Little Deuce Mousse, You Don’t Know What I Got: Vegan Chocolate Mint Coconut Mousse with Gluten-free Salted Rosemary Citrus Olive Oil Crust

There is so much to talk about with this mousse. It started off as two separate culinary experiments – one with mousse made with seaweed as a thickener (yes, seaweed and no, it’s not agar) and another with a savory vegan shortbread. Each was really amazing on its own, but the cookie was not the cookie I wanted. I did not want to waste the dough. The creative kitchen witch came out and I combined the two. O. M. G. Bob Ross once said, “There are no mistakes, only happy accidents.” This was a magnificent accident. The two together form the perfect bite. The mousse is chocolatey, creamy, rich, yet light with a subtle hint of mint. There is a crunch with cacao nibs. The crust is textured, salted with subtle hints of rosemary and citrus. The whole dessert is sweetened only with dates. My mouth waters as I write this. I think I will have a slice while I type.

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Souped up soup: Spicy creamy tomato basil coconut milk soup

On a cold rainy day I crave warm tasty comfort food. The first thing that comes to mind is a grilled cheese and tomato soup. Oh yeah. And while my taste buds crave the bread and cheese, my digestive system does not. So I decided to soup up my tomato soup so it can stand as a hearty meal on its own. This vegan soup is made with tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower, celery, leeks, coconut milk and my kale beet green almond walnut pesto. Creamy. Nutritious. Warm. Rich. Satisfying.

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Talk dinner to me: Arugula and roasted vegetable salad with zucchini “ravioli” stuffed with basil almond “ricotta”

Hello again! It’s been six months since my last post. Life, job and motherhood got in the way again. Last year I began this blog to use food and diet as a way to look at my life differently, adjust my habits and patterns and change my life – and I succeeded. This year started on a downward slump and I was not feeling inspired or creative. I knew it was time to shake things up. Again. I tackled the one area of my life I knew I could control – my diet.

I recently completed a 21 day cleanse and now I feel leaner, meaner and cleaner. The last thing I want to do is turn right back into my old habits and overwhelm my system again. I have been making a lot of food I have previously posted here and coming up with new recipes that will help me stay on track and not reach for gut busting foods. One of my old standards for my family is a ravioli salad – rather than surround the ravioli with a rich sauce, incorporate it into a salad. However, I always feel heavy with the pasta and unless the ravioli is fresh made by an amazing chef or Italian nonna, I am usually not satisfied. So I crafted my veg based ravioli, eliminating the gluten, grain and cheese and grilled the veggies to enhance their flavor. Wait till you try this arugula and roasted asparagus, tomato and broccolini salad topped with faux ravioli made with zucchini, stuffed with basil almond ricotta. It will satisfy you at dinner and not weigh you down.

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Saag it to me: Indian fusion breakfast with chard-spinach-almond veg, sweet potato hash, eggs and raw almond parmesan

I have had a fix on saag lately. It all came about while in France. I was asked to make a an Indian green side dish for Christmas dinner that would complement everyone else’s fish main course. Saag seemed to be the simplest dish for me to make last minute and that did not require me to purchase unusual spices that would require a specialty store – and Indian/Pakastani restaurants or stores for products are not common in France as they are in many states and cities in the US. In fact, to my surprise, much of what I saw listed or heard as being referred to as an Indian dish – such as a samosa – did not contain a single ingredient that is found in traditional Indian cuisine, but rather North African/Middle Eastern cuisine. So I knew I could make something simple and Indian inspired. And unlike traditional saag, I added a boost of protein and texture with almonds. It was so good – I put it on everything I ate. But the best application was brunch – in a dish of sweet potato hash, saag and an egg over easy with a raw almond parmesan.

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I’m bout to get jalapeno business: Baked almond crusted jalapeno poppers with a faux cashew and pine nut based cheez

So I don’t follow, pay attention to or watch football (well, I should say US football. I do follow what football is to the rest of the world, especially around the World Cup). But one thing that I have liked in the past are the snacks and food associated it the game – the unhealthy, carb loaded, cheesy, fatty and sometimes spicy treats. Of course I almost never eat them. But with everyone so focused on football and speaking about it non stop compounded with the cold rainy weather and my current Whole30 restrictions, suddenly it is what I am craving. So what do I do – get down to business and make it my way – dairy-free, gluten-free, nut based and baked.

