Avocado Chocolate Pudding

Blueberry-Avo Chocolate Pudding from Carrie on Vegan | www.carrieonvegan.com

Last week I wrote about a new version of avocado pudding that I had made using frozen blueberries. I tried it again yesterday and measured out the ingredients so I could put a recipe for you guys. Dang, this is good! I have to restrain myself from making this pudding everyday, it is admittedly fairly rich from the avocados. For an occasional treat, though, this is really delicious and the texture is divine. I tested the recipe using a sweetener, ZSweet, but it can also be made using dates, it’s your choice (ZSweet is made using erythritol which is the only sweetener that Dr. Michael Greger dubs as “harmless” in this video).

I used a high-speed blender to make the pudding, but it could be made in a food processor if you soaked the dates first and did a lot of scraping down of the sides of the bowl. I find it much easier to pile the ingredients in the Vitamix:

Blueberry-Avo Chocolate Pudding from Carrie on Vegan | www.carrieonvegan.com

And blend:

Blueberry-Avo Chocolate Pudding from Carrie on Vegan | www.carrieonvegan.com

Avocado Chocolate Pudding from Carrie on Vegan | www.carrieonvegan.com

Avocado Chocolate Pudding
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 2 medium ripe avocados
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries (plus a few extra for topping)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 12.3 oz. box of silken tofu
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 15-20 large dates or ½ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated ZSweet
  • ¼ cup unsweetened soymilk
  • cacao nibs (optional, for topping)
Instructions
  1. In a high-speed blender, combine avocados, blueberries, vanilla, tofu, cocoa powder, dates, and soy milk. Process until smooth, using the tamper if necessary to blend.
  2. Top with cacao nibs, if desired.

This is a completely different topic, but remember when I bought some frozen greens at the store recently? My idea was that I could just throw them frozen into my Anti-Cancer Green Smoothie recipe.

I got to thinking, though, that if the greens are raw, then they could be a source of bacteria. I e-mailed Pictsweet to ask them if it is safe to eat the greens straight from frozen, and they said no. Well, what they really said was to prepare them according to the package to be safe which means cooking them in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Darn. I’m pretty sure this advice would apply to any frozen vegetable, so I’m going to stop adding frozen veggies to my green smoothies, and cook them first instead. The last thing I want is a warm green smoothie, though, so I’ve started steaming the greens in the microwave the night before, and letting them chill in the fridge until the next morning [editor’s note updated 1/23/14: I double-checked this advice with a few other sources and it is a debatable issue. I sometimes use frozen greens in my smoothies]:

Then, I just plop them into the blender and it’s all ready to go:

The other option of course is to use raw greens that I’ve washed myself, but sometimes I don’t have any on hand and need to use frozen. Have you ever gotten sick from eating frozen greens? The worst batch of food poisoning I have ever gotten was from frozen spinach that I had cooked and that’s what made me think of this potential issue. I haven’t gotten sick in almost 10 years though. Are you careful about food safety in your household or is it something you don’t worry too much about?

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Comments

  1. says

    Wow—the pudding sounds and looks amazing!! What a great variation! It looks very silky :-)

    I never thought of that regarding the frozen veg/greens—but that is great to know! I would have thought using them frozen to be a great healthy convenience (but I’m all about being safe so I won’t chance it)! Thanks for sharing that info :-)

  2. says

    This is such news to me. I mean, we eat raw, fresh veggies from a bag, ie, lettuce, spinach, etc., so why not frozen? I would think they wash and prepare the greens/veggies in the same manner as fresh. That’s not right?

    • says

      Hi Ginny! I think the difference between bagged lettuces and frozen is the assumption on how they will be prepared. Bagged lettuces are fine if they are labeled as being ready to eat (although many public health officials still recommend washing ready to eat produce). Frozen veggies are not meant to be consumed raw so the preparation is different and apparently not as diligent. Scary, huh? I prefer to be safe than sorry in this case, especially considering I have gotten sick from frozen spinach in the past.

  3. Briana says

    Interesting! I guess I assumed if it was frozen, the bacteria wouldn’t survive. Shows what I know! But, what about frozen fruit? I added it directly to my smoothies all the time, could the same bacteria be found there as well??

    • says

      Hi Briana, the difference is that manufacturers know that consumers eat frozen fruit without cooking it so the fruit is processed accordingly. So, it is perfectly safe to consume frozen fruit directly from frozen. Eating frozen veggies directly from frozen (without cooking) is not the intended way we are supposed to consume them and has a risk. If you were to wash and then freeze your own produce, that would be a different story.

  4. Suzanne says

    Hi Carrie, this is so timely for me as I have been trying to streamline my green smoothie prep. For a while I was washing and then freezing fresh greens, since a bunch of mustard greens goes a very, very long way when you are using them for smoothies, and it seemed so wasteful to let most of a bunch spoil. I have gotten out of the habit of freezing fresh greens, though, and was just thinking how nice it would be to buy a bag of greens and just put them in the blender. Thanks for the info!

