Healthy Vegan Pumpkin Mousse
With or without the holidays and cool weather, my Vegan Pumpkin Mousse is the perfect recipe to add to your arsenal. It is super simple to whip up and lighter than traditional desserts, but with all of the same flavors and textures. Your guests will have no idea that this delicious dish is packed with plant-based protein and antioxidants.
Vegan Pumpkin Mousse
Traditional mousse is made with high-fat dairy- usually heavy cream- and lots of refined sugar. Preparing traditional mousse can also be tricky, requiring temperature control and special equipment like a double boiler. While I love the traditional version every now and then, I prefer to let someone else dirty a bunch of dishes!
My Vegan Pumpkin Mousse uses a secret ingredient to achieve the texture of whipped cream and egg yolks- silken tofu! Many people say they don’t like tofu because it has a bland flavor, but its lack of flavor is actually what makes it so versatile. Tofu will soak up whatever flavors it is prepared with, whether savory or sweet. In my Vegan Pumpkin Mousse recipe I use lemon juice and zest, maple syrup, vanilla, and aromatic, warm spices to flavor the tofu.
I find that processing the ingredients in a certain order leaves me with the best textured Vegan Pumpkin Mousse. First I like to combine all the ingredients except the pumpkin in a food processor to ensure they are well combined. I then add half the pumpkin and process until just mixed. I add the remaining pumpkin to the mixture using a spatula rather than the food processor to maintain a bit of texture.
Get creative with your toppings! If I want a bit of a crunch, I add crushed graham crackers, ginger snaps, vanilla wafers, or toasted seeds or nuts (pecans or pumpkin seeds go really well with Vegan Pumpkin Mousse). For a softer, creamier touch use whipped cream, crème fraiche, or mascarpone with an additional sprinkle of cinnamon. If you want this to remain vegan, make sure you choose a vegan topping! Whipped coconut cream with toasted pecans is super tasty.
Pumpkin Pie Spice
Traditional pumpkin pie spice contains cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger. For my Vegan Pumpkin Mousse, we are using three of those spices- clove, ginger, and cinnamon. In some forms of traditional medicine like Ayurveda, these spices are thought to be warming, working in our bodies from the inside out. We often associate the smells from these spices with colder temperatures and the holiday season. Did you know that smell is more tightly linked to memory than any other sense?
Beyond linking memories and providing warmth, the spices used in my Vegan Pumpkin Mousse are packed with phytonutrients that function as antioxidants. The antioxidants in spices are believed to prevent cardiovascular disease, prevent the formation of cancerous tumors, prevent inflammation, and prevent atherosclerosis (1). Spices also have antimicrobial benefits that can extend the shelf-life of foods.
What is in my Can of Pumpkin?
Pumpkins come in all different sizes, shapes, and even colors. Visit a pumpkin patch or even the grocery store and you will find pumpkins with warts, miniature pumpkins, blue pumpkins, white pumpkins, or even pink pumpkins. Despite all the different varieties, what we find in a can of pumpkin may not even technically be pumpkin!
The Food and Drug Administration in the United States allows companies to market a product as “pumpkin” if the vegetable falls within two of three categories of winter squash: C pepo or C maxima. These two categories include acorn squash, kabocha squash, Dickenson squash, and the sugar pumpkin among other types.
I recommend buying canned pumpkin puree for my Vegan Pumpkin Mousse because it is extremely convenient and just as nutrient-dense as if you were to spend hours roasting and pureeing a pumpkin yourself. Make sure you are buying canned Pumpkin and not canned Pumpkin Pie Filling. The latter contains added sugar and spices.
Pumpkin can be a healthy substitution for fat when baking (substitute 1:1 ratio). Just remember you will get a bit of pumpkin flavor and a cake-y texture. For a more neutral flavor try unsweetened applesauce.
Health Benefits of Orange Winter Squash
Orange winter squash is a great source of carotenoids: beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Carotenoids are what give orange winter squash its vibrant color, but they also function as antioxidants, protecting us from dangerous cells in the body that can cause cancer and other harmful diseases. Carotenoids are also precursors for vitamin A, which is an important nutrient in eye health.
There is also early evidence that the type of indigestible fiber found in winter squash (polysaccharides) may keep blood sugar from rising after meals (2). This is good news for individuals with diabetes who have to monitor these blood sugar spikes.
1. Srinivasan K. Role of Spices Beyond Food Flavoring: Nutraceuticals with Multiple Health Effects. Food Reviews International 2005;21(2).
2. CAILI F, HUAN S, HONG LQ. A review on pharmacological activities and utilization technologies of pumpkin. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. 2006;61(2):70-77.
Vegan Pumpkin Mousse
- 8 ounces silken tofu
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 14.5-ounce can pureed pumpkin
- Optional: Nilla wafers or whipped cream
In a food processor or high speed blender, add tofu, maple syrup, zest, juice, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt and process till smooth.
Add in half of pumpkin and puree.
Transfer mixture to a bowl and add remaining pumpkin. Whisk together till creamy. Cover and place in refrigerator at least 3 hours or overnight.
Serve sprinkled with Nilla Wafers or a dollop of whipped cream.