All About Avocados

By Sidra Forman, Chef

We’re at the start of California avocado season, which runs from April to August this year. That means you’re buying fresher fruit (yes, avocados are technically fruits) and supporting a domestic industry. Avocados can be a little pricey, but when you think about their health profile and their unique deliciousness, it makes it a little easier to part with your money.

Although the fruit is high in fat, it’s mostly the healthy kind—of the 5.5 grams of fat in a quarter of a Haas avocado (the black, pebbly-skinned type), almost 4 grams are heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Plus, avocado is rich, delicious and loaded with vitamins E and K, as well as folate and fiber. But when it comes to fats—even the healthy kind—you have to enjoy them in moderation. Depending on your entire meal and calorie needs, the exact amount will differ; as a general rule, try to stick to a quarter of an avocado (about 60 calories) at your meal.

When buying avocadoes, you have two choices: You can pick ripe ones (these are slightly soft to the touch) and enjoy them right away, or you can bring them home a little less than ripe and let them ripen at room temperature. To hurry the process along, place them in a paper bag or with other fruits, especially bananas, in a fruit basket. Most avocados will ripen within 2 to 3 days. Once it’s ripe, place it in the refrigerator if you don’t want to eat it immediately. And if you eat only part of the avocado, leave the pit in the avocado to help prevent the flesh that is now exposed to the air from turning brown, wrap it tightly and refrigerate.

There are so many great ways to use avocado. For instance, you can use it as a substitute for cream in cold soups, as in the recipe below. You could add it to nearly any salad; try the second recipe in the summer when tomatoes are at their best. Avocado is also a delicious addition to sandwiches and wraps, and can sometimes be used in place of mayonnaise. Or, try it mashed in a classic guacamole or as a relish mixed with fresh herbs and fresh lime juice, lemon juice or vinegar to accompany many meats, poultry and seafood main dishes.

Cucumber Avocado Soup

Makes 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cups chopped and peeled cucumbers
1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

1. Combine lemon juice, cucumbers, avocado, salt and pepper to taste in a blender. Process until smooth, about 1 minute.

2. Garnish soup with herbs and serve.

Nutritional Information
1 serving
Calories: 71
Protein: 1 g
Carbohydrate: 6 g
Dietary Fiber: 3 g
Sugars: 2 g
Total Fat: 5 g
Saturated Fat: 0.7 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Calcium: 21 mg
Sodium: 150 mg

Cherry Tomato and Avocado Salad

Makes 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. Combine tomatoes, avocado, celery and Italian parsley in a medium bowl.

2. Dress with vinegar, oil, salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Nutritional Information
1 serving
Calories: 113
Protein: 2 g
Carbohydrate: 8 g
Dietary Fiber: 4 g
Sugars: 1 g
Total Fat: 9 g
Saturated Fat: 1.3 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Calcium: 40 mg
Sodium: 111 mg

Click here to see more recipes using avocado.

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