It’s quite the understatement to say that I love chocolate.
I need chocolate.
And I’m not picky: brownies, ice cream, cookies, cake, pie- it all works. I’ll even take a little unsweetened cocoa powder mixed into my morning smoothie or oatmeal.
But. I’m not immune to the fact that most of the chocolate I enjoy also comes with lots of saturated fat &calories.(I’m looking at you Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Blueberries. Why must you be so amazing? ) Not exactly an every-day food and certainly discounts some of the health benefits of chocolate.
Seeing as though I am not giving up my love for chocolate anytime soon, enter this dessert.
Chocolate, orange zest, walnuts and… avocado.
No, that’s not a typo. The secret to making this creamy, decedent dessert is by whipping everyone’s favorite vegetable fruit, the avocado. (Don’t worry. You will never know it’s there!)
Remember those big chocolate oranges that came wrapped in the pretty foil? I used to love those as a kid and wanted to recreate the same pairing here.
The only problem with this dessert? Knowing that at any moment, you can whip up chocolate mousse that rivals any restaurant or store-bought variety. You probably already have most of these ingredients in your house already.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Chocolate Orange Mousse
Ingredients: (for 2)
1 ripe avocado, peel & pit removed
1/8 cup + 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/8 cup sugar
1/8 cup fresh orange juice from 1 orange
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1/2 an orange
pinch of salt
Optional toppings: coconut creme, walnuts, chocolate chips
Using a hand-mixer or food processor, mix avocado until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, sugar, juice, extract, and zest. Continue to whip or mix until very smooth, about 2-3 minutes more. Taste. If you want a sweeter mousse, add more sugar.
Divide the mousse into two small bowls and refrigerate for 1 hour until firm. Top however you prefer.
I am taking full advantage of the unusually chilly nights we’ve been having.
Specifically, by making warm desserts to enjoy after quick, weeknight dinners.
I think I’ve only had apple brown betty once a few years ago as part of a pre-fix dinner menu, and I remember how warm and spiced it was. Exactly what I was craving.
I did a little internet digging and found that apple brown betty is a simple combination of bread, spices, nuts, and apples. Perfect, I can handle that and make it even easier- place it in a slow cooker so it’s ready by the time I’ve prepared and cleaned up dinner.
It really couldn’t be easier. Prep your ingredients in less than 10 minutes, place them in your crock pot and it’s ready after dinner!
Don’t have a slow-cooker? No worries. Place the ingredients in a casserole dish and bake in the oven.
In a large bowl combine 1/3 cup real maple syrup, 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger & 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
Add 4 cups of chopped bread.
Toss to coat.
In another bowl, combine 3 cups chopped apple, 1 chopped banana, 1/4 cup walnuts, 1/3 cup brown sugar & 2 tbsp. spiced rum.
Spray the inside of the slow cooker with non-cook spray. Place 2/3 of the bread mixture in, top with 2/3 of the apple mixture, the remaining bread mixture and the rest of the apple mixture.
While I love all things chocolate, sometimes I’m in the mood for something a bit more light and fruity. These bars hit the spot. Close your eyes and enjoy the tropical sweetness of coconut and apricots in these flaky bars.
Not in paradise yet? Well, these squares also sneak whole wheat flour & dried fruit in. Higher in fiber than your average cookie bar, consider them the perfect dessert to get you into your tropical vacation swimwear.
… Or to enjoy with your morning coffee. I admit I ate these for both dessert & breakfast!
Combine 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour, 1 1/2 cups rolled oats, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 cup brown sugar, and 1 tsp. baking powder together in a large bowl.
Beat in 1 1/2 sticks Earth Balance baking sticks, cut into small pieces. This works better when the butter is at room temperature, not straight out of the fridge. Using a hand or stand mixer, beat until a crumbly dough forms.
Make an easy to lift carrier for your bars: drape aluminum foil over the ends of an 8X8 bar pan.
Spray with non-stick cooking spray (or lightly grease) and pour 1/2 of the oat mixture in.
Using your hands or the back of a spoon, gently spread the oat and flour mixture until it forms a layer on the bottom of the pan.
Mix together 1 cup apricot marmalade, 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots, and 1/3 unsweetened coconut flakes. Pour on top of the oat layer and spread until it reaches the edges.
Pour the rest of the oat mixture on top of the apricot layer and gently pat down until the crust forms.
Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes until golden brown on top.
Remove from the pan and let cool.
Cut into squares and enjoy!
I just had another one with a big cup of tea! Perfect afternoon pick me-up before I go teach kickboxing.
Whenever a client asks for the best breakfast choice, I usually go with oatmeal. Filling, low-sugar, full of fiber- it’s a great start to the day.
Confession? While I praise the benefits of oatmeal to others, I rarely make it for myself. I don’t know what it is about oatmeal, I’ve just never found it to be that exciting.
I have been stepping up my morning runs lately and found that I need something more substantial on my returns. While my green smoothie works on yoga mornings, it doesn’t get me anywhere after a hour+ run.
This apple pie oatmeal erases all negative feelings I’ve had towards oatmeal. Warm cinnamon, slightly caramelized apples, maple goodness, it warms me heart and soul!
This apple + oatmeal combo is a heart healthy treat! Soluble fiber, found in both, slows down digestion, delaying the emptying of your stomach which makes you feel full. Soluble fiber can also lower LDL (“loser/bad”) blood cholesterol.
Isn’t this oatmeal the best!?
Apple Pie Oatmeal
Ingredients: (makes 2 huge bowls, or 3 normal servings)
2 medium apples, diced
1 cup oatmeal
1 1/2 cups unsweetened apple juice
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground ginger (optional- I love ginger)
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. Earth Balance butter
In a saucepan, melt Earth Balance butter over medium heat. Add diced apples and cook 5 minutes, until softened and slightly caramelized. Add unsweetened apple juice, water and bring to a boil. Add oatmeal and spices and reduce heat to medium low. Cover, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes until it reaches the texture you like your oatmeal. Spoon into bowls and drizzle with maple syrup.
EAT! And feel energized and satisfied for the rest of the morning!