Chocolate Mousse – gluten-free, vegan, raw, awesomely healthy, quick, and my kids love it!

Chocolate Mousse

When I first tried this recipe, I wrote in the cookbook, “Drop-dead FABULOUS mousse!!!!!

Because it is!!!!!

It is also easy to make, healthy, vegan, and my kids and I love it. What more could you ask of a recipe? :)

The pictures show the mousse with fruit. I like to use the mousse as a topping for fruit. My kids like plain mousse without fruit added. That’s perfectly fine — the mousse itself is made of fruit, so it is healthy even if you don’t add more fruit to it.

In addition to fruit, my favorite way to serve it is with a pinch of cardamom on top. I love cardamom — it is a magical addition to this mousse.

The original version of this recipe came from the cookbook “Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People” by Jennifer Cornbleet. (I have linked to a newer edition of the book than the one that I have — an edition that I have never seen.) I changed the recipe by replacing maple syrup with more dates, and by increasing the quantities in the recipe so that it uses two avocados instead oChocolate Moussef one and a half.

A food processor works much better than a blender for this recipe. And you need a good sturdy food processor for this. I have a Braun Multiquick food processor that I really adore. I am convinced that Braun makes the best food processors, much better than any other brand, because theirs are sturdy and have a lot of attention to important details. Like for example, I used to have a KitchenAid food processor where the edges of the lid fit onto the outside of the bowl, which meant that splatters all ran down the outside of the bowl. The Braun has a lid that fits inside the bowl — which means that any splatters run down inside the bowl, which is where I want them. Best of all, the bowl on the Braun has no hole where the blade connects to it, so you can put easily twice as much food into the Braun compared to the KitchenAid. Anyway, I can go on and on about why I like Braun food processors, but I won’t ask you to wade through any more about it. The link from this blog to Amazon will send me a tiny percentage of the purchase price if you buy what I linked to, but other than that I have no relationship with Braun except as a satisfied customer. But so far my total income from Amazon for this blog has been exactly zero, so this is not exactly a get-rich-quick undertaking. :-P

This recipe uses dates. Dates vary a lot, from tougher dry ones to wetter soft ones, but any dates should work fine in this recipe. Make sure to remove the pits, if yours have pits, and check every date for bits of stem to remove, because sometimes a date will still have a collar of hard stem attached to it. Also, even pitted dates sometimes still have a pit, so it’s helpful to check for that, too.

Too much chocolate can keep me awake at night, so I often replace half of the cocoa powder in this recipe with carob.  I like Foods Alive organic carob powder. This recipe tastes almost exactly the same when it is made with half carob and half cocoa powder — and it is much less likely to keep me awake at night.

The most important ingredient in this mousse is perfectly ripe avocados. If you have never tried a recipe like this, using avocados in this way may sound very strange to you. But it works really well in this recipe. There is no green color or avocado-y flavor. The finished mousse tastes like a rich, chocolate dessert.

To check the ripeness of an avocado, do not poke it with your finger. That will leave black spots inside the avocado. Instead, hold it in your hand and see what the avocado’s skin feels like. If it feels hard, the avocado is not ripe. If it feels soft and smooth, like touching human skin, then the avocado is ripe. Also the skin of most avocados turns black when it is ripe, so that is another way to recognize one.

Avocados go quickly from ripe to overripe, so once you have ripe avocados it’s necessary to use them within about a day, or you will lose them to overripeness. You can put ripe avocados in the refrigerator to delay this process — they can last for up to a week there.

Variation: To make this recipe chocolate-free, I have replaced the cocoa powder with a little ground cardamom — maybe 1/4 or 3/8 teaspoon. This makes a bright green mousse that my kids won’t touch, because of the color. But I love it that way. And if the kids won’t touch it, there is more for me!  :)

Chocolate Mousse - gluten-free, vegan, raw, awesomely healthy, and my kids love it!
 
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A rich, fabulous chocolate mousse, made from entirely healthy, raw, vegan ingredients -- mostly fruit! And only four ingredients! Even my picky eater kids adore this recipe.
Author:
Recipe type: dessert
Cuisine: French
Ingredients
  • 2/3 cup dates, with pits removed -- also check each date for any hard stem pieces and remove them
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2/3 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 perfectly ripe avocadoes -- remove pits, skin, and any black spots
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder -- or 1/4 cup cocoa powder and 1/4 cup carob powder
  • optional: fruit or berries, such as cherries, blueberries, or strawberries
  • optional: a pinch of ground cardamom for each serving
Instructions
  1. Put the dates and water into a sturdy food processor. Blend for several minutes, until they form a smooth syrup. You will still be able to see bits of the skins from the dates, but the syrup itself should be smooth. Depending on your food processor and your dates, you may need to add a little extra water to get this to blend. Tip: I start blending this at slow speed, then raise the speed to high, to cut down on splashing and noise inside the food processor. The most important step to getting the mousse to come out really smooth is to blend this mixture until it is really smooth, even if it takes several minutes.
  2. Add all other ingredients to the food processor -- except for the optional ones.
  3. Blend until smooth.
  4. Serve plain, or with fruit, and/or with a pinch of ground cardamom on top.

