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Volume III
May 25, 2012

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

Reasons Smart Folks Eat Avocados!

By Alice Osborne

Simply put, avocados are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Ounce for ounce, avocados contain the highest levels of fiber, potassium, and folate of any fruit, plus a solid punch of vitamins B6, C, and E. Add in its healthy mono-unsaturated fats, and you have a superb food that maximizes flavor and function. Smart folks know this and regularly include them in their menus.

But I also love the versatility of avocados. When pureed with a smidge of olive oil and lemon juice, they make an excellent, salad dressing. I'll spread a piece of toast with a thoroughly mashed avocado slice instead of butter. I like to remove the pit from an avocado half and fill the space with some chopped tomato, celery, and green onion; I add a dash of garlic powder and I have an amazing little snack or dinner side dish that is so satisfying. The avocado skin makes a nice cup-like container for this dish. With avocados, we're limited only by our imagination.

When selecting avocados, look for those that yield ever so slightly to gentle pressure. The Hass variety has pebbly, nearly black skin, and the larger Fuerte variety comes with a smooth, bright green cover. But whichever variety you choose, the selection process is the same.

To speed ripening, seal your avocados in a paper bag with a banana and store at room temperature. An apple will work as well - it's the ethylene gas the fruit emits that does the job.

You don't want to cook avocados - they become bitter when cooked. But as mentioned above, their versatility defies the no-cooking stipulation. Instead:

•  Puree or dice them and add them into things. For instance, add pureed avocado into cold (or warm) soups, fold them into shrimp salad with green onions and fresh dill
•  Mash and use them as a sandwich spread. For an amazing bagel, apply layers of smoked salmon and mashed avocado.
•  Dice them. One of our favorite combinations is finely diced avocado, diced tomato, and chopped green onion with feta or blue cheese, cilantro, salt, and a splash of lime juice.
•  Use dollops of pureed avocado to embellish. And have you ever tried replaced all the butter and sour cream you baked potato usually holds, with pureed avocado and chopped green onion? The joy just continues.

To conclude, here's a killer recipe for the universal favorite stand-by, guacamole. Debra Rouse, ND, created this as a good way to boost the health factor of this delectable dip:

Almost Guacamole Yogurt Dip

Yield: about 3 cups For best results, strain yogurt to remove excess moisture. Put yogurt in a sieve lined with cheese cloth, place over a bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

1 C nonfat plain yogurt, strained overnight
1 C nonfat sour cream
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and quartered
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp fresh lime or lemon juice
1 tsp minced jalapeno pepper
Salt and pepper (optional)

Combine strained yogurt, sour cream, and avocados in a food processor. Add remaining ingredients. Puree until smooth. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour to blend flavors.

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