Tasty twist to healthy Thanksgiving eats

Submitted by Judy on Wed, 11/20/2013 - 7:07pm.

My friend Eileen Cohen knows her chocolate. In a blind taste test she can tell Tobleron from Godiva with her hands tied behind her back.

That’s why, when she raved about the chocolate mousse that nutrition expert and cookbook author Jennifer Flynn had served, I was intrigued. A healthy chocolate mousse? What was the secret? Would you believe avocado?

“Nobody believes me when I tell them they are eating avocado,” said Flynn, author of “The Super Food Generation: 14 Foods That Get You Glowing.”

“It’s amazing how well the other ingredients mask the flavor of this buttery fruit. The heart-healthy fat of the avocado is a perfect replacement for the dairy cream used in traditional mousse.”

Flynn became a vegetarian when a friend brought her an article about the conditions in slaughterhouses.

“I’m a really big animal lover, and I thought, I don’t want to be a part of this. My family didn’t think it would last, but I started paying attention to ingredients and noticing the hidden animal byproducts and ingredients you can’t even pronounce the names of.”

“The Super Food Generation” is not a diet book. “I wanted to get back to basics and promote healthy foods and ingredients rather than a particular diet,” she explained. “I want people be open-minded and not think so much about having to stick to a diet, but become more familiar with the healthy foods out there and adapt them to their own particular diet.”

Besides the avocado, pumpkin – along with carrots, sweet potatoes and its relatives in the squash family – is another of the 14 super foods that work “synergistically with the human body to unlock vitality, strengthen immunity and literally slow down the aging process,” Flynn writes.

Excuse me? Pumpkin Pie a health food? We’re talking about a healthy Thanksgiving feast now?

Flynn created her Pumpkin Pie-Tinis one Thanksgiving when she was assigned dessert and balked at the notion of rolling out a pie crust. “I love pumpkin pie, but traditionally it is loaded with dairy, eggs and sugar, all of which have been eliminated from my diet,” she said.

And talk about presentation! “They look really cute, like mini individual trifles served in martini glasses,” she said. The creamy pumpkin mousse is sprinkled with an almond-pecan crumble, a light but satisfying end to the holiday feast.

“Pumpkin is one of the healthiest foods on the planet,” Flynn revealed. “It has the highest concentration of alpha and beta carotenes, fiber, potassium and phytonutrients known to man, as well as carotenoids, those antioxidants that lower your risk of heart disease and cancer.”

And go ahead and use canned pumpkin. “I wanted to be realistic,” said Flynn. “In the real world who’s going to buy a pumpkin and scoop it out for Thanksgiving? I’ve also done them in little shot glasses too, so everyone can get a little taste. For the holidays everybody wants to eat a little of everything. With this dessert you can indulge without over-indulging.”

Fullerton News Tribune/Orange County Register, November 20, 2008

From “The Super Food Generation: 14 Foods That Get You Glowing” by Jennifer Flynn

2 cups mashed avocado (approximately 3 to 4 medium)
1/3 cup organic unsweetened cocoa powder
6 to 8 tablespoons agave nectar or pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons purified water
Garnish: Fresh strawberry slices, fresh raspberries, raw cacao nibs

Place avocado, cocoa, agave nectar, vanilla and 2 tablespoons of the water in a blender and process until smooth and cream. You will have to stop the blender every few seconds to scrape down the sides and ensure even blending. Add the additional tablespoon of water if necessary to keep the blender going. Serve as is or garnish with any of the items listed.
Chef’s Tip: The trick to any mousse, including one made with avocado, is air. Be sure to keep blending for 30 seconds or so after the mixture appears smooth. This will ensure a thick, yet light and creamy mousse. You may also use unsweetened carob powder in this recipe if you do not wish to use chocolate.

From “The Super Food Generation: 14 Foods That Get You Glowing” by Jennifer Flynn

For the Spiced Pumpkin Mousse:
1/2 cup raw unsalted whole cashews
6 tablespoons purified water
1 to 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, or to taste
4 large Medjool dates, pitted (or 5 to 6 small)
1 1/2 cups canned organic pumpkin
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of sea salt

For the Almond-Pecan Crumble
1/2 cup unsalted raw almonds
1/4 cup raw pecans
4 to 5 pitted Medjool dates
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of sea salt

1. For the mousse: Combine the cashews, water, maple syrup and dates in a high-speed blender on medium speed until combined, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add remaining mousse ingredients and process until smooth, scraping down as needed. (Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water if necessary.) Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

2. For the crumble: Chop almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Add remaining ingredients and process until mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Place mixture in freezer for 15 minutes.

3. To assemble: Place 2 1/2 tablespoons of crumble mixture into bottom of standard-sized martini glass. Top with 1/2 cup pumpkin mousse and gently smooth surface with back of small spoon. Sprinkle with a pinch of crumble mixture to garnish.