Cooking with Cece: Prepping Avocados

August 22, 2012

As you know, I love to eat. When I came across avocados, I thought they were just good for eating with nachos. I loved the smooth and creamy texture of avocados in guacamole. It was such a delight that I knew it couldn’t possibly be good for me. Imagine my surprise to find out that avocados are actually healthy!

So what’s so good about avocados? Where do I begin…they are full of monounsaturated fats. That’s one of the kinds of fat that we like. Monounsaturated fats are known to improve insulin activity in the body, which can help with the management of diabetes. The fats and oils in avocados are linked to the reduction of overall cholesterol, through decreasing LDL (bad) cholesterol and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol. Avocado consumption has been linked to decreased heart disease risk, and this is likely due to the positive effects of the fat from avocados on cholesterol. In addition, avocados contain B vitamins, vitamin E, potassium, and fiber. I hope to write articles about vitamins and minerals over time, but just know that these vitamins, minerals, and fiber are all necessary for healthy body function.

Avocados have a history of being thought of as an aphrodisiac. The Aztec name for avocados translates to “testicles,” and this name was likely given because of the avocado’s shape, and because avocados grow on trees, hanging in pairs. Given the nickname “alligator pears”, some avocados are known for their deep green color and bumpy skin. They contain a single large seed, which is surrounded by the pale green flesh that darkens to a deeper shade of green until you reach the skin.

Avocados come in different shapes, colors and sizes. When selecting an avocado, look for a fruit that is firm, but yields slightly to pressure. You don’t want to select a fruit that is too soft, or too firm. If you are not planning on using the avocado right away, select on that is slightly more firm so that it will last longer. If you need to ripen the avocado quickly, place the it in a paper bag with an apple. I typically keep my avocados in the refrigerator, but avocados can also be safely kept on a counter at room temperature.

To prepare an avocado, first wash the avocado’s skin using a commercial fruit and vegetable wash, or in a solution of vinegar and water. Rinse the avocado. Cut the avocado length wise, all the way around. Twist the two halves, and separate them. Remove the seed with a spoon, or knife. You can now either scoop the fruit out with a spoon, or you can cut the avocado halves in half and peel the skin off. Once the avocado has been peeled, it will begin to ripen quickly (it may only last 2-4 days). Coat the avocado slices in lemon or lime juice to keep the exposed flesh of the avocado fresh, and to prevent changes in the color of the fruit.

Now you know a little bit about avocados! Below are some fun ideas for what you can do with avocados. Enjoy!

Things to do with avocados:
1) add avocado to tuna or seafood salad
2) add avocado to tropical fruit salsa (with red onion, mango, pineapple, cilantro) to top fish, chicken, or chips
3) add avocado to a sandwich, burger, or wrap (sliced avocado or guacamole)
4) add avocado to a salad
5) make a vinaigrette with the avocado
6) use avocado to top soup
7) replace the butter in baking recipes with avocado
8) add avocado to citrus fruit salads or salsas
9) add avocado to smoothies
10) pureed avocado in the place of mayonnaise

~ Cece

Field Guide to Produce: How to Identify, Select, and Prepare Virtually Every Fruit and Vegetable on the Market by Aliza Green
Total Nutrition: The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need Edited by Victor Herbert, M.D., F.A.C.P. and Genell J. Subak-Sharpe, M.S.
The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno N.D. with Lara Pizzorno M.A., L.M.T.

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