[How about that red and white background?  Pretty patriotic, eh?]

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

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“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.” 

There’s an annual event in Montreal called The High Lights Festival in which (among other things) La Belle Ville invites chefs from other world-class cities to cook alongside the Quebeçois culinary masters and exchange ideas. This year (2008), the guest city was the very one yours truly calls home: Toronto. 

Toronto?  Some of the French hosts, apparently, almost refused to participate.  After all, every other location in Canada is entirely inferior to well, anywhere in Quebec when it comes to cuisine, non?  I mean, the rest of us are simply les bêtes sans a mote of culinary imagination or refinement, n’est-ce pas?

Well, it may be true that the phrases “Canadian gourmet” or “Canadian cuisine” are, like the iconic “jumbo shrimp,” simply oxymorons.  (And boo hoo, we’ve now lost one of the great comedians of all time along with the originator of that wordplay).  I mean, for most of my life, the mere idea of a uniquely Canadian cuisine was pretty much a joke.  As in so many other areas, our gastronomy is often eclipsed by that of our overseas ancestors.  Pizza?  Nope–that was Italy.  Crêpes Suzette?  France, of course.  Schwarzwald torte?  Germany beat us to it.  Haggis? Scotland claimed that one. Chocolate-covered bacon?  Well, turns out that was the creation of none other than our older and more populous neighbor, the good ole U. S. of A.

And what about us here in Canuck Country? A quick excursion to Wikipedia reveals several “Canadian-made” foodstuffs, many of which are cooked forms of indigenous plants.  There are Saskatoon berries out west, Nanaimo bars way out west, cloudberries (also known as bakeapple) and cod tongues way out east, or fine wines of Ontario (no, seriously. Apparently, the Niagara region shares the same microclimate as parts of California). 

But for truly singular creations that seem to roar “Canada,” like it or not, we’ve routinely turned to Quebec.  No wonder those guys have swelled heads when it comes to food. Quebec–where the language is different (bien sûr!), the aesthetic is different (ah, those couture‘d demoiselles!), the zeitgeist is different (4-hour dinners? de rigeur!), the beer is definitely different (um, 12 per cent?), and the cuisine is nonpareil.  

Tortière?  Quebec.  Poutine?  Quebec.  Sugar pie?  Quebec. Hamburger with truffles and foie gras?  Quebec.  Yep; they may have crazy gas prices, draconian language laws and a love-hate relationship with the rest of the country, but those Québecois sure do know how to cook!

And so, when I read about Jasmine (of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict) and Jennifer’s (of The Domestic Goddess) Mmmm. . . .Canada event  in honor of our July 1st Canada Day celebration, I knew I was in!  The event asks us to prepare something quintessentially “Canadian,” and it was Ontario’s original butter tart that immediately came to mind.  (Take that, cretons!)

According to Bill Casselman in his Canadian Food Words, “butter tart” is “a phrase and a confection that is 100% Canadian.”  He goes on to write,

There is even a proper Canuck way to ingest this northern nectar of the oven. One holds the butter tart in one hand at lip height. One does not bring the flaky-doughed cuplet with its inner pool of sugared gold to the mouth. No. One stoops slightly inward toward the butter tart, not only to take an encompassing chomp but also to do obeisance to the gooey rills of embuttered ambrosia soon to trickle in sweet streamlets down the eater’s gullet . . . .

 Sounds great, doesn’t it?  Just a couple of minor problems: (a) I’ve never even tasted a butter tart, let alone baked one; (b) with a filling made primarily of butter and eggs, they are decidedly not vegan.  What to do?

I consulted my trusty human encylopedia (that would be the HH) as well as my world’s biggest butter tart aficionado (ditto).  From what he tells me, the filling is very much the consistency of that in a pecan pie (probably why I never tasted them)–only about 1,462,873.05 times sweeter. 

I examined various online photos of the things and got a sense of the density required: a filling firm enough to hold its shape, spongy around the edges yet soft and oozing in the middle, all enclosed by a buttery tart crust.  With this exemplar in mind, I went to work in the kitchen.