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I pita the fool who doesn’t like hummus: Legume-free zucchini almond hummus

This is my last post of the year. I started this blog in January along with a Whole 30 like challenge to help me change up and shake up my life. And it has been a successful journey – I quit my old job, was offered a new job that is better for me in every way at this stage in my career, have upped my game in the kitchen and discovered my creative juices in vegetarian recipe creation. While I don’t eat in a Whole 30-like fashion year round, it forced me to experiment on myself with elimination diets, do a bit of research and listen to others in terms of their dietary needs. I don’t have a problem with legumes, but people I know do. If they can’t eat chickpeas, they don’t often get to enjoy hummus which is unfortunate because I find it to be the best dipping sauce, best condiment, and best veg protein substitute. So to give my legume-free friends an experience with hummus, I created a chickpea-free hummus with zucchini, almonds, cashews and tahini.

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It’s hip to be square: Gluten-free, dairy-free, cacao, nut, date, flax seed fudge

I have a sweet tooth. And I have definitely passed that down on to my little one. When she wants something she sees other people eating, like ice cream or cup cakes, I make her a healthy version at home and try to teach her about the difference. I try not to give into my desires, and when I do, I make sure it is something home made – sweetened with a non refined low glycemic index sugar, flourless, full of some natural whole food goodness. I decided to make some quick grab and go flour-less, dairy-free power squares and then took it to the next level and added chocolate and fat…it tasted like fudge…with nuts.

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Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat: Flourless sugarless pumpkin almond cookies sweetened with dates

September through November  marks the craziest months for us – yes in terms of work, but really in terms of birthday parties. Every weekend for about 8-10 weekends we are booked – sometimes doubly and triply booked – for birthday parties. Now my daughter is obsessed with cake and cookies and ice cream and wants them all the time everytime. I can’t control what other people serve, but I can teach her that that healthier more nutritious versions can be enjoyable as well. So continuing on with the pumpkin fest, I made flourless pumpkin almond butter cookies make with pumpkin and pumpkin spice and sweetened with dates.  
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Everyone hail to the pumpkin song: Curried pumpkin coconut soup with gluten-free delicata squash biscuits

So it is October. But in this 90-100 degree weather and unusual humidity you would never guess it is fall. For me fall in the northeast means leaves turning from green to bright yellow, red and orange. Fall means crisp air, fall fashion, hot apple cider, decorating pumpkins and eating squash. I may be in shorts and a tank, but squash is abundant. And despite the weather, I felt like a fall meal – soup and biscuits…my way. Gluten free, dairy free, spiced and satisfying. Curried pumpkin coconut soup with gluten-free delicata squash biscuits. I would eat this any day of the year.

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Sometimes you just feel like an impasta: sweet potato pasta with zucchini ribbons, arugula, baby spinach, almond slices and walnuts topped with nut power green pesto

Who needs real pasta when there are so many veggieful imposters out there: sweet potato, zucchini, rutabaga, yellow squash and so much more. I love the real slim shady – that fiberless, refined, calorically dense carbohydrate that loves to wreak havoc on my body, but as I always say,if I am going to eat it I want it to be the best. So I’ll wait until I have an opportunity to consume the perfect handmade al dente pasta which is few and far between. In the meantime I would rather an impasta. I usually use a spiralizer to make noddles, but lately I have been craving a flater wider noodle – like pappardelle or even fettuccine would do. On a recent trip through an airport, I saw a beautiful picture on the cover of Food & Wine Magazine of pappadelle with pesto, arugula and walnuts and wanted to make it my way. Sweet potato noodles with zucchini, baby spinach, arugula, almond slices and walnuts and topped with a power pesto made of leafy greens, basil and nuts and a cashew nut based parmesan. Not as pretty as the front cover, but very very tasty.

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