On giant sloths and chocolate avocado pie

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What does this scary looking 12-foot tall Ice Age creature have to do with the modern human diet?

It turns out that avocados might not have blossomed into 21st century nutritional darlings without the help of the giant sloth, which ate the fatty fruits whole, allowing the oversized pits to pass through their digestive track and get dropped in a new location to start an avocado tree.

This was just one of many fun facts we learned at the Joseph Moore Museum at Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., last weekend. The museum focuses on the natural history of Indiana dating back 350 million years. Weird as it is to consider, giant sloths once roamed the Hoosier state up til about 11,000 years ago, along with mastodons, saber-toothed cats and the dire wolf – all of whose skeletons you can find on display at the museum.

The museum also contains the world’s most complete skeleton of a giant beaver, which was the size of a modern black bear. This guy was found in Randolph County, Indiana, about 60 miles south of where we live.

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Luckily for us, avocados didn’t go extinct when the ground sloths did. Humans began collecting and then cultivating what may be one of the planet’s most nutritious foods, packed with healthy fats, fiber and nearly 20 vitamins and minerals. They’re also tasty, whether eaten in salads, guac or this tasty chocolate avocado pie. (Recipe from triathlonobsession, via Gluten Free Gus.)

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Sorry for the crappy photo – this was taken several years ago with a crappy phone camera. But the pie is really very tasty, and now that I’ve been reminded of it I can’t wait to make it again soon!

Chocolate avocado pie

For crust:

8 oz. walnuts

6 oz. pitted dates

1/8 teaspoon sea salt (I used regular)

For filling:

3 avocados, peeled and cubed

½ cup agave nectar

3 Tablespoons coconut oil

1 Tablespoonvanilla extract

1½ cup cocoa powder

DIRECTIONS:

Crust

  1. Pulse the pecans, dates, and salt in a food processor until the consistency of (rolled oats).  Press firmly into the prepared pan.  Chill while you prepare the filling.

Filling:

  1. Puree the avocados, agave nectar and coconut oil, vanilla and salt in a food processor or blender until creamy.  Add a bit of water if the mixture is too thick.
  2. Add the cocoa powder and pulse to blend completely.
  3. Spoon the filling  into the prepared crust.
  4. Chill for 2 hours or overnight.  
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