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Category: Desserts

Super-Fruit from a Cactus – Garambullo

Think you are seeing blueberries?

Think you are seeing blueberries? Nope, these are garambullo,  one of many cactus fruits enjoyed by locals in the central parts of Mexico. Like other  red-purple-blue fruits such as cranberry, pomegranate and blueberries, the pigment indicates high levels of anthocyenins which is among those flavonoids highly recommended for good health.

Wait…what are flavonoids again?

Just think about eating a broad spectrum of color – each colour group plays a role in protecting your body’s cells against disease and boosting function of organs. This particular red-blue family is understood overall to be anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial; for guarding the  liver against damage, reducing blood pressure, improving eyesight. And if you have heard before of “free radicals” these anthocyanins scavenge for them. Feel better? You should– free radicals are troublemakers; un-paired molecules that float around damaging  healthy cells which, in the worst case scenarios, leads to cancer and heart disease.

Now that you know ‘why’, let’s talk about ‘how’ to enjoy garambullo fruits.

When you are in parts of Central Mexico (from Queretaro, north to San Luis Potosí, generally) where cactus dominate the landscape, you’ll find garambullo in season in May. It’s a short season, but the harvest is frozen, so thereafter you can find it … well, until it runs out. As a paleta (popsicle) or nieve (fruit sorbet) it’s absolutely delicious. Slightly blueberry, a bit of grape or raspberry to the flavor, and a color of technicolor magenta. While there will be added sugar, there is not much–the fresh fruit flavor is allowed to shine through and the little seeds just slip down your throat easily. You could easily justify it as a ‘not-so-guilty- pleasure’.
Right now, I am experimenting with using it to make a  naturally fermented fruit vinegar. You can follow any standard recipe you like.
Try this link for some ideas
Any thoughts on other ways to use these special fruits?  I’d love to hear your ideas!
mamey chocolate mousse

Mamey Chia Chocolate Parfait

With very little effort you can be savoring a creamy, chocolate-y mousse dessert based on a vitamin-rich fruit… Why hold back?


A ripe mamey more than sweet enough to make this dessert. But if you do want it a little sweeter, try agave syrup or maple syrup. Never use an under-ripe mamey.



mamey chocolate mousse
Mamey Chia Chocolate Mousse
Print Recipe
mamey chocolate mousse
Mamey Chia Chocolate Mousse
Print Recipe
  • 2 cups mamey pulp. Make sure it is ripe and sweet when you choose it.
  • 3/4 cup cacao unsweetened, pure
  • 3/4 cup milk or creamy non-dairy beverage*
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla pure vanilla extract
Prepare the chia seeds
  1. Place the chia seed in a bowl wiith the 2 tablespoons of water. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Time for the mousse!
  1. Combine the ingredients together in a food processor or blender**, and whir on medium speed, stopping the motor every so often to scrape the sides.
  2. For a richer chocolate taste, add more cacao. If you are finding it too thick, gradually add more liquid in small amounts.
  3. As you can see in my photo, I removed some of the mamey mixture before adding cacao to the rest. The flavor of the mamey is a lovely counterpoint to the rich chocolate.
  4. Transfer the mixture to small glasses, layering if desired, and refrigerate for about an hour. The chia will help it set more firmly as it chills.
Recipe Notes

* I used Silk unsweetened coconut milk, but you could use Almond, Rice, Hemp or whatever you like.

**An immersion blender is preferred, if you have one. The mixture gets quite thick and can strain a jar blender.

Virtuous Dessert #1: Avocado Chocolate ‘Mousse’


Avocado for dessert – it’s a fruit after all.

We all know by now why we love avocados, right? They are high in monounsaturated fats in the form of oleic acid. Monounsaturated fat is considered to be a “good fat” which reduces levels of bad cholesterol in your blood (by raising the ‘good’ cholesterol) which lowers your risk of stroke and heart disease

One avocado contains about 4 grams of protein, and  11 grams of fibre– close to half of the daily recommended minimum intake (fibre? in something so buttery-smooth? Amazing!), and more potassium than a banana!

The recipe is very loose; if you prefer your chocolate very dark, add more cocoa. If you start with a large avocado, you will need more cocoa; watch the color of the mixture:  a greenish tinge means add more cocoa. You’ll know when the color is right because it will look like the best chocolate pudding you ever had. When mixing, your blender will need a little help– don’t keep adding more and more liquid on top. Instead, stop the motor occasionally, and push the contents back down toward the blade with a spatula, giving it a bit of a mix. Only add enough liquid to make it a teeny-tiny bit thinner than a perfect pudding consistency.

