I’m a late adopter of the avocado, but now that I have welcomed it into my life, I can’t get enough! What makes the avocado rank so high in my books? It’s tasty, good for you, makes you feel full and it’s an amazing portable baby and toddler food.
There are so many health benefits to eating avocados. I’m not a nutritionist or scientist, so you can read this article if you’d like a more in-depth description of what this amazing fruit can do for you but here are the basics. Avocados are full of fibre which helps to keep your “plumbing” running smoothly and keep you feeling full longer. They are also a source of lutein, a carotenoid, which is good for your eyes. I’m sure you’ve heard that taking a Folic Acid (or folate) supplement is a must when you’re pregnant or trying to conceive. Well move over horse pills, avocado has you covered by containing about a quarter of your recommended daily intake of folate. But wait a minute, aren’t avocados high in fat? Yes, they are, but it is good fat – the monounsaturated kind. This kind of fat helps to lower your LDL cholesterol levels (the bad cholesterol) and increase your HDL levels (the good cholesterol).
If all of this information isn’t making you run to the market for an avocado, how about the fact that they taste good and have so many uses? A couple of my favourite recipes follow but first, a couple of tips on buying and preparing avocados.
When choosing the fruit at the market, go for one that is neither hard nor soft. I know, that’s not very specific, but the more you buy avocados, the better you’ll get at choosing them. Another trick I have learned is to pick off the ‘stem’ on the end. If it’s green underneath, the avocado will be green inside. If it’s brown, put it down.
To slice open an avocado, take a knife and cut all the way around the skin, lengthwise. Then you should be able to just twist the avocado open (if it isn’t ripe enough, this may be difficult). To remove the seed, tap your knife into it and lift it out. I always slice the avocado halves while they are still in the skin by cutting lengthwise and then width-wise (making a grid) in the avocado, then I scoop out the flesh with a spoon. If you are only using half the avocado, use the half without the seed first. Leave the seed in the other half; it will keep longer that way.
Now, on to the recipes!
But of course, what avocado is most famous for. I make a mean guac and I’ve been complimented on it several times. Even my 1-year-old son gobbles up my guacamole. The secret is FRESH ingredients and the perfect avocado – not too firm, not too ripe. I don’t follow a recipe, but here is what I do. (I advise to err on the side of caution with the garlic, salt and lime. You can always add more later, but you can’t take it away!)
- Chopped tomatoes – seeds removed so that they don’t make your guac too watery
- Minced garlic – mince it yourself with a garlic press, it just tastes better
- Fresh cilantro – chopped (leaves only, not stems)
- Juice of one lime (give or take)
- Salt – to taste
- Red onion – chopped very fine (optional – if my toddler is going to be snacking on the guac, I omit the onion)
- And of course, a couple of avocados.
Mix everything in a bowl, but be careful not to over-mix. I prefer my guacamole a bit on the chunky side. Add more salt, lime, garlic and cilantro as needed.
Avocado Chicken Salad
This has quickly become my new favourite lunch and is also something my toddler absolutely loves. I have eaten it in a sandwich, but it can prove to be extremely filling. Open-faced sandwiches are less filling or pile some up on top of crisp bread like Ryvita or Melba Toast. This is another one of those recipes that is prepared to taste, not with specific quantities. Experiment with it until you get it the way you like it.
- Cooked chicken breast, chopped
- Juice of ½ a lime
- Fresh chopped cilantro (leaves only)
- Salt and Pepper
- Green onion (optional)
- A dollop of mayonnaise
Mix everything together and adjust lime, S&P and cilantro to taste.
There are so many more things you can do with avocados such as simply adding them to a salad or as a topping on a sandwich. Creamy avocado pasta, crispy avocado fries and avocado brownies are just a few more recipes I will be experimenting with in the coming weeks. For more ideas, check out my Avocado Love board on Pinterest! Happy creating!
Jennifer Alger Morse is a married mom of two sons born 15 years apart (yes, you read that right!) living in Hamilton, Ontario. A lover of cupcakes, reading good (and not-so-good) books and cooking, she also spends her days working in the marketing department for a well-known franchise restaurant corporation. As fairly recent transplants to Hamilton, she and her family enjoy exploring the city and taking in all it has to offer. Jennifer is also a member of the National Post’s Gastropost weekend feature section where you can read about her completed food “missions”. You can follow her on Twitter @pennesthoughts or on her blog at http://apenne4yourthoughts.blogspot.ca.