Avocado Cream Tarts with Nectarines and Strawberries

~ This recipe took home the grand prize in the California Avocado Commission’s Cutting Edge Culinary Recipe Contest on June 27, 2014!

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Happy Monday! Do you guys remember how last year at Fitbloggin’ I must have found a million four leaf clovers, because I cleaned out with a whole Amana Kitchen Set AND a Tiffany necklace?! What the what?! Well, this year I’m hoping luck is on my side again because the California Avocado Commission has put a call out for creative avocado recipes featuring mostly fruits and veggies for the California Avocado Cutting-Edge Culinary Recipe Contest. I’ve been obsessing thinking about what I was going to make for three weeks, flip-flopping back and forth between a sweet recipe or a more “classic” avocado recipe, in which avocado plays the mellow counterpart to some strong flavor like cilantro, onion, or prosciutto. In the end I decided to take a risk, and make a dessert — a deliciously decadent dessert that tastes like a million calories but is actually cutely packed into portion controlled tarts. I present to you, Avocado Cream Tarts — a rich shortbread shell filled with a light, fluffy avocado mascarpone cream, sweetened with a touch of wildflower honey and given a clean, crisp accent with freshly squeezed lemon juice. The mascarpone pairs beautifully with the buttery notes of avocado, all the better topped with juicy, ripe, diced nectarines and strawberries. This sweet treat has a simple, just-picked, summery taste, and I hope you like it as much as I do.

Double Chin Diary Avocado Mascarpone Recipe

Ingredients

1 Package of Shortbread Tartlet Shells or  Phyllo Shells (bake as instructed), or miniature graham cracker shells (Or even a thin, sweet cookie if you can’t find anything else. I used shortbread tartlet shells found near the ready made pie shells in the baking section.)

1.5 Cups Mascarpone Cheese

1 Medium Ripe California Avocado, Mashed

1 Teaspoon Honey

1/2 Teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 Diced Nectarine (or more to taste)

Handful of strawberries (or more to taste)

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1) Mash the avocado with a fork until it’s guacamole consistency. A few small chunks are fine, but for the most part you want a smooth taste. Combine this with the mascarpone in a mixing bowl, and beat on medium for a minute until well mixed. If you don’t have a mixing bowl, you can use a whisk and your hands, but mix well. Slowly add in the honey and lemon juice. You can either increase or decrease the amounts of either of these, but I found 1 tsp honey to give just a very slight sweetness, and the lemon to add a very slight tartness to bring out the buttery avocado.

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2) Dice the nectarine and strawberries very finely. Either use a spoon or piping bag to carefully fill the shells. Don’t have a piping bag but want a pretty swirl? You can make an improv piping bag, using a ziploc bag filled with the cream, snipped in the corner with scissors.

Avocado_Nectarine_Tart

2) Dice your nectarines and strawberries and dab a few pieces of each on top. Pat yourself on the back, cuz you’re all done! See how easy that was?! There are a million different variations you could do on this; blueberries, banana, kiwi, apricots, mango… the possibilities are endless.

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When I was brainstorming this recipe, it was important to me that it be quick and no-bake. We’re up in the 90s here in Los Angeles, and turning on my oven for anything takes some doing. I also wanted to feature avocado in a non-traditional sense; as a dessert, with lots of complementary flavors, but still with the buttery, rich avocado taste being the main feature.

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Each avocado tarlet is about 130 calories, and well worth every bite. Avocados are packed with healthy fats, and are sodium and cholesterol free. It’s also sometimes called the Alligator Pear for its bumpy, green skin. For more fun avocado facts, visit this link from my friends at the California Avocado Commission.

What do you think about this dessert? Would you give an avocado dessert a try? What’s your favorite way to use avocados?

 

 

Livin’ la vida low-ca(rb)

See what i did there?! Okay, I’m probably a little bit delusional from working on a brand naming project for the past six hours :) Today I want to talk about food, one of my very favorite things.

