This post was inspired by a friend who was inquiring what in the world to do with an avocado - I figured surely she's not the only one in the world. We love avocados and even though we buy them and eat them regularly, it wasn't until right now typing the word that spell check has taught me the proper spelling. Learn something new everyday, right? :)
Anyways, avocados are a great source of HEALTHY fats. Yes there are such a thing and they are an important part of our diet. Now you can't rightfully compare the fat in a cake to the fat in an avocado. Totally different, friends! Plant based fats are easily assimilated and used by our body for numerous functions while the others...well...most of you can vouch they are readily "stored" in places we don't want them. Healthy fats will NOT make you fat!
Interesting Avocado Facts (aside from that it does NOT contain 3 A's like I thought):
- Has anti-inflammatory properties: actually helps PREVENT arthritis!
- Supports cardio-vascular health: in other words, it's GOOD for your heart
- Helps regulate blood sugar
- May help prevent cancer (there are studies ongoing that are looking promising, esp when it comes to prostate, mouth and skin cancers)
- Contains more potassium (an important electrolyte) than a BANANA
- High in fiber, Vitamin K (which is lacking in our typical diet), and folate
|Photo image courtesy of Grant Cochrage/FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
Choosing An Avocado
You want to avoid avocados that are mushy and soft. They have already gone bad. It should feel either hard or like a greenish/yellowish banana. Usually the greener they are on the outside, the harder they are on the inside. These guys will need a few days to ripen up. I have no problem leaving mine out with the rest of the fruit and 1-2 days later they're good and ready. If it's already got that firmer banana feel stick it in the fridge if you aren't ready to use it right away.
Cutting The Avocado
I like to rinse my avocado off first...you know, get some of the nasty pesticides and who knows what else off. Grab a sharp knife and cut in from the top down in until you feel the seed (did I mention for you avocado-virgins that they have HUGE seeds inside?) and come down around the seed with the same cut to the bottom. Do the same on the other side. Now you have an avocado with cuts on the sides but it's probably still being held together. Hold each side and rotate opposite of eachother gently and it will come loose. One side will reveal the seed and the other will host a nice concavity where it once was. You done good.
|Image courtesy of anat_tikker/FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
Keep that sharp knife handy. You are going to hold the side with the seed in the palm of one hand with the seed facing up. Tell the kids to leave you alone for a second. Take that knife and literally whack into the seed, as close to the center as you can, taking care NOT to whack off any body parts. You don't need any super human force for this task so don't worry about thinking like you're about to ax a log or anything. The knife should hopefully land near the center of the seed and be somewhat stuck. Leave it there. Now hold firmly to the avocado while you slowly rotate the knife like a corkscrew. About a 1/2 turn is all it takes (if even) to see the seed literally pop right out, still attached to your knife. Bang it on the side of your garbage to loosen the seed and done! If the seed is out and you're not bleeding, you done good.
I usually make slices down inside and then scoop them out. A firmer avocado will lend easiest to this. If you are going to make guacamole or something else where the avocado will be mushed up anyways then just grab a spoon and scoop it out. If you do this with some precision you can actually manage to get the whole half out in one swoop and then cut it up as you wish. Experiment. You're not being graded here.
This list is not all-encompassing but it will help get your feet wet in dealing with something new...and your taste buds acclimated to a new treat:
- Use it as a side, plain Jane with a bit of salt and maybe even some lime juice (my kids love it like this)
- Add chunks to salads
- Slice thin and top on crackers with cheese
- Spread on bread and use instead of mayo (it's not going to have the same taste but you'll be getting a lot more nutrition)
- Slice thin to top a hamburger, add into a taco or onto your sandwhich
- Guacamole for dip!
- Add a half to your next smoothie - it doesn't change the taste much at all but will make it really nice and creamy
What other avocado tips do you have? Any favorite recipes or uses for this nutritious fruit/veggie?