Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Vegan Chocolate Mousse Pie

Now that my husband has been officially declared as a type 2 diabetic, one of my priorities as far as our family meals has been to start cooking healthier than my Mississippi ancestry and love for foods such as Paula Dean’s Sour Cream Pound Cake have always taught me.

I have started exploring options to ordinary cane sugar, such as agave nectar and coconut sugar. Lately I have starting experimenting with date sugar.

But how do you use date sugar to make an awesome dessert…especially on holidays such as Father’s Day and the 4th of July?

So I have started my quest for new desserts to put in my recipe box to replace my recipe repertoire…such as this chocolate mousse pie made with a homemade vegan pie crust and coconut whipped cream.

Vegan Pie Crust

  • 1-3/4C flour
  • 3/4tsp salt
  • 3/4tsp sugar
  • 6Tbsp cold vegan butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 6 Tbsp shortening
  • 5 Tbsp ice water

Instructions

  • Fill a small bowl with water and a couple of ice cubes.
  • Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.
  • Add the cold butter. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the dough.
  • Add the shortening to the bowl. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the dough until the butter and shortening pieces are about the size of peas.
  • Incorporate tablespoons of additional water as required for the crust to stick together when pressed between your fingers.
  • Dump the pie dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Shape the dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate at least thirty minutes.
  • Place the wrapped disk on a large smooth surface. Unwrap. Sandwich the dough between two pieces of Saran wrap. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a 13″ diameter circle.
  • Generously grease a 9″ pie dish. Remove the top piece of plastic wrap. Invert the crust into the pie dish. Carefully remove the other piece of plastic wrap. Fit the crust into the pie dish. Lightly press the dough around the edge of the pie pan. Use scissors to cut excess dough from the edge, following the edge of the pan. Fold the dough over to make a double-thick rim of the crust. Use a fork to crimp the edges.

Chocolate and Date Mousse…This chocolate mousse has a delicate sweetness, an incredibly smooth texture, and best of all—it’s healthy for you.

  • 1/2C Hershey’s Cocoa…(Cocoa can actually be good for you because, depending on how the cocoa has been processed, it often contains a high concentration of antioxidants)
  • 1/2C Sunsweet pitted dates…(In a previous post, I shared the health benefits of dates and date sugar…so not going to reiterate…look here at this post instead).
  • 1-1/4C coconut cream
  • Optional ingredients…(use one or more of the following if desired)…a pinch of sea salt, vanilla extract, some cinnamon, more cocoa, cayenne pepper, a few drops of peppermint extract or fresh mint, finely chopped pineapple, rum, orange zest or extract, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, coffee, Kahlúa, raspberries

Instructions

  1. Refrigerate the can of coconut cream overnight. This allows the cream to solidify and separate at the top of the can, leaving a clear liquid at the bottom. Once you are able to shake the can and no longer feel liquid moving, the coconut cream is ready.
  2. Carefully turn the can upside down. Open and discard the transparent liquid.
  3. Stir the dates with 1Tbsp water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave one minute. Drain. This allows the dates to not be as dry and helps your mousse to have a smooth consistency.
  4. Blend ingredients together until smooth.
  5. Taste and add any optional ingredients until you get the “flavor of the day.”
  6. Spread the mousse into a pie crust.
  7. Refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.

Coconut Whipped Cream

  • 14oz can coconut cream
  • 1Tbsp sugar substitute
  • 1tsp vanilla

    Chill the can of coconut cream for at least one day to allow it to separate and harden. Refrigerate your mixing bowl and beaters for thirty minutes.

Take the can of coconut cream out of the refrigerator. Scoop out only the hard coconut cream that should has settled at the top of the can.

Whip ingredients together until fluffy. Add any additional extracts, spices, and/or cocoa powder as desired.

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Getting Healthy

Date-Sugar Sugar Cookies

Now that we know that date sugar is a healthy sweetener alternative for diabetics than standard granulated sugar…where do we find it?…how do we make it ourselves?…how do we use it in a recipe?

What are the benefits of using date sugar instead of regular granulated sugar?

