All About Avocado!

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To my knowledge, we do not actually produce any avocado in Eastern North Carolina, but during the winter months it is a great option for adding some health benefits to your winter menus.

Avocado is an incredibly nutritious food with a high content of healthy fats and nutrients. Avocados are beneficial to your health because they boost your good HDL cholesterol. The fruit offers approximately 20 vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, including vitamins K, C, E, B, potassium, and lutein. Added to a salad or a slice of whole-grain toast, or made it into a guacamole dip, avocados offer a delicious way to invigorate your health.

If you haven’t worked with an avocado before it can be a little daunting. You want to start with a ripe avocado. Most of the time, the avocados you find at the store will need a few days to ripen. An avocado is ripe when it gives just slightly when squeezed. I find it’s best to buy them unripe and allow them to ripen at home at room temperature.

Once ripe, cut the avocado in half lengthwise around the seed. Make sure you have control over the avocado and be sure you know where those fingers are! After cutting, twist and separate the two halves. To remove the seed, use a kitchen towel to securely hold the avocado half with seed. Then, gently tap a chef’s knife, using the widest part, not the tip, into the seed. You will need some force here, but don’t whack it. Then twist a little and remove the seed.

If using the knife method is a little scary, just use a spoon. You may loose a little of the flesh but it is all about your preference. Depending on your recipe, at this point, you could use a spoon to scoop out all of the flesh, or if you want slices or cubes, use a knife to slice through the avocado flesh without cutting through the outer skin.

If you are only using half of the avocado, you need to prevent oxygen from getting to the flesh, since oxygen will cause any cut flesh to brown. One option is to use a little acid. Just sprinkle a bit of lemon juice over the cut areas of the avocado. You don’t need a lot… a spritz or two will do it. Then wrap tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge. The avocado should stay green for a day or two.

Another option is to leave the seed in, not sure why this works, but it does. Just leave the seed in and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. (It is also said that if you add the seed to your guacamole, it will make it last longer as well, that seems to work too).

The avocado can be added as a substitute for some of less healthy blending agents, such as mayonnaise. Check out some of these recipes and give the avocado a try.

 

Traditional Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 4 ripe, avocados, seeded and peeled
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 3 Tbsp. onion, finely minced
  • ½ tablespoon diced jalapenos, more or less depending on your heat preference
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2 Tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped
  • ⅛ tsp. sea salt
  • ⅛ tsp. pepper
  • 1 Tomato, medium, ¼ inch diced

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, mash avocado with lime, onion, chili, garlic, and cilantro (if using) until the guacamole is mostly smooth only small chunks of avocado remain. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, gently, so as not to mash them and serve immediately

Serves 8. Each serving contains Calories 120, Fat 11 g, Fiber 5 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 45 mg, Carbohydrates 7 g, Protein 2 g.

Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. salmon cut into 4 to 6 fillets
  • 1 tabs olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. black pepper

Avocado Salsa

  • 1 avocado peeled, seeded and sliced
  • 1 small red onion sliced
  • 3 mild hot peppers seeded and deveined, diced or sliced
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • 3 tabs olive oil
  • 2 tabs finely chopped cilantro
  • Salt to taste

Directions

  1. Mix the salt, coriander, cumin, paprika, onion, and black pepper together, rub the salmon fillets with olive oil and this seasoning mix, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the grill.
  3. Combine the avocado, onion, hot peppers, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil and salt in a bowl and mix well, chill until ready to use. Grill the salmon to desired doneness.
  4. Serve the salmon topped with the avocado salsa, and with rice.

Serves 4-6.

Avocado Caesar Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 Hass avocado
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ¾ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise. Remove the pit from the avocado and discard. Remove the avocado from the skin and place the avocado flesh in a food processor bowl.
  2. Add the olive oil, Parmesan, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic cloves, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper. Pulse for 1 to 2 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Adjust the salt and pepper if needed. (You can thin the dressing, if you need to, with more olive oil).
  3. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Yields: 1½ cups.

Avocado Chicken Salad

Ingredients

  • ½ medium avocado
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • 1-2 teaspoons coarse brown mustard
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 dash Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cooked chicken breast chopped
  • ½ cup chopped dill pickle cubes or halved grapes (you can also substitute any vegetables of choice such as chopped radishes, carrots, or purple cabbage)

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, mash the avocado with the lime juice and mix in the brown mustard, garlic powder, and salt and pepper.
  2. Mix in the chopped chicken breast and pickles (or grapes or chopped veggies).
  3. Serve on your favorite bread, crackers, or vegetables.

Serves 2. Each serving contains Calories 207, Fat 10 g, Fiber 3 g, Cholesterol 59 mg, Sodium 111 mg, Carbohydrates 6 g, Protein 23 g.

Banana Avocado Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 large ripe bananas
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup low-fat buttermilk (or unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk.
  2. Place banana in a medium bowl; mash with a potato masher or fork. Place avocado in food processor, process until completely pureed. Transfer avocado to bowl with banana. Add sugar, buttermilk, vanilla, and egg; stirring with a whisk until blended. Gradually add flour mixture to banana mixture; stirring until batter is smooth.
  3. Pour batter into a 9 × 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Serves 14. Each serving contains Calories 165, Fat 3 g, Fiber 4 g, Cholesterol 27 mg, Sodium 135 mg, Carbohydrates 30 g, Protein 4 g.