The first round, with a serviceable shell and not entirely unpleasant taste, were nonetheless a wee bit too gooey and glossy–sort of like heavy, sugared shellac poured over raisins (too much like a stealth weapon in a James Bond movie, I’m afraid). Given the preponderance of eggs in the original recipe, I knew I’d have to reproduce the same airy, slightly bubbly consistency that results when whites are beaten until foamy.  A few extra filling ingredients and a pinch of baking powder later, and–zut alors!–I had it.

The HH tells me that these are extremely close to the real thing.  They’re everything you’d want in a butter tart: flaky pastry crust, with a rich, sticky, firmer-on-the-outside, gooey-on-the-inside filling.  All they’re missing is the cholesterol, animal fat, and refined sugars (quel domage!)

I know what I’ll be baking for the upcoming long weekend, as we sit out back sipping Mojitos (decidedly not Canadian–well, except for the mint), shield the dogs from neighbours’ fireworks, hope the rain takes a hike, and enjoy our all-Ontario meal.  We’ll look up at the stars and be thankful to live in such a diverse, scenic, and placid country (and let’s not forget–“polite.”)  Now, if only the snow were a little less abundant, it would be perfect. . . ..

Bon Fête, Canada!

(“Um, Mum, we beg to differ on the ” world’s biggest butter tart aficionado” point.  You know we’d be the biggest fans. . . except you never let us eat them.  Oh, to taste something with sugar. . .   And what was that about fireworks?“)

Vegan Butter Tarts

[Note the “embuttered ambrosia” as it trickles out, glorious and free, from the center of that tart!]

TO VIEW THE FULL RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS BY CLICKING HERE.

 [This recipe will also appear in my upcoming cookbook, Sweet Freedom, along with more than 100 others, most of which are not featured on this blog.  For more information, check the “Cookbook” button at right, or visit the cookbook blog.]

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DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.” 

[I thought it would be fun to run a little series over here at DDD: I’ll profile one one of my favorite foods, or a food that I’ve recently discovered and enjoyed, over several days.  For this third entry, I’m focusing on Avocados. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible.  Today’s avocado-based recipe also happens to be quick and incredibly easy, the criteria for my Flash in the Pan recipes–so it straddles both categories!] 

 

Think smooth and creamy.  Think easy and delicious. Think sandwich spread, base for sandwich fillings, foundation for dips or savory pâtés.  Think avocado mayonnaise!

This incredibly quick and equally irresistible recipe comes from the wondrous Dr. Ben Kim’s Natural Health website.  A chiropractor and acupuncturist based in Barrie, Ontario, Dr. Kim is also a fount of information on all things holistic, and he offers incredible material about healthy eating–all for free through his newsletter, of which I am an avid fan (and no, I’ve never actually met the man, just in case you think there’s a little nepotism going on here–I just really think his info is great!).

I whipped up this mayo and enjoyed a daub on some steamed artichokes, but by the time I’d finished eating them, I knew I was hooked.  I plopped some over ripe, juicy slices of beefsteak tomato for a lunch appetizer and was enthralled.  After the first taste, I wanted to scoop this out of the bowl with a spoon (come to think of it, I did scoop this out of the bowl with a spoon).

You can use this as you would any other mayo, in sandwiches, wraps, salads (it would be heavenly thinned out just a little over field greens–turns out the recipe is very much like the avocado pesto salad dressing I posted about last March).

Avocado and Basil Mayonnaise

from Dr. Ben Kim

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS BY CLICKING HERE.

This creamy, heavenly spread can be used anywhere you’d use regular mayo.  I agree with Dr. Kim:  this is the best vegan mayo I’ve ever tried.

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS BY CLICKING HERE.

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.” 

