Blueberry Coconut Pancakes with Coconut Yogurt

Makes about 10 (1/4c) pancakes

Blueberry Coconut Pancakes

I get excited about food.  Back in the States, the days we got our CSA boxes were happy days.  My husband and I would go through the box, checking out our goods while talking about this meal or that for each beautiful piece of produce we touched.  Here in the UAE, that excitement has doubled…at least doubled!  We don’t get the exotic, heirloom treasures that the Hudson Valley has given us over the years but then again, we do live in the desert.  And I don’t mean that figuratively.  We actually live in a desert.  So, any produce (and so far we’ve gotten arugula (aka rocket), strawberries, peppers, sweet potatoes, chard, beets, carrots, celery, green beans, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, a whole bunch of fresh herbs, organic eggs, organic, low-heat pasteurized milk, to name a few) we get that is local AND organic is amazing!  What really doubles our excitement is that Claire is now very much a part of our conversation and investigation of our beloved farm fresh boxes.

This week she went straight for the blueberries.   Like mother, like daughter.  They were like blue little pearls peeking up at us underneath all that glorious green.  They were irresistible.  While Claire got through one box, I managed to put another away for a special breakfast.  Little did I know how special it would turn out.

Berries in general are super stars (and why you should always go organic when buying some).  When you hear about blueberries especially, and their amazing health promoting properties, the first word to come to mind is likely, antioxidants.  And, rightfully so! Blueberries are not messing around when it comes to its antioxidant power.  What’s special about it is that the antioxidants in blueberries offer whole body support.  Each and every system in our bodies, from the cardiovascular system to the nervous system to the digestive system, benefits from the antioxidants in blueberries.

Another word that should come to mind is, phytonutrients.  While anthocyanins are the most popular, given that the berries get their blue from them, there are a myriad of other phytonutrients that work together to make this berry the super star it is.  Got cholesterol issues to deal with?  Eat blueberries.  Need a cognitive boost (as in memory, especially)?  Eat blueberries.  Got insulin issues to contend with?  Eat blueberries.  Want general protection from cancer?  Eat blueberries.

I’m sure by now you’re getting my drift.

More good news.  If you find yourself having to freeze blueberries, or buying frozen blueberries, you won’t be compromising much of the antioxidants at all!  Buy out your farmer’s blueberries and make a home in your freezer for them.  This way you can enjoy this super berry all year long!

On to the recipe now.  It became this on its own.  I’m not sure what I even had in mind anymore, but this one is a winner.  If you’re a GF eater, opt out the spelt for GF all-purpose flour OR GF oat flour.  My new favorite topping for pancakes is yogurt and I can get some pretty decadent yogurt here!  Next time I may try putting the yogurt into the actual batter to see how that goes, but if you get to it first, please let me know how it goes!

You’ll need:

  • 1 C organic spelt flour*
  • 1/4 C organic coconut flour
  • 1/4 C unsweetened shredded coconut (or dessicated coconut for my new UK and AUS friends 🙂 )
  • 2 T coconut (or date) sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 3 medium eggs (I used farm fresh eggs which are typically smaller, so 2 large eggs would probably be OK, too)
  • 1 1/4 C organic whole milk
  • 1/2 C coconut oil or melted butter (organic of course!)
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 C organic blueberries + more for garnish

To make:

  1. In a large bowl, mix flours, shredded coconut, sugar and baking powder.  Combine well.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt, milk, coconut oil (or butter) and vanilla.
  3. Add wet ingredients into dry (make a little well in the dry ingredients to incorporate evenly and prevent too many lumps) and mix just to combine.  Resist the urge to over mix!  The batter will be slightly thicker than you’re used to because of the coconut flour.  Don’t worry.  It’ll even out when cooking.
  4. Add blueberries and stir again, gently.
  5. Heat a cast iron griddle over medium heat and melt some butter.  Using a 1/4C measuring cup, pour the batter into the pan and cook for 3-4minutes or until golden brown.  Flip pancake over, gently!  Resist the urge to press on the pancake!  It will cook evenly and quickly without any tampering. 😉
  6. Keep pancakes warm in the oven until ready to serve.
  7. Serve with a dollop of yogurt, a few fresh blueberries and your favorite sweetener such as maple syrup, date syrup or honey.
  8. Enjoy!
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Spiced Date Syrup

Yields 1-1 1/2C (about)spiced date syrup

Happy Anniversary Guaya Gourmet!

