Happy Tuesday, everyone! I’m excited to share a guest post with you all from fellow Oregonian, Maiah Miller (although she’s not a transplant Oregonian, like me). Maiah has created a fabulous raw dessert recipe that I cannot wait to try for the next special occasion. Thanks, Maiah — it’s lovely to have you here!
This recipe came about partially because I had a craving for chocolate, but also because I had overripe avocados to use. I was also trying to create a recipe for my parents’ 35th wedding anniversary and since they both insist they need to be healthier yet love chocolate, I decided on a chocolate mousse dessert. I used to make an amazing chocolate mousse made with silken tofu, which yields a great creamy texture, but my extreme sensitivity to soy means that tofu is no longer an option, so I’ve had to get creative with my chocolate recipes, and more often than not avocados or bananas find their way into my desserts to replace soy or dairy. For this recipe, I wanted to create a chocolate mousse dessert, but without any added sugars as well. I have a huge sweet tooth and am terrible at limiting myself to just a tiny taste of dessert, so when I do eat dessert, I like to make sure it is as healthy as possible without sacrificing flavor. This mousse cake tastes very decadent and rich, so it’s an easy one to not overindulge with.
The crust layer can be halved to create a thinner crust, and it can also yield a healthy raw cookie recipe on it’s own. I loved the generous amount of sweet seeded crust, but for a more traditional mousse cake look, you can opt for a thinner crust or even double the mousse cake portion for a taller cake.
Raw Avocado Mousse Cake with a Raisin Seed Crust
- 2 cup raw sunflower seeds
- 3/4 cup raisins or apple-juice sweetened cranberries*
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil, not melted
*Note: I used both raisins and apple juice-sweetened cranberries for a nice tartness and more colorful crust
Mousse cake ingredients:
- 2 ripe avocados
- ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
- 6 medjool dates, softened in hot water if necessary
- 2 tablespoons sunflower seed butter
- 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 tablespoons raw honey
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- Optional topping: melted nondairy chocolate chips or cacao nibs
For the crust:
- Combine the seeds, raisins and cinnamon in a food processor; pulse until it becomes a sticky dough, adding a little water if necessary. Press into the bottom of a parchment-lined 9” cake pan or springform pan.
For the cake:
- For the mousse cake, puree the avocados, then add in all remaining ingredients, making sure the dates are soft before adding.
- Once the mousse mixture is smooth and no lumps remain, spread it over the crust and refrigerate overnight.
Shepherd’s pie is one of Jesse’s favorite meals, so when I told him I was contemplating making it with some leftover Thanksgiving turkey, his eyes lit up. It has been a long time since I made shepherd’s pie and quite honestly, the last time was maybe even a year ago, when I shared my winter squash variation. I adore the winter squash version, but I think I like it even better with mashed cauliflower. Lately, I’ve been a little obsessed with buttery, mashed cauliflower anyway.
If you don’t have any leftover turkey on hand, don’t fret. It has been over a week now since Thanksgiving, so this is probably the case for many of you. Anyway, just use leftover roast chicken, a store-bought rotisserie chicken or even ground meat, which is what I normally use, actually. Make it work with what you have!
Meanwhile, it’s snowing here in Portland today. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw it coming down in yoga early this morning. It’s not much, but it’s still pretty and enough to commence panic in the city. Portland doesn’t know how to handle the littlest bit of snow and being from Michigan, I think it’s pretty darn funny!
- 1 Tbsp grass-fed ghee
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 3 large carrots, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 10 oz bag organic frozen broccoli florets
- 3/4 cup homemade bone broth
- 1/4 cup coconut cream or full-fat coconut milk (I used this)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp sea salt or to taste
- Pepper to taste
- 2.5 cups leftover turkey meat (I used a mix of white and dark)
- 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- 3 Tbsp grass-fed butter
- Place cauliflower florets in a steamer basket over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, with the lid on and tilted slightly. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer florets for about 10 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat and set aside once done.
- Meanwhile, melt ghee in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrots, and saute for about 3-4 minutes. Then, add the broth, coconut cream or milk, oregano, thyme, sea salt and pepper. Stir well and then add the frozen broccoli.
- After a few minutes, once broccoli has softened a bit, add the leftover turkey. Stir well to make sure everything is evenly distributed.
- Pour mixture into a 2-quart casserole dish. Then preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- While oven is preheating, place the cooked cauliflower in the food processor container with the butter. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides in the container as needed. Taste and add more butter, sea salt or pepper, if desired.
- Spread mashed cauliflower on top of the meat mixture evenly. By now, the oven is probably ready, so place the dish into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until top has some golden brown color.
- Let cool a bit before serving. Enjoy!
Yields: 4 servings
Along with celebrating Thanksgiving, Jesse and I decorated the house for Christmas over the holiday weekend. We even got our first Christmas tree, which I was really excited about (and still am, actually). We strung up lights around the house, hung our stockings, decorated the tree, played Christmas music and drank wine. It was wonderful and cozy.
