Thursday, September 27, 2012


                                  YUM! Shrimp, avocados, mango and couscous.

I used to avoid avocados like the plague because of the fat content. But the more I read about this fruit, the more I understand that it should become part of my diet. Avocados are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, potassium, vitamin E, fiber, folate, and vitamin B6 -- all important components of a healthy diet.

So eat avocados I do. Added to my salad, they impart a creaminess impossible to find in any other food. Actually, it is kind of decadent.

I prefer Haas avocados, the ones with the pebbly green skin that turns almost black as it ripens. For me, they have more flavor than the green, smooth-skinned Fuerte. In my market, avocados have become so popular, there is a section reserved for those that are ripe and ready to eat. If not ripe, bring it home to ripen for a few days at room temperature. Unripe avocados lack flavor -- plus they are hard. You really want to eat them ripe.

Ripe avocados will yield a little to pressure. If they form a dent when gently squeezed, it has past its prime and is best left at the store.

Once ripe, they will keep a few days in the fridge.

To pit, slice lengthwise and twist it gently to seperate the two halves. I learned the next step from my California cousins, who have avocado trees growing the their backyards: Pierce the pit with the tip of a sharp knife and it will pop right out. If you are not using the whole avocado, squeeze lemon over the exposed flesh, wrap with plastic, and store in the refrigerator.

And now for an amazing recipe, which stars one of my favorite foods, shrimp. It's from the California Advocao Commission.

  • 24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 Tbsp. seafood grill seasoning
  • Olive oil, optional
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (10-oz.) box plain couscous
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes, see Note
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced on diagonal
  • 1 cup cooked edamame (shelled soybeans)
Mango-Lime Dressing
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2  cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground white pepper
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp. snipped fresh mint leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. snipped fresh cilantro leaves
  1. Toss shrimp with seasoning. Barbecue or sauté in olive oil for about 3 minutes, turning over once. Remove to plate; set aside.
  2. In a 2-quart pan, bring water to a boil. Stir in couscous, oil and salt. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
  3. In a bowl, combine avocado and lemon juice; set aside.
  4. Remove lid from pan and fluff couscous; cool. Pour couscous into a large mixing bowl. Add avocado, mango, onions and edamame.
  5. Pour dressing over salad, as needed. Toss to coat.
  6. Serve onto plates and top with cooked shrimp.
  1. In a food processor, add mango, juice, oil, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper and cumin. Purée, using the pulse button; set aside.
  2. Mix mint and cilantro into dressing immediately before using.
Note: Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados adjust the quantity accordingly.

Makes 8 servings, per serving: calories 270; total fat 16g (sat 2g,  trans 0g, poly 2g, Mono 1 g); cholesterol 30mg; sodium 560mg; total carbohydrates 25g; dietary Ffber 5g; protein 9g

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