One of the most common concerns I hear when people start talking about changing their diets to eat whole foods is that they will feel deprived or they won’t be able to enjoy the sweets they crave. I tell people over and over that the more whole foods they eat, the less they will even want the processed sugar and desserts. It is really a hard concept to wrap your head around but it is true! It doesn’t happen overnight but it did happen to me and I also watched it happen to my husband over a few years’ time. He jokes with me and asks me what I did to him (he seriously is a different person now), but really it wasn’t me, it was his taste buds changing as he added more and more whole foods into his diet. He even agreed to write a little about it so you know I’m not making it up.
Jon’s perspective: “If someone had told me just two years ago that I would be eating raw kale salads with tuna, avocado, and pumpkin seeds with an olive oil, vinegar, and mustard dressing I would’ve thought they were pretty crazy. If they proceeded to tell me I wouldn’t just eat stuff like that but would also LIKE it I would’ve known they were straight crazy. After all two years ago, with the exception of the oil and vinegar, I literally didn’t like any of that stuff! My diet did include some veggies and fruits but it was largely comprised of Snicker bars, pizza, Doritos, and processed wheat in the form of bagels and pretzels (I would often pound half a bag of pretzels before lunch time). Furthermore, I craved and drank 1-2 bottles of beer every day after work. I didn’t acquire a taste for all of the healthy foods that Joy makes overnight but much of my progress began when I cut out all processed foods for three weeks and allowed myself to enjoy a beer only on the weekends. I experienced massive changes during this time, too many to list in this post actually. Maybe in another of Joy’s blog posts I’ll expound on what each week was like. To sum it up, I lost fat and had increases in the size of my lean muscle tissue (I continued on the same workout routine that I had been on while eating less healthy). My overall weight dropped about 10 pounds and I can remember telling Joy at the time that I was having trouble keeping my pants up at work. Besides for a more desirable body composition, my taste buds started to “heal” during the break from the hyper palatable processed foods to the point where I didn’t even want crazy amounts of sugar like I used to. I noticed I wasn’t craving beer every evening like I had been and something totally awesome and unexpected also happen. My sharp, chronic knee pain, which had been getting worse for years, suddenly felt incredibly better! It had prevented me from running, squatting, and even making it difficult and painful to get out of bed. I had attributed this to old age in combination with a fairly extended case of Lyme disease when I was young (Lyme disease, among other things, attacks your joints and can leave permanent damage). Two years later my knee is still not 100% but I can play sports and squat heavy weights and it is not something that bothers me every hour of every day anymore.
After those three weeks I was convinced that having an abundance of whole foods in my diet was imperative. Over the past two years, with Joy’s great recipes and help, I have been consistently surprised at how much I enjoy foods I never even liked and how little I even desire sugar and processed foods. The chocolate mousse featured today is one of many desserts I NEVER thought I’d be eating and thoroughly enjoying.”
Joy again: I’d be lying if I said a chocolate chip cookie didn’t look good to me once in a while; but I certainly don’t want the one with high fructose corn syrup, caramel color and artificial flavors. They only really appeal to me if I know what the ingredients are and where they came from. Part of it is now knowing just how bad those processed and man-made ingredients are for me, but they also just simply don’t even tempt me anymore.
That being said, there’s so many delicious whole food sources to satisfy a sweet craving. My husband and I have a pretty good repertoire of whole food desserts that we keep coming back to including black bean brownies, raw brownies made with walnuts & hemp seeds, banana ice cream, banana muffins, cacao bites, lemon goji berry bites and the chocolate mousse that I will be sharing with you today.
This chocolate mousse is packed with healthy fats that you should feel good about eating! For people who have nut allergies, it’s especially important for them to get their healthy fats from avocado and seeds. Avocados contain 8% of our recommended daily value of omega-3 essential fatty acids, all the B vitamins (except B12), 20% of our daily value of vitamin C as well as phosphorus, manganese and copper. They lower risk of heart disease, improve blood levels of LDL (good cholesterol), and lower levels of oxidative stress in the bloodstream.
As I’ve mentioned before I love using dates for sweetener because they are a whole food, still intact with fiber and vitamins. Cacao adds antioxidants, magnesium and fiber to this already nutritious dessert. Alternatively, you can use carob, which has a similar flavor to chocolate but without the naturally occurring caffeine. I actually prefer the taste of carob over cacao in this particular recipe.
Generally for this recipe I use five dates and one tablespoon of cacao powder for every avocado. If they are especially big avocados (or you like your sweets extra sweet) add one extra date for each avocado. Something I have learned about dates is sometimes you will see tiny worm droppings when you cut them open (and sometimes the worm). I usually just scrape out the inner most part of the date (along with the droppings) and use the rest. Even less occasionally I will find a date that is covered in mold inside, in which case I toss the entire date. I like to use three avocados for the mousse because it blends the best in my 12-cup food processor.
chocolate avocado mousse
3 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
15 medjool dates, pitted
3 tablespoons raw cacao powder (or 4 ½ tablespoons carob powder)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract (make sure there is no sugar added) (optional)
in food processor blend dates until they ball up. break up the ball & add avocado. blend until very smooth and you only see small specks of dates. add cacao (or carob) & blend again until well combined (you may need to scrape down sides). serve cold and store leftovers in a covered container in refrigerator for up to three days.