One scary thing about being on a low-carb diet is that social eating situations are unknown. Will the main dishes be bread, bread and crackers? Will there only be a platter of sugar cookies and punch? We’re getting into the Holiday season and it’s not uncommon to deck the halls with tons of sugar. For example, last night I went to a David Sedaris reading put on by university’s alumni association. I was a little bit nervous about what I’d eat at the reception as breads and sugars are pretty much off the list entirely. To my delight, they had tons of roast vegetables, cold cuts, cheese, and my personal favorite – a gigantic bowl of marinated olives! I was very happy.

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Then there’s the challenge of eating at restaurants. In Minnesota last weekend we went to the 58 Diner, famous for their Juicy Lucy burger, a patty with melted cheese inside. I got my sans bun with “Carrot fries” on the side. The dish in the background looks much more scrumptious, but hey, gotta make sacrifices somewhere!

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The easiest way to handle this way of eating is cooking at home. For dinner tonight, I stir fried some ground pork, carrots, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, carrots, onion, bell pepper and celery with soy sauce and garlic. Deeeeelicious and filling!

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But my favorite low-carb dish of the day was my baked avocado egg. One of the best ways to get ideas for clean eating is to search hashtags on instagram. I browse #lowcarb and #pcos quite often for recipe ideas. Pop the seed out of an avocado, fill the hole with an egg, sprinkle with salt and pepper, bake at 375 for 30 minutes. It took me a little bit to get used to a cooked avocado, but it was a mellow and filling meal, and so pretty too!

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Do you find it challenging to eat healthy or in a certain style when you’re out and about? Have you pleasantly surprised lately, like I was at the David Sedaris reading? I hope you have a wonderful day!

 

Thailand Tuesday Week 8

Hello friends! After a couple of weeks of my bitching and moaning, I’m back with a great weigh in – this week

I lost 2.2 pounds!

Avocado and egg white. Yummy, protein-packed, good fat breakfast!

As I’ve learned, weight-loss for some people is black and white – move more, eat less. For me, it’s not so simple. If other people’s weight loss is black and white, mine is like EVERY COLOR OF THE RAINBOW. For me it’s a fine tuning process – moving more (a lot more), eating less CRAP, and focusing on the intracacies of my diet – how much protein, carbs, water, salt…. This past week, I decided to tweak my eating by not completely cutting out carbs, but by eating less of them. You all know I’m a fiend for crunchy, salty munchies – like popcorn, or crackers, or 100-calorie packs. After checking out MyFitnessPal for the past couple weeks, I noticed I was staying within my calories but eating too many little crackery/bready things. I decided to cut back and focus on lean proteins like egg whites, chicken breast, edamame and healthy fats like avocado – and boom – with my fitness schedule – down 2.2 pounds. I just might be on to something.

The scale might not be moving drastically, but I can see changes in things like the way clothes fit. I’m usually not comfortable in an outfit this form fitting – but I feel like on this day, I was able to pull it off!

So clearly at this point, it would take an unhealthy miracle to reach 20 pounds lost before Thailand, but as usual, this journey for me is not so much about the number but of improving my health, feeling better and being able to squeeze into hot jeans. (JK, kinda, on that last part). I’m looking forward to next week’s weigh in now that I feel like I’ve cracked part of the code on why my weight loss was so sluggish – we’ll see what happens! I hope you have an amazing week – I have some exciting news on Thursday related to a new fitness challenge – and April will be here tomorrow!

PS: Have I mentioned how grateful I am for YOU?! Yes, you. The person reading this. You might know me well, or you might not even know me at all, but every time I see that somebody has read my blog I am so thankful! Your support and encouragement is the best thing in the world and I KNOW I will reach my goal with your help. <3

 

Weekly Weigh In #6

*Sigh* Let’s get right to it. This week I

gained .8 of a pound

Sometimes, I feel like I’m living my life in Groundhog’s day, because for the past six weeks of Weight Watchers, I have consistently been losing one week, and then gaining the next. It’s a scene all too familiar and one I’m getting sick of repeating. Remember last week’s monumental weight loss? 2.8 pounds? Yeah, not so much today.

