The avocado. Relegated to Superbowl Sunday for far to long, but I think people are finally starting to catch on. Avocados have recently become the darling of the foodie blogging world, with entire blogs and cookbooks devoted to the simple joy of eating an avocado. Amazingly, there are over 800 varieties of avocados, although Hass and Fuerte are most commonly found in the US. In honor of our Veggie Challenge, why not incorporate a multitude of avocado into your life? Although an avocado is technically considered a fruit, I think our Veggie Challenge is the perfect opportunity to celebrate this gem.
Many people are turned off by avocados due to their high fat content. Half an avocado has 140 calories and is almost entirely fat. However, avocados are a source of “good” monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to lower levels of the “lousy” LDL cholesterol and raise levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. Avocados also have a hefty dose of omega-3 fatty acids, coveted for their anti-inflammatory benefits. Want more healthy benefits? Half an avocado contains 7 grams of fiber, roughly 25-30% of your daily requirements! The high fat and fiber levels work together to create an exceptionally satisfying bite, meaning avocados will fill you up and you’ll likely eat less later in the day.
Another super nutrient found in avocados is potassium. Bananas always get all the potassium glory but gram for gram, avocados offer more potassium. Most Americans fall short of this nutrient, which is key to blood pressure regulation. More good fats, more fiber, and more potassium. How can you not love this produce powerhouse?
I have nothing against guacamole. It is a great dip packed with flavor and those healthy fats we talked about. But it is overdone and sells the avocado short. Simple recipes that highlight the buttery and cooling nature will elevate the avocado to new heights. Best of all? An avocado is best enjoyed raw and require no cooking. I go through an embarrassingly large amount of avocados per week, but with their nutrient profile and delicious taste, I can’t resist! Below are two of my favorite ways to enjoy avocados.
Avocado Toast: Yes, this sounds exceedingly basic and worthless, but trust me. This is the best. thing. ever. Simply top toast with thinly sliced avocado, freshly ground black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and a squeeze of lemon juice. The avocado has a buttery, rich texture that is beautifully lightened with the added spice and acidity. I eat this every day and can’t get enough.
Avocado Pesto: The creamy texture of avocado is a perfect oil replacement in a number of sauces. Avocados work particularly well in a traditional pesto. This sauce is great on pasta, over tomatoes and mozzarella, as a sandwich spread, or as a salad dressing.
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
- 1 large bunch of basil
- 1/3 cup pine nuts (walnuts work well too)
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- Juice of one lemon
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- Water to thin (as needed)
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
Combine avocado, basil, pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor. With machine running, pour in olive oil, lemon juice, and water as needed to create a smooth pesto. Season with salt and pepper.
The avocado might be a bit of an imposter in our Veggie Challenge, but trying any new produce is always a good thing. Get creative with avocados this month and try new things-I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed. Thanks to its mild flavor and delightful texture, avocado pairs well with almost anything (even as a base for chocolate mousse or ice cream)!
Tell Us: What is your favorite way to enjoy an avocado?