  5. says

    That pudding looks delish! I have plans to make a coconut toasted walnut one tonight.

    I also use frozen greens in my smoothies sometimes, and never thought twice about it. Thanks for that info – I’ll be sure to cook them thoroughly first!

  6. Alex says

    Great post Carrie! The pudding looks delicious! As for the frozen veggies…I would be interested in knowing what dr Furman would say about it. Can’t u just wash the frozen veggie before use?

    Thanks!
    Alex

    • says

      Hi Alex! I just posted some more information on this issue in a response to Susan’s comment. The bottom line is that food manufacturers prepare foods differently when they are meant to be “ready to eat” vs. “ready to cook.” Frozen vegetables are in the ready to cook category which means they may have not undergone enough sanitation (for lack of a better word) to be ready to eat straight from the package. Washing the veggies likely wouldn’t kill any bacteria that was present which is why the manufacturers say to cook the vegetables. Hope this helps!

  7. Susan says

    First, there’s no way Pictsweet would ever tell you it’s safe to eat their frozen veggies without cooking according to the package directions, whether or not there’s any actual evidence of risk. Second, I have used Pictsweet and other frozen greens straight from the bag in my green smoothies for the past three years and never had a problem. Of course, n=1. And I may get sick tomorrow from eating raw frozen greens. But that possibility does not even make my worry list.

    • says

      Hi Susan! Thanks for the comment. I did some more research and found this on the internet from the Frozen Food Foundation.

      “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has oversight responsibility for the safety of many of the foods we enjoy. The agency considers some prepared foods to be “ready-to-eat” and others “ready-to-cook.”

      Ready-to-eat foods are just that: foods that can be eaten right out of the refrigerator, like cheese, deli meats and dairy products, for example. When stored properly, these foods carry a very low risk of containing potentially harmful bacteria. Proper storage includes keeping the refrigerator at 40°F (4°C) or below, using ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible and regular cleaning of your refrigerator.

      As their name suggests, ready-to-cook foods must be cooked according to package instructions or labels that tell you to cook or bake them. Most frozen foods are “ready-to-cook” foods.

      The freezing process does not actually kill all bacteria; some can live at freezing temperatures. Even frozen foods that were partially cooked by the producer may not have been cooked at temperatures high enough or long enough to kill all the bacteria that might have been present. So it is important for your safety that you prepare ready-to-cook frozen foods according to their cooking instructions.”

      I thought this was a pretty good overview of the issue, here’s the link to the website: http://www.frozenfoodfacts.org/about-frozen-foods/helpful-hints

  8. Ellani says

    I totally agree with Susan. The kinds of dangerous bacteria that might be found in veggies can be found in fresh or frozen veggies. Washing your spinach in cold water at home isn’t any safer (or unsafer) than the blanching process that vegetables undergo when they are frozen. all frozen veggies are blanched first to deactivate the naturally occurring enzymes that are on them. If you cook your spinach and cool it before adding it to smoothies, you are losing a large amount of the nutritional value. If you overcook the spinach or even reheat it, then then the naturally occuring nitrate in the spinach will be broken down and converted to nitrosamines (which are carcinogenic). Given the FDA’s poor track record on nutritional recommendations, I am not surprised that there is little reflectivity about the use of raw vegetables. As someone who has eaten about 70% raw for many years, I have never had a problem with any vegetables–fresh or frozen.

    • says

      Hi Ellani, thanks so much for your input! While I understand where you are coming from in regards to the safety of frozen foods, it must be my training as a dietitian and in public health that makes me concerned about not following the guidelines for food preparation (and for putting out the best information possible to my readers). Don’t get me wrong, I continue to eat raw foods by the basketful, but now I’m buying and washing them myself as opposed to trusting the manufacturers’ safety protocol.

      On a separate note, do you have any resources you could point me to in regards to the nitrates in spinach being converted to nitrosamines? I have heard about this process but was under the impression that plant-based foods don’t undergo the same process as animal-based products. In fact, I think Dr. Greger just addressed this recently on his site in regards to beet juice. But, if you have something different for me to look at, I would be very interested! Thanks!

      • Ellani says

        Hi Carrie,
        I actually learned about the conversion process when I studied chemistry, but it is also documented in, for example, the European Food Information Council (http://www.eufic.org/page/en/page/FAQ/faqid/unhealthy-reheat-spinach/). Organic vegetables contain about 50% LESS nitrates than conventional veggies, but they are not nitrate free (http://www.agronomy-journal.org/index.php?option=com_article&access=doi&doi=10.1051/agro/2009019&Itemid=129).
        I have worked on several European Research projects directly related to nutrition and health and they definitely influenced me away from an omnivore’s lifestyle to veganism and an overwhelming preference for local and organic. But at some point I drew a line. Raw veggies are a very important part of my lifestyle period.
        Thanks for your interesting take on this subject!

