Fall Harvest Pumpkin Mousse

I love all kinds of pumpkin recipes in the fall…pumpkin bread, muffins, pancakes, pumpkin bars…what are your favorites? What’s so great about cooking with pumpkin is that it’s flavor is pretty neutral. I’ve used it in various baking recipes to cut down on fat and you wouldn’t even know it was in the dish. You can sweeten up it’s flavor with warming spices of clove, ginger, nutmeg, and/or allspice or turn it into a more savory dish with curry spices such as turmeric, ginger, cumin, and coriander. Well, I decided to just make a simple mousse and top it with candied pumpkin seeds for an extra burst of vitamins and minerals. Pumpkin is already high in vitamin A and the seeds are full of various minerals including magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese, phosphorous, and copper…they all help to keep the immune system strong and are important for growth and development. Overall, this recipe is full of good for you nutrients!

  • 1 cup canned coconut milk (full-fat or lite)
  • 3-4 dates (depending upon your preference of sweetness)
  • 1- 15-ounce can organic canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon organic vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon organic cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground flaxseed

In a medium-sized pan, heat the coconut milk and dates over low to medium heat until dates become soft and breakdown. Remove from heat.

In a high-powered blender, add the coconut milk/date mixture and remainder ingredients. Blend on high until ingredients are well incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Divide into 4 ramekins or wine glasses. Prepare candied pumpkin seed, recipe below.

When pumpkin seeds are ready and cool enough to handle, break apart and garnish the mousse with them. If desired, top mousse with a dollop of coconut whip and a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg! Enjoy!

To make candied pumpkin seeds:

Candied Pumpkin Seeds

  • 1 cup shelled pumpkin seeds
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Over low to medium heat, add the pumpkin seeds to a skillet and toast until puffed up and golden brown. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients, toss until combined. Spread pumpkin seeds out onto a jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper.

Bake the pumpkin seeds in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until seeds are toasted and sugar is caramelized. Allow seeds to cool; store in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes: 1 cup

Copyright 2010, J. Usdavin, Original recipe.


Sweet & Creamy Buckwheat Pudding

This is a gluten free grain that supply’s a high amount of flavonoids, plenty of magnesium, folate, and fiber with small amounts of selenium, iron, and zinc.  It’s also an excellent grain to help control blood sugar and to satisfy hunger.  Another name you might see is Kasha, which is roasted buckwheat groats.

  • ½ cup buckwheat
  • 4 cups liquid (2 cups coconut milk, 2 cups water…see note)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 4 dates, pitted & chopped
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

In a medium sized pot, add the buckwheat and cooking liquid. Stir to combine and heat over medium to low heat. Once mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and add remaining ingredients. Cover and cook over low heat until liquid is absorbed and buckwheat is cooked through.

Allow pudding to sit for 10 minutes before serving. Tastes even better the next day when the flavors have had time to blend together.

Serve warm topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon and/or nutmeg and a dollop of coconut cream!

Note: I’ve also used unsweetened hemp milk and all coconut milk. I just happened to have run out of coconut milk. Feel free to use your favorite choice of milk.

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4 to 6

Creamy Rice Pudding

Here is a delicious, quick, and easy recipe to satisfy your sweet cravings using whole foods ingredients instead of sugar. Amylose and Amylopection are both starches, however, amylopectin is highly branched and therefore breaks down into glucose faster than amylose, which is a more linear structure. I chose long grain brown rice due to its higher content of amylose resulting in a slower glucose response.

In an earlier post, BPA and the consequences that result from it was mentioned, along with alternative ideas to avoid the chemical. Native Forest is a company that does not line their canned goods with BPA. You can also use Thai Kitchen coconut milk, but at this time their canned coconut milk still contains BPA in the liner.

Feel free to add additional spices including garam masala, ground cardamom, star anise, or a dash of nutmeg. I’m sure this would be delicious as well with a dash of raw cacao added after it’s done cooking for a heart healthy chocolate treat!

1/2 cup long grain brown rice (soaked overnight)
1-2 cups water
1/4 cup lite coconut milk (by Native Forest)
1/2 vanilla pod, seeds removed but reserve the pod
1 cinnamon stick
2 dates, pits removed
Ground cinnamon, for garnish

In a small pot or saucepan, add the rice, one cup water, coconut milk, the vanilla seeds and the pod, cinnamon stick, and dates and stir to combine. Over low to medium-low heat, simmer rice until soft and creamy, stirring occasionally. Add more water throughout cooking, if necessary. When ready, remove the cinnamon stick and vanilla pod. Serve in a small bowl and garnish with a dash of cinnamon. Enjoy!


Rich, creamy, smooth, velvety…how would you describe your favorite kind of chocolate? Does it have hints of raisins or cherries or is it infused with lavender, chilies, or ginger? Perhaps dark is your favorite with the rich, strong, cocoa taste or the creaminess of milk chocolate that just seems to melt in your mouth. There is something special about biting into a piece of chocolate and tasting all the special notes that it has to offer. I’ve tasted a variety of chocolate bars, and it always amazes me how different and unique each chocolate bar is depending upon where the chocolate is from (Guatemala, Madagascar, Peru, etc.)

As you take a bite of your next piece of chocolate, here’s something to think about…it’s good for the heart. Chocolate (specifically 70% or higher) has so many nutritional benefits. Chocolate is high in magnesium, chromium, iron, protein, and fiber, along with many antioxidants and flavonols. In various studies, it’s been shown to reduce blood pressure and blood clotting, and improve circulation.

