Is it just me or does it feel like a small eternity since I last posted a chocolate recipe?
That's what I thought.
Well, have I got a doozy for you! A delicious twist on traditional chocolate pudding that will rock your socks off (or something like that).
Today's feature is a dairy free, egg free, creamy delight that is chock-full of health building properties and can be assembled in about five minutes with the use of five simple ingredients.
A pretty good deal if you ask me.
Some Health Profiling -
The creamy texture of this recipe is largely attributable to the avocado. Not only does avocado taste delicious, it is also endowed with gorgeous, nutritive properties. An excellent source of heart healthy monounsaturated fat, avocado is also rich in lutein, a carotenoid that operates to help protect our eyes from disease. Other health supporters found in the avocado include: fibre, folate, vitamin K, vitamin E, and vitamin B5.
Now on to one of my favourite subjects, you guessed it, chocolate!
First a little background...
Ever wonder how chocolate is made? Here's a quick snapshot:
Chocolate is made from the seed of the cacao tree.
Cacao podsare harvested from the cacao tree and their seeds (known as cacao beans/cocoa beans) are left to ferment for several days to minimize bitterness. The seeds are then roasted – a process that further intensifies flavour, dries and darkens the seeds.
The outer shell (husk) of the seeds is removed revealing the inner kernel of the seed called cacao nibs (you may have come across these nibs before – they are sometimes sold with sweet flavoured coatings). The cacao nibs are then crushed and ground into a thick paste called chocolate liquor which is essentially a combination of cocoa solids and cocoa butter.
At this point, the chocolate liquor can be used to make cocoa solids (such as cocoa powder) or the sweet/semi-sweet commercial chocolate that we are familiar with.
To make cocoa powder, the chocolate liquor is compressed to remove a significant portion of the cocoa butter that is naturally found in the cacao nibs. What remains is a dry mass (cocoa solid) that is ground into a powder.
For commercial chocolate, cocoa butter from the chocolate liquor is retained along with the cocoa solids but manufacturers will also add things like sugar, milk, or condensed milk (more sugar and fat), and soy lecithin for texture and taste. The amount of additives relative to the percentage of cocoa content in a commercial chocolate will determine whether it is classified as milk chocolate or dark chocolate or something else (white chocolate, for instance, contains no cocoa solids).
The greater the percentage of cocoa (or cacao) retained in a particular chocolate product, the greater the potential health benefits. This is because the health benefits of chocolate revolve around the flavonoid activity found in the cocoa bean itself, not in the manufacturer's additives.
So what about those Flavonoids?
Flavonoids are a group of chemical compounds naturally found in certain plant-based foods (green tea, red wine, berries, tree fruit, spices, nuts/beans) that operate as antioxidants, or disease fighters, in our bodies.
In terms of health protection, research suggests that flavonoids in cocoa help stimulate the production of nitric oxide in the body which can in turn help relax blood vessels, leading to lower blood pressure and improved heart health. Other studies have similarly linked the antioxidants in cocoa to reduced LDL cholesterol levels.
In addition to its antioxidant content, cocoa also contains a host of minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and zinc.
When buying commercial chocolate, choose a minimum 70% cocoa (or cacao) content in order to maximize these health benefits.
In time, you will grow accustomed to the new taste and may well find it far more satiating and less addicting. A square or two of 75% cocoa chocolate in the evening will satisfy a craving without priming the pump the way milk chocolate does (that insatiable desire of wanting another sugar fix with the ensuing blood sugar roller coaster...).
Chocolate Avocado Pudding with Coconut Milk ~ Egg free, Dairy free
- 1 + 1/2 ripe avocado, peeled and flesh removed from pit
- 1/3 cup quality cocoa powder (100% pure cacao)
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup or honey
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract or essence
Makes approximately two half-cup servings or four quarter-cup servings.
Place all ingredients in a blender and press GO.
Blend until all ingredients are well combined and a creamy, consistent texture is achieved.
You can serve this pudding straight from the blender or chilled (store it in the fridge).
When you're ready, place into serving bowls, hang on to your socks and enjoy!