Somehow we are at our first year anniversary!  Last year when I began blogging here, Claire was 5 months old and spent most of her time in the kitchen with me in her carrier.  Now, she spends her time climbing on and off the footstool, opening drawers and cabinets and subsequently hiding my measuring cups and spoons, and helping me by mixing or adding ingredients.  Oh, and we also live in a foreign country.  A lot has changed.

Other surprises over the past year include; gathering quite a following (THANK YOU for reading and following!), developing relationships with other bloggers via social media networks, learning a ton about social media and how useful it is, learning and working with the developing taste buds and moods of a baby foodie, and being consistently amazed about the people I meet as a result of the food that inspires and delights me.

It has been a fruitful and eventful year.  And with every meal that has made it to these pages and all the meals that haven’t, we have been grateful.

That was my toast.  Now on to the real reason you’re here.

For our anniversary blog post, Claire and I thought it would be most logical to write about a local ingredient.  We miss maple syrup (along with kale) and while it is available here, it is prohibitively expensive and well, not very local.  Enter dates!

Dates are incredibly nutritious and the best part about this syrup is that it is a whole food.  You are getting the sweetener without any of the fiber removed so it is much easier assimilated and processed by the body and your body doesn’t get a shock from the sugar.

What makes dates special?  FIBER, POTASSIUM, B-COMPLEX VITAMINS, and ANTIOXIDANTS do!  Let’s do a quick recap on why we should care about these characteristics.

Fiber:  Soluble fiber (remember the peas?) dissolves and becomes gel-like traveling slowly through your digestive tract, makes you feel fuller and longer and it binds to cholesterol lingering around your body and escorts it out.

Potassium:  A mineral that is critical for muscle contraction.  So, dates are especially good if you’ve got an exercise regime you adhere to.  But, even if you don’t, you know what else is a muscle…your heart!  “A critical electrolyte, potassium allows our muscles to move, our nerves to fire, and our kidneys to filter blood. The right balance of potassium literally allows the heart to beat.”¹

B-Complex Vitamins:  This is a team of vitamins that are essential for many bodily functions such as making blood cells, maintaining blood glucose levels and they are also key for mind-related health such as mood, memory and stress.  Click here for more detailed and fascinating info.

Antioxidants:  I love these.  Dates have polyphenols which are particularly effective at protecting the body, destroying free radicals roaming around.  We’re all vulnerable to oxidative stress so you can’t ever really get too many antioxidants!

You can use this syrup in your baking, as a topping on pancakes, waffles, granola, oatmeal, yogurt, in your smoothies or even as a sweetener for your morning coffee.  However you use it, enjoy every delicious minute of it!

You’ll need:

12-15 pitted dates, Medjool or Halawii

1-1 1/2 C water- I had some coconut water so I added that, too.

3-4 (slightly crushed) cardamom pods

To make:

1.  Place pitted dates and cardamom in a bowl or jar and add just enough water to cover dates.  Let sit for at least 4 hours or as in my case, overnight.

2.  Remove cardamom pods and blend water and dates until syrup forms.  If you want, you could run it through a sieve or cheesecloth for a finer consistency.

3.  That’s it!  It will keep refrigerated for 2-3 weeks.

4.  Enjoy!

¹http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/potassium-and-your-heart

Sámara Organics Market and Café

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Playa Sámara is a beautiful beach on the southwestern coast of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica.  It is an unassuming place, laid back, sleepy even but the beach (and nearby beaches, too) is nothing short of AMAZING.  The same goes for the locals in town, the Ticos (native Costa Ricans) and expats alike.

