Meatless Monday- Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Meatless Monday is upon us once again. Things have been crazy hectic around here over the past couple weeks, so I’ll make this short, but very sweet.

The other evening, I was so excited when Tim came home from work bearing three beautiful avocados a client had given him from her tree. (Okay, so  maybe there are some perks to living in South Florida.) For me, the hardest part of having avocados in the house is mustering up the patience to wait for them to attain the perfect level of ripeness. When that day finally came, I decided to make myself a little treat.

This recipe comes from NeeNooBug’s Nest, and it’s quickly  become one of my favorite desserts. It’s super fast and easy to whip up, and it’s absolutely delicious. Give it a try!

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Avocado Chocolate Mousse3

Short on time, but craving a decadent dessert? Avocado and raw cacao play superstar rolls in this rich and creamy chocolate mousse. It’s also raw vegan and gluten free.

Makes approximately 1 cup (Yield will vary depending on the size of your avocado.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 1-2 tbsp agave syrup
  • 2-3 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Optional add-ins:

  • shredded coconut
  • hemp seeds
  • chia seeds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • goji berries

To prepare:

  1. Add all ingredients to food processor or blender and mix until well combined.
  2. Chill before serving. (Or don’t. Either way, it’s delicious!)

Seriously, that’s it!

Avocado Chocolate Mousse2

Avocado Chocolate Mousse1

I topped my mousse with shredded coconut. Yum!

Dig in!

(Chocolate lovers rejoice!)

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Meatless Monday- Chickpea of the Sea

One of the greatest challenges I faced while transitioning to a plant-based diet was finding healthy, satisfying, and, of course, tasty, alternatives to the foods I had regularly consumed up until that point. Sure, this task may seem like a piece of {vegan} cake now, but the majority of that first year was spent eating heavily processed convenience foods that hid under fancy labels plastered with words like OrganicAll Natural, and No GMOs. I was suspended in a world of sodium-laden cans of soup, frozen entrées, packaged snacks, and far too many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Oh, the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good ol’ PB&J, I really do, but my meal plans were in desperate need of some variety. Plus, I needed to learn how to prepare some fast and easy menu options that were lower in sodium and less processed in comparison to the food-like substances that had infiltrated my diet.

I was overjoyed when I came across a recipe for a mock tuna salad of sorts – Chickpea of the Sea – on the blog Live.Learn.Love.Eat. Unlike many faux animal products, this one’s bulk is comprised of whole food ingredients, not soy protein isolates and other unpronounceable and equally scary sounds ingredients. Chickpea of the Sea makes an excellent sandwich filler, pita stuffer or spread for crackers or veggies. It’s now a regular in our kitchen.

(By the way, if it’s outstanding recipes comprised of whole-food ingredients you’re after, I very highly recommend the blog Live.Learn.Love.Eat‘s recipe page. The author is absolutely fantastic at creating wholesome family-friendly vegan dishes without the processed ingredients and refined sugars. Seriously, this blog has been my go-to since I stumbled upon it.)

I’ve been craving Chickpea of the Sea sandwiches and tomato soup for the past week. Considering we enjoyed these sandwiches while I was in labor, and Friday, July 18th, Miss P and I celebrated our Nine Months In/Nine Months Out milestone, it isn’t so strange that these delightful sandwiches have been on my mind.

Before heading to the kitchen to whip up a quick batch of Chickpea of the Sea, I decided to look through some pictures from Miss P’s Birth Day. I found two that Tim snapped of our wonderful Doula and me having lunch. Don’t let our carefree gestures fool you; these were taken during active labor. {Please excuse the blurriness, as I’m sure Tim was a bit distracted at the time.} 

Enjoying Chickpea of the Sea sandwiches with my wonderful Doula on Miss P’s Birth Day. (Actually, I should say the day BEFORE her Birth Day since she arrived after midnight!)

Riding out a surge, my sandwich on standby.

And there you have it: Lunch during labor. Be sure you don’t try this at home.

