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Lately, I’ve been seeing various recipes for raw chocolate pudding. They use a variety of fruits for the base, and there are some that use avocado. I’ve been both intrigued and somewhat skeptical about it, but since it’s avocado week, and I needed a dessert, I simply had to make some. I love dark chocolate and I wanted to add a hint of coffee to it, so I came up with this version. After I had made it, I got out a spoon to try it. Guess what? It’s absolutely fantastic!! Even if you’re a little bit doubtful about using avocado in chocolate pudding, give this a shot…you will be pleasantly surprised.
---Karly

RAW DARK CHOCOLATE MOCHA PUDDING

1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
1/8 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
½ teaspoon instant coffee (I used Starbucks via Italian Roast)
¼ cup natural cane sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix until well combined. Chill for about an hour before serving.

NOTE: If you don’t have Dutch process cocoa, or you don’t like dark chocolate, then use regular cocoa powder. Also, feel free to sweeten with honey if you prefer and to adjust the sweetness to your taste.

Next time, I might add a tablespoon of plain Greek yogurt to it.

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Typically, I have found that mango has a sort of peppery taste to it, but in this recipe, the vinegar must cut it a little, because all I taste is sweetness! This is a perfect little salad to accompany barbecue chicken or something... maybe an outdoor gathering.

MANGO, TOMATO AND AVOCADO SALAD

1 medium mango, seeded, peeled and chunked
1 medium tomato, in chunks
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp snipped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 medium avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and cut into chunks

1. Combine mango, tomato and onion in a medium bowl. For dressing, get a screw-top jar and put everything but the avocado in there. Toss gently. Give it a good shake and pour over bowl contents. Cover and chill for 1-4 hours.
2. Just before serving, stir in avocado. If you want, you can serve with lettuce leaves...

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Sopes. Ahhh, what shall I put in them??
I have a lot of Mexican friends, and I've eaten a lot of their food. But I always happened to be missing when Sopes were on the table... So I figured I'd make them for myself! And how can you have Avocado Week without some Mexican food?!! This recipe came from a Better Homes and Gardens Special Issue on Mexican recipes, but I used my own filling...

SOPES

1 1/2 cup masa harina (in the baking isle)
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup shortening, melted (I used butter)

1. For dough, combine masa harina, flour and salt. Stir in water and egg. Add melted shortening; mix well. Gently knead until it is moist but holds its shape. Cover and chill for one hour.
2. Divide the dough into 24 portions. Roll one portion into a ball. On a well-floured surface, flatten into a 2-3-inch round. Form a shell by pinching up the edges. Repeat with the other portions. (OR: divide dough into 12 portions and make BIGGER ones!!!)
3. Pour about 1/2 inch of oil into a saucepanHeat on medium heat to about 365 degrees (I just dropped a little crumb into the oil to make sure it was hot enough...) Fry one or two at a time first upside-down, 30-60 seconds until crisp, then flip over to fry another 30 seconds or so.
Drain upside-down on a paper towel.

Filling: 
3 breasts chicken, cooked and shredded
1 can beans, black or pinto
1/2 can green chiles
cheese (ideally, Queso Fresco)
avocado, sliced
tomato
lettuce
salsa
sour cream

Cook over medium-high heat: chicken and beans, and green chiles; then spoon into sopes. Top with other ingredients. Done!

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I love a good, hearty salad for a meal, especially in the summer when it’s hot. Today, I went to a local farmer’s market and found some wonderful heirloom tomatoes, super sweet corn (seriously, so sweet that you can eat it raw and it’s fantastic), a great loaf of bread with roasted peppers and goat cheese in it, and some other goodies. By the time I got home, I knew I wanted a salad, so this is what I came up with for my main dish this week. Be forewarned, this is not a very defined recipe (except for the dressing) …after all, a salad is a salad, use what you have and what you like.
---Karly

SUMMER SALAD WITH CREAMY AVOCADO DRESSING
Lettuce 
Pan seared shrimp (see note)
Fresh marjoram, chopped
Half of one red onion, sliced
Heirloom tomatoes, chopped
Kernels from one ear sweet corn
1 avocado, sliced
Crumbled blue cheese
Homemade croutons (see note)

For the dressing:
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, diced
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Milk
Salt and pepper to taste

To make the dressing, put the avocado, yogurt, lemon juice, chives, salt and pepper to taste in a blender. Puree and add milk slowly while blending until you reach desired consistency. (I started with ¼ cup, but added more.) Arrange salad ingredients on plates and top with dressing.