When choosing chocolate, avoid varieties that contain high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, or any other additives. Soy lecithin may be added to some varieties to keep a smooth consistency to the chocolate, although some varieties do not use this ingredient leaving the chocolate with a bit more texture to it.

I’d love to hear about your favorite brand of chocolate and/or your favorite way of enjoying it. Do you enjoy it plain, just savoring it, or in a favorite recipe (creamy pudding, gooey brownies, truffles, etc).  Here’s a recipe that I really enjoy…


Cooking: 10 minutes, plus 30 minutes to chill

Makes: 16 servings

  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk or other milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 package of organic silken or firm tofu
  • ¼ cup brown rice syrup or sweetener of choice

Combine chocolate, milk, and vanilla extract in a small saucepan. Place on medium-low heat and stir until chocolate melts and turns shiny. Blend tofu in a food processor or blender until smooth. Next add melted chocolate and sweetener. Process until smooth.

Chill in refrigerator until set about 1 hour or more.

Recipe by Ami Karnosh, PCC Cooks Instructor. http://www.pccnaturalmarkets.com/pcc/recipes/chocolate-mousse.

Candied Walnuts

Walnuts are high in copper, manganese, and omega 3 fatty acids, which are delicate and should not be heated to high temperatures. Roasting at the 250 degree temperature helps to preserve these oils. Candied walnuts make a great snack to satisfy a sweet craving, taste great on top of a salad, or stirred into a pilaf or vegetable dish. If you prefer a sweeter candied nut, use 4 tablespoons maple syrup (1/4 cup) or for a spicier candied walnut add an extra pinch of cayenne pepper.

  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

In a bowl, combine the maple syrup, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and salt. Stir to combine, add the walnuts and toss to evenly coat the nuts.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the walnuts evenly out on the baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven for 55 minutes to an hour or until walnuts are toasted and sugar is caramelized.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Makes: 2 cups

Copyright 2010, J. Usdavin, Original recipe.

Sweet & Creamy Cashew Dip

Pumpkin seeds, pistachios, walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, sunflower seeds…there are so many different kinds of nuts and/or seeds to enjoy daily. They make a great snack during the mid-afternoon when you’re looking for something crunchy or salty. Overall, they are a good source of protein, many minerals (magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper, iron, and zinc), and healthy fats.

I have been particularly enjoying cashews lately. Added on top of salads, mixed in with a pilaf, they seem to fit in with either salty or sweet dishes. They can be roasted in the oven with various spices (cumin, coriander, cayenne, cinnamon, and salt) or blended into a creamy dip for a sweeter flavor. Below is a recipe I created for these versatile nuts that tastes great paired with fresh fruit or can be used as a light frosting.

Sweet & Creamy Cashew Dip

Cashews are one of the highest nuts containing iron, along with providing calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. The mildly sweet flavor of the cashews combined with the sweetness of dried figs creates a tasty dip to pair with fresh fruit such as apples or pears or as a topping for muffins or scones.

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 dried Turkish figs
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of sea salt

Put all ingredients into a high speed blender and puree until all ingredients are combined and the texture is smooth and creamy.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Makes: 1 ½ cups

Copyright 2011, J. Usdavin, Original recipe.

Apples Galore!

Fall is definitely in the air. The days are becoming shorter; it’s getting darker a little bit earlier. The air is brisk, leaves are swirling, the wind is whistling, the rain has begun to fall. Yet, the sun is still peaking its way through during the day (occasionally). What does fall mean to you? I happen to love seeing the leaves change color, crunching the fallen leaves on the sidewalks, embracing fall harvest foods and looking forward to the holiday season.

Apples, pears, cranberries, pumpkins, pomegranates, winter squash, and many other delicious foods are coming into season. My personal favorite, apples! There are so many varieties, granny smith, gala, honey crispy, Macintosh, Cortland, pink pearl (an heirloom with a beautiful pink interior), etc. Tart, with a subtle sweetness and crisp texture that is especially common with the granny smith is my absolute favorite. One thing I love about the farmer’s market is to be able to taste all the different varieties from local farms to see if I find a new variety to include into my basket (of course, along with my tart grannies). I happened to have a Cortland the other day…I was surprised to see it out here in WA, as it is more common on the East Coast. It’s one of those apples with a crisp texture, bright white flesh on the inside with a not too sweet taste. I savored every bite; it was delicious. What is your favorite fall food or dish? How do you enjoy cooking/eating it?

Here’s a gluten free apple/cranberry cobbler that utilizes several different types of apples. Feel free to use your favorite variety/varieties.

Cran-Apple Cobbler

A wonderful, fresh dessert that utilizes fall fruit. The sweet apples combined with the tart cranberries prove to be an amazing combination. The cobbler is perfect topped with fresh whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 1/3 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons almond extract


  • 1 honey crisp apple, washed and core removed, chopped
  • 1 gala apple, washed and core removed, chopped
  • 1 cameo apple, washed and core removed, chopped
  • 1 granny smith apple, washed and core removed, chopped
  • 1 ¼ cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9×9 square inch pan.

To make the topping:

In a large bowl, add the almond meal, flours, oats, and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Add the maple syrup, egg, and almond milk. Stir to combine and then cut in the coconut oil using a pastry blender or fork. Then stir in the almond extract.

To make the filling:

In a large stockpot, add the chopped apples, cranberries, and applesauce. Heat on the stove over medium to low heat until fruits release their juices, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into baking dish.  Top filling with spoonfuls of topping.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until topping is brown and cooked through.

Preparation Time: 35 minutes, plus 25 minutes baking time

Yields: 1 9×9 inch pan

Copyright 2010, J. Usdavin, Original recipe.