[I thought it would be fun to run a little series over here at DDD: I’ll profile one one of my favorite foods, or a food that I’ve recently discovered and enjoyed, over several days.  For this third entry, I’m focusing on Avocados. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible. ] 

Summer is definitely the season of romance.  I mean, all those couples strolling along the Harbourfront, hand in hand. . . starry nights and waves crashing against the sand at the Beaches. . . candlelit dinners on the back patio under the moonlight, just you and your sweetheart. . . and the black flies. . . and the mosquitoes. . . and the spiders. . .  Hmm.  Well, all those couples strolling along the Harbourfront, hand in hand . . .

Doesn’t everyone love a little romance once in a while? I used to think that romance meant roses and chocolate, but nowadays I know better.  Now I realize it’s just chocolate. 

In my previous lifetime (long before the HH), my Starter Husband  was a natural when it came to romance; he was one of those guys who’d secretly light candles and strew rose petals around the bathtub (which was filled, naturally, with Chanel Number 5 Bubble Bath) while I was out shopping because he saw it in a movie somewhere.  Or I’d open a Christmas present to find a pair of handcrafted tiger’s eye earrings he’d bought, because I’d admired them while strolling through an outdoor bazaar the previous July.  Yes, he was a “romantic,” in the classic sense (still didn’t save the marriage, though). 

Most of us are familiar with the studies about husbands who “help out” more in the domestic areas of the home (washing dishes, doing laundry, cleaning floors, etc.):  they’re also more likely to get lucky in the other areas (read: bedroom) of the home.  In those cases, romance is something else entirely:  it’s the ability to tune in to the ongoing, mundane demands or stresses facing your loved one and to help alleviate some of the pressure by reducing the workload. I mean, we all know there’s nothing quite so sexy as a guy with his hands in a sink of soapy dishes, right?  

The HH is definitley not romantic in the classic sense–I think he’s bought flowers for me twice in the eleven years we’ve been together, and those only under duress–but he sure does shine in the “sharing housework” department.  (I know, I’ve mentioned his lack of cooking prowess before, and it’s true, he loathes cooking; but he does make a great kitchen hand, and if I had to count up household chores, I’m certain he takes care of more of them than I do). 

The HH’s style leans more toward Harry’s in When Harry Met Sally–the guy you love to talk to, the one whose silly jokes make you laugh despite yourself, the one who’s steady and good natured and helpful, even if he does miss a few cues when it comes to your desire for sentiment or being sappy. 

And what prompts me to feel romantic toward my guy?  Well, seeing him on his back on the floor (really, get your minds out of the gutter, people!), rolling around with The Girls and a pull toy (well, actually, I guess that last sentence out of context could be interpreted “that way,” couldn’t it? Lord knows what search terms will lead people to this post, now I’ve written that).  Though he’d probably never admit it out loud, the HH is head-over-tail in love with our dogs.  And recognizing that devotion always sparks my own romantic inclinations towards him. (“We’re pretty cool with it, too, Mum.”)

Although it’s true I’ve bought Christmas gifts the HH had admired months before, in general I tend toward more quotidien romantic expressions such as leaving notes in lunch bags, offering to do dishes when it’s his turn, or baking things for him that I know he loves. 

Which brings me–finally–to today’s recipe. (I know, you were wondering how I’d work it in, weren’t you?)

One of the HH’s favorite flavors is coconut.  Alongside a good hunk of Decadent Chocolate Pâté, coconut cream pie is his all-time favorite dessert.  For his birthday each year, I let the HH choose any dessert on the planet and I will make it for him; among the Toffee Hazelnut Pound Cake, the Opera Cake, the Layered Mocha Mousse Cake and all the others over the past eleven years, the only repeat so far has been coconut cake.  What could be better (or more romantic), then, than a baked good that’s both healthy and coconut-based?

As I mentioned in the first post of this Lucky Comestible series, avocados can be used as egg substitutes in baking.  When I first learned of this option, I experimented with a huge variety of recipes, from cookies to cakes to muffins.  In general, the avocado isn’t detectable if the other flavors in a recipe are fairly assertive to begin with (as in the aforementioned chocolate pâté), but in lighter bases (such as vanilla), you may sense a hint of the buttery green purée. In addition, the avocado will impart a touch of color to the final product (though strangely, it bakes up more yellow than green).

