Mini Avo Choco Mousse Pies

Happy Wednesday! I’m super proud of myself for keeping up with my goal of one blog post a week! And I’m also super excited to be sharing this recipe today! This recipe has become a staple in our house. It looks and tastes super decadent but really, it’s all health food! It’s full of healthy fats and antioxidants and it’s just something you can feel really good about eating (Unless you are allergic to banana, avocado and coconut like my brother. In which case, do not eat this!!!) This dessert is also raw, vegan, gluten free and who knows what other specialty diet this is compliant with. And furthermore, WHO CARES?!

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I have tried several different blending/mixing devices and I have determined the food processor is the way to go here. Not the blender. Not the magic bullet and definitely not the immersion blender. Food processor all the way!

Mini Avo Choco Mousse Pies (makes 6)

For the Crust

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 5 medjool dates, pits removed
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted

For the Mousse

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 ripe banana (not a frozen one)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk or coconut cream (melted)
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened baking cocoa)
  • 3 tablespoons honey

Instructions

Soak the dates in warm water for about minutes then squeeze the excess water from the dates and place dates, cashews and coconut oil in the food processor. Process until a light crumb forms. Do not over-process or you could end up with cashew butter.

Divide the crust mixture evenly among 6 muffin pan liners. Be sure to scrape every last little bit out of the food processor, this stuff is too good to waste! Next, melt a small amount of coconut oil in a small bowl and grab a shot glass (or other small, flat bottomed glass). Cleverly dip the flat end of the shot glass into the coconut oil and use the flat bottom to press the crust down so that is it even.

Set aside and now it’s time to make the filling. No need to rinse or clean the food processor between making the crust & filling.

Place all the mousse ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth, scraping the sides down occasionally. Spoon the mousse over the crust layer until it’s evenly divided between the 6 muffin liners. You don’t need to try to smooth it down, you can simply give the muffin tray a shake now and then to get the mixture to settle down and lay flat.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before eating but longer is better! I actually like this recipe a lot more the next day or even 2 days later. If you taste it right after making it you will notice a slight “green” flavor and it’s not that good. I promise it gets better with time as the banana sweetens and the flavors blend together. You’ll have to trust me on this one.

We got a huge snow storm in Salt Lake this week so that’s been exciting! We lost power at our house for 8 hours on Monday morning and got about 16″ of snow over the course of 2 days. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a storm like that here!

And last, a Rocco pic! I picked up this faux fur rug at IKEA for Rocco just because I thought he would look cute laying on it. And he does look cute! He doesn’t quite understand that it’s for laying on and not for wrestling/shaking/killing.

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Isn’t he the most handsome dog you’ve ever seen?! I love him.

Have a great rest of the week and be safe out there!

Laura

 

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Pumpkin Pecan Salad

If I had my own restaurant (which I would never want BTW) THIS salad would for sure be on my (seasonal, organic, farm to table) menu!

I didn’t go on a super crazy pumpkin kick this fall like I usually do. Unless of course you take into account the fact that I ate this salad every day for a least a month straight…

pumpkin pecan salad

This salad basically tastes like a mixture of pumpkin pie and pecan pie in salad form. I realize that makes it sound gross-but what I’m getting at is: IT’S LIKE HAVING PIE FOR DINNER. Speaking of Thanksgiving, ours was super low-key. We didn’t go anywhere or do any black Friday shopping. We got outside quite a bit and had hoped to do some Nordic skiing/touring but the weather forecast was waaaay off and we did not get any real snow. We did take Rocco for a hike on Thanksgiving day though.

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He loves hiking and actually does well in the snow as long as we keep moving :). Hiking in the cold really wears him out which I think any Min Pin owner knows is a very satisfying feeling. He isn’t crazy wild like he was a year ago when he was still technically a puppy but he still has quite a lot of energy!

Alright, let’s get to this salad, shall we? It’s super simple to throw together every night as long as you have your pumpkin (in this case I used an acorn squash) cooked ahead of time.

How to cook an acorn squash

  1. Preheat oven to 365º F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Slice the acorn squash in half lengthwise so you are slicing with the grooves. Use a large knife with a sharp end. Pierce the squash with the sharp end and slice downward. Be careful & watch those fingers!!
  3. Lightly grease the cut ends of the squash with olive oil and place face down on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes face down then, using tongs, turn squash over and bake for 30 more minutes face up.

Pumpkin Pecan Salad

  • Kale, chopped into small pieces
  • Acorn squash (or butternut or probably any squash really)
  • Pecans
  • Beyond Meat Chicken strips (or real chicken)
  • Fig Balsamic Dressing (or dressing of your choice)
  • Drizzle of honey
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Butter or ghee to taste (optional but realllly good)

Of course I don’t list any quantities because it just totally depends on how big you want your salad to be!

Chop kale up, toss with a Fig Balsamic dressing and set aside. Warm chicken and squash up (if it isn’t still hot from the oven). You may want to put some butter or ghee on the squash to give it extra yumminess. I fully endorse this method.

Add warmed squash & chicken and pecans to the salad. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with cinnamon and salt.

Like I said, I ate this every night for a month (maybe more) and it never got old! I actually have an acorn squash on my kitchen counter that’s begging to be in this salad!

I rarely buy salad dressing from the store because it’s just so easy to make my own, not to mention cheaper and healthier. But I was at Whole Foods and this dressing caught my eye. It’s actually been nice having a pre-made dressing that I can just grab out of the fridge.

fig balsamic

Alright, I think that’s all for now! I’m trying to do 1 post a week and I have a loooong list of recipes and projects to share so I will slowly but surely get everything up here.