The first time we visited was nearly 8 years ago.  We loved it.  We got married there.  It’s fair to say that Sámara holds a special place in our hearts and so we promised we’d return with our first baby.

Claire loved it as much as we did; the white sand, the calm and warm waters, the Pura Vida attitude that permeates each moment.  We were happy to see that not that much had changed in 8 years.  No Club Meds just yet.  What we did find that was new was an organic café and market.  Let me reiterate with proper emotion:  An ORGANIC CAFE AND MARKET IN SAMARA!!!  I met Angelina, one of the founders, and immediately felt a kinship with her.  The kind you feel when you’re part of a community that has no boundaries.  Ours happens to be about the food we eat and our interest in making the best choices for our own health, that of our families’ and that of the planet we inhabit.  It’s about our shared understanding about the true meaning behind ‘organic’ and ‘sustainable’ and the responsibility we feel to feed our bodies well, to share what we know, and to respect the Earth that bears our food, all of it.  It’s a wonderful feeling to travel the world and meet people like Angelina who are making a difference, one small step at a time, to better their communities.

Sàmara Organics is a lovely market and café that serves up delicious salads, sandwiches, soups and fresh fruit and vegetable juices.  They also serve the native gallo pinto for breakfast!  It’s a foodie’s paradise tucked away in this little beach town.  I was SO grateful to Angelina and her passion for organic food especially because we had a new little eater with us.  I was also so inspired by her story.  I knew you would be too, so here is a short conversation about Sàmara Organics.

And, if you’re ever in the area, DO stop by for some delicious food and drinks and please tell Angelina we say hello.

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GG:  What was the food situation like as far as organic vs. conventional food before you started Samara Organics?

Angelina:  We moved to Samara about six years ago.  At that time we could find no organic food except in AutoMercado, 4-5 hours from here.  They had organic produce, soy products and other non-meat alternatives.  It was very exciting.  With a year or so of that we could find soy, almond, and rice milks which was a real treat.  For years we talked of opening a market to offer the products that we previously had stuffed our luggage with and smuggled down.  About two years ago I made some connections with folks from the Nosara Farmer’s Market and found locally made cheeses and organically grown produce.  I organized a mail list and started to sell it out of my car essentially with no mark up.  Just passing it along directly to other folks interested in the same.  The response was light but there were some folks.  The challenge with Samara, unlike Nosara, is our community is less affluent with less discretionary income so it was and still is a challenge to get folks to pay double for organic produce or cheese that are made without preservatives.  We really try to impress upon folks the importance of buying local – not only for the benefits of conserving our global resources but also the long term benefit of supporting a sustainable economy for our area.

GG:  What percentage of the food is locally grown/produced vs. imported?

Angelina:  Good question.  Organic produce remains a very small percentage of what is grown.  Monsanto has a foothold here and farmers can make more money by growing conventional.  We have a few imported items that we offer only to bring people in.  And, really even imported produce is a better option than some of the other snack food options with high fructose corn syrup that so many of our locals and expats turn to for a quick bite.  It is all trade offs and as one of my professors taught me…”learn to live with your contradictions”.  We don’t strive to be purists…we strive to offer healthy alternatives that support the locals that make responsible business decisions.  Our store gives us the opportunity to educate, to be there and teach and share when the light comes on about how to feel better through diet.

GG:  Are Ticos interested or aware of the organic label?

Angelina:  Very few.  The same is true for most expats.  The tourists are the ones that get it.  I am grateful for these tourists as we would not be in business without them.  We are, however, learning that we need to find different ways to reach the community because they haven’t a strong enough connection to the value of organics. Plus media gives them an out by running articles that state there are no real proven benefits of organic produce.  Please…  Also, here organic designation is prohibitively expensive for the small farmers so even if they are pesticide free they still don’t have certification.

