Sophia Kamveris, MS, RDN
A is for Avocado
My professional experience with avocados is you either love them or you hate them. Some people find their bland taste and texture hard to take but my personal experience is that I love them! Their buttery-smooth creaminess is popping up on toast, in hummus, mayonnaise, and smoothies, as well as in a variety of guacamole spreads these days.
Nicknamed the “alligator pear,” there are nearly 500 varieties of avocados but the more popular ones are the pebbly-skinned Hass, which is available year round. The smooth skinned one, Fuerte, is available in the late fall through spring months.
Avocados are heart-healthy fruits that are high in monounsaturated fat (MUFA). Research shows that MUFAs help to improve the good cholesterol commonly known as HDLs. They also help to stabilize blood sugars in Type 2 diabetes.
A medium avocado has about 250 calories and provides vital nutrients that include fiber, potassium, folate, Vitamin C and K, along with nutrients that benefit eye health—the carotenoids.
Buying and peeling an avocado remains a conundrum for many people. It helps to know what your time frame will be for usage. Looking at the skin color at time of purchase will help guide you, as well.
Firm fruit is bright green and will take 5-7 days to ripen at room temperature (you can put them in a paper bag with an apple or banana to speed up the ripening process if you need them in a rush!)
Breaking fruit is dark green and is softer to touch. It will ripen in 2-5 days at room temperature.
Ripe fruit is a darker green-blackish color. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week this way. Avocados are ripe while still firm and yields to gentle pressure at the stem end.
Before you cut an avocado, wash it first! Cut it lengthwise around the seed and twist the halves to separate. If you are only using one half, I recommend keeping the pit in place. Avocado flesh turns brown when exposed to air (oxygen). If a surfaces does discolor, just trim off the brown portion. To keep leftovers from oxidizing, cover the uncut part tightly with plastic wrap. Or if mashed, just sprinkle lemon or lime juice on top and cover the bowl with wrap. If you don’t want to add juice, place the plastic wrap directly on top of the mashed avocado and then secure. I even learned that you can immerse the cut avocado in water to keep air out. Apparently, the flesh does not absorb the water; I’ll assume it’s the fat that keeps it from mixing in.
Back to cutting…scoop out the flesh or peel back the skin and add to your favorite foods! Easy, peasy.
You can also freeze the scooped-out innards. Add 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice for each avocado. Press air out of the storage bag, date, and freeze; use within a few months.
You can find more tips and recipes at www.californiaavocado.com
4 ripe avocados, peeled and seeded
1-2 Tbl. lime or lemon juice
1 jalapeño or serrano pepper; seeded and minced
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
Salt to taste
1. Mash the avocado with a fork; I like to leave it a little chunky.
2. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
3. Season to taste.
Enjoy with tortilla chips, on top of tacos or burgers, or stuff in a wrap!