Want to lose weight?

Guacamole, baby! Maybe not a whole bowl, but let’s just say avocados are the “bomb” when it comes to whittling down the middle. People who regularly consume avocado (about 1/2 each day) are more likely to have smaller waists and weigh less, according to researchers who surveyed more than 17,000 dieters.

Another study found that eating avocado for lunch helped folks feel satiated (full) for up to five hours after the meal. That is its success as a tool for avoiding weight gain.

Avocados are now in their prime on the West Coast. I think we’ll be seeing them at the Napa Farmers Market this week, too. Avocados are considered a “healthy fat,” as they are unsaturated and can actually help boost other nutrients in a meal. For example, if you’re enjoying a salad filled with high-fiber vegetables, just by adding some avocado you will increase your absorption of antioxidants like carotenoids. The two carotenoids in avocados are lutein and zeanxanthin, which help protect your eyes and skin from the sun.

Another health benefit of the mighty avocado involves the heart. Its anti-inflammatory components affect the blood vessels and keep the heart operating smoothly. Not only do we ‘love’ the taste, but it also protects us from LDL (L for ‘lousy’) cholesterol being absorbed in the gut.

One extra tip: if you buy a bag of avocados and just can’t finish them all in time, scoop out the flesh, cut into cubes and freeze in a baggie. You can use it in smoothies another time.

All that said, come on already! Let’s get this party started by adding a few new avocado recipes to your summer soiree. Every ‘body’ will benefit.

Chocomole Pudding

Makes six 1/2 cup servings.

I love making desserts with avocado, and this one has been floating around in many variations. If you don’t have chia seeds (why not?) it is just as creamy without, but they do add a boost of Omega 3s.

16 dates, pitted and coarsely chopped

3 ripe avocados

1 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (raw is best)

¼ cup pure maple syrup

1 Tbsp. coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of sea salt (or ginger salt from Whole Spice)

3 Tbsp. chia seeds (optional)

Raspberries for garnish Soak dates in 1 cup hot water till soft – 5-10 minutes. Drain and squeeze out excess moisture.

In food processor, blend dates, avocados, milk, syrup, oil, vanilla and salt until very smooth and creamy. Transfer to bowl and stir in chia seeds. Refrigerate at least 3 hours.

Serve in small bowls with raspberries and a little extra salt on top.

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Avocado Green Smoothie

Makes about 4 cups.

Remember how fabulous green smoothies are for you? And many of these ingredients are available at the farmers market. Go on. Indulge. And feel so good about it.

1 1/4 cups almond or coconut milk (water is fine, too)

1 ripe avocado (frozen, chopped also works)

1 ripe banana

1 apple, chopped

1/2 celery stalk, chopped

2 cups kale or spinach leaves

1 inch piece of ginger, peeled

8 ice cubes

Mix all in a blender and puree on high until very smooth.