NOTE: For the shrimp, I used 1 ½ pounds of shrimp, peeled and deveined. I put olive oil, salt and pepper, and Old Bay seasoning on it and cooked in pan on high heat until pink and opaque, about5- 7 minutes (they were large shrimp). For the croutons, I cubed bread and tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and granulated garlic and baked in 375 degree oven until golden and crunchy.


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     I absolutely love avocado, and I was so excited that this week it would be the featured ingredient. I wanted to do something different for the appetizer, and I kept seeing recipes for avocado fries. For some reason, it has never occurred to me to fry avocado, but hey, why not? Almost anything is good fried. 
     I decided that the fries needed a dipping sauce, so I came up with one that had cumin and lime flavors in it. All in all, I was pretty happy with the result…next time, though, I will salt them more…maybe add some salt to the breadcrumbs beforehand.

---Karly



AVOCADO FRIES WITH SPICY CUMIN SAUCE


1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, sliced into 8 strips (ripe, but still a little firm works best)
1 egg, beaten
Flour
Panko breadcrumbs
Oil for frying (peanut oil, vegetable oil, or lard)
salt to taste


For the dipping sauce:
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
3-4 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon ground cumin 

1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2-1 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce
pepper to taste

     Heat about a half inch of oil in a pan over medium-high heat; it’s hot enough when a drop of water sizzles when it hits the oil. Dip the avocado strips in the flour, then the egg, then the bread crumbs. Fry until golden brown on one side, about 3-4 minutes, then flip and brown on the other side. Place on paper towels to drain and salt immediately. Serve with dipping sauce.

     To make the sauce, mix all the ingredients together. You may start with the lesser amounts of lime juice and hot sauce, then add more to taste.

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I'm pretty sure I outdid myself on this one. Every bite of this was incredible. I'm not a huge fan of mayo, and mustard doesn't really go with this, so I adapted one of my husband's recipes for the sauce to accompany this fab sandwich.

JENNY'S CALIFORNIA CLUB SANDWICH
Bread of your choice (better to slice it yourself, so you can slice it thinly)
2 chicken tenderloins, pan fried in olive oil
2-3 slices bacon, fried
1 slice colby-jack cheese
1 slice provolone cheese
3 slices tomato
1/4 - 1/2 avocado, thinly sliced
about 3 tomatillos1 poblano, seeded and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, diced 
salt and pepper

Heat skillet to med-high and sautee poblano strips in olive oil until medium-soft. Add tomatillos and garlic and sautee another ten minutes or so, until soft. Mash tomatillos. Add salt and pepper to taste.Arrange ingredients on three slices of bread (cuz that's what a club sandwich is made of!) Spoon sauce over chicken. Enjoy!

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Where do I begin on my love for avocados?? 
First, I should tell you an interesting little tidbit: the avocado has also been called the "alligator pear". Given their shape and skin texture, doesn't that make perfect sense?

Second, they are LOADED with good stuff for great health. 
--Avocados contain oleic acid, which has been shown to prevent breast cancer, inhibit the growth of prostate cancer and oral cancer. They are also high in carotenoid lutein, which protects against eye diseases like cataracts.
--The high levels of folate in avocado are also protective against strokes. People who eat diets rich in folate have a much lower risk of stroke than those who don't. 
--Avocados are high in beta-sitosterol, a compound that has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. One cup of avocado has 23% of the recommended daily value of folate. Studies show that people who eat diets rich in folate have a much lower incidence of heart disease than those who don't. The vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, and glutathione in avocado are also great for your heart.
--Research has found that certain nutrients are absorbed better when eaten with avocado. In one study, when participants ate a salad containing avocados, they absorbed five times the amount of carotenoids (a group of nutrients that includes lycopene and beta carotene) than those who didn't include avocados.
--Avocados are an excellent source of glutathione, an important antioxidant that researchers say is important in preventing aging, cancer, and heart disease.
--Avocados are the best fruit source of vitamin E, an essential vitamin that protects against many diseases and helps maintains overall health.

That said, I LOVE THEM BECAUSE THEY'RE DELICIOUS!


Case in point, this Coconut Avocado Lime Ice Cream I invented. I saw a couple recipes online, but didn't have some of the fancy ingredients, so I improvised. And I wonder if those original recipes were all that tasty, because mine is pretty dang great, if I do say so myself...!

NOTE: You can also make a PIE out of this recipe. Just make a graham cracker crust and fill with this recipe, then freeze. BAM! 

COCONUT AVOCADO LIME ICE CREAM
2 avocados, peeled and seeded
1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (I used kefir)
1 cup loosely measured sweetened coconut
juice of two limes
about 3 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp honey

Dump it all in a bowl and mash avocado well. Empty into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions. 


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