Have a great day!!

Laura

 

 

 

Let’s Have a Heart to Heart

I want to have a heart to heart with you and tell you all about the latest & greatest that’s been going on since my 6-month blogging hiatus since that’s the only fair thing to do.

As you know I was a strong advocate of a plant-based diet for many, many years and then just over a year ago I got sucked into the Whole30 craze and went from being a pretty strict Vegan to following a pretty strict Paleo diet.

And so where am I at now? Good question and I’ll get to that in a minute. This was part of why I wanted to start this blog in the first place. I’m like a human science experiment and I’m always trying this, that and the other and I like sharing my experiences so I can hopefully save others the pain of trying the really bad stuff, haha!

After doing the Whole30 I did feel really good. I don’t think it was because I was eating meat & eggs for the first time in 8 years. I think it had everything to do with the fact that I didn’t have any sugar, flour or alcohol for 30 days. After the 30 days were over I switched to a paleo diet, you know, because if doing it for 30 days was good, more must be better! So that means, I stuck to a diet that consisted of meat, eggs, vegetables, sweet potatoes and 1 piece of fruit a day. Yes, that’s right, I pretty much only ate those foods for almost a year. Yep, no rice, no quinoa, no beans, only 1 piece of fruit, no treats except for dark chocolate which is technically only allowed in small quantities (I ate…more than a small quantity…daily). What I’m getting at here is: I WENT CRAZY.

Not like, now I have an eating disorder crazy, but crazy enough to know that I did NOT feel good and that this way of eating was in no way sustainable for my lifestyle. I know the paleo diet works for thousands of people and that’s why I tried it. I just wasn’t one of those people.

Over the summer my health got bad. I was tired even though I didn’t run even once all summer. I cut my exercise WAY back and still felt sore & worn out. My body felt heavy and bigger than normal-(about 10 pounds heavier to be exact). It didn’t make sense to me because I thought I was eating healthier than ever. I thought, “All I’m eating is protein and vegetables. I’ve cut out alcohol, baked goods, chips, bread and everything fun. How can I get any healthier?”

As a side note, I want to add that I didn’t switch my diet in an attempt to lose weight. That was never my goal! I just wanted to be healthy. As a fitness professional I tend to devour every health book, journal and article ever written so as a byproduct, I try a lot of stuff.

Back to my story.

I found a naturopathic doctor who is also a nurse practitioner so she’s just a beautiful blend of holistic and modern medicine. She ran about a billion blood tests and this is what I learned:

  • I had several vitamin deficiencies & a goiter
  • I had very low insulin
  • I had almost no progesterone (all hormones were whacked out actually)
  • I was deficient in so many hormones & vitamins my metabolism and reproductive stuff was shutting down
  • There was more but these were the biggies

I said to her, why is my insulin so low? She was scratching her head and said, “I don’t know, your body should make insulin every time you eat carbs like bread and rice and potatoes”. “Ooooh”, I said, “I don’t eat those things”.

So, eating the way I had been, caused a whole variety of health related issues. Not only that, but eating such a restrictive diet caused me a whole other world of pain. Going to the grocery store was torture because I felt like 99.9% of everything in there was “BAD”.

Ugh. It makes me so mad just thinking about it! This happened to me and I’m a fitness professional people! I thought I was doing the “right thing” and the “healthy thing” but really I was hurting my body and making myself sick and miserable.

Alright, so let’s fast forward. I started taking some high quality vitamins. My goiter went away, my hormones started to come back. My skin cleared and my aches & pains faded.

I went back to a plant-based diet. That part was easy because I’ve never really liked meat or eggs which means for a year I was eating food I didn’t really even like (red flag people, red flag!). I started eating more fruit, beans, rice & tofu. Basically, I freed myself from all restriction! It was hard at first because there was a voice in the back of my head saying “no, you can’t have that!” but I told it to shut up and eventually it did.

So what am I eating now? I would say I still follow a plant-based diet for the most part but I refuse to put any sort of restrictions on my diet so I will cook with eggs and eat cheese or cheesecake or whatever I want really!

The point I really want to make, especially as we go into the Holiday season, is: DON’T STRESS ABOUT FOOD. Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. Don’t count calories and especially don’t count carbs. Eat foods that make your body feel good in quantities that make your body feel good. So if you know the sugar/flour combo will make you feel sick then only have a little, if any. But don’t go to a holiday party and break into a cold sweat at the sight of the dessert table or foods you’ve labeled as “bad”. There is no “bad food” and “good food”! Just enjoy the company of the people you are with and enjoy the special foods of the season and don’t feel compelled to eat ALL THE FOOD just because it’s there. Listen to your body, it really does know what’s best.

So going forward on my blog I’ll probably write more about my journey (as it’s turned into kind of a big deal) and I’ll share more about my food choices and exercise choices too (that’s a hot topic right there!) and I think you’ll see that everything I post from here on comes from a place of “kindness” as now I make sure all my choices are about doing what is really best for ME any my body and not what the “experts” say we should do.

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This is a picture of me from exactly a year ago. I’m smiling on the outside but I can see in my eyes that really I was in pain and probably experiencing a great amount of guilt for drinking wine.
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And this is me now. Yes, I know this picture is beyond bizarre. I just got a new sleeping bag. The point is, I feel so much happier and I’m back to being silly and not taking anything too serious!

 

 

Well if you are still reading, THANK YOU for hanging in through this long post.

Bye for now!

Laura