Chickpea of the Sea

Chickpea of the Sea6

Makes enough for 4-5 sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise (My favorite is Earth Balance MindfulMay0.)
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons kelp powder
  • 1/3 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 rib celery, diced
  • 2 dill pickles, diced
  • Celtic sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

To prepare:

  1. Mash the chickpeas in a large bowl. (I use a fork to do this, but feel free to utilize whatever fancy gadget you have on hand.)
  2. Add the mayonnaise, dijon, and kelp powder, and stir.
  3. Add the diced onion, celery and dill pickles, stir until well-combined.

Chickpea of the Sea3

Chickpea of the Sea4Chickpea of the Sea5

And there you have it; absolute perfection, and so quick and easy to prepare.

Enjoy!

Meatless Monday- Pasta e Fagioli

Italian food has always been one of my favorites. I mean, seriously, who can resist a heaping plate of capellini smothered in robust tomato sauce and drizzled with olive oil? My mouth waters just thinking about it.

When I first adopted a vegan lifestyle, I quickly realized that Italian restaurants were more or less off limits: chicken, mozzarella, beef, mozzarella, veal, mozzarella, pancetta, mozzarella, mozzarella with extra mozzarella… {Gahh.} These places can inevitably become a vegan’s worst nightmare, yet it took me a long time to come to terms with this. Now when I’m craving Italian fare, I’m able to whip up a satisfying (cruelty-free) meal at home.

Learning how to prepare food from scratch wasn’t an overnight process, but it was absolutely worth the effort, and, as a result of this knowledge, I’m now able to recreate many of my former favorite meals in much healthier ways. In fact, one of the greatest benefits of preparing your own meals is that you have complete control over what goes into them and, perhaps more importantly, what stays out of them. (It should only take a once-over of the exhaustive list of ingredients plastered on most packaged foods for it to become startlingly clear that these products might, in fact, pose serious health risks.)

Before Miss P’s arrival, I often spent the entire weekend prepping food, in mass quantities, for the week ahead. With an increasingly mobile nine-month-old and several new business ventures underway, devoting that kind of time to our meals is no longer an option. Even so, I refuse to revert to highly processed foods, so, lately, I’ve been experimenting with dishes that are quick and simple to prepare, and let’s not forget, budget-friendly, because, let’s face it, in this single-income household, buying a $22 bag of Camu powder to round-off our green smoothies isn’t always practical.

This Meatless Monday, I’d like to share the recipe for one of our new favorites: Pasta e Fagioli. It couldn’t be any easier to prepare, and there’s a good chance the ingredients are already hanging around your kitchen just waiting to be turned into something delicious. As an added bonus, this beans and pasta dish is serious comfort food. Pair it with a colorful garden salad and a fresh loaf of crusty bread and you have yourself a restaurant-style Italian meal. Might I add that it’s also equally delicious the next day- that is, if you actually have leftovers.

Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli 8

Fresh Roma tomatoes, minced garlic, and Italian herbs cook down into a terrifically light sauce that pairs perfectly with hearty pasta (I like to use gluten free) and white beans. Top with a generous pour of white wine vinegar for a zing like no other. This is a fast, simple, and budget friendly – yet wholesome and satisfying dish. Perfect for summer!

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp Celtic Sea Salt
  • a few dashes of fresh black pepper
  • 2 lbs. Roma tomatoes, diced medium
  • 2 tbsp White Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 lb small tube pasta (I used Ancient Harvest Gluten Free elbows)
  • 15 oz can white beans (no salt added), drained and washed

Optional:

  • fresh parsley, chopped (to garnish)
  • parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
  • a sprinkle of nutritional yeast
Pasta e Fagioli 1

Make this mouthwatering beans and pasta dish when Roma tomatoes are in season!

