Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pick of the Week: Avocados

Week One of exploring the 13 most powerful super foods, as designated by the Web site, Everyday Health. And luckily, in honor of St. Patrick's Day, this pick is green!

Today, it's all about avocados. Some shy away from this wondrous fruit because it is too fatty. But they are missing the point: Yes, avocados are high in fat, but it's the good fat, the monounsaturated that we should be eating, daily, and according to some, at every meal. The monounsaturates have been linked to reduced risk of cancer, heart diseases and diabetes. Everyday Health quotes Ed Bauman, Ph.D., director of Bauman College, as saying: "Avocados aid in blood and tissue regeneration, stabilize blood sugar, and are excellent for heart disorders." They also are a good source of fiber (11 to 17 grams per fruit), and a good source of lutein, an antioxidant linked to eye and skin health.

When it comes to avocados, I admit to being a snob, only buying Haas. Once, I only bought Haas because my mother told me they are best. Years later, my taste buds had to agree with her, so Haas it's always been. They are the ones with the thick. pebbly skin and rich taste. The smooth green variety, called Fuerte, is milder tasting and not as sinfully rich.

Choosing: Firm, ripe avocados are perfect for dicing, slicing and chopping. Very ripe, soft avocados are the choice for mashing or guacamole. The fruit will ripen in 3 or 4 days, so if you know you need one on a certain day, head to the market days before. Too often I decide at the last minute to make a batch of guac, only to discover no ripe avocados at market.

How ripe? Firm, ripe avocados will yield to gentle pressure. Very ripe avocados are soft. Leave those with bruises or broken skin at the market.

Store: Keep avocados at room temperature until they ripen. To speed the process, place in a brown paper bag. To speed it even more, add an apple or tomato to the bag. Once ripe, refrigerate. A friend once told me to cook the avocado on medium in a microwave about 5 minutes for speedy ripening. My experiment failed miserably. Stick to the brown bag.

Seeding: Cut the avocado in half lengthwise. With your hands, twist the avocado in opposite directions. Tap the deed with a knife blade until it catches, and rotate and lift the knife as you remove the seed.

This recipe is my favorite guacamole, because years ago I realized that if I substituted lemon juice for traditional lime, the guac seemed to spring to life. Give it a try, and let me know if you agree.

6 ripe Haas avocados, seeded and peeled
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 small tomato, seeded and diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
3 Tblsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • Coarsely mash avocados.
  • Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
  • Place in bowl, laying a piece of plastic wrap directly over the guacamole. Cover bowl.
  • Store in refrigerator, but use as quickly as possible.

1 comment:

  1. NOTHING better (well, yes, asparagus) that a ripe avocado. Love them sliced on sandwiches, salads and just about anywhere else. My favorite summer salad: chunked avocado, chunked garden tomato, chunked pieces of vidalia or red onion...dress all with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. MAJOR yum! (see a photo here, about half way down the page: http://tiny.cc/VOZno ). Can't wait for August and the garden tomatoes! (August & the Garden Tomatoes - a new folk group??)