        • says

          Hi Ellani, thanks for the links. This is pretty fascinating stuff. Would you mind watching this 2-minute video from Dr. Michael Greger on this very topic and give me your opinion? His take is that any plant-based food will not form nitrosamines and, therefore, no plant-based food is a concern in this regard. Here is the video link: http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/are-nitrates-pollutants-or-nutrients/ I am really curious to know your take on this! Thanks again, Carrie

          • Ellani says

            Hi Carrie,
            thanks for the link to the interesting video. His science is right on though he doesn’t really claim that the consumption of any plant-based food will completely prohibit the formation nitrosamines (that would be bad science). It is all a question of equations and balances. If you consume nitrites, for example, but simultaneously consume an adequate source of ascorbic acid, nitrosamine production can be prevented (funnily enough, according to the study by Helmut Bartsch, that Greger cites, substances like caffeine, alcohol and milk can prohibit this process as well! And I would definitely not recommend those as counteractive measures. The study, to be fair though, is ultimately concerned with the benefits of plants ).
            The danger for a processed meat eater is the following: large amounts of nitrites in the preservatives, coupled with amines found in meats (or through things like excessive heating) start the nitrosamine production in the body. One could not necesarily balance that off with consuming a nice pile of vegetables on the side (that would be like consciously consuming poison and trying to counteract it with its antidote at the same time. A dangerous roulette situation, no?).
            Anyhow, the concern with spinach in some circles is that cooking spinach over a long period of time can also generate an all too large amount of nitrites, while the bacteria that can be found on refrigerated spinach can also start the nitrosamine production process when coupled with things like reheating or the right conditions in the digestive system.
            All this is, in some ways, beside the point. If you are concerned about bacterial pathogens (for example EHEC a dangerous version of e.coli) on your vegetables, merely washing your veggies in cold water will not remove the danger. Only cooking can destroy e.coli.
            But it is a question of weighing your options and the risks. If I practice a certain level of awareness in the purchasing/growing of the fruits and vegetables I consume, the risks are extremely low to contract such dangerous bacterial infections (risk assessment and risk managment through monitoring of the food I purchase or grow).

          • says

            Thanks so much for your informed AND informative comment, Elleni! So, do you eat cooked spinach at all, or just raw? I thought that steaming spinach was a good idea because it helped reduce the oxalate content?

  9. Laura S. says

    How about instead of frozen greens we all just eat a ton of the Blueberry Avo pudding!!?? :-) I can’t WAIT to try it, I still have a sucky blender though so I’m wondering how the texture will come out. Need new blender stat! Thanks for the recipe Carrie!!!

  10. says

    This looks great! I really want a Vitamix. Like so bad I would sell our TV for one. That wouldn’t make hubby very happy though.

    Didn’t ever think about not using frozen greens straight from the bag. Interesting thought though.

    • says

      Thanks Jamie! I LOVE my Vitamix in case you couldn’t tell. I’ve also heard that the Blendtec is a great high-speed blender although it’s still fairly expensive. My husband loves the Vitamix too, not because he uses it, but because I make him dessert smoothies all of the time. Perhaps the allure of homemade smoothies might change your hubby’s mind? :)

  11. Ellani says

    Hi Carrie, thanks so much for letting me blabber! And sorry for blabbering! I like cooked spinach, but I absolutely swoon for fresh, raw baby spinach (’tis the season). For example, in a salad with fresh strawberries, almond slivers, and a red wine vinegar dressing. Yum.

    • says

      Hi Ellani! You certainly weren’t blabbering, but providing very great information! I appreciate your input and for educating me on this topic. It’s complicated and evolving but I’d rather be aware of the issue than uninformed. Love your idea for a raw baby spinach salad, sounds delish! :)

  12. Laura S says

    I had some extra-ripe avocados laying around so I finally got the chance to make this pudding, and I had it for breakfast no less (oops! :-) ). I actually made it soy-free by subbing the tofu and soymilk for 2 Tbsp almond butter and 1/3 – 1/2 C water. The texture was great.

    I am thinking cherry avo pudding would be pretty remarkable too!

    Thanks for the tasty and easy dessert (or, um, breakfast) idea!

    • says

      Hi Laura! Thanks for the feedback on the recipe. Cherry-avo pudding sounds awesome, yes it does. Did you find it too heavy without the tofu? I felt like it needed some type of “filler” and tofu was the best I could think of.

      • Laura S says

        I didn’t find it too heavy but looking back at your picture mine was probably thicker than yours. However the water and almond butter seemed to work perfectly to suit my preferred texture and taste. I have been dreaming of this pudding ever since I tasted it. Cherry is definitely next up!

  13. Tam says

    Great looking pudding! As for frozen greens I buy fresh kale and spinach and then freeze them after washing and drying (in a salad spinner). I freeze them in 2 cups bags, very convenient for green smoothie making :)

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