Alisa Fleming ~ Did you know that February is American Heart Month? I can certainly see the tie-in with Valentine’s Day and the heart, but could this chocolate-rich time of year really be healthy? I mean, I don’t know about you, but I would love to enjoy these rich, vegan chocolate mousse cups in the name of heart health! And perhaps, we both can …
Some studies have praised chocolate for heart health. Seriously. Though there is still some uncertainty regarding this bold claim most medical experts agree that cacao / cocoa is rich with a certain type of flavanols, or antioxidants, which may be particularly beneficial for cardiovascular health.
To increase the flavanols in these chocolate mousse cups, Gretchen Tseng combines cacao powder with So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage for about half of the chocolate punch. Using some dairy-free chocolate chips gives just enough cocoa butter goodness, but supplementing it with straight cacao powder and coconut milk beverage gives a higher ratio of unprocessed cocoa (particularly if you use the chocolate coconut milk beverage!), keeps the chocolate mousse cups lower in fat, and still provides a creamy component to the recipe. She uses coconut milk beverage because it is a bit richer in texture than most milk alternatives and is also soy-free, gluten-free, and nut-free. Click here for a So Delicious Coupon
Cacao Powder or Cocoa Powder? Though often used interchangeably in conversation and in recipes, products labeled as “cacao powder” are typically raw and unprocessed. Cocoa powder is very often processed or alkalized to remove some of the bitterness that naturally occurs in cacao beans. Gretchen chooses cacao powder in this recipe for vegan chocolate mousse cups, because studies have shown that processing cacao beans can result in a dramatic loss of important flavanols.
Tofu? The jury is still out on soy for heart health. Though some studies lambast soy, others support it. Keep in mind that the negative studies on soy have been done on soy protein isolates specifically - this is not how the age-old Okinawans eat their soy! For these chocolate mousse cups, look for tofu made with organic whole soybeans, and pretty much nothing else. This will ensure that you are avoiding GMO’s and will also give you the nutrition of the whole bean without the negative publicity of the soy extracts.
Soy-Free Option: If you prefer a soy-free mousse, then look no further than the ubiquitous coconut. Though not as low in fat as tofu, coconuts offer their own healthy powers and can thicken a vegan chocolate mousse beautifully. In place of the tofu, use about 1-1/2 to 2 cups of thick coconut cream. You can purchase coconut cream in a can or carton (I like Trader Joe’s coconut cream) or buy regular full fat canned coconut milk, let the can settle, and skim the thick cream from the top. You will need about two cans of coconut milk for a full batch of this recipe.