24 Days of Togetherness
We decided to do something new and sort of cheesy this year too: 24 Days of Togetherness. I discovered this idea from Tina of Carrots ‘N’ Cake and thought it seemed like a fun holiday idea. Like Tina and her husband did this year, Jesse and I decided to pick 12 days together and then pick 6 on our own, that would be a surprise for each other. We also tried to choose things that are doable on most days and inexpensive or free. I’ll do a full recap on this once it’s over, but if you want to partake (don’t worry if you don’t do the full 24 days — just do however many days are left leading up to Christmas) and need some ideas, here’s some of the things that we chose together:
- Go out for breakfast or dinner
- Watch Elf
- Go for a walk and get a tea or coffee
- Have a hot adult beverage (make it at home or go out)
- Go see the Christmas tree at night in Pioneer Square
- Make rum balls (a paleo version, of course)
- Share 5 things we love about our relationship (funny things)
- Go out for a cocktail
- Workout together for a week (on a 3-day split…we’re very specific)
- Pick out a new ornament
- Buy each other a small gift
We decided we would take turns picking each day and pick first thing in the morning, so we can plan for it or do it that morning, if appropriate. So far, we’re having fun with it, even if it is a little cheesy. On Sunday, I chose the “go out for breakfast or dinner,” so we met up for breakfast after we both got done working that morning. Yesterday, Jesse chose one of that I made, “share your first memory of each other.” It’s fun to do something like this and focus on spending time together in other ways.
Jesse and I had a wonderful holiday, and hope you did too! Despite having a couple invites, we still decided to do our own thing and stay home, partly because we were already deep in our food planning. We also already had a vision of how we wanted to spend the day.
We both helped coach the holiday workout in town at the gym, but after that, we were home the rest of the day. I had already made some of the dishes and done some prep, so the food stuff was pretty easy. Shortly after getting home, we both called our families to check in, catch up and send our love. Then, midday while the turkey was cooking, we roasted chestnuts and drank wine. When dinner was all ready, we feasted and everything was delicious. Later on after dinner, we enjoyed our butternut squash pie with homemade half & half yogurt on top while watching, Home Alone. Oh, and we did so in our pajamas too — the best!
Our dinner included mashed cauliflower with lots of butter, bacon fat roasted Brussel Sprouts with bacon pieces mixed in, spiced cranberry relish and local, pasture-raised turkey. Oh, and pie too, as mentioned above. For the turkey, I brined it for two days (bought the brine from New Seasons — no sugar in it either!), then slathered it in grass-fed butter mixed with fresh herbs and stuffed it with lemon, onion and more fresh herbs. It’s the same way I made my first turkey last year and it tasted just as delicious as the second time around.
Hope you all had a joyous holiday as well.
I have one thing to say about today’s Simple Supper Friday suggestion…leftovers! Leftovers are the best and easiest dinner of all. As a kid, I kind of despised leftovers and always turned up my nose when mom said that was what we were having, but now, they’re my saving grace.
Anyway, I kept my cooking basic this week, in preparation for the big Thanksgiving cook-off and feast. This is also where most of our grocery money was spent and now that Thanksgiving is over, we plan to eat leftovers for days. The sides will be finished quickly, but since we got a 13 lb bird for only two people, we’ll have lots of turkey to work with (yay!). I plan to make some recipes with the leftover meat, including a soup of some sort, but here are six suggestions and ideas in the meantime:
This recipe is a variation of a delicious veggie dip that I ate on a yoga retreat at Haramara in Sayulita, Mexico a few years ago. We never ate any sort of winter squash dip, but did eat flavors such as beet, carrot and sweet potato/yam (I ate sweet potatoes then, but don’t now). All the varieties are fabulous! Anyway, I got to thinking about these veggie dips recently — probably because I made the beet version a couple weeks ago — and realized it would be awesome to make with squash. No major surprise on my end, but I was right.
This dip is a great pre-Thanksgiving dinner appetizer and can be served with whatever you like: celery sticks, jicama slices, cucumbers, plantain chips, cauliflower florets, homemade grain-free crackers, etc. It’s even wonderful right off the spoon! Enjoy!
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed (about 1.5 to 2 lb sized squash)
- 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (make sure it’s pure olive oil)
- 2 lemons or limes, juiced (I used limes)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt or to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- 1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- Veggies of choice for serving (cucumber, jicama, celery, etc.)
- Cook butternut squash cubes in a steamer basket for about 10-12 minutes or until soft.
- Meanwhile, add the garlic, lemon or lime juice, olive oil, sea salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to a high speed blender container (I use this blender). Then, once the squash is done cooking, add it to the blender as well.
- Process on high for 1-2 minutes or until smooth. Scrap down sides with a spatula as needed and blend again, if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning, if desired.
- Serve with cut-up, raw vegetables of choice. Dip can be eaten warm or cold.