GG:  What are the standards for the organic label in Costa Rica?

Angelina:  We have done some farming here however not to the level where we have been able to dedicate resources to understanding the certification of the law.  It remains the frontier here in Costa Rica in so many ways and cultural dynamics make it difficult at times to ascertain procedures, protocols, etc.

GG:  Who are your purveyors and how do you ensure organic practices?

Angelina:  We know of two distributors that sell organics and they have direct relationships with the famers and the produce comes with “organic” labeling.  At this stage we have not had any farm visits except for one and really the distributors are not eager to share their sources as there is more demand than there is produce to go around.

GG:  What are your biggest challenges?  Especially being in a foreign country!

Angelina:  Costs.  Costs continue to rise here as the popularity of this beautiful country increases.  Fixed income retirees don’t want to spend the money and many are often fixed in their beliefs so they don’t see the value.  We are grateful for the toursits but really our biggest challenge is finding easy access to quality product at an affordable price.  We have a fantastic organic produce distributor in San Jose but it costs us $150 to get the produce to our store – this is more than we make on the order.  We usually run a loss on our produce to just bring people in and compete with conventional produce often offered by the Walmart Pali stores that have huge purchasing power.

GG:  Was there anything easy about getting started?

Angelina:  Ha, not a thing! But, super rewarding to meet people like you that get it and are so grateful that they found us and they have this choice.  Many have commented it was the one thing missing for the idyllic Samara.  This makes us very happy.  We are close to going all vegetarian and offering some raw food options but again our tiny pueblo really just isn’t ready for it.

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GG:  It’s often assumed that food is better outside of the U.S. because there are probably fewer factory farms and mono-culture farms.  Is this true for Costa Rica?  For example, is the meat better because it comes from some small farm nearby where cows are probably fed grasses, etc.?

 Angelina:  In some ways this is true as chemicals are expensive and there are many here that still do it the “old way” but just the same studies show that use of pesticides continues to grow here in CR and with that it becomes cheaper and cheaper to do the wrong thing.

GG:  How and where did you start?  How did you know the food wasn’t organically grown?

Angelina:  I have had a varied and fulfulling career.  Before I left the US I worked as an Executive Director for a nonprofit environmental education group that offered free services to kids.  I have been into the movement for a very long time and my commitment has only increased over the years.  We opened the store about a year ago and have a long way to go and big dreams but we are also becoming more realistic about what we can accomplish.  Generally if were buying produce from a store we assumed it was conventional and I think that was a safe bet.  Chemical companies are deeply engrained throughout the world and working hard to stay in business.  It is almost punishing to run against this strong infrastructure.

Pumpkin Oat Waffles

Makes 12 waffles

One of the pluses of all this crazy weather is that there’s plenty of time to use up all that fresh pumpkin puree sitting in my fridge AND freezer!  I’ve had my fill of pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin cookies.  It’s pretty amazing all the places pumpkin sneaks its way into!  I needed a more creative way to use my pumpkin puree and waffles for breakfast was the answer.

One of the things about pumpkin in everything is pumpkin spice.  There are many variations but most have varying amounts of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves.  I took a slightly different route and added ground cardamom and freshly grated nutmeg.  For me it made a world of difference and really woke my tastebuds up!  The other thing that made a difference is FRESH pumpkin puree.  It’s a bit of work, but if done ahead, you’ll have a ton of it for all your recipes, for a while.  And, as always, the hard work is worth it.

The yellow/orange color of pumpkin screams of carotenoids.  Carotenoids are a group of organic pigments found in plants and are responsible for the yellow, orange and red color of vegetables and fruit.  The most popular of the carotenoids are beta-carotene (alpha and gamma, too), lycopene and lutein.  How are they good for us?  Well, carotenoids are powerful anti-oxidants, protecting our cells from free radical damage.  They have anti-cancer properties and play a significant role in inter-cellular communication.  “Researchers now believe that poor communication between cells may be one of the causes of the overgrowth of cells, a condition which eventually leads to cancer. By promoting proper communication between cells, carotenoids may play a role in cancer prevention.”¹  Carotenoids also enhance immune function as well as reproductive processes.  All good reasons to incorporate these colored vegetables into your diet!  (Start with these waffles!)

