The Proof is in the Pudding

This pudding recipe is one of my favorite concoctions to make in a Vitamix. The basic recipe is for Mint Chocolate Chip pudding, but I've also come up with variations for turning it into ice cream, and for flavoring tips to change it into Mocha Pudding or Chocolate Mint Pudding and other delights. I'll never get tired of it!

The surprising main ingredient is avocado, but you'd never know it by tasting a spoonful of this rich, satisfying dessert. The avocado adds a creamy texture - of course, in addition to adding a boost of good nutrients. The avocado creates the green color to the basic recipe, or blends with chocolate in the recipe variations to make a rich cocoa cream.

If avocados are not in your diet, out of season, or too pricey for a splurge, see my substitution of tofu. Many other substitutions in the basic recipe are noted. The coconut oil is an ingredient you won't want to change however; it is liquid at temperatures above 75 degrees, but hardens below that temperature, so, when this pudding is refrigerated or frozen, the texture thickens partly because of the coconut oil. Besides, coconut oil is very beneficial and nutrient dense.

Mint Chocolate Chip Pudding

2 ripe avocados
1/2 c unsweetened almond milk
3 T honey
1 T coconut oil, warmed to liquid consistency so it mixes well
2 peppermint herbal tea bags
2 oz. dark chocolate bits (or broken pieces from a bar)

Remove the avocado skin and seed, and put the pulp into the Vitamix. Add everything else except the chocolate chunks into the Vitamix, tearing the tea bags to use the dried peppermint.

Run the Vitamix on 10 (the highest speed), mixing with the plunger tool, for 30-45 seconds, until a smooth green mixture forms. The mixture might get warm from the friction of blending, and this is the reason for not adding the chocolate chunks yet. (Actually, I made this mistake and it lead to the creation of some of the variations below.) Scrape the mixture out (this is the only hard part) and into a refrigerator container. When it has cooled, mix in the chocolate chunks. You can spoon the pudding into individual serving bowls to serve. If you are not ready to serve it right away, lay a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap over the surface or the avocado may oxidize and turn the top brown. You can alternately freeze the mixture and serve it as an ice cream, but I've found the timing a bit tricky… too long in the freezer and it's too hard. I'd suggest you try 30-45 minutes of freezing before serving.

Chocolate Pudding: Eliminate the peppermint. Add the chocolate chunks to the Vitamix with all the other ingredients.
Chocolate Raspberry: Eliminate the peppermint. Add the chocolate chunks to the Vitamix with all the other ingredients. After the pudding is spooned out, stir 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen raspberries into the pudding and continue to cool or freeze until ready to serve.
Mocha: Eliminate the peppermint. Add the chocolate chunks (or 2 T of unsweetened cocoa powder) plus 1 T of Roma or Cafix coffee-flavored grain powder to the Vitamix with all the other ingredients.
Mint: When I have fresh herbs from my garden, I eliminate the peppermint tea bags and use 1/4 c of fresh peppermint, spearmint, or chocolate mint leaves. Of course, you can substitute peppermint extract (try 1/2 t) for the dried or fresh mint leaves.
No avocados? Use 1 cup of organic firm tofu for the same creamy consistency. Use organic to insure the tofu is made from non-GMO soy.
Guar Gum:  This is a natural thickener and volume enhancer, sold as a powdery substance, made from a seed. If you don't have any, you might try using agar-agar flakes, arrowroot powder, or xanthan gum - but I haven't tested these other gelatin-like ingredients.
Chocolate: You can substitute 1/4 c of unsweetened cocoa powder for the chocolate chunks, and this can be added to the Vitamix with all the other ingredients. For a caffeine-free version, I usually use 1/4 c of unsweetened carob powder instead of the cocoa powder, so we can enjoy our pudding in the evening.
Almond Milk:  You can substitute unsweetened rice milk, coconut milk, organic soy milk, or nonfat organic cow's milk. You might even try fruit juice in place of all or some of the milk, like cherry or orange.

Other Flavors: 
Experiment with other flavorings… how about Chocolate Orange by adding orange juice in place of some of the milk, plus dried or fresh orange peel or orange extract? Or mix some chopped nuts into the chocolate variation. I plan to try the chocolate variation and adding some fresh cinnamon basil, anise hyssop, or lemon balm leaves from my garden. The possibilities are many - let me know your favorite!