It has come to my attention that I’ll be turning 29 this year. This won’t happen until late-August, but I’m still left wondering where the heck it came from. I think it’s the new year, a natural time for reflection, that’s made me recall the last decade, namely, schools, boyfriends, travels, cities, towns, jobs, houses, books, friends, family, dogs, and clothes, all of which (and whom) are anchored by food memories. I remember the hummus wraps I devoured nearly every day at university; that really amazing meal on a really weird first date (there’s more where that came from); the most exquisite melon on earth, enjoyed on my 20th birthday in Paris with my dad, brother, and sister; my first “city meal” in a big city (it was a raw food vegan restaurant and we did not have those where I come from); the pounds of local blueberries I gorged on back home in the country; the refrigerator at my old workplace filled with expired condiments; the carrot curry soup that exploded out of my blender, covering my white kitchen the first week I lived in my current house; the first meal I made from a cookbook I picked up on a whim (rogan josh from this cookbook); coffee dates with brand new girlfriends, now old pals; a few too many servings of the ultimate pasta puttanesca with walnuts and extra capers made by my dad; the dozens of banana slices I fed my dog off the table; and the unfortunate pizza sauce stains on my white t-shirts.
Food memories continue to inform my present day cooking and relationships. The food I make at home for everyday pleasure and for work–though the twain often meet–is influenced by cherrypicking the good bits out of my past, cafeteria-style. My food memories are isolated moments, and, like people, can take a few tries to acclimate to. I’m big on second chances (within reason), as I need to pull that card myself every so often, too. And there are plenty of times when my initial introduction to a new food needed another go as well, most notably, avocados.
As I’ve likely mentioned before, I’d never eaten avocado in any application until I was in my very late teens. While dining out, I had ordered a salad which came with a fan of the fruit, terribly underripe, complete with its alligator skin intact. At first bite, I didn’t know how anyone in their right mind could enjoy this. And then I discovered sushi and my life was all avocados, all the time.
With produce (and maybe with life) a bit of time, patience, maturity, and new presentation is all it takes.
I had another food-first recently with macadamia nut milk. I’ve been a lover of non-dairy milks for a few years now, and have found some more palatable than others. I don’t drink nut milks or “normal” milk straight-up, preferring to add them to my smoothies, baked goods, grains, sauces, and puddings. I find all nut milks, especially macadamia milk, naturally sweet, allowing them to shine in all of their silky, creamy glory in a lower-sugar dessert.
I’m almost wanting to call this dessert “healthy” but have a hard time saying that–even though it is–as it undersells the incredible texture and taste. Macadamia milk adds B complex vitamins, monounsaturated fats (ditto the same good fats in avocado), fibre (again, ditto avocado), calcium, magnesium, and copper. The milk’s taste is subtly vanilla ice cream and its viscosity is heavy cream-esque. (If you’re wondering where to pick it up, you can find macadamia milk in the natural food section of most regular stores with the other shelf-stable non-dairy milks.)
Just as you may be new to macadamia milk, you may also be new to chocolate avocado pudding. To the skeptics: there’s no vegetal, avocado taste present which, I admit, would be gross–this trendy green orb simply acts as a neutral base, ready to take on whatever you throw at it. If you’ve ever tried a chocolate orange, this pudding tastes like one of those–it’s bliss. The next food holiday, Valentine’s Day, obviously requires chocolate, so bookmark this recipe to share with a loved one. Showing someone you truly, madly, deeply care for them with ingredients that coincidentally promote heart health (avocado, cocoa, and macadamia milk) is pretty adorable. I’m on a mission to bring back romance, one healthy food choice at a time (definitely showing my age now).
Here’s to fresh memories in 2016, both in and out of the kitchen.
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons mashed avocado (from 1½ large or 2 regular avocados)
- ⅓ cup unsweetened, plain macadamia milk
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon orange flower water (orange blossom water) or 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 navel orange or 2 clementines, zested, peeled and segmented, to serve
- Add mashed avocado to a food processor; blend until smooth and free of lumps. Add milk, maple syrup, orange flower water or orange zest, vanilla, and salt; blend again until combined. Add cocoa powder and blend until uniformly chocolate brown; scrape down sides and blend again. Spoon pudding into serving cups or ramekins, cover, and chill until cold (about 2–3 hours). Garnish with orange zest and orange segments.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Suncoast Gold; I was compensated monetarily. Recipe, photographs, and opinion are my own.