formats

Chocolate Raspberry Pudding Parfaits


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I recently attended an informal afternoon tea party with a few friends. I wanted to bring a dessert that was a little fancy, not full of processed yuck ingredients, and delicious (of course!). I’m always a little nervous when sharing an “alternative” recipe because people are often scared to try new things and can be very closed-minded…which you’ve no doubt experienced if you’ve been seriously living any type of a whole foods, vegan, you-name-it lifestyle. Fortunately, the girls I was with were happy to try my latest creation. Of course, I thought it tasted great, but I took their empty dishes as an indication that they liked it, too.

 

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This dessert takes a little more prep time then some, but it really is easy. The cacao powder I use is a 100% raw, organic cacao powder. It has a very strong flavor. If you’re using something a little more mild, you may want to increase the amount of cacao powder for a richer chocolate taste.

You may also want to experiment with sweeteners. I used a combination of different sweeteners. I find this helps with flavor. For example, if you add too much stevia, you can get an aftertaste. But if you use some stevia along with a little of something else, you can avoid that problem. I try not to overdo it with xylitol, as it can cause digestive upset if too much is consumed at one time (and yes, I have experienced this firsthand), but this recipe has a relatively small amount.


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I found the cutest disposable cups at the dollar store that I used for this dessert. I made a total of five desserts plus I had enough for a small dish that I put in the refrigerator for later. The leftovers the next day were delicious, too! You could easily make this dessert well ahead of time and keep it chilled until you’re ready to serve it.

 

Chocolate Raspberry Pudding Parfaits
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Chocolate and raspberry pudding layered with a simple nut crumble. Vegan, gluten-free, grain-free.
Ingredients
Nut Crumble
  • ½ c. almonds
  • 1 c. shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • ½ c. raisins
  • 1 tsp. cacao powder
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • ⅛ tsp. salt
  • ⅓ c. mini chocolate chips (optional)
Chocolate Pudding
  • ½ c. cashews
  • 1 c. water
  • 3 tsp. cacao powder
  • 1 T. xylitol
  • ⅛ tsp. stevia
  • ⅛ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 T. agave syrup (optional)
Raspberry Pudding
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk (13.66 oz)
  • 1 T. powdered xylitol
  • 1 c. frozen raspberries
  • 10 drops vanilla
  • ¼ tsp. lemon liquid stevia
  • 1 T. maple syrup (optional)
Instructions
Nut Crumble
  1. Put all ingredients except chocolate chips in a food processor.
  2. Process until well combined and the mixture starts sticking together (should take several minutes).
  3. Add in the mini chips (if desired) and pulse just until mixed.
Chocolate Pudding
  1. Add all ingredients except optional agave syrup in blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour into a skillet and cook on medium-high heat until bubbly, stirring regularly.
  4. Once it bubbles, turn on low and let thicken, continuing to stir.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  6. If you feel the mixture needs a little more sweetness, stir in 1 T. of agave or whatever amount you desire.
  7. Allow to fully cool (may want to put it in refrigerator).
Raspberry Pudding
  1. Remove the liquid from the coconut milk and save it for another recipe (it's great in a smoothie!). This works best by putting the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight, but it still may work fine if the can has been stored in a relatively cool place.
  2. Put the "solid" coconut milk in a blender and add the remaining ingredients except for the maple syrup.
  3. Blend until well combined.
  4. If you feel the mixture needs more sweetness, add the maple syrup, or your sweetener of choice (I find the maple syrup adds a nice flavor element as well).
  5. Chill the mixture until you're ready to use it.
Assemble the Parfaits
  1. Use the nut crumble as the base, then layer the chocolate and raspberry however you prefer.
  2. Top with a bit more of the nut crumble, a whole raspberry or two, and a few mini chocolate chips.

 

formats

Mint Avocado Ice Cream

 

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Ice cream has always been one of my most favorite treats. I’ve been on a quest for quite some time to perfect my own ice cream recipes. In fact, this blog was inspired by one of my trials of almond milk ice cream (which may someday make an appearance here).

I had never considered using avocado in ice cream, but the idea occurred to me after trying a recipe for mint chocolate frosting shots. It is basically just a dressed up version of coconut milk whipped cream, and it’s very tasty! But I wondered what would happen if I added even more creaminess with an avocado plus some additional liquid and then put it all in the ice cream maker. The result: pure joy for my taste buds!

 

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Of course this recipe is vegan and gluten free. I also kept it low glycemic by sweetening with stevia and xylitol. Of course, you could try other sweeteners. Actually, the ice cream is not overly sweet, which is fine with me, but you may want  to experiment to get the taste you want. The same goes with the mint flavoring. The amount in this recipe is just what I like, but you may prefer a little less or more. I would start with less and taste it; it’s easy to add more but you’re stuck with it if you add too much. Also, some brands of extract may be stronger than others, so whatever you’re using might not measure quite the same as mine.

