Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Key Lime Mousse with Coconut-Almond Crumble

Baking with fruit is an excellent way to start out the summer. It adds nutrients and fresh flavor to your goodies. I love citrus and wanted to try something new, so I changed this recipe for lemon cream pie filling into a key lime mousse. I had to call three stores before I found key limes, but they’re not uncommon. The recipe is originally from an online cookbook called Desserts of Vitality: Extraordinary Non-Dairy Desserts by Mark Foy. This cookbook is full of recipes using ingredients your body needs for energy that have a low-glycemic index, so your body burns the calories more slowly and you don’t get a sugar high and then crash. Instead of pie crust, which can be difficult to form with ingredients like almonds and coconut, I created a crumbly top and bottom crust for the mousse. I altered a coconut cookie recipe and used it as the crumble. The finished product is sweet and tangy with a very smooth creamy filling and satisfyingly crunchy layers. Yay for summer!

For mousse:

¾ cups apple juice

1 ½ T key lime zest

¾ cups key lime juice

¾ cups brown rice syrup

¼ cup maple syrup

1 pinch salt

1 T agar flakes


3 T tapioca, finely ground

½ cup water


12.3 oz low-fat extra-firm silken tofu (1 aseptic box)



1 t lemon zest

slices of key limes

1 T mint leaves

For crumble:

1 ¾ cups white whole wheat flour

1 t baking soda

½ t salt

1 cup Earth Balance, softened

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

½ cup soymilk (I used almond milk instead)

1 T key lime juice

1 T vanilla extract

¾ cups rolled oats

¾ cups almonds, partially ground in food processor

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

For mousse:

Key limes are tiny and the juicing and grating is labor-intensive, but the delicious flavor is worth it! I cut each in half and juiced it by hand, scraping the pulp into the measuring cup with the edge of the measuring spoon. To grate the zest, I put each folded half of lime into my Zylis cheese grater and grated it, not squeezing too hard. I found this to be much easier than hand-grating each lime half, as they are so small.

Combine apple juice, lemon zest and juice, brown rice and maple syrups, and salt in small saucepan and sprinkle agar flakes over the mixture. Heat gently over low heat, stirring often with a whisk.


If tapioca is not yet ground, grind it well in a food processor. Mix tapioca with water in small container.


After juice mixture has heated for about 10 minutes, add tapioca mixture and cook a few minutes, until slightly thick.

Add tofu to saucepan and blend with a small hand blender until very smooth. You can also transfer entire mixture to a food processor, but it may be messy and mixture is still hot.


Transfer to a glass baking pan and set on counter to cool. Once room temperature, chill mousse in refrigerator for at least a few hours. Mixture can sit overnight.


Mousse chillin’ in the fridge waiting to thicken!

For crumble:

Combine dry ingredients.

Grease baking pan with canola oil

Cream Earth Balance with sugar until light and fluffy


Beat in soymilk, lime juice and vanilla

Mix dry ingredients with creamed mixture


Stir in oatmeal, almonds and coconut

Spread dough in thin layer on baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes until just browned

To assemble:

Cookie crumble can be warm from the oven or cooled. Break up cookie into crumbles and spoon into individual bowls. Scoop mousse on top of crumble, then add another generous layer of crumble on top. Add two thin lime slices and a pinch of mint leaves to each bowl for garnish

This recipe is a bit messy but delicious! 

Monday, June 8, 2009

What does yoga have to do with baking?

I would like to first provide a little background about yoga - why I love it and why I strive to make yoga philosophy a part of my everyday life, which is indeed at times a struggle. I began practicing yoga when I was 19 thanks to my amazing mother, who sent me on a yoga retreat to help girls improve their body images. I may not have made leaps and bounds with my body image that weekend, but I loved the yoga. I have been practicing more seriously in the past few years, so much in fact that I ended up writing my dissertation on adolescent girls who practice yoga!

So here's a crash course in yoga according to me. Yoga is the union of mind, body and spirit, at times combining physical movement (asana) with the breath to stretch and build muscles, calm the mind, and generate energy. Physical practice is just a small part of yoga; the prominent aspect is using this union to make your world and the greater world a better place. The Yamas and Niyamas (in Sanskrit) are personal practices that help to do this. These intentions enrich the emotional integration of yoga and encourage concentration on ethics and personal understanding, bringing wholeness with oneself and a greater transpersonal realm to the yoga mat. They are guidelines for personal care that include how you nourish your physical body, who you are close to, and how you spend your time.

Ahimsa means non-violence. Satya, or truthfulness, means being authentic. Asteya means non-stealing, which includes not taking on other’s feelings and responsibilities. Harmonizing desires, or Bramacharya, means experiencing all things in moderation. In doing so, energy and its limits are respected. Aparigraha – non-attachment – encourages a feeling of security without needing material things or the reassurance of others. Sauca, or purity, is the practice of using whole, organic foods to nourish the physical body. Santosa means contentment in the present moment and feeling satisfied with what currently exists and that happiness must come from within. Tapas means purification and discipline. Svadyaya means self-study - spending time and energy learning about your thoughts, your place in the world, and your body's capabilities. Isvara-pranidhana means surrender to God or a higher power. In yoga, a higher power encompasses ultimate intelligence. It is also acknowledging the divine existence that already resides in everyone.

The Yamas and Niyamas speak to me because they are simply all-around ethical values that help guide decisions and actions and feel happy in daily life. I believe that entertaining stress, anger, and loss cultivates sadness and harm to the self and others. Eating pure foods, exercising regularly and moderately, drinking lots of water, and sleeping enough are disciplines that support this process. Letting go of perceived failure, refraining from bitterness and negative thought patterns, and cultivating balanced relationships are disciplines that keep the mind truly open to yogic practice. That being said, I entertain negative thoughts basically every day. I struggle with anxiety and stress and sadness. So practicing yoga is a consistent reminder of my own intentions and helps ease these struggles.

So why have I just written a book about yoga and not yet mentioned baking, which is the main event in this blog? Well, because this is Yoganomics, and I want to explain it thoroughly! I believe in eating according to your beliefs. I believe that factory farming goes against the above ethical guidelines. I believe that overpopulation, obesity, junk food, crime, and many other harmful societal patterns would not take place if everyone worked a little harder towards these intentions. I cannot live a perfect life - if I did, I would be living in a cabin in a field raising all my own vegetables and not impacting the environment at all, in the way of The Dharma Bums (Jack Kerouac), which is indeed a dream of mine but would keep me from being a part of our exciting society. So every day I try to eat the best foods possible while still being realistic, just as I try to lead my life and interact with others as best I can.

The Yamas and Niyamas can also give us guidance when it comes to how we interact with food. Being aware of our body's needs and respecting ourselves means eating only in moderation. It means reducing our emotional eating and practicing gratitude and self-soothing rather than being attached to food for satiation that we actually need to give ourselves.

I have been baking vegan goodies since early college - about 10 years. I'm not a fancy baker. I actually don't even bake very often, unlike my sister, Dangerkittenbakes, who is an expert! I first became vegan because I believed animals should not be mass-produced for food. Since college I have been eating animal products but for the past 9 months I have significantly reduced my intake of animal products, eating primarily vegan. Vegan baking is extremely easy and very tasty, and it's fun to figure out how to substitute certain ingredients. Many vegan recipes are also healthier than traditional ones, focusing on whole grains and including organic and natural elements. So I will be trying out some delicious and simple recipes and sharing them with you!