If you think you’ve misread the title of this dish – “Avocados and chocolate? Surely not!” – please bear with us; it’s not what it seems.
Granted, it does sound like a bold combination; but when you think about it, avocadoes are fruits, and they don’t have
to be eaten as guacamole. Moreover, both avocados and chocolate contain
powerful anti-cancer nutrients, so that’s as good a reason as any for
us to enjoy this dish regularly.
confection is also ridiculously delicious, and that’s not something you
can say of a lot of gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free desserts. In
fact, it’s so non-avocado-ey that my hyper-sensitive and uber-critical
testers (my three kids) didn’t flinch when they tasted this, safe in the
conviction that they were eating a traditional egg-cream-chocolate
mousse. The avocado revelation blew them away.
Before we start cooking, a quick nutritional review.
are a veritable font of health. For one, they boast a long list of
carotenoids (powerful antioxidants erroneously associated only with red,
yellow and orange produce) such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and
lutein, and the more obscure neochrome, neoxanthin, chrysanthemaxanthin,
beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and violaxanthin.
Moreover, avocados contain several extremely healthy fats. (Yes, the terms “fat” and “health” can be compatible!)
are the phytosterols (such as beta-sitosterol, campesterol, and
stigmasterol), compounds that help to keep inflammation under control.
Second are avocados’ polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFAs), which
provide further anti-inflammatory benefits. Third is the oleic acid in
avocado (it’s also the predominant fatty acid in olive oil); oleic acid
helps our digestive tract form transport molecules that facilitate the
absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like carotenoids.
to the list of anti-cancer factors in avocados the flavonoids
epicatechin and epigallocatechin 3-0-gallate, vitamins C and E, and the
minerals manganese, selenium, and zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, and
you’ve got yourself a super food!
Alas, there isn’t (yet) much research available on the anti-cancer properties of avocados, but one interesting study
showed that avocado extract can selectively kill oral cancer cells by
prompting them to self-destruct (a process called apoptosis); at the
same time, it supports the health of non-cancerous cells by increasing
their supply antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients.
what about cocoa? Due to its high concentration of catechins and
procyanidins (plant chemicals with antioxidant properties), cocoa may
also have beneficial health effects against oxidative stress and chronic
inflammation. Procyanidins are prevalent in red wine, but cocoa is an
excellent alternative for teetotalers: for two to three squares of
good-quality chocolate containing 70-85% cocoa solids are equivalent to a
125 milliliter glass of procyanidin-rich red wine. Research into the
link between cocoa and cancer is still in its infancy, but scientists
have observed that cocoa procyanidins slow the development of breast
cancer in laboratory cell cultures, prostate cancer in rats and may
lower inflammation in humans.
supermarkets sell chocolate with 70% cocoa content or more; if yours
doesn’t, you can find it at a health-food store or online. Raw cacao
(which hasn’t been roasted or processed with an alkalizing agent – a
process called “dutching”) is the best to use here as it contains a much
greater concentration of antioxidant flavonols than processed cocoa. (One study
found that 60% of natural cocoa’s original antioxidants were destroyed
by even light dutching, and 90% were destroyed by heavy dutching.)
Because some cocoa-producing countries allow the use on cocoa plants of
pesticides banned in the US and Europe, we suggest you buy cocoa
products with an organic certification.
we finally start cooking, I should confess that I haven’t created this
recipe myself; it’s been rumbling around the internet, making the rounds
in the vegan and paleo diet communities (achieving a rare meeting of
minds over this one dish). I wish I knew who started it because I should
like to hug them and thank them for this fabulous addition to my
healthy-eating repertoire. I have adapted it slightly by adding hazelnut
butter to make it taste like my erstwhile favorite confection, Nutella.
I’d also like to thank the amazing team at “World’s Healthiest Foods”
for supplying such detailed information about the benefits of avocados.
And now for the recipe.
Avocado-Chocolate “Nutella” Pudding (Serves 2-3)
1 ripe avocado
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup Grade B maple syrup
1 tbsp hazelnut butter
6 tablespoons coconut or hazelnut milk
Optional toppings: grated coconut, almond slivers, ground cocoa nibs, coarsely grated chocolate
Place all the ingredients in a small electric blender. Blend until perfectly smooth and creamy.
Spoon into cups/bowls/ramekins and top if desired.