Brownie Points or Epic Failure: No Bake Chocolate Mousse

I thought long and hard about a Valentine’s Day dessert recipe to tout to the twenty something gal who’s smart and savvy, but has little time to spend in the kitchen. The ease of  this chocolate treat made me curious; it is soooo easy to prepare even kids can make it. I’m not talking You, twenty something gals, I’m talking first and second graders, here! I watched them at a local Williams-Somona.  It was a promotion for Jennifer Tyler Lee’s book The 52 New Foods Challenge.  And so, that’s how the story begins, of this Valentine’s Day chocolate recipe…No Bake Chocolate Mousse

Although appealing to me, I must be honest with you, I didn’t score any brownie points with ‘the man’.  He would have been happier with.. ahem… Bobby Flay’s version (which btw takes over one hour and fifteen minutes to prepare). While cleaning up, He (aka the man) challenged me, “Are you altering the recipe for some minor nutritional improvements?” 

So here’s how it break downs, Honey:

Bobby Flay’s Dark Chocolate Mousse recipe  per serving : 450 calories, 33 g fat, 21 g sat’d fat, 97 mg cholesterol, 234 mg sodium, 17 g sugar, 2 g fiber.

Made according to my recipe (posted below) per serving: 227 calories, 14 g fat, 4 g sat’d fat, 1 mg cholesterol, 25 mg sodium, 15 g sugar, 7 g  fiber

Clearly this one was not so minor. That said, if you know your man loves to get jacked up on sugar and prefers milk chocolate to dark chocolate DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS RECIPE. It will fail. Save it instead for a girls night in. But, if he’s from California, you may proceed.No Bake Chocolate Mousse

For the interest of anyone who may be reading,  and asking me (along  with members of my family whose names I will withhold),  the obvious question: Why do you continue to use dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate or avocado instead of heavy cream, if you know,  no one you’re cooking for  will appreciate it (except yourself)? These are some of the internal conflicts a blogger often faces and legitimately described by Regan Jones R.D. in her post How My Blog was Ruining Dinnertime. (If you’re interested in this topic and you haven’t read this, you should.) I have those same blogging issues. And yes, sometimes my family  accuses me of.. gasp.. cooking for the blog. So do I believe I should have made the dessert Bobby Flay’s  way?  No. For whatever it’s worth, I try to follow a give and take. Sometimes making the family favorites, other times pushing the envelope.  I do find that getting individuals to expand their palates is not an overnight process. (Twenty years ago my husband would not touch yogurt with a ten foot pole, now he reminds me when we’re out.) Yes, I said twenty years!!! Don’t give up! I do think it’s important to continue to expose individuals to healthier choices, mixed in with  familiar foods. It’s not perfect, but I’m not trying to be perfect at what I do, just good at it: wife, mother, blogger, and dietitian.

Let me know how you try to introduce new foods to your family? or do you prefer to just play it safe?

No Bake Chocolate MousseNo Bake Chocolate Mousse (serves 2)

(Adapted from Chocolate Avocado Pudding published in The 52 New Foods Challenge)

by Diane Boyd


  • 1 avocado
  • 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 3/4 ounce dark chocolate, melted
  • 1 pitted date
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 Tablespoons sweetened whipped cream
  • handful of pomegranate seeds for garnish


1. Add avocado, cocoa powder, date, skim milk and vanilla to blender or food processor.

2. Process until smooth.

3. Melt dark chocolate in a microwave safe bowl or in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add melted chocolate to mixture in blender and blend again until creamy and smooth.

4. Refrigerate for 10 minutes or up to 24 hours. Serve with whipped topping. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.

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Quick and Easy Valentine’s Day Dinner Idea: DIY en papillote (cooking and serving in a paper wrapper)

 DIY en papillote (cooking and serving in a paper wrapper)Every once in a while I get a special request for a recipe. I usually oblige; never in a public way. Today is different.  Here’s how Ashley coaxed me,

 ‘You know so much about food and cooking.. you need to help us twenty-something gals…  the smart gals, the fit gals… the gals who still haven’t gotten their full act together in the kitchen.’

Violà! How did she know my passion is getting  people to prepare more meals at home? Have you noticed that learning to cook is frequently one of the top items on lists like things I wish I knew when I was twenty? Cooking is now perceived as a desirable lifestyle habit, if  you cook  healthy.  Even if you don’t cook regularly, everyone should have at least one meal they can showboat make reasonably well.  So listen up all you twenty-something gals.  This is the meal you can  add to your “life portfolio”! White fish and veggies en papillote

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner,  why not  forgo the restaurant fare and share  this rustically romatic dinner in the comfort of your home? Sounds good, but who has the time? You do, if you can spare 25 minutes. I promise you, it’s that easy. Not to mention,  you can rack up some extreme brownie points from the man! Pardon the pun.

It take’s 5 minutes to assemble the food and fold it into a parchment paper parcel (en papillote, pronounced ON-poppy-YOTE). Pretty cool, eh? But they’re more than just a fun way to serve something  wrapped up like a surprise.   What appears to be a flashy technique, is actually an ideal way to steam food, locking in flavor and moisture. While they bake for 20 minutes,  assemble a tossed salad.  Keep the anticipation building; wait  until you’re at the table to open the packets and create a  little dinner time drama.

Below is the recipe for the meal pictured in the images on this  post. Use it if you’re a recipe follower. If you like to wing it, here are some tips.  Use a firm fish. I used Wahoo (I had some in the freezer from a fishing promise fulfilled). I think swordfish would work nicely and even salmon. Choose any  potato you like. Yukon gold would be yummy; I went with a purple sweet potato just for something different. Top with a non-starchy vegetable, use one that complements  the colors in your other ingredients.

Final tip, don’t let folding the paper freak you out. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t even have to cut your paper into a heart, I just found it easier to fold  that way plus it tied into the Valentine theme.  Here is a quick video on folding the parchment paper. I have also described my steps in the instructions. Have fun. Happy Valentine’s Day!

White fish and veggies en papillote

Fish and Veggies En Papilotte

by Diane Boyd

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 pieces of parchment paper about 15” X 24”
  • 2 – 4oz pieces of white fish (filet)
  • 1 potato (your choice) cut into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 8 mini zucchini, quartered
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed


1Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Fold each piece of parchment paper in half crosswise. Draw a large heart half on each peice with the fold of the paper along the center of the heart. Cut out hearts, open and lay flat.

3. On one side of the fold, place 2 sliced potato rounds. Sprinkle potatoes with garlic. Place fish  on top of potatoes. Top fish with julienne zucchini. Repeat with second peice of parchment paper.

4. Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and add lemon zest, lemon juice, dill. Pour half of melted butter mixture over each assembled fish  and vegetable combination.

5. Fold parchment paper over food to cover. Starting at the bottom of the heart, make small overalpping pleats all the way around to seal the edges completely. Make your last fold turn under.

6. Place both parchement parcels on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until the parchment puffs up.

7. Using kitchen shears cut open the tops of the  packets just before serving.

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