One of the best things about this ice cream is the texture. It’s thick and creamy and doesn’t melt overly fast like some healthy ice creams. I was hoping it wouldn’t freeze rock solid after being in the freezer overnight, but that was not the case. I have experimented some with guar and xanthan gums, which are supposed to help maintain that authentic ice cream texture, but so far I haven’t had much luck. It’s still yummy, but I recommend letting it sit out on the counter a bit and soften up before trying to eat it. That’s assuming you have any left to put in the freezer.

 

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The ice cream in the photos was served with a black bean brownie recipe I’ve been playing with. It still needs work, so I’m not going to include the recipe here. There are loads of black bean brownie recipes on the web if you want to give one a try. If it’s a decent recipe, you won’t taste the beans at all…and it’s fun to serve these brownies to unsuspecting people and then tell them they’re eating chocolate and beans!

I hope you enjoy this recipe. I’m thinking this could make a great chocolate ice cream, too. Avocado has a relatively mild flavor, so there are probably quite a few combinations that would work well. I’m sure I’ll be testing that theory.

 

Mint Avocado Ice Cream
Author: 
Serves: 4-5
 
Cool and creamy ice cream made with avocado, coconut milk, and mint. Vegan, gluten free, low glycemic.
Ingredients
  • 1 fresh avocado - peeled and pit removed
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk (13.66 oz)*
  • 1 Tbs powdered xylitol**
  • ⅛ tsp stevia powder
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ¾ tsp pure mint extract
  • ½ c. almond milk
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Chill in refrigerator (probably not necessary but I think it helps it freeze better in the ice cream maker).
  3. Prepare in ice cream maker according to instructions.***
Notes
*I use Thai Kitchen brand. **You can make powdered xylitol by simply putting regular granulated xylitol in the blender (any granulated type of sweetener should become powdered after blending). ***If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can put it in a container in your freezer and periodically take it out and mix it up. I've never made ice cream this way, but I'm told it works.

 

formats

Weighing In: 20 Pounds

20lbs

 

It’s official! I have finally lost 20 pounds! It felt like the scale was just stuck for a long time. But it’s moving again, and I want to keep it that way!

It turns out 20 pounds is equivalent to 18 cans of assorted food. Yes, I stacked them on the scale until I got 20 pounds…and then took a picture. I do find it encouraging to have a visual of how much weight I’ve lost. Let me tell you, I’d prefer not to be carrying 18 cans around with me all day long! I don’t feel like that much has changed yet, but seeing those cans stacked up shows me that they have.  Hooray!

If you’re feeling discouraged, just keep going. Keep making those healthy choices. Eventually that scale is going to get moving, and you’ll be so glad you didn’t give up!

formats

Creamy Wild Rice with Kale & Arugula

Published on March 9, 2013, by in Main Dishes, Recipes.

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Comfort food has a reputation for not being healthy (think traditional mac and cheese). But this recipe is proof you can have something warm, creamy, and satisfying while maintaining a healthy, vegan, whole foods lifestyle.  Plus, the addition of greens in this recipe provides a boost of power-packed nutrition.

On a sidenote, I just tried arugula for the first time this week. I’m sure I’ve had it as part of another recipe or in a lettuce mix at some time, but I’ve never intentionally used it before. It can have a very spicy, strong flavor raw and is an interesting and very healthy (ANDI score of 559) ingredient that I’m sure will become a regular.

The cream sauce in this recipe is inspired by the basic cheese recipe in the cookbook Seven Secrets, which is also the inspiration for my nacho cheese. Basically, if you put together the right amount of cashews and water, add some spices, and blend it all up…something good is going to happen. I have used almonds to make a cream sauce before, too, and it worked just as well but wasn’t quite as smooth. In a recipe like this, you wouldn’t really notice.

 

Creamy Wild Rice with Kale & Arugula
Author: 
Serves: 5-6
 
Healthy comfort food at its best! Vegan, gluten-free, and grain-free.
Ingredients
  • 1½ c. wild or brown rice
  • 4-5 leaves of kale (rib removed, finely chopped)
  • handful of arugula (chopped)
  • 1 c. raw cashews
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. minced onion (dehydrated)
  • 1 T. vegetarian chicken seasoning (La Chikky)
  • ¼ - ½ tsp. garlic herb seasoning
Instructions
  1. Cook the rice as normal.
  2. When the rice is finished, keep the heat on low and add the kale and arugula.
  3. In a blender, add the cashews, water, salt, onion, and seasonings and blend until smooth.
  4. Pour the cashew mixture over the rice.
  5. Simmer until the cashew mixture thickens (it doesn't take very long).