The avocado should make a frequent appearance in the landscape on your plate. Brimming with nutrition, this delicious and unique fruit is extremely low in sugar and is primarily used as a vegetable. The creamy Haas variety – the small type of avocado – is the most popular also because of its superb flavor. The larger cultivars, some known as Florida Avocados, are lower in fat and tend to be less flavorful.
The fruit offers good-for-you fats, including Omega 3 fatty acids, as well as protein, fiber, high levels of potassium, beta carotene and other disease-fighting antioxidants. The benefits of avocado nutrients are many: they enhance cardiovascular and eye health, help fight cancer, support blood sugar regulation, and are anti-inflammatory to name just a few. However, even foods that offer good fats should be consumed in moderation, and the avocado is no exception.
Avocados are native to South and Central America since 8,000 BC and have since been cultivated in all other tropical and subtropical parts of the world. Most of the avocados grown in the U.S. come from California and Florida.
A ripe avocado is soft but shouldn’t be mushy. A firm fruit will ripen in a few days at room temperature. The skin of the Haas avocado turns dark brown when ripe, whereas that of the larger types remains mostly green. Avoid slicing an avocado long before consuming it as exposure to air will turn the flesh brown and unappetizing. Most dishes that include avocado also contain vinegar, lemon, or lime juice, which helps keep it from turning brown. If only part of an avocado is used, refrigerate the remainder in an airtight container.
Avocados are used in numerous dishes, in salsas, dips, sandwiches, cold soups, raw vegetable salads, guacamole, as well as many other Mexican dishes. Enjoy the avocado often – bon appétit!
3 fresh mint sprigs
1/2 ripe Haas avocado (The small type avocado)
4 large Romaine lettuce leaves, shredded
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons orange juice from the cut orange (see directions below)
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper to taste
- In a medium bowl, whisk all the dressing ingredients. Set aside.
- Detach the mint leaves from their stems (discard the stems), and coarsely chop the leaves and add to the dressing.
- With a sharp serrated knife, peel the orange thickly, exposing the juicy flesh all over the fruit; begin by removing the top and bottom of the orange. Cradle the peeled orange in one hand and over a plate, cut between the segments (leaving the membranes in place), and lift the segments free. Halve each orange segment – discard the seeds – and add the cut segments and the juice puddle on the plate to the dressing.
- With the same knife, cut the avocado in half lengthwise and remove the pit. With a teaspoon, scoop out small chunks of avocado flesh and add to the salad.
- Add the Romaine lettuce leaves to the salad and mix gently.
1 ripe (but still a bit firm) Haas avocado
1 ripe tomato, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
- Cut the avocado in half lengthwise. Cut each half again, in half lengthwise. Remove and discard the pit. With your fingers, pull back the skin of each avocado quarter and peel.
- Chop the avocado flesh into small pieces by making parallel cuts lengthwise, crosswise, then chopping the avocado a bit more.
- In a medium bowl gently mix the avocado and all the other ingredients. Refrigerate 30 minutes in an airtight container before serving.
“Mission Nutrition” Tips and Recipe from Judy E. Buss, Health Columnist, Nutritional Cooking Instructor.
Excerpted from Judy E. Buss’ article, first published in the “Feeling Fit” Magazine, Sun Coast Media Group newspapers, Florida.
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