The result of my kitchen playtime was these muffins, a great combination of coconut and lemon.  They’re extremely moist, both tart and sweet, and have become one of the HH’s favorites. When you mix up the batter, however, don’t be alarmed by the brilliant Day-Glo green color–the magical alchemy that is baking will transform it into a deep, rich, lemony yellow that is a perfect visual representation of the intense lemony flavor. 

Next time you want to express your love toward the object of your affection, trying baking these. . . and then, who knows what type of romance might ensue? 

I’m also submitting this recipe to A Fruit A Month, the event started by Maheswari of Beyond the Usual and this month hosted by Suganya of Tasty Palettes.  This month’s focus is coconut.  The roundup will be posted after June 30th, so head over to take a look after that!

Tropical Lemon-Coconut Muffins

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

Moist and filling, these are the perfect breakfast or snack.  And because the avocado already contributes monounsaturated fats, these don’t require any added oil! 

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.” 

[I thought it would be fun to run a little series over here at DDD: I’ll profile one one of my favorite foods, or a food that I’ve recently discovered and enjoyed, over several days.  For this third entry, I’m focusing on Avocados. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible. ]

Since today was the first Sunday following my Total Health course (and I promise–that’s the last time I’ll mention it!), I realized it was time to resume my regular Progress Tracker entries. 

It’s been nine whole weeks since I had a regular Sunday weigh-in, so this morning, I donned my sweats and and finally returned to the workout club (Well, hi again, Elderly Gentleman Who Always Wears Black Knee Socks! I’m back, Burly Guy Who Stares at Women’s Breasts Between Sets!  I actually missed you, Septuagenarian Couple with the Matching T-Shirts!).

After completing various stretches and weights, I performed the official post-course, ritual weigh in.  And the result?  After NINE WEEKS of eating healthfully and stepping up my exercise routine (literally–I’ve doubled the amount of walking I do each day since the osteopenia diagnosis), I lost. . . . are you ready for it?  Okay, here goes. . . . I lost. . . . FOUR POUNDS. 

Yep, four. Quatre. 4. Vier. Quattro. IV.  Tessera. FOUR!!!!  In nine weeks.

Lovely, no?  That’s just under half pound a week.  Okay, I suppose that’s not awful considering that the goal of the course was not to lose weight so much as to learn about healthy eating and to undergo an attitude adjustment in that area.  During the course, I consumed just as much (healthy) food as I wanted to and never deprived myself in any way (except during the cleanse week, obviously).  What this means is that I am now exactly back where I started when I began this blog–with 40 pounds to lose to reach my goal.  And while I do feel better since taking the course, that’s simply not acceptable.  Nope.

And so. . . I’ve decided to take up the challenge offered by Gizmar from Equal Opportunity Kitchen, who wrote in her recent comment: “Ok, I’m throwing down the gauntlet – I want to lose some weight – I challenge you to a slim down!!!”  Giz, you’re on! Ah, but how much weight?  And in what time period?  I will contact you so we can work out the details.  But for now, I’ve decided, it’s time to get serious! (Again).  Watch out, excess avoirdupois!  Take a hike, jiggly thighs! Run for the hills, cellulite!  I am  on a mission.

* Sigh. *

(Okay, end of weight rant.  We now return to this week’s regularly scheduled Lucky Comestible.)

One thing I realized while on my cleanse week is that I don’t eat nearly as many legumes as I should.  Sure, if you consider peanut butter and carob, I suppose there’s a regular intake, but in general, my diet is sorely lacking.

As a child, the only beans I was ever served were the canned variety.  Heinz Baked Beans made a quick and yummy dinner, just on their own.  (Of course, my mother bought the “in tomato sauce” flavor so she wouldn’t have to deal with that one pasty, white, slimy chunk of pork fat that always rose to the top of the can.  A few years ago, the HH and I took a course called Mini Med School at the University of Toronto. One evening, we were led down winding, clandestine hallways through an unmarked door into the actual anatomy lab, where we examined formaldehyde-infused hunks of human limbs, their outer layers peeled away to expose the muscles and bones underneath.  One thigh had a rectangular chunk of flesh carved out, the cutout placed neatly on the counter beside it like a rubber bathtub stopper.  Well, that little cube of pork fat looked just like the rectangular hunk of thigh. Good move, Mom.)

