The cocoa powder will dull the otherwise bright green smoothie, but the flavor it brings will brighten your day.

I started experimenting with smoothies a few weeks ago to introduce more raw foods into my diet, and to hopefully perk up my energy and overall well-being. Strangely enough, I found smoothies made mostly of fruits made me extremely tired, and only after drinking a cup of coffee was I able to get back to work! I read several recipes for green shakes, all sounding pretty gross until I came across one that used greens, fruits and avocado. I found this the most delicious and versatile, and you could add flavors like blueberry, banana, chocolate, peanut butter, strawberry, etc. The avocado–and the addition of the different flavors–seemed to help tame the leafy green taste, and you still get a nutritious, vitamin-packed smoothie.

Here is what I made this morning using my favorite green smoothie ingredients: kale, apples, avocado and dates (it is not entirely raw because of the roasted cacao nibs, cayenne and cocoa powder.) I prefer the more nutrient-dense kale over spinach, and the taste is mild enough to let the other delicious flavors come through. I added just enough banana for additional creaminess and sweetness. Feel free to adjust any of the ingredients to your liking:

Green Morning Smoothie with Cocoa and Banana

1/2 apple, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 kale leaves, chopped (about 1 cup packed)
2 dates, soaked for an hour or overnight
1/2 ripe avocado, chopped
1 two- or three-inch-piece ripe banana (the riper, the better!)
1 packet of Stevia, or 2 teaspoons sweetener of your choice
2 teaspoons cacao or cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon broken cacao nibs, plus extra for garnish (optional)
1 teaspoon hemp seeds (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 -3/4 cup soy or almond milk
1 cup water, plus more, if needed

Add everything in a blender, add enough water until it reaches 3/4 of the level of your ingredients. Mix on medium-high speed until blended, adding more water if needed. Pour into glasses, garnish with ground cacao bits. Makes about 20-24 ounces.

Chocolate Avocado Shake
This shake is more chocolatey. The sunflower seeds and cacao nibs give it an extra crunch!

1/4 avocado, chopped
1 stalk celery
2 kale leaves, about 1/3 cup packed
1/4 apple, chopped
1 pitted date, chopped
3 inch piece frozen banana, sliced (about the length of your index finger)
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds (optional)
2 roasted cocoa nibs (about 2 teaspoons ground, optional)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon stevia
1 teaspoon agave syrup (or leave out and use all stevia)
pinch salt
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 – 3/4 cup soy milk
1/2 cup water

Put everything in a blender, pouring liquids last. Blend until nice and thick, adding more water and sweetener to taste.

Roasted cacao nibs (Left to right): with parchment, without parchment, broken, and pulverized.

My parents sent me some cacao nibs last year and only recently have I started experimenting with them. They’re very bitter and have a strong cocoa taste, but kinda smooth because of the coca butter. It is very fragrant after grinding, better than a can of Hershey’s cocoa!

Our neighbors had us over for dinner the other week and prepared an awesome Chocolate Mousse Tart. I’ve never had an avocado-based chocolate dessert before and this was better than I could have ever imagined! Since I’m sensitive to dairy and wheat, I could eat my fill of this incredible dairy-free/gluten-free concoction without feeling bloated or tired. Thank you, Elena, for sharing this amazing recipe! In my version I couldn’t form a crust so I just parfait’d it (see pic below), but Wolfie doesn’t seem to mind it one bit! ;)

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE TARTS

Maple Walnut Crust

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups walnuts
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
a pinch of sea salt

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Ingredients:
4 ripe avocados
10 very soft dates (soak in water for a few hours to make them soft)
4 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. cacao powder (or cocoa powder if you don’t have the other)

Directions:
1. Place walnuts in a food processor and pulse until chunky. Add the maple syrup and sea salt and pulse until the mixture is combined. (You can create a smoother crust by blending longer if you like, but in my experience leaving some chunks is a good idea to add contrast against the smooth chocolate pudding).
2. Get out a muffin pan. Scoop out a couple tablespoons of the walnut mixture at a time and press into the bottom of a muffin cup. Press firmly so that the walnut mixture is compact and holds together. You should be able to fill about 8 cups with the walnut crust. Refrigerate.
3. Finely chop the dates.
4. Cut open all the avocados and scoop them out into a clean food processor. Blend. Add the other ingredients and blend to incorporate.
5. Remove walnut crusts by running a knife around the perimeter to loosen, then lift out. If the crust breaks or becomes dented, simply press it back together once it’s out the mold.
6. Spoon a large dollop of avocado mouse on top of the crust base. Garnish with whatever fruit you have on hand (fresh berries, banana, dates, pomegranate, pineapple…). Enjoy! =D

 

Wolfie wanted a taste of my parfait — no way, Jose!


I also tried a Shallot Marmalade recipe using cocoa nibs, and substituted about half the ingredients. Instead of shallots, I used sweet onions. No prunes so I used dates. And though you could use either balsamic or red wine vinegar, I think the balsamic was too overpowering, so only a little bit of marmalade and lots of rice worked for me. I served it with miso-lemon marinated chicken (marinade recipe here), brown rice musubi and greens.

Shallot Marmalade recipe became “Onion Jam,” or o-Jam.