 

Falafel – gluten-free, healthy, and vegan!

Falafel

falafel ingredientsI discovered falafel when I was a young adult. Friends brought me to a restaurant called Jerusalem Garden that is known for its excellent falafel. The restaurant was located in a tiny house, where you sat across the counter from the kitchen and could watch the cook in action. The cook had a gadget that looked like my grandmother’s coffee percolator, of all things! He used that to shape balls of a greenish paste, which he then deep fried. Brown falafel balls emerged, which he served tucked into pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes, and a creamy white sauce, all wrapped up in a piece of foil so that you could hold it in your hands to eat it. It was delicious!!

When my family couldn’t eat gluten and dairy, I figured that falafel was lost to unbaked falafelus forever. But happily I was wrong! This gluten-free, vegan falafel recipe is one of our favorite recipes at our house. Even my pickiest eater happily scarfs them down.

This recipe easily mixes together in the food processor. Then you scoop blobs of dough onto a cookie sheet, and bake. A quick rinse of the food processor, and the sauce mixes together quickly in it. Add toppings, and you have a satisfying meal.

This recipe is my adaptation of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s falafel recipe in the cookbook Vegan with a Vefalafel after bakingngeance.

I’m a big fan of Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Her cookbooks have some of the funniest text that I have ever seen in a cookbook (her description of falafel — and singing about it at summer camp — is hilarious!), and her recipes always turn out well. Back when I was a leader of a Girl Scout troop that had kids with food allergies, special diets, and picky eaters, I would often find recipes for baked goods in Moskowitz’s blog, The Post-Punk Kitchen, and make them as snacks for the Girl Scout troop. Her recipes always turned out well. Someday I will falafel for dinnerpost my gluten-free version of her Marbled Banana Bread recipe. It is always a big hit — it looks beautiful and tastes great. And her Green Lasagna Rolls — the recipe is currently on the front page of her website — are truly excellent. They have quickly become a favorite recipe around here.

Anyway, onward to falafel!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Falafel - gluten-free, healthy, and vegan!
 
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Baked orbs of chickpea dough, with a creamy vegan tahini sauce and lots of fixings. Yum!
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Serves: serves 5-6 people
Ingredients
Falafel ingredients
  • 4 cans cooked chickpeas, rinsed, or 6 cups of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 1/2 cups of gluten-free breakfast cereal, such as Erewhon's Crispy Brown Rice cereal
  • 6 tablespoons gluten-free flour (such as brown rice flour and potato starch)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder (or 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda plus 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 cup parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons canola and/or olive oil
  • a little black pepper, ground
Toppings
  • lettuce
  • chopped tomatoes or grape tomatoes
  • chopped avocadoes
  • tahini dressing (see recipe below)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place all falafel ingredients (but not the toppings!) in a food processor. Blend until smooth.
  3. Place blobs of dough on two nonstick cookie sheets or on parchment paper on cookie sheets. The blobs should be about 1 1/2 tablespoons. I use an OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop, but it will also work fine to use one dinnertable tablespoon to scoop up blobs of dough and another dinnertable spoon to push the dough off of it. The dough doesn't usually spread while it bakes, so it is okay to put the blobs close together.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the falafel is starting to turn brown.
  5. While the falafel bakes, make the tahini sauce, chop the avocado, etc.
  6. To serve: Place some lettuce on a plate. Mound eight pieces of falafel in the center. Top with tahini sauce, tomatoes, and avocado pieces. Yum!

Here is the recipe for tahini sauce. This is my version of the recipe from Vegan With A Vengeance. The sauce is really good on other things, too. For example, it is delicious mixed with spaghetti and veggies for dinner.
5.0 from 1 reviews
Tahini Sauce
 
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A creamy tahini sauce that is great on falafel or anything else!
Author:
Recipe type: sauce
Cuisine: Middle-Eastern
Serves: 1 1/4 cups
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • optional: 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup tahini (Look for a brand that doesn't taste bitter, such as Once Again or Maranatha)
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika or smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup hot water (not boiling, just hot)
Instructions
  1. Tip: If your tahini is chunky, the easiest way to measure it is to put the 1/2 cup water into a glass measuring cup, then add tahini until you reach 1 cup.
  2. If you are using the garlic, chop it and cook it in the oil for 2 minutes -- don't let it burn. (I always leave out the garlic, because we have a person with a garlic allergy. I love garlic, but the sauce is still good even without it.)
  3. Place all ingredients into a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.
  4. Serve warm on falafel or other food.