You really can’t go wrong with this one…Taste as you go, and play with add-ins to give it your own signature touch.

Then, find a secret place and spoon every last dollop into your mouth. This isn’t sinful decadence– it’s healthy, virtuous ecstasy.

Avocado Chocolate 'Mousse'
Print Recipe
Avocado Chocolate 'Mousse'
Print Recipe
  • 1 avocado medium-large, fully ripened
  • 1/4 cup cocoa unsweetened cocoa powder*
  • 1/4 cup syrup use your favorite natural sweetener in syrup form: agave or darker maguey syrup, honey or maple syrup all work well
  • 1/4 cup liquid **
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla pure, natural essence or a scraping from vanilla pod
  • 1 pinch salt
  • garnish your choice, such as chopped nuts, flaked salt, candied ginger or citrus, toasted coconut, fresh berries or crumbled raw cacao as seen here
  1. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise and remove the pit.*** Scoop the flesh out with a spoon and put it in the blender jar.
  2. Add the cocoa, sweetener, and whatever ‘milk’ (and other liquid) you have chosen. Blend, starting on low and then moving to high speed until it is smooth.
  3. If the avocado is larger, you will need a bit more of each ingredient. If it is too thick, drizzle in a bit more almond milk. Add more cocoa or honey or agave to taste.
  4. Portion into 4 small cups–it’s rich, so the servings are small. Refrigerate about one hour to allow it to firm up.
  5. Garnish, and serve with a flourish.
Recipe Notes

*Best quality you can afford: Ghiradelli is widely available, Callebaut would send this into the stratosphere.

**Try almond milk (if sweetened, reduce your sweetener), coconut milk, or other ‘milk’. Use a tablespoon of strong coffee or orange juice if you like, in place of some of the ‘milk’.

***Don't know how to pit an avocado? Learn how here.

Nieves, Helados, Paletas… oh my!


A delicious way to try out a new exotic fruit (and sometimes vegetables) is by getting adventurous with the different flavors of “ice cream.” Some are made with milk, others are pure fruit ices with a touch of sugar.

So what’s the difference between ‘Nieves’ and ‘Helados’?

NievesNYEH-vayz  –from the word for snow, are made without dairy, similar
Helados: ell-AH-doz –from “congelado” con-hell-AH-do meaning ‘frozen’. Made with milk, not cream, so are lighter and less creamy-rich than, say, Ben & Jerry’s
Paletas:  pa-LEH-tas  are the equivalent frozen treat on a stick



Clear the way Cookies & Cream, we’re ready for something a little more exotic…

Zapote Negro – this unique fruit is easiest to find in the late fall into winter. Often referred to in English as the “chocolate pudding” fruit,  it has a mild, chocolate flavor and a custardy consistency which lends itself to delicious creamy-without-the cream nieves.
Maracuyá – Passion fruit. Anticipate a complex, exotic flavor… lemon, rhubarb and strawberry. The fruit has small seeds and these are left in and give it a delightful crunch.
Elote – Corn blended with milk makes a delicious helado. Try it alongside a berry flavor  like Zarzamoro (blackberry) or my personal favorite….
Garambullo –A dark purple-red “berry”, a cactus fruit rich in antioxidants, just like cranberries or super-fruits like the Acai (nieve)
Guanábana – A fruit that’s getting a lot of attention for its cancer-fighting nutrients. The flavor is light and tropical: vanilla, pineapple and banana-ish… like many exotic fruits it’s hard to describe. It has large seeds, which most often are left in – a bit of an inconvenience maybe, but you know you’re getting real fruit!
Tuna –The prickly pear fruit of the nopal cactus is called tuna in Mexico. It’s another fruit rich in antioxidants, with a flavor that might compare to watermelon + raspberry
Mamey – think sweet potato with a touch of malt

In Mexico, you’ll encounter street vendors selling myriad flavors….”Beso de Angel” – Angel’s Kiss, “Petales de Rosas”- Rose Petal, and many other creative concoctions, which are a change from Cookies and Cream (though you’ll find that too). but, if your interest is in tasting unusual natural fruit flavors try asking:

¿Hay un sabor de la fruta de temporada?  ~ Is there a seasonal fruit flavor?

pronunciation : eye oon saBOR day la FROOta day tem-po-RAH-da? 


Paletas are also fun and easy to make at home…

If you have kids and want to teach them to make a healthy summer snack, I recommend Fany Gerson’s “Paletas” –and not just for kids. A good many of the recipes are exotic and downright sophisticated.

A great idea for a fiesta!

BUY the book





BPA-free popsicle mold