When I moved into my very first apartment the summer before my Master’s program began, my father’s housewarming gift to me was a smoked ham. (Not so strange if you consider that he owned a butcher shop–what else would he give me?).  With the help of my trusty Joy of Cooking, I ended up making split pea and ham soup (even then, I couldn’t stomach the idea of an entire piece of ham on its own).  I had just started dating my first true love a couple of weeks earlier (hey, Spaghetti Ears!  How’s tricks?) and he, along with his two room mates, kindly relieved me of any superfluous soup–which, as it turned out, was pretty much all of it.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy bean dishes, either.  It’s just that I never really think to make them.  In more recent years, I’ve amassed a fairly reliable roster of bean recipes that I use on a rotating basis.  There’s hummus, of course, but also sundried tomato hummus and roasted garlic hummus.  Oh, and I can’t forget white bean hummus or fava bean hummus or even no-bean hummus (which, come to think of it, doesn’t really belong in the “dishes with beans” category, does it?). The HH and I also enjoy lentil-spaghetti sauce about twice a year, as well as my version of Tuscan baked beans (with olive oil and sage) and a classic three-bean salad in the summertime. Other than that, though, it’s pretty much hummus all around.

Well, I decided it was time to create something new and interesting with legumes.  In keeping with the focus on avocado, I naturally gravitated toward the green legumes–or, more correctly, “legume”: lentils.  Besides being one of the quickest to cook (they’re done in only 25 minutes, with no soaking required), lentils also provide a substantial contribution to your daily mineral requirements. In addition, they’re extremely high in fiber (both soluble and insoluble, important for healthy cholesterol levels), and they’re known to help keep blood sugar levels steady. Oh, and they taste really good!

I seized the green theme and just ran with it (okay, I kind of “speed-walked” with it), throwing pistachios into the mix as well.  In these patties, the avocado acts as an egg substitute, while the nuts and beans work in tandem to provide a complete protein.  While they’re not overly “meaty” in texture (the outside is crispy while the inside remains soft), these burgers are great either baked or fried, and would probably make a tasty loaf as well.  Just for fun (and because I’m weird that way), I baked half the recipe and browned the other half in a frypan. I have to say that I actually preferred the baked version, which also held its shape better. 

These patties are a great way to subtly add more legumes to your diet. And if you happen to be watching your weight–well, as it turns out, they’re pretty low-cal, too (about 150 calories each patty).  Shall we start with these for dinner, Giz?

Lentil Pistachio Patties

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

These substantial patties offer a full-bodied flavor with a wonderful protein content, courtesy of the lentils and pistachios. The trio of avocado, olive oil, and pistachio adds richness and a healthy dose of  heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

Cookbook Winner!

June 21, 2008

Well, we have a winner of the cookbook contest! 

First, thank you all so much for your entries; it was wonderful to learn about so many new cookbooks! I’m definitely going to have to get The Passionate Vegetarian–I mean, with an author named Crescent Dragonwagon, how could I resist?  Thanks, Jackie and Astra! I think I’ll also look into The New Farm Vegetarian (thanks, Shelly); Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian (thanks, Holler and Brett); ReFresh (thanks, Brandy and Debyi); The Crank’s Bible (thanks, Sue); Going Wild in the Kitchen (thanks, Cheryl); and the classic Linda McCartney’s Home Cooking (thanks, Courtney).  Oh, and Vijita–how lucky for you to have stayed at Laura’s B&B! 

Really, all your descriptions sounded so good, I think I want to go out and buy them all.  And I loved the memories brought back by Megan’s mention of the Betty Crocker book (my mom used to make cookies from it all the time), Michelle’s mention of the Silver Palate (I still love that one!), and Hallie’s mention of Joy of Cooking (it really is a great reference, isn’t it?). 

