coconut, peanut, hazelnut, and sesame seeds.  I was surprised to see the chef making his way to our table just minutes after, holding what looked to be the most decadent dessert I’d seen all night.  He held a deep, rich chocolatey mouse in his hands, and I was certain he was mistaken–that couldn’t be safe, could it?

The hyper-vigilant Mama that I am, I asked him to go over the exact ingredients.  And as surprising as it was, everything was on the “safe” list.  What was even more surprising, however, was the inclusion of Avocado!  Never had I imagined using avocado in anything sweet, but the consistency and flavor are a perfect foundation for many many treats, and provide an ultra healthy option!  And the taste…?  I can still feel the smooth, rich texture on my tongue, and taste the rich, chocolatey wonder. Needless to say, Nathaniel was thrilled and the rest of us a bit jealous.  When I returned home, I began exploring just how versatile Avocado is when it comes to sweets.  And I’m still playing!

The following is something I threw together last night.  My kids invited a friend up for a sleepover, and I realized I had nothing to serve for dessert–and I’m kind of a dessert Mom.  However, I don’t like desserts filled with junk–it just doesn’t set anyone up for success in any way.  So I opted for creativity.  Here’s the recipe I came up with and, thankfully, the kids LOVED it!  I’ll be tweaking it for a bit, but wanted to share the process and invite you all to play along.

Avocado Brownies

(Vegan Optional)

Ingredients

1 Avocado, peeled and mashed

½ cup Organic Sugar (Next time I’ll try substituting more maple syrup, honey, or another sweet alternative)

2 TBS Grade A Maple Syrup

½ Cup Organic Cocoa Powder

2 oz. Dark Chocolate (I used Whole Foods brand vegan chocolate chips but semi-sweet baking chocolate or other dark chocolate bar would work well)

2 TBS Coconut oil, melted

2 eggs or equivalent egg replacer

1 tsp Pure Madagascar Vanilla

1/8 Cup Almond Milk

¼ Cup (+ more) Almond Flour

About ¼ Cup Chopped Walnuts or Pecans

Directions

Blend avocado, sugar, maple syrup, and cocoa together with a hand blenderavocado-brownies until smooth.  Melt the dark chocolate and coconut oil together (either in a microwave or double broiler) and add to the above mixture.  Then add remaining ingredients and continue blending until smooth.  Place in an 8×8″ glass baking dish that has been sprayed/wiped with coconut or canola oil.  Bake @ 350 for about 22 minutes.  These brownies are definitely on the gooey side, and, served warm, pair wonderfully with a bit of Almond or Rice Dream (our favorite substitutes for ice cream).

I’d love to hear your experience and suggestions!  Enjoy!

For the Love of Your Life!

Angie

Paleo Chocolate Almond Butter Tart

I’ve been having major chocolate cravings as of late… I think this is indicative of something else lacking in my life! Regardless, chocolate and I have a bit of a love affair going on, so I’ve been indulging in creative explorations–just like in any good love affair. And this one was so good, I couldn’t even get a picture taken before it was half-eaten!

tart

Shell:
• 1 1/2 cups (180 g) almond flour
• 1/4 cup (25 g) unsweetened organic cocoa powder
• 1/4 cup (60 mL) coconut oil, melted
• 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
• Pinch course sea salt

Mix above ingredients well and press into glass pie pan.

Filling:
• 1/2 cup (120 mL) coconut oil, melted (or mix ½ and ½ with almond butter)
• 2-3 tablespoons unsweetened organic cocoa powder (depending on your preference for “richness”)
• 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup (depending on your preference for sweetness)
• 4 whole eggs
• Pinch sea salt

Mix remaining ingredients and fill uncooked crust.

Top with a small handful slivered almonds.

Bake for 25 @ 350 degrees.

Let cool and serve… or enjoy warm and gooey with your lover!

Chocolate Full Strength Panna Cotta “The Perfect Strength Snack”

I’ve been reading a lot on the benefits of gelatin lately and since I’m a big fan of the old “knox blox” from when I was a kid, have been making lots of different kind of gelatin treats for the family.  I’ve come to add a variety of healthy ingredients, such as vegetable juices, Acai and cherry concentrates, aloe vera, etc…  and have even made some vegan panna cotta style chocolate/gelatin desserts for Nathaniel to enjoy (as he has a life-threatening allergy to all dairy products).

Then I got to thinking about Full Strength and have been trying to create a dessert out of it, including gelatin…  and I think I’ve done it!  I’m at least close.

Give this a try when you need a little chocolate (but super healthy and low-fat/cal) snack at night!  Let me know how it works for you and if you have any other suggestions for improving it.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 cup + 1/8 cup chocolate rice milk (I believe skim milk + 1 TB Dutch cocoa could be substituted)

2 tsp gelatin

1 cup plain nonfat yogurt, preferably Greek-strained style (try Fage’)

1 packet Chocolate Full Strength Premium Nutrition Shake (FS)

Directions

Pour yogurt into a medium-sized bowl and slowly add FS.  If you add a couple TB at a time, and slowly mix it in, you should be able to add the whole packet and end up with a “frosting-like” consistency.

Put 1/8 C milk into a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin over the top.  Allow to set up for 5-10 minutes.  While this is setting up, put remaining 1 cup milk (with cocoa if using skim milk) into a sauce pan over med-high heat on the stove.  Bring to simmer and then slowly add to gelatin mix, stirring until all gelatin is dissolved.

Add mix to yogurt/FS mix slowly and pour into four dessert dishes distributing equally.

Allow to set in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours before serving.

Enjoy!