I also made these waffles for Claire.  I opted for coconut milk and a blend of gluten-free flours (1/2 C oat flour, 3/4 C all-purpose gluten-free flour and 1/4 C coconut flour).  I diced a waffle and topped with fruit, cinnamon, nutmeg and a drizzle of coconut oil.  She LOVES this breakfast.  She’ll eat both the GF/dairy-free version as well as this recipe below with the same enthusiasm.  Yay!

You’ll need:

1 1/2 C whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 C rolled oats

2 T coconut sugar

2 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

1 t ground cinnamon

1/2 t ground ginger

1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 t ground cardamom

a pinch of sea salt

1 C milk (or buttermilk if you have it!) – Any nut milk will also work well here.

3 large eggs, at room temperature*

1 C fresh pumpkin puree

2 T coconut oil

1 t vanilla

To make:

1.  Preheat oven to 180° (to keep waffles warm) and prepare your waffle iron.

2.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder and soda, spices and salt.  Whisk to blend well.

3.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, pumpkin puree, coconut oil and vanilla.

4.  Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir gently until you reach a smooth batter.

5.  Lightly grease your waffle iron with some coconut oil (or butter if you’re going in that other yummy direction) and add about 1/4- 1/3 cup of batter and spread it to the corners.  Close the lid and let waffles cook until they’re golden brown, until the light on your waffle iron goes off, or roughly about 3-4 minutes!  (It’s best to follow the directions for your specific waffle iron.)

6.  Put waffles in the oven to keep warm while you repeat the process.

7.  Top the waffles with spiced fruit, maple syrup, whipped cream (or whipped coconut cream) or have some over easy eggs with them.

8.  Enjoy!!

*If you have the time and are so inclined, separate the eggs and whisk the yolks with the other wet ingredients.  Beat the egg whites with an electric hand mixer (or whisk if you’re brave!) until soft peaks form.  After you mix the egg yolk/pumpkin mixture with the flour mixture and get the smooth batter, fold in the egg whites.  You’ll get a fluffier waffle!

Claire’s Breakfast

¹ http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=116

Fig Spread

Makes 1 C

Figs are one of those fruits that evoke a sense of mystery.  Its very shape, the thread like center surrounded by hundreds of seeds in the cavity, is unlike anything else.  They’re chewy (flesh), crunchy (seeds), and smooth (skin) making them a culinary delight to play with.  They are also succulent, juicy and delightfully sweet.  Figs are known to be delicacies in their own right.

Figs have been found in myths throughout the world.  There are images of the fig tree in the Garden of Eden and it has associations with Dionysus (Bacchus for the Romans), and Priapus, a satyr associated with sexual desire.  But my favorite comes from India.  According to Buddhist legend, Siddhartha Gautama (or the Buddha!) achieved enlightenment while sitting under the bodhi (bo is a type of fig) tree.¹  I can just picture it.  That was back in 528 B.C.

What can figs do for us today?  Dried figs (what’s used in this recipe) have more dietary fiber than prunes.  Remember that fiber benefits our gut (improves digestion) and our colon.  It also makes us feel fuller so we are less likely to overeat.  According to Rebecca Wood, dried figs are higher in calcium, “ounce for ounce” than cow’s milk.²  They are also high in protein, iron (for red blood cell formation), copper (necessary for production of red blood cells), potassium (vital component of cell and body fluids that help control heart rate and blood pressure) and phosphorous (works closely with calcium for strong bone development).*  And apparently, they are also helpful to those on that inward journey.  Would anyone like some enlightenment with their figs?

