Chocolate Avocado Mousse Layered with Banana Slices

As I mentioned in an earlier post (the Chocolate Avocado Brownies recipe), I learned of the diverse uses of avocado in baking and sweet treats on a trip to Maui.  I’ve been fascinated since.  This mousse was inspired by a chef in Wailaia; who made the most decadent, vegan dessert for my son because he wasn’t able to eat any of the other desserts on the menu due to severe food allergies.  I’ve wanted to replicate it since then.AvocadoMousse1

My kids are equally fascinated by the fact that avocados—a fruit—can be used in their treats, so when I tempt them with some new avocado experiment, I’m pleasantly surprised with their excitement!

I love that they receive healthy nourishment and get to feel indulgent at the same time!  This one, they devoured!

Ingredients:

1 Large Ripe Avocado

A heaping ¼ Cup measure of Organic Cocoa Powder

2-3 TBS Honey (I’m a big fan of raw, local honey!) *

1 TBS Pure Grade A Maple Syrup

1 tsp Pure Madagascar Vanilla

A Pinch of Sea Salt

1 Ripe Banana

Soy Whip Topping (or other whipped topping of your choice–there are some great homemade versions that use coconut milk.  Another of my favorites uses blended cashews…  I’ll need to find that one again soon!)

*Play around with the right sweetness, after adding both honey & maple syrup.  I definitely prefer the blend, and I personally prefer a bit of the bitter chocolate taste—my kids like things a little sweeter!

Directions:

Spoon the avocado into a large bowl, add the other ingredients and begin AvocadoMousse2mixing with a hand mixer.  Once all of the ingredients are combined, use a rubber spatula to scrape the edges, and keep mixing—the more you mix, the smoother it will become.  When you’ve blended it to the consistency you want, layer the mousse in dessert cups (four of them) with slices of banana.  Top with whipped topping and enjoy!

Variations:

I’ve had a similar dessert with mint leaves and a touch of mint extract added to the mousse.  I’ve also eaten it with raspberries.  I think it could be wonderful with most fruits!  I also would like to try it with a bit of almond extract and topped with sliced almonds, or with coconut extract topped with coconut flakes.  And for those who like a little heat, try a pinch of cayenne!  I’d love to hear of some of the other variations that you try!

AvocadoMousse3For the Love of Your Life,

Angie

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

Vegan Nutty Oat Bars

I love to socialize–love spending time with friends in our home; cooking for them, nourishing their bodies and souls, along with mine.  I love sharing time with people who inspire and challenge me, make me think, share their lives and their children’s lives and appreciate a good meal!

And I love coming up with desserts that don’t blow our ideas of eating healthy.  I like coming up with things that delight our kiddos and then winking to the other moms, saying, “And it’s good for them!”  And then sharing recipes!

Tonight, I was out of time when our company arrived for a small Memorial Day BBQ.  We’d marinaded flank steak and chicken, grilled veggies, washed and chopped greens from the garden for salads, and prepped all the other tasty foods, placed onto a countertop that looked like it could feed 30 people.  (I got the Greek “feed an army” gene from my Dad for sure!)  And then I realized that i’d done nothing for a dessert!  And with seven kids running around outside, working off 100’s of calories playing, I knew we’d be in trouble if I had nothing for them, beyond dinner.

I did a quick search online and found a great recipe for Oat Bars from this site:

http://morselsminus.com/2011/03/15/vegan-oatmeal-bars/

I give full credit to the creator (actually, it looks as if he gives credit elsewhere as well… it’s a well-travelled recipe!)  One thing I love about this is that there’s only two TBS of sweetener–such as maple syrup–in the whole batch!

We didn’t do seeds (due to allergies) and were a little desperate for some dark chocolate.  So I altered a bit here and there and Voila’!  Here’s the version I came up with:

Ingredients:

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 cup stone ground whole wheat flour

1 1/2 tsp True Ceylon Cinnamon

Pinch of sea salt

1 tsp baking powder (I think I would cut this down to 1/2 tsp next time–they were a little on the “puffy” side for my taste).

3/4 cup water (I’m curious about what would happen if, instead of water, I used all soy–or almond–milk)

3/4 cup soy or almond milk

3 tbsp of agave nectar or maple syrup (I used pure, Grade A maple syrup.  I’d also like to try honey).

1/2 cup organic applesauce

egg substitute equivalent to 1 egg (Ener-G Brand)

1 tsp pure Madagascar Vanilla

3/4 cup Vegan Chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped, organic nuts–a blend of pecans, almonds and cashews works wonderfully!  (I think a nut-butter, such as Justin’s Almond Butter, would also add some great flavor and texture.)

(I would personally love to add organic, unsweetened coconut but my son is allergic.  If you try it, let me know how it turns out!)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9″x 11″ baking dish with a couple teaspoons of vegetable shortening, such as Earth Balance

2. Place the dry ingredients (except for the chocolate chips and nuts) in a large bowl and stir until mixed.

3. In a second bowl, mix all of the wet ingredients.

4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.

5. Add the chocolate chips and nuts.

6. Pour into greased baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until golden.

7. Cool to room temperature before slicing.

8. Serve with a small scoop of Chocolate Almond Dream (can you tell we were on a chocolate kick tonight?) and Enjoy!

Vegan Nutty Whole Grain Pancakes

Pancakes are a fun, Sunday morning tradition for us (thankfully we’re beginning to develop some traditions for our family!) and while I love this one, I really don’t like starting the kids day out with something that tastes and “acts” like a dessert! Meaning, loading all of our bodies with sugary carbs just doesn’t set any of us up for a successful day.  So I’ve done my best to bring in some healthy grains, nuts and seeds, and a little protein; with light natural sweeteners and fruits, to develop a healthier–but super yummy–nutritious pancake that we all love!

(makes about 6 5″ pancakes)

3/4 cup stone ground whole wheat flour

3/4 cup oats

1/4 cup Almond Meal

¼ Cup Vegan Vanilla Protein Blend (Such as Vega)

1 TBS Salba (whole grain)

1 TBS Flax

1 TBS Teff 

1 TBS Hemp seed

1 TBS Chia Seeds

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp Viatnamese Siagon cinnamon (or other…  this is just my favorite!)

1 1/2 tbsp Manuka honey (though the Greek “Orino” is my new favorite alternative)

1 banana, mashed

¼ Cup Applesauce

1 ½  Tbsp canola oil

1 ¼  Cup low-fat vanilla soy milk (more if batter seems too think)

1 tsp Pure Madagascar vanilla

1/4 cup chopped Walnuts/Almonds (blend)

1. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, protein, salba, teff, hemp, chia & flax. Whisk together to combine.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the mashed banana, applesauce, canola oil, soymilk, honey and vanilla. Mix well to combine. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and gently mix together just until combined and there are no dry flour parts. Do not over mix. Gently fold in the chopped walnuts. (Batter will be thick)

3. Heat a griddle or pan on medium-low and use a ladle to scoop the batter on to the hot surface. Gently spread the batter a little bit with the bottom side of the ladle to increase the pancake size. Cook for about 4-5 minutes or until pancakes puff up, pancakes bubble slightly, and sides appear cooked. Flip and cook for additional 2-3 minutes, or until browned.  Top with your favorite toppings!  Ours include the soy-free (vegan) Earth Balance buttery spread (if you haven’t guessed or made note, we have a son who is severely allergic to dairy and eggs–hence the “vegan” spin!)  …and of course a great Grade A Pure Maple Syrup!

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!