Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cherry Chocolate "Green" Pudding

I love when cherries are in season! They are one of my favorite fruits not only for their sweet tart deliciousness, but for their powerful health benefits as well. I was inspired by the Whole Foods Cherry Recipe contest to create this recipe even though I never entered the contest. This is such a fast, easy recipe and quite decadent way to sneak in some extra greens!!

Chocolate Cherry "Green" Pudding

2 Avocados
3/4 cup Raw (ideally local!) Honey (or Maple Syrup. For completely raw vegan- raw agave or raw vegan sweetener of choice)
1 cup fresh cherries (if cherries are out of season, frozen can be used)
2 handfuls of baby spinach
1/2 cup raw cacao powder

Put all ingredients in a blender (if you don't have a powerful blender like a vitamix or blendtec, a food processor might be better) and blend until smooth. Put in fridge to chill. That is it! Easy!

Some tips:
It is important to make sure that the avocados are not too ripe. If they are overripe, they have a weird taste and you can definitely taste that in the pudding- not good. I have made this mistake before. I have also made this for my grandmother who is quite possibly the pickiest eater I know and she absolutely loved it and had no idea that there were avocados in it.
Raw cacao powder is typically found with other superfoods at whole foods or in your local health food store. It is not typically found in the baking aisle with regular cocoa powder.
Why raw cacao powder?
Raw cacao is unprocessed cacao with lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. There are a lot of health benefits that are lost when chocolate is processed. Chocolate turns unhealthy when all the dairy and sugar is added to a the nutrient stripped processed chocolate. Though a dark chocolate bar is considered beneficial in small amounts, it doesn't even come close to the health benefits of raw cacao. It has high levels of antioxidants like resveratrol and the polyphenols catechin and peicatechin. It contains the feel good neurotransmitter serotonin, the motivation booster neurotransmitter dopamine, and the feeling of bliss neurotransmitter anandamide. In addition, it is high in magnesium, chromium, iron, B vitamins and vitamin A, B and E.
I use Navitas Naturals Raw cacao powder which can be found at Whole Foods or most local health food stores:

Cherries- : I love cherries. They are packed with antioxidant anthocyanins which are responsible for the power anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that muscle fatigue and pain was reduced in athletes who drank cherry juice. The study suggests that cherries before endurance training and after can help reduce muscle soreness and pain. It is a much better alternative to traditional NSAIDs (Advil, Aleve etc.)! Cherries also may help reduce inflammation in relation to heart disease and arthritis.

Avocados: some people shy away from avocados because of their bad rap for the high fat content, but they truly have a great kind of fat and are a nutrition powerhouse! We need fat in our diet especially good fat coming from plant based whole foods. The good fat content helps with increased nutrient absorption when eaten with other foods. For example, studies have shown significant increased beta-carotene and lycopene absorption (200%+!) when avocados are added to salads. Avocados are also anti-inflammatory due to their diverse cartenoids.In addition avocados are great sources of folate and vitamin E.

Spinach: We all could use some more greens in our diet! Spinach is full of neoxanthin and violaxanthin which are regulators of inflammation making spinach a great anti-inflammatory food. It contains high levels of calcium, vitamin K, vitamin C and E. It is a powerful food for boosting your immune system.

Raw Honey: Raw honey can look funny to those who have never seen it. It looks creamed or sometimes even hard. This is because the honey is in its natural form and unprocessed. Processing honey causes the loss of all the nutritional value packed in honey in its natural state. Raw honey is a natural energy booster, immune system booster, and contains antioxidant and antibacterial properties. I could go on for a while on the benefits of honey, but we will leave it at that for now! I do suggest buying a local raw honey either at a farmers market, a farm or read the label to see where it was made.

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