What to do with this jar of bliss?  Spread it on a piece of millet toast with some cultured butter, put a dollop on your granola or in your yogurt and top with nuts or get creative and let me know what you come up with!

Namaste fellow gourmands.

You’ll need:

1 C dried figs, chopped (I used about 9 Turkish figs)

1 C water

1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice

Pinch of sea salt

To make:

1. Place figs and water in a saucepan and heat over medium heat until they reach a simmer (light bubbling), then reduce heat to low and cook until water is almost completely evaporated.  (You still want a tiny bit of liquid…it will be thick like a reduction.)

2. Once the figs have cooled, place them and the lemon juice and salt in a food processor and process until smooth.

3. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.  It will keep for 7-10 days.  (Though I’ve used it after 2 weeks with no problem;)

4. Enjoy!

¹ http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Fi-Go/Fruit-in-Mythology.html#b

² Rebecca Wood, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia

* http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/fig-fruit.html

Fruit Tart Confessions

with coconut sabayon

Makes 24 mini tarts

Let’s start with the sabayon.  Anything French is basically gourmet by default.  This sabayon, or French custard, came about by mistake.  I had intended this to be tarts filled with fruit and topped with whipped coconut cream.  But, when my cream wasn’t behaving I was forced to fix it.  I heated then refrigerated it and the sabayon was born!  Love when that happens!  I guess that was confession #1.  The list goes on.

Confession #2: I tried this recipe with brown rice flour and it came out a bit too crisp.  I swapped it out for oat flour and yummy, tender tart shells were the result.  Yes, this is a gluten-free goody!

The main ingredient and quite frankly the understated star of the show, is the almond…in this case, almond meal.  Almonds are a special nut.  They are a cousin of stone fruit such as peaches, plums and apricots.¹  Almonds contain cyanidelike substances that are medicinally powerful, so much so they inhibit cancer growth.  Its phytosterols contribute to this incredible anti-cancer powerhouse and also reduce cholesterol.¹  Its Vitamin E content and monosaturated fats (holy fats again!) also contribute to reducing LDL cholesterol and improving conditions for the heart.  Magnesium, a special mineral that almonds contain, is responsible for clearing the arteries of any calcium build-up.²  Your heart is smiling if Mg is present!  They also lower the glycemic index of the meal you’re eating.  Good news for our blood sugar.  Great news for diabetics.  One interesting tidbit is that eating almonds with their skins actually makes them work harder than they already do.  So, heart is happy, blood sugar is happy, cholesterol is in check, cancer cells won’t even think of setting up shop…I’d say almonds are great addition to everyone’s diet.  Good thing I had almonds and not pecans which were the nuts I had intended for this tart…confession #3!

They are extremely versatile, too.  Enjoy them chopped on salads or sautéed with greens.  Have some almond butter on that toast or with crudite.  Trail mix and energy bars are other goodies, too.

Finally, for the last confession:  My husband, not a fruit tart lover at all, confessed that this was one of his favorite desserts yet!  Bon Appetit!

You’ll need:

1 C almond meal

1/2 C coconut flour

1/2 C oat flour

1/4 t ginger

1/4 C maple syrup

1/4 C coconut oil + more as needed and for brushing tart pan

1 recipe Whipped Coconut Cream (but make sure to read below, too)

2 C mixed berries of choice (I used blueberries, raspberries and strawberries which I cut to fit in the tart shells.)

To make:

Tart shells:

1. Pulse the almond meal and flours together in a food processor.  Add the ginger, maple syrup and coconut oil and pulse until a dough is formed and you can squeeze it together in your hands.

2. Form the dough into a ball and then pinch off about a T or so to start pressing into the (oiled) tart pan.  Press evenly so that all the sides are about the same thickness and it bakes evenly.

