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!)

Meatless Monday- Kale Slaw

I was introduced to the nutritional powerhouse that’s kale during my first MFA residency at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. It seemed that kale, or some variation of it, was featured at every dinner during my eight-day stay on campus – and, come to think of it, at every dinner over my next four residencies as well.

Ahhh, kale.

One of my favorite dishes from Goddard was a crisp and tangy kale slaw served alongside an equally delightful tempeh reuben. After scouring the Internet for the formula to recreate the mouthwatering green salad I noshed on in Vermont, I finally came across a recipe I was happy with on Almost Vegan Girl‘s blog (which I hope she won’t mind me sharing here.)

Here it is in all its glory:

Kale Slaw

Kale Slaw3

Move over, green cabbage: kale is the Super-Star here! Sweet and tangy merge with cool and crisp in this nutrient-dense vegan take traditional cole slaw. This is the absolute perfect summer salad- serve it as a starter, devour it as a snack, or make it a side dish at your next picnic. Any way you present it, it’s sure to be a hit! 

Makes a great big bowl!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1 large bunch of kale, ribs removed and very finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, grated
  • 1 apple
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

To prepare:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, orange juice, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine kale, onions, and carrots. Set aside.
  3. Peel and grate apple. Combine with 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice. (This will help prevent the apple from turning brown.)
  4. Add grated apple and lemon juice mixture to kale, onions, and carrots. Mix.
  5. Pour dressing over salad, and mix well.
  6. Refrigerate and let sit for a minimum of one hour: this will allow the kale to soften up a bit and the flavors to come together. (To maximize both flavor and texture, I like to prepare this salad a day in advance. Of course, it’s still delicious if you just can’t wait that long to eat it.)
Kale Slaw1

Time to mix it all up!

Pots and Pans1

These days, Miss P is continuously finding new ways to “help” Mama in the kitchen, which, of course, includes rummaging through the cabinets and tossing everything inside onto the floor because, you know, preparing a meal just doesn’t provide the same element of thrill when you aren’t sidestepping two travel mugs, four plastic containers, the lid to a copper-bottomed kettle, and a nine-month-old.

Pots and Pans2All obstacles and adventures aside, I’m grateful when the Universe aligns and allows me to spend an hour here or there in the kitchen preparing wholesome meals for my family.

Kale Slaw3

This salad is budget friendly, super healthy, easy to prepare, and absolutely delicious! It’s definitely become a staple in our house.

It’s

Super –

k a l e 

– ifragilisticexpialidocious!

um diddle diddle diddle um diddle ay…

Kale Slaw4

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 Zucchini “Spaghetti” w/Creamy Avocado Pesto

Zucchini spaghetti3

Ripe avocado lends a perfect base for the robustness of fresh basil and garlic to fuse with the nuttiness of nutritional yeast and tahini. A little fresh lemon juice adds a zing to this savory modified pesto. Serve it a-top a bed of spiralized zucchini for a raw vegan and gluten free twist on the Italian classic.

This dish is surprisingly satisfying, plus it takes mere minutes to whip up. Sure to be a (cruelty-free) summertime hit!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium zucchinis
  • 2 ripe avocados (halved, and pitted)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • juice from 1 small lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves (peeled)
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Optional ingredients

  • grape tomatoes
  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • fresh basil, torn
  • fresh parsley, chopped

To prepare

Wash and peel zucchinis. I use a spiralizer to transform my zucchini into spaghetti-like strands, but you can certainly julienne the zucchini by hand. Once your zucchini is spiralized, place it in a large bowl and set it aside while you prepare the sauce.

Zucchini Spaghetti1

My favorite part of preparing this meal!

Zucchini spaghetti2

This picture shows four medium zucchinis spiralized.

To make the Creamy Avocado Pesto, simply toss the flesh from both avocados and all remaining ingredients into your food processor or high speed blender (I use my Vitamix), and blend until smooth.

Next, empty the sauce into the bowl of zucchini, and mix until zucchini’s evenly coated. (I find that a wooden spoon does well with this job.)

Garnish with chopped or sun-dried tomatoes, fresh parsley or torn fresh basil (because, seriously, can you ever really have enough fresh basil? No. No you can’t).

Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

A garden salad drizzled with olive oil and apple cider vinegar makes a tasty compliment to this meal.

Zucchini Spaghetti w:Alfredo Pesto

Now that’s what I call un-cooking!

 [Wipes drool from keyboard]