To prepare:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Warm olive oil in a second large pot over medium heat. Add garlic to the olive oil, and sauté until garlic becomes fragrant (about one minute). Add the tomatoes, vegetable broth, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium, cover, and continue to cook until tomatoes are broken down and sauce has reduced and thickened (about 30 minutes). While you’re waiting for the tomatoes to break down, cook pasta according to package directions making sure it remains al dente. Drain pasta and set aside. When sauce is done, add two tbsp of white wine vinegar and stir. Add pasta and beans. (I like to use a wooden spoon and mix gently to keep my pasta intact.) Simmer for 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to come together.

Pasta e Fagioli 2

Pasta e Fagioli 4

photo

Miss P likes to help in the kitchen by emptying everything out of the cabinets while I cook.

Pasta e Fagioli 3

Pasta e Fagioli 8

…so delicious that I actually ate half of it before I remembered to take a picture.

Meatless Monday Ciabatta Bread Veggie Pizza

This Meatless Monday, I’d like to share our typical Friday-night dinner – Ciabatta Bread Veggie Pizza – because, well, it’s one of our favorites. [In fact, it’s so good that sometimes we break down and make a second batch by mid-week.]

For us, Friday nights used to be a time to get dressed up and head to a local bar for drinks and a few hands of Texas hold ’em, but since Miss P’s arrival, that routine has been replaced with a new one: Our Friday evenings now entail a trip to the grocery store to stock up on necessities for the coming week, lots of playtime for Miss P and homemade vegan pizza for dinner.

[And if you’re currently thinking, “That sounds like a terribly dull way to spend a Friday night,” you’ve obviously never run errands with an infant in tow and you definitely haven’t attempted to prepare and consume longly stare at a meal until it’s ice cold in the company of said infant.]

This week was no exception! [And, in case you’re wondering, yes, the pizza is even delicious cold.]

Daddy & Miss P

Tim sporting Miss P! (I cannot believe how BIG she’s getting!)

Tim’s also sporting one of our handmade nursing necklaces – which Miss P absolutely loves – from our Etsy shop, The Tiny Acorn by J Lee. (We’d be honored if you’d drop by for a visit.)

Now, down to business: Tim’s been experimenting with vegan pizza for some time now, and he’s finally come up with a simple recipe we’re completely satisfied with. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Ciabatta Bread Veggie Pizza:

veggie pizza6

Move over, Delivery. Seriously.

Ciabatta bread bakes to a satisfyingly toasty yet toothsome pizza crust, and provides a hearty foundation for robust tomato sauce and all of your favorite toppings! Keep yours simple or get as inventive as you’d like. This meal is so quick – and easy – to throw together, making it an excellent choice for Meatless Monday.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf ciabatta bread
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • oregano (to taste)
  • basil (to taste)
  • garlic powder (to taste)
  • 15 oz. jar pizza sauce (We like Organicville.)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (We use Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds. It’s dairy-free and melts wonderfully, but you can use any brand you’d like.) 
  • 1/2 cup (or desired amount) red bell pepper, diced*
  • 1/4 cup (or desired amount) red onion, diced*

* We kept it simple and used red bell pepper and red onion, but the fresh veggie combos are unlimited, so feel free to experiment!

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the loaf of ciabatta bread in half, then cut each half lengthwise so you have four pieces. Drizzle each piece with olive oil (we use about 1 tbsp per slice). Spread sauce evenly over each slice (we use about 1/2 cup per slice), then dust with oregano, basil, and garlic powder, to taste. Next, generously sprinkle shredded cheese over sauce (again, we use about 1/2 cup per slice). Now you’re ready for your veggies, or other toppings. Add as many as you like; have fun experimenting here! (One of these weeks I’m also going to try fresh basil and sliced Roma tomatoes, yum!)

veggie pizza1

Olive oil

veggie pizza2

& sauce,

veggie pizza4

“cheese” & veggies, oh my!

Bake pizza at 400 degrees until bread becomes nice and toasty and “cheese” melts, approximately 16 minutes. Due to differences in ovens, keep an eye on your pizzas; they can go from cooked to perfection to charred in a matter of minutes, trust us. 😉 This pizza was definitely cooked to perfection!

veggie pizza5

Behold! Vegan-cheesy goodness!

Much tastier than takeout and healthier as well!