 

virtual vegan potluckThis recipe is a part of the Virtual Vegan Potluck.  Here are the links to the next and previous recipes in the loop:

Stay Calm and Go Back

Stay Calm and Go Forward

Black Bean Tostadas

Black Bean Tostadas

This quick and delicious meal has a story behind it.

Many years ago, when I was a young single person, my friend Rob and I were discussing what to do for dinner. It went something like this:

What do you want to do for dinner?
I don’t know. What do you want to do for dinner?
I don’t know.
Too bad Ann Arbor doesn’t have vegetarian restaurants like Ithaca.
Yeah. Ithaca has great vegetarian restaurants.
Too bad we can’t eat dinner there.
Yeah. It would be neat to eat dinner in Ithaca.
We couldn’t go there, could we?
Well, maybe we could! Want to go to Ithaca for dinner?
Okay, let’s go have dinner at the Moosewood!
Are you serious?
Yeah! Let’s go!

washing black beansThat was on a Saturday in the late afternoon. We hopped in the car and drove eight hours to Ithaca, New York, stopping for a few hours of sleep in a tiny motel somewhere in Canada. We reached Ithaca in time for Sunday dinner — which I thought was really the perfect day to be there because I loved the cookbook Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant. I had never been to Ithaca before, but I loved reading cookbooks from the three vegetarian restaurants there, especially the Moosewood.

The meal we ate at Moosewood was Black Bean Tostadas.

It was worth the trip.

Afterward, I discovered that the recipe for Black Bean Tostadas was in the Sundays at Moosewood cookbook. So I tried cooking it. It came out well.

beans for tostadasOver the years I have adapted it in many ways, and made it my own. I am not sure that anybody at Moosewood would recognize this recipe the way I make it.

That trip to Ithaca was twenty five years ago. I am sorry to say that I have lost touch with Rob.

Ann Arbor now has several excellent vegetarian restaurants — but I still think fondly of that crazy weekend road trip to the Moosewood.


The original version of this recipe was served on a crispy round corn tortilla. I’ve always found tostadas very hard to eat without having food go flying in all directions. So I changed this recipe to use crushed corn chips instead of a tortilla. I’ve played around squashed corn chips for tostadaswith the ingredients to meet my family’s food needs. And I have speeded it up, so that the whole meal can be cooked in 30 minutes.

My kids like this meal served with the corn chips on the side and all the parts of the meal in separate piles. I like it all heaped together, with avocado and salsa strewn throughout.


This recipe is dedicated in memory of Sue Talbert, who liked this recipe. Sue passed away last year, far too young.

Here is Sue’s version of this recipe.


Jan Wolter says that when he eats this recipe, he tries to put lots of liquid on the corn chips. Normally soggy corn chips don’t taste so good, but in this recipe they are transformed into something altogether different and very yummy. I know soggy corn chips sound really awful — and some brands are — but I hope you will trust me that the right corn chips are transformed in this recipe.

Black Bean TostadasSome brands of corn chips work better than others in this recipe — they have to mesh with the sauce in just the right way, and some brands do that better than others. I like Guiltless Gourmet blue or white corn chips, but the last time I checked, Guiltless Gourmet could not guarantee that their chips were gluten-free, so I don’t buy that brand anymore. Whole Foods white corn chips are good in this recipe too.

Tip: At our house, we don’t always have fresh orange juice on hand, but we keep some frozen concentrate in the freezer. For this recipe, I mix up a micro-batch of orange juice from concentrate, just enough to use in this recipe: six tablespoons of concentrate plus one cup and two tablespoons of water makes exactly the amount of orange juice needed for this recipe.

Black Bean Tostadas
 
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Black beans and orange juice taste surprisingly good together. In this recipe they are served on top of crushed corn chips, with avocado, lettuce, and other toppings.
Author:
Recipe type: dinner
Cuisine: vaguely Mexican
Serves: serves 6
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice
  • 3 cans of black beans (4 1/2 cups, cooked), rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
  • EITHER 2 tomatoes, chopped, or 2 red or yellow bell peppers, chopped
  • corn chips (blue ones are good here)
  • 2 ripe avocadoes
  • shredded lettuce
  • optional: grated cheddar or Monterrey Jack or mozzarella cheese
  • optional: unsweetened yogurt or sour cream
  • salsa
Instructions
  1. Put the beans and orange juice in a pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the oil, cumin, coriander, and tomatoes or bell peppers, and stir.
  3. While the beans warm up, wash the lettuce.
  4. Mash the avocadoes into a very simple one-ingredient guacamole.
To serve:
  1. Put two handfuls of corn chips on a plate. Crush the corn chips with your hands, into pieces about an inch wide or smaller.
  2. Put a big scoop or two of the bean mixture on top, taking care to get the corn chips wet.
  3. Add lettuce, salsa, guacamole and other toppings.
  4. Serve!