I’m in the midst of building a better me (gluten-free and lower sugar) — but that is a hard road most days, because I’m a chocoholic. Luckily the VP gang and I all received big boxes, chock full of avocados from So Cal Avocados. Delicious good-for-you-fat, avocados, that help lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol, while boosting your good cholesterol.
That extra creamy fat-feel on your tongue can also translate into less fat on your thighs too, because when you replace other fatty food cravings during a dietary change, with avocado, your body feels more satiated — leaving you less likely to binge. And avocados are fiber-licious, helping you to feel fuller and aiding in your body’s digestion. Not only that, but these little alligator-skinned beauties are like nutrition bombs — packed with potassium and vitamins A, C, E, and K.
California Girl — Avocado Love
Growing up in Southern California, you get your share of citrus fruits and avocados and of course, those things from childhood hold special memories, usually that cannot be recaptured. Until I received this box of avocados, I thought that was true of the alligator pear. I have such distinct memories of sitting on the back step of my grandparents’ house when I was five and eating the most delicious and fresh avocado of my life. My grandad took my out there for a little chat.
My mom had just had my youngest sister. We were staying with my grandparents until mom was ready to travel to Kentucky, where Dad was being stationed, after our return to the states from Germany. As is probably true of any five-year-old with a new sibling, I was a little too rambunctious and loud, and my granfather decided to take me outside to give my mom and the new baby a little quiet resting time. We walked around out back and over to the avocado tree and gramps picked a few avocados and put them in a bag. He then, grabbed one that he’d picked a few days earlier, feeling it for ripeness as we sat down together on the back step. He pulled out a pocket knife and began to cut the avocado in half. I sat mesmerized. I thought it was amazing that he had this pocket knife at the ready and was surprised at the vibrant, smooth-looking green inside that bumpy purple-black skinned avocado.
Grandpa set one-half down on his thigh and the other, he carefully sliced lengthwise, slipping a long thin piece out for me to try. I was nervous — I’d never eaten avocado before (even though my mother loved them) but I took the slice from my grandfathers’ hand. He smiled down at me and wordlessly took a piece for himself and popped it in his mouth. It felt slick in my hand, like a slippery bar of soap but I wanted to share this with my grandpa. I took a big bite and the creamy texture hit me first, then the vibrant buttery, woodsy, almost nutty flavor took hold, slightly sweet in its finish. I must have smiled as I put the rest in my mouth, because grandad smiled back and handed me another slice.
We sat out on the back step, eating our avocado together, mostly in reverential silence, for the avocado and for the still quiet time with each other. When we finished, grandad took the seed into the house, rinsed it and set it on a paper towel for grandma to stake with toothpicks and let it take root in a jar of water later, throwing the emptied skins away. Then he washed his hands and we took a little walk around the complex my grandparents’ managed, under the shade of its’ big overgrown trees.
It was a wonderful moment in my life — something so simple as sharing an avocado and a walk. My grandfather could command respect and attention in a room when, and if, he needed to, but for the most part, he was a gentle, quiet man. It was moments like this one that made me love my grandfather so.
Avocados as an Adult
For a while after the avocado with my grandfather, I wanted to eat them all the time. But no avocado ever tasted as good as the ones with my grandad. I chocked it up to a special moment that could never be recaptured and mostly ate avocados only in guacamole as a young adult.
When I was pregnant with my son, my taste for the unfettered avocado returned and I enjoyed more than my fair share, sliced on chicken and bacon sandwiches, on the side of a burger and even in a milkshakes at a local Vietnamese restaurant called Yen Ha. But I was now living in Portland and our avocados were being shipped up to stores from California and Mexico via long haul truck. They were good but not like I remembered.
Then the glorious box of So Cal beauties hit my porch. I had my concerns, I could just see them, all mushy and bruised inside their box, having been dropped kicked one too many times by men in brown shorts. Plus, I like picking my own produce so I wasn’t sure that whatever they sent, would meet my standards.
Boy was I wrong!