  • Antioxidants…Dates contain the highest concentration of antioxidants of any dried fruits.
  • Caloric Content…Date sugar contains 288 calories per half-cup, as opposed to regular white refined sugar which has 387 calories per half-cup.
  • Energy Boost…Dates contain 29 grams of natural sugars—such as glucose, sucrose and fructose—and are one of the best snacks that you could eat to help you have more energy.
  • Intestinal Health…Dates helps increase the amount of “good” bacteria found is in the intestines and as a result help to keep you “regular” and prevent constipation.
  • Nutritional Value…Date sugar is loaded with vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, and selenium; where white sugar does not.
  • Potassium Content…Date sugar actually has more potassium per serving size than bananas do.
  • Weight Control…Date sugar is loaded with fiber, protein and carbs which make you feel full much longer. This can help to curb hunger and help prevent weight gain.

Where do we find it?

Commercial date sugar made from unsulfured, organically grown dates is typically hard to find in actual local grocery stores and even health food stores. Your best bet is to buy your date sugar online from such sources as Thrive Market, Bob’s Red Mill, and Amazon.

How do we make it ourselves?

The problem with date sugar, however, especially organic types, is that they can be very expensive.

But it is possible to save money by making your own date sugar.

Making your own date sugar is actually quite simple. Simply buy inexpensive fresh or dried dates in bulk…It is not even important that the dates that you choose to make your date sugar are  the richest, sweetest, moist varieties. Just any old date will do.

Pit and slice them, and dry them using a food dehydrator or a very low-temperature oven. Once your date slices are fully dry, pulverize them in a food processor.

How do we use it in a recipe?!

Commercial or homemade date sugar can be substituted measure for measure for both granulated white sugar and brown sugar…but many people claim that this makes their baked goods taste too sweet, and reduce the amount of date sugar to only 2/3C date sugar for every cup of sugar called for in the original recipe.

Date sugar is particularly good when baking nut or fruit breads that will also contain whole pieces or chunks of another type of fruit or nut….such as banana-nut bread or an apple-walnut bread.

Date Sugar and Liquids…Remember that date sugar does not dissolve when stirred into water or liquids. Many chefs try dissolving the date sugar in boiling water before adding to the batter. This might work if water is already an ingredient in the given recipe. I personally hate changing ratios and proportions, and leave all this to the people who actually passed college algebra the first time that they took it.

Otherwise, just be aware that date sugar may show up as distinct, sweet flecks in cake, pancake or waffle batters.

Storing Your Date Sugar

Date sugar, just like brown sugar, tends to clump together…because they both are naturally “hygroscopic”…new word of the day, simply meaning “able to readily absorbs and retains moisture.”

So be sure to store your date sugar in an airtight jar or other container…probably in your pantry with perfectly-alphabetically-lined Mason jars containing brown sugar, coconut sugar, and now date sugar…

If you want to store your date sugar in a shaker, place a saltine cracker or two in the container to absorb any moisture.

Date-Sugar Cookies

Date Filling:

  • 2C chopped dates
    1C sugar
    1C water
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 pound chopped walnuts or pecans

Combine chopped dates, sugar and water in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce heat to low. Simmer ten minutes. Add lemon juice and salt. Cool. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Dough

  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1C butter or margarine, softened
  • 3 1/2cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½tsp ground cloves
    1Tbsp baking soda
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment.

Cream together vanilla, eggs, sugar, milk, and butter until light and fluffy.

Combine flour, sugar, cornmeal, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves.

Add to creamed mixture.

Cover dough with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours for easier handling.

Roll out dough to 1/8″ thickness. Cut with floured 2 1/2″ round cookie cutter.

Cut out and remove 1″ round hole from center of half of the cookies. Return dough centers to remaining dough for rerolling.

Place the whole cookies on ungreased cookie sheets.

Spoon 1tsp cooled filling onto center of each whole cookie.

Top with dough ring. Press the edges of each filled cookie together with the tip of a fork to seal.

Bake for ten minutes. Let cool on pans two minutes. Remove from pans. Let cool completely.

Let cool. Dust with sifted confectioners’ sugar.