Another thing I loved about this contest:  it got so many of you commenting!  Fifty-seven entries in all–wow!  I really love hearing from you all, and hope you’ll keep on commenting now that you’ve made yourselves known, contest or no contest! Thanks, all. 🙂

Okay: so on to the WINNER!  I had thought to try the random number generator, but in the end decided to go with an old-fashioned draw from a big bowl of paper slips.  I used strips of old newspaper (so as not to generate extra garbage) and wrote the numbers on them: 

 

And then, I had my assistant help me choose one:

So, the lucky winner is number 54–Katy!  Katy, please contact me via email (at dietdessertdogs AT gmail DOT com, or just leave a comment on this post) so you can tell me which book you’d like from the list, as well as your address so I can mail you your book.  Congratulations!

Thanks again, everyone.  This was really fun!  And most importantly, thanks for all your support over these past 230 days (now 235!), visiting the blog, continuing to read, and providing your great feedback.  What did I ever do before I discovered blogging?

Have a great weekend, everyone.

 

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.” 

[I thought it would be fun to run a little series over here at DDD: I’ll profile one one of my favorite foods, or a food that I’ve recently discovered and enjoyed, over several days.  For this third entry, I’m focusing on Avocados. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible. ]

[Sorry about the poor focus. . . that free point-and-shoot camera of mine has been rather uncooperative lately. Maybe time to bite the bullet and finally buy a real camera?]

Well, last Wednesday evening was our final Total Health class.  As it’s been all along, the meeting was terrific, though this final gathering wasn’t about education so much as eating.  We were split into groups of three or four people and asked to cook up a couple of recipes each; then we all sat down together and devoured the feast we’d made.  It was a great way to end the course in a social, relaxed fashion.  When the end of session arrived, no one wanted to leave!  We lingered and chatted for an extra 45 minutes before finally filing out of the house (sorry about that, Caroline).  And so, the question remains: what now?  Do I continue to consume my fruit-and-vegetable, raw-leaning diet?  Or do I slide like a 300 ZX on black ice, right back to my chocolate and high-grain days? 

That, my friends, is the 64,000 Calorie question.  Only time will tell, dear readers, only time will tell. . .

But in the meantime, I sure am going to give it my best shot.  And with salads like this one, veggies and fruits never tasted so good.

This is my own adaptation of a Thai-inspired salad the HH and I had many years ago at a cooking class we attended.  The class was a birthday present for my friends Gemini I and Gemini II (whose birthday, as it turns out, is on the same day!) about ten years ago.  Six of us cooked together and then shared our meal (sort of like Wednesday’s class, come to think of it, except the Thai meal wasn’t nearly as healthy).  I’m not sure why, but I still have a crystal clear vision of the HH that long-ago night, as he chopped onions, sliced mango and juiced limes. . . hmm, perhaps because that was the last time he voluntarily chopped onions, sliced mango, or juiced limes?  Oh, no, silly me–he juices limes all the time; you need those for gin and tonics. 

Anyway, the original salad didn’t contain avocado, of course, but one day I just threw it in, and it made such a perfectly compatible addition to the mix that the mangos and avocados have been keeping company ever since (they’re practically engaged by now).  I’ve also tinkered a little with the seasonings over the years to create what I think is the perfect dressing for this salad.  In fact, the combination of tastes is so summery, so refreshing and so tantalizing that I’ve even been known to eat this salad for breakfast (What? Fruit for breakfast is good for you!).  I use a combination of mint and cilantro, but if you’re not a fan of either, you can leave it out.  (And if you’re short on mint, feel free to drop by my place and grab some from the massive waves of green beside the house–see right). 

Besides tasting great, this dish offers a sweet treat for the eyes as well.

As I mentioned earlier, avocados are a fantastic source of heart-healthy monounsaturates.  But mangos are no slouch in the hale-and-hearty department, either; they’re rich in antioxidant vitamins C and beta carotene, fiber, and potassium.  With all these cardiac benefits, I’ve decided to submit this recipe to Ilva of Lucullian Delights, who is hosting her monthly Heart of the Matter event featuring heart-healthy salads this month. 