So Cal Avocados
So Cal Avocados is a small family ranch in eastern Ventura County California that’s been farming food since 1935. They started out with dry goods like beans and barley and later made the move to citrus and nuts. In the sixties, they moved to avocados, growing several different varieties. Over the years the avocado market has shrunk to produce mainly Hass but So Cal Avocados’ Tierra Rejada Ranch still produces a variety and they ship straight from the orchard to your door.
When I opened my box of avocados I was stunned to find gorgeous looking avocados, packed carefully, along with a really handy sheet on the best tips for ripening and storing your avocados. I couldn’t wait for them to ripen and since there were several varieties in the box, they all ripened at different times, which meant we could indulge in avocados to our hearts’ content.
The first of the bunch we tried was a Fuerte, some say this is truly the best flavored avocado on the planet (until I got this box, I thought there was only one kind of avocado!) and I can’t say I disagree. Though it still has the creaminess you expect of an avocado, it’s not nearly as rich (less fat in this puppy!) and it has a wonderful peppery bite to it, that made it delicious, served sliced with fresh corn and red pepper saute and grilled steak fajitas.
Next was the Bacon, which was much less flavorful (not my favorite) but really creamy — this is the one I recommend eating in desserts like the chocolate pudding I’m giving you the recipe for below.
But the Hass, the Hass was exactly what I remembered all those years ago, sitting on the porch with my grandad. It’s not that I haven’t had a Hass since then, I’ve had plenty — but none ever tasted quite like this. The reason? The avocados since, have never been as fresh and unbruised as these that I received from So Cal Avocados. What you may not know, is that avocados don’t ripen on the tree, they mature on the tree but ripen only once they’ve been picked. Because So Cal picks by hand and then ships direct. You get the freshest possible fruit. Not one of these beauties had a single bruised or mushy spot to cut around — just beautiful, ripe, rich avocado in various shades of green.
Avocado of the Month
If you love avocados or if you live in a part of the country where they’re hard to come by, I highly recommend getting their avocado of the month boxes — 20 perfect avocados, ready to ripen in your home, along with 4 lemons for $30 a month and FREE SHIPPING. If you check your local supermarket, even during Hass season, avocados can run sometimes $3 to $5 each in some parts of the country. It’s an insane deal and for WAY better fruit! One they can make because there’s no middle man — just direct from the tree to you.
So what does all of this have to do with my being a chocoholic and striving for healthier eating? Pudding. Creamy, smooth, rich, mousse-like dark chocolate, like velvet on your tongue but low in sugar and packed with great nutrition — and all because of the avocado. Win/Win/Win!
Dark Chocolate, Coconut Butter and Avocado Pudding
- 2 to 3 ripe avocados (Bacon or Hass are best for this recipe)
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 1/4 cup pure Coombs Family Farms Grade B Organic Maple Syrup
- 1/3 cup dutch processed, dark cocoa powder
- 2 Tbsps melted Artisana Raw Organic Coconut Butter
Avocados for Beauty
You’ll find avocado oil in tons of beauty products on the market — that’s because vitamins A, C, E, and K are nourishing and moisturizing. Well-known to improve skin texture as well as soothe hair follicles and scalp, avocado hair and face masks can be made at home with leftover or overripe avocados.
Add 1 mashed avocado (blended until smooth –you don’t want to be picking out avocado chunks from your hair later) to 1/4 cup of olive or coconut oil and 1/4 cup honey and watch how shiny and soft your hair becomes — you can use what’s left on your face to heal dry skin. Leave the mixture on for 10-15 minutes and then hop into a warm shower rinsing your hair and face clean, for a healthy moisturized glow.
WIN FREE AVOCADOS!!!
All 12 VP Bloggers are sharing Avocado recipes with you this week. Visit our host page at Miss in the Kitchen to check them all out and to increase your chances of winning your very own box of pristinely fresh-picked avocados.
GIVEAWAY: 12 avocados of available varieties
For entries: Visit site, choose the avocado you would most like to try
We’ve picked a WINNER:
Fellow Food Blogger, Jessie from Mostly Meatless is our So Cal Avocados Winner. Congratulations Jessie!