Discovering why “healthy” and “Valentine’s Day treat” don’t always coincide.

So I’m realizing that it’s pretty hard to ignore Valentine’s Day when you have three small children. And I’m ok with this — if there is one relationship in which I can swoon with sticky sentimentality, it’s the one with my children (Tim and I are thankfully on the same page in this). When it comes to my little ones, I can be found cutting out construction-paper hearts at 10 o’clock on a Sunday night so that they can find them in their breakfast seats first thing in the morning. I will wear my one red item of clothing — a jealousy-inducing vintage wool cardigan found at a thrift store by my friend Emily (a woman who walks into thrift stores and little treasures start sending out homing signals, beckoning her to take them home for a fraction of their actual worth) to my 4-year old’s preschool party. And of course, I will make them something special, something sweet, something overtly heart-shaped and/or covered in pink sugar.

But this year, we are just coming out of six weeks of viral hell. And as firm believer that sugar suppresses one’s immune system, I wasn’t quite ready to start overdosing on the crystals, not today. So as I perused in my reader a few favorite nourishing/traditional-diet blogs, I landed on a recipe for avocado chocolate pudding. Since I’ve had great results with avocados in desserts-of-past, I decided this could be my ticket for a V-day treat for my kids that would leave them feeling adequately treated, without my then forcing them to wash it down with a toxic dose of vitamin C.

So I grabbed the necessary ingredients today at the grocery (i.e., avocados), came home after the party and went to work (mind you, in seclusion, so my kids wouldn’t see the secret ingredient, since that would in their [now justifiable] minds render the stuff unedible).

Now, I’m no Jessica Seinfeld, but I have been known to sneak “healthy” food into dishes. Things such as chicken livers (a quarter-pound of them finely chopped becomes indistinguishable in a beef spaghetti sauce), or almonds (my kids don’t like them in large pieces, but if I grind them into a near-powder before baking them into granola, they never know they’re eating protein). But the key to this trick, in my opinion, is that it simply should not effect the flavor in a negative way. In other words, I’m fine with sticking avocado into a chocolate pudding, as long as the end result still tastes like chocolate pudding.

But when I removed the lid from my food processor and licked today’s concoction from the spatula, what I tasted was cocoa-powder-infused avocados. With a finish of banana. This, I’m doubting, will pass for chocolate pudding. No matter how many shavings of real chocolate dust the top, no matter how many pink-and-red hearts are in the vicinity.

My kids will make the final judgment, and I might be surprised. But even if it’s a pudding fail, it’s not a bad metaphor. When we think about love, we often like to dress it up in our minds; that it’s foil-wrapped chocolates, glittering cards and packages, strawberry-and-chocolate-infused menus washed down with something bubbly. But most often, especially in the worlds of marriage and parenthood, love is much more often an avocado — one that’s been disguised as something else. And when it’s finally revealed for what it is, it is then embraceable as its own thing. Something raw and simpler, something really good for you; something humble and delightful in its own right.

Ok, it’s a stretch, I know. But at least it gives me something to ponder, while I go back to the kitchen and whip up the bowl of guacamole I’m suddenly craving.

There’s red in guacamole, right?

9 thoughts on “Discovering why “healthy” and “Valentine’s Day treat” don’t always coincide.

  1. but you looked hot in your red, vintage wool LS Ayers cropped sweater? Because that’s really all that matters. And if I ever loose 20 lbs, I’ll be asking to borrow it.

    Love your disasters as much as I love your successes!

    BTW – the lamb stew tonight? OMG, meat candy.

    1. Well, T. wouldn’t eat it. Said, “Momma, I don’t like it. It doesn’t taste like chocolate.”

      A. ate about half of it, but said it “wasn’t great.” I never told them what was in it.

      It was just weird. I kept thinking it would get better, but it didn’t. Ironically reminiscent of eating a fat-free pudding, or some other calorie-free, fat-free “treat” from the grocery store. You might eat it, but not feel like you had just eaten a cookie, or pudding, or whatever. It feels like a sad substitution. That’s what this tasted like.

      I almost think that the appearance made it worse: it did look rich and chocolaty and delicious!

  2. Would that be the red sweater of the cookie exchange? Because I adored it. I must go shopping with Emily some time. I bet these north side Goodwills are teeming with unknown treasure.

    We must have been channeling the same thoughts on Valentine’s Day treats. I’ve never been one to reign in the sugar much, but I’m slowly coming around. I definitely see its effects on Eli much more so than Elena. He’s enough to handle when he’s just boy, but boy strung out on sugar and always on the verge of/recovering some bug? Can not handle. So it’s that and the food dyes that are getting to me and nixed our normal Valentine’s treats of cookies or conversation hearts. We dipped strawberries in chocolate and it was perfect.

    Sorry about the avocados. That shake sounds delicious, though.

    1. It WAS the sweater. I believe Ms. Emily had bestowed it to me that very week.

      You should definitely thrift shop, but you should also know something about Goodwill: they don’t keep donations local (to individual locations). So, all donations go to a main greater-Indy sorting warehouse, and then they’re all distributed to the various locations. So, in theory, all of them should sell about the same stuff. The really sucky thing is that the really good stuff usually gets auctioned off on the national Goodwill auction site.

      The avocado shake IS delicious. You should try it, just as soon as the ice melts. Sometime in May, by the looks of things.

  3. Red in guacamole? Of course, there’s red in guacamole. The tomatoes are red. I’m not a big guacamole fan myself, but everyone tells me it’s delicious when I make it. I’m still trying to come over to the side of the avocado. I’ll get there someday. It just takes time.

    And Angie? I’ve been trying to find time for a shopping date with Emily for a while. If you two set something up, let me know (and I’ll do the same for you if we ever get it figured out!). I’m thinking the same thing you are about northside Goodwill stores.

    1. Katie, come to the side of the avocado. It’s a good side, as long as it includes salt and garlic.

      Also, see my comment to Angie re: northside Goodwill stores.

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