Mango Avocado Salad

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

This refreshing salad combines all five flavors common in Thai cooking: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and spicy, in perfect proportions.  Great as an appetizer or side salad, this dish is best eaten fresh–though we’ve never had leftovers to worry about in our house, anyway!

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.” 

[I thought it would be fun to run a little series over here at DDD: I’ll profile one one of my favorite foods, or a food that I’ve recently discovered and enjoyed, over several days.  For this third entry, I’m focusing on Avocados. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible. ]

 

Want to wow your boss?  Want to thrill your sweetheart?  Want to get addicted to something rich, dense, smooth, chocolately and truly decadent?  Well, all you need is an avocado plus 3 more ingredients, and you’re there. 

This pâté will dazzle you, seduce you (but not in the same way as Mark Bittman), soothe you and make you very, very happy.  This is my HH’s all-time favorite dessert (well, maybe on a par with coconut cream pie).

Last year, when the HH and I went out to our favorite restaurant for our 10-year anniversary, we reached the end of the meal when I found myself suddenly craving chocolate (my, how unusual!).  For some reason that night, the always-stellar dessert menu lacked anything that appealed to me.  But here’s the sign of an exceptional establishment:  when I mentioned my desire to Tony (our waiter–we were on a first-name basis by that point), he apologized profusely for the menu’s shortcoming, swiftly and deftly cleared our plates, and trotted off to get the HH’s coconut cream pie (okay, he didn’t really order coconut cream pie, but since I can’t remember what he did actually order and since I just mentioned that coconut cream pie was a favorite of his, I thought it would sound good here. . . I plead literary license).

A few moments later,  Tony returned with two plates of dessert–the pie for the HH, and a selection of three exquisitely formed chocolate truffles for me.  The chef had whipped them up with some ganache he had prepared for another dessert!  I was blown away, not only by the astonishingly good service, but also by the truffles themselves: light, smooth, and soft as a butterfly’s touch.  I savored every bite, every deep, rich, cacao-dense tidbit. 

Well, that’s what this pâté reminds me of–the filling in those truffles.

I created this recipe several years ago for a cooking class on heart-healthy foods, and was delighted to discover that both avocados and dark chocolate provide benefits to our body’s main muscle.  Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats (the same heart-healthy fat touted in the “Mediterannean diet,” also in olive oil), and chocolate contains flavonoids that can improve cardiovascular functioning by preventing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

The taste of avocado is imperceptible in this dessert, yet it adds a rich, creamy, lustrous texture.  The orange juice provides sweetness and additional flavor to counterbalance the chocolate perfectly (hmm, come to think of it, perhaps Grand Marnier in place of some of that juice would be nice. . . ).  Once refrigerated, the pâté firms up enough to hold its shape and cut into slices, yet it remains soft and yielding, something of a cross between a fudge and a ganache. 

Because it actually provides most of the substance of the pâté, be sure to use a good quality dark chocolate here.  If you’re feeling extravagant, you might try Vogzes.  I’ve used Green and Black’s, Dagoba, Endangered SpeciesLindt, Vivani, and even President’s Choice in a pinch (can you tell we like this dessert in our house?), all with delicious results.

Want a little preview of life beyond the pearly gates?  Go make this.

(Since this pâté is my very healthy version of a traditional chocolate pâté made with sugar, cream, eggs and butter, I’m submitting this to Giz and Psychgrad’s event, Tried, Tested and True II, over at Equal Opportunity Kitchen.  They’re asking for surefire hits that are made healthier than original versions.)

Finally, thanks to everyone who’s entered the Cookbook Contest so far.  And if you haven’t, what are you waiting for??  It’s open to everyone, and you can win one of eight cookbooks! Just go here and enter!

This pâté tastes incredibly rich, but is actually good for you.  A little goes a long way, so I’d advise cutting into thin slices. . . otherwise, I can’t be responsible for what happens.

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.