3. Refrigerate tart shells in pans for 30 mins.  (Confession #4: Claire’s bedtime coincided with this and I left the tart shells in there for closer to 1.5hrs.  They were completely fine:)

4. Preheat the oven to 350°.  Bake tart shells for about 10 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Coconut Sabayon:

Before preparing the whipped coconut cream as per the recipe, please read to see how my mistake turned out to be a great surprise.  I had forgotten to refrigerate the coconut milk which means I attempted to make the cream without separation of water and cream/fat.  Obviously this didn’t work.  I added the kudzu (as per the recipe) and while it thickened, it wasn’t exactly rich and dreamy.  I added another T of kudzu just for kicks.  From here:

1. Add the coconut milk mixture to a saucepan over low-medium heat and bring to an almost simmer (just bubbling at the edges).  Stir often to keep it even.  Keep it over low heat for 15-20 minutes.

2. Remove from heat and let cool before storing in an airtight container in the fridge.  Chill for at least 2 hours before assembling tarts.

Assemble your tarts:

1. Measure about a teaspoon of sabayon to fill each tart shell and top with your desired fruit.

2. Enjoy!

*Assembled, the tarts will last overnight in an airtight container.  Otherwise, the tart shells will last 2-3 days and still be fresh if kept in an airtight container in the fridge.  Ditto the sabayon.

¹Rebecca Wood, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia

² http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=20

Avocado Mango Mint Smoothie

Makes 4 C

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write about the amazing avocado.  I’ve alluded to it here and there, but finally it’ll get the attention it deserves.  Before I go on however, a little note of encouragement for all of you who don’t love avocados.  There was a time when I was with you.  I didn’t appreciate it, I didn’t get it.  It’s a fruit but it isn’t sweet or tart or refreshing, in the way you normally think of refreshing.  No, it’s creamy, rich, buttery even, and it’s subtle earthy flavor has been described as creamy pistachio.  Not sure I would agree actually, because the sublimity of its flavor is truly unique.  But one day I decided to give it another try and well, there was no turning back.  It’s been a love affair ever since.  I could write avocados a love letter, a poem or even an avocado song.  I want to, but I won’t.  Let’s get down to why avocados are so good and good for you.

HOLY FAT!  Literally and figuratively.  Avocados are super fatty and it may as well be holy.  In fact, 85% of its calories are fat derived and all of it contributes to anti-inflammatory properties.  (Remember that most illnesses begin as some form of inflammation, so this is important to remember!)  Half of that fat comes in the form of oleic acid and this goody helps our digestive tract produce transport molecules that helps increase absorption of fat soluble nutrients like carotenoids.¹  Good news indeed!  Avocados are involved in benefiting our hearts and cardiovascular systems.  They play a role in fighting cancer, too.  According to Rebecca Katz, glutathione, a combo of amino acids, acts as “an internal vacuum cleaner” escorting carcinogens away from healthy cells and out of the body.   The most interesting thing I’ve read is that avocados actually increase oxidative stress in cancer cells and prepares them for apoptosis, or cellular death.¹  So, they nurture our healthy cells by improving inflammation and oxidative stress while at the same time killing off cancer cells?!  Good job, avocados!  Oh, they also regulate blood sugar levels (another benefit of the holy fat) and they are great for the skin.  Added bonus, I’d say!

No wonder I eat 1-2 avocados weekly.  They’re delicious in salads, in sandwiches, over rice and beans, with eggs, in smoothies!  (I LOVE smoothies especially during these hot months.)  Even Claire has joined in on the avocado obsession.  Like mother, like daughter!

You’ll need:

1/2 hass avocado

2 1/2 C frozen mango

10-15 largish mint leaves, chopped (I like the smoothie on the minty side so I went with 15)

1 C water

1/2 C coconut milk

1 T ground flax seeds

1 T agave nectar

1 T coconut oil

1 t freshly squeezed lime juice

To make:

1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until blissfully smooth.  You won’t need ice unless you use fresh fruit, in which case, add 4 ice cubes.

2. Enjoy!

¹http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=5 (There’s thorough info here on the fats in avocados that is very interesting!)