I really anticipated a small loss, at least. Nothing huge, but a little reward for the night I turned down a bowl of ice cream, or when I spent an hour and a half of my Sunday morning speed walking around the park. I was bitter today after my weigh in. I wondered aloud why I was doomed to a life of fatness. (Yes, I have a flair for the dramatic) It’s hard not to be frustrated when the third time I’ve tried Weight Watchers, I’m having similar results, a perpetual YoYo, constantly not constant. Is it me? Is it the program? Is it the sugary Peeps I ate (and tracked)? Is it bloating? Is it too little exercise?

I really want to say, “F you, Weight Watchers,” and go stuff my face with garlic bread, but I’m not going to. I’m paying for this damn plan, so I’m gonna make it work even if that means I can’t use my extra points or I have to cut out my liquid crack, my beloved Diet Pepsi. (C’mon – one can a day? How bad can it be?!)

So what do I need to do? Eat less. Move more. Use less extra points. Cut out the crap. Crap is crap even if I count it. Peeps aren’t good for the junk in my trunk, and neither are FiberOne Brownies. Crap is crap. But I give a crap. So next week, I’m losing weight, even if I have to strip naked on the scale to make it. I’m sick of having to write the same post every other week. It makes me not want to write to you. But I do, because I need to. It needs to change. It will change. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. Send me some weight loss vibes, will ya?

My 13-point dinner tonight. Salad with beets and light ranch, turkey breast sandwich with sprouts, avocado and cheese on whole wheat with light cranberry juice.

 

SlimCado – When “lite” just aint right

Matt and I live near a 99c Only Store, which is pretty much one of my favorite stores EVER, ‘cuz on a weekly basis we find things like organic spring mix vegetables (Reg price at least $3), full-sized bottles of Dial Soap (reg price at least $1.50), and random, awesome things like O.P.I. Nail Polish (Reg price: $9!) and decorative gourds (Priceless, in their lack of use). And if you couldn’t tell by the name, everything is ONLY 99c!

Last week, Matt brought home another interesting 99c store find: the SlimCado! Could it be? An avocado that’s 50% less fat and has 35% fewer calories? It is. The SlimCado has a much more smooth, shiny skin than the traditional California Haas, and it’s a lot bigger. Reminds me of a dinosaur egg. It came all the way from Florida!

SlimCado before I cut it open!

It looked the same as a regular avocado when I cut it open, though the texture was slightly less creamy and a little more watery.

My, what a big seed you have.

I used my handy avocado slicer to create nice, thin slices and popped one in my mouth. Verdict? Sadly, the SlimCado is like most “light” things… disappointing. It was bland, watery and like the depressed version of the pebbly Haas – there was no buttery aftertaste, no smooth, creamy tingles dancing on my taste buds.

Slim N' Sliced, but the taste was not so nice.

However, I’m no food-waster and I know people are starving in India, so I made do with what I had. I crushed one huge clove of garlic, added three drops of Tapatio, cracked some pepper and stirred in some Himalayan Pink Salt – and it made all the difference in the world. Bland SlimCado? You were just been reborn as slightly-less-awesome-than-usual guacamole.

"Hey, I never asked you - Do you like Guacamole?" 10 points if you get that movie reference!

All in all, I’d use the SlimCado for guacamole, but probably not for salads or garnish. It’s a little too ho-hum to stand on its own. Sure, regular avocados are fattening, but they’re loaded with Omega-5s and lovely antioxidants. Plus, it’s the type of fat that makes your hair shiny and your nails strong, so in my opinion, it’s worth porking out on the full-fat version… and avocados are so damn expensive it’s not like you’re going to be eating them daily anyways!

Have you ever tried the SlimCado? Would you? What other freakish vegetable or fruit mutations have you tasted?

PS: It’s Matt’s birthday today! Happy Birthday, husband… <3

PPS: Due to my crazy work/school/life schedule, I’m probably going to be blogging 2-3 times a week. So you don’t waste your time popping by on days when I’m away, please subscribe (you can find the link on the right hand side of the page) or check in on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays. Those are the days I’ll try my berry best to post! Next week might be a little silent as I’ll be on VACATION!!! WOOHOO!