“The avocado has an image problem. Everybody knows they are good, but that is not enough. Say avocado, and most weight-conscious people say, ‘No thanks.’ Let’s face it; they have a lot of calories. But it is not as bad as you thought, and you can get a lot of nutrition for those calories. It is high time you knew that, for the avocado is an ideal food.” — Lincoln Kaye, writer and author
Ah, the avocado.
A 1-pound avocado supplies 70 percent of an average adult's daily needs for vitamin C; a fifth of needed vitamins A, B1 and B2; a third of the daily vitamin B3 requirements; and generous portions of such minerals as iron, phosphorous and magnesium.
All this comes at a relatively high cost in calories - about 480 calories in a 1 pound Florida avocado. this reflects the avocado's makeup, which is about 12 percent oil and 8 percent carbohydrate - more like a nut than a fruit.
However, as fattening foods go, an avocado's calories are relatively clean. The fats occur in simple, easily assimilated molecules that are cholesterol free and low in sodium - beneficial factors for people with circulatory problems.
Avocados are among the most ideal between - meal snacks, according to the American Heart Association. Most of the fat in avocados is mono-unsaturated. According to the AHA, mono-unsaturated fats reduce your risk of heat disease and stroke by lowering levels of unhealthy, low-density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol. The oils provided by an avocado include oleic acid and linoleic acid, which also have been found to lower cholesterol.
Strategically placed snacks can reduce your appetite and make you less apt to overeat at your next meal. The key is to choose nutrient-dense snacks. The avocado meets that requirement, making it a healthy option. The fats in the avocado become an energy reserve to get you through the rest of the day.
As another added surprise, the avocado has the potassium content of two to three bananas, 4 grams of protein, 12 grams of fiber and carbohydrates that are complex and easy to digest.
Avocados are in ideal food because they are a complete food.
I included some recipe ideas to make it easier to add this ideal food to your everyday diet, plus two great chocolate and avocado recipes that are easy and satisfying as a dessert.
Quick serving ideas
Use chopped avocados as a garnish for black bean soup.
Add avocado to your morning smoothie.
Add avocado to your favorite creamy dressing recipe to give it an extra richness and beautiful green color.
Mix chopped avocados, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice and seasonings for a rich-tasting guacamole.
Spread ripe avocados on your bread of choice as a healthy replacement for mayonnaise when making a sandwich, or make your own version of avocado toast. (Check out my July 2 article for how to make avocado mayonnaise.)
For an exceptional salad, combine sliced avocado with fennel, oranges and fresh mint.
Make an avocado eggless omelet from chopped avocados, spinach, onions, red pepper and sunflower seeds.
Divide an avocado and remove the seed. Fill the pit with raw sauerkraut, and top with sliced olives of your choice.
Slice an avocado and an apple, and eat them side by side.
Choosing the right avocado
Ripe avocados should yield slightly to gentle pressure.
Avoid overripe, rancid avocados with brown meat. These will be mushy to the touch.
If you are using your avocado within a day or two, you can leave it out in room temperature until it is ripe.
Avocados should not be refrigerated until they are ripe. As the fruit ripens, the skin will turn darker.
If you plan to hold your avocado for a while, place it in the refrigerator. It will slow down the ripening process and allow you to keep it for up to a week if it has not been sliced.
Once sliced or mashed, avocado will keep refrigerated for one day. Keep the pit in contact with the flesh to keep it from turning brown. You may also scrub it with a slice of lemon or lime to somewhat restore its bright color.
Never cut an avocado before it is ripe; the flesh will be hard and bitter and will never mature. They don’t freeze well unless pureed.
Types of avocados
The majority of U.S. avocados are produced in California. San Diego, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara produce almost 90 percent of America’s avocados. The rich and creamy Hass variety makes up the vast majority of the production, while a few small farms grow a variety of rarities, such as Reed, Fuerte, Zutano and Bacon.
The Hass avocado is found in the majority of grocery stores in the Charleston area. Meanwhile Florida’s small industry is focused on varieties like Choquette, Hall and Lulu — large, smooth-skinned fruits with juicy, sweet flesh.
Popular US varieties
Anaheim — large, softball-shaped avocado that may grow to 2 pounds, has creamy flesh and a mild, nutty flavor. Season: June through September.
Hass — high-fat flesh, nutty taste and almond butter texture. Favorite worldwide. Season: Year-round.
Shephard — small avocado grown in Australia, a relative of the Hass. It has similarities in texture, but with a thicker, almost gluey, consistency. Season: August through October.
Choquette — a popular Florida variety that easily weighs 2 pounds, with the majority of its weight comprised of water. Cut this fruit with a knife and it oozes green juice. Season: October through December.
Tonnage — a classic avocado on the outside, with a pear-shaped figure and frog-green pebbly skin. It is remarkably sweet. Its oil content is on the low side and still is buttery, with a faint taste of chestnut. Season: September.
Daly 11 — a huge avocado and relative of the fatty Hass, the Daly 11 may weigh 5 pounds or more and has a thick skin and dense, flavorful, oily flesh inside. Season: August through October.
Macarthur — curvy shaped with thick creamy meat and a nutty flavor, smooth and buttery when fully ripe. Season: August through November.
Hall — a relative to the Choquette and similar in shape and size. The Hall has a nuttier, drier and thicker flesh, though still juicy and fruity. Season: October through November.
Mexicola Grande — small but beautiful, the Mexicola Grande has very thin skin. The light-flavored flesh is slightly fibrous, sweet and juicy. Season: August through September.
Other U.S. varieties available: Bacon, Fuerte, Zutano, Pinkerton, Gwen, Lamb, Reed.
Avocado Cocoa Pudding
Makes 2; ready in 5 minutes
1 ripe avocado
1 ripe banana
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons honey (optional)
3 tablespoons almond milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of green powder like Daily Greens or 1 teaspoon goji powder or beet powder (optional)
Whipped Coconut Cream (optional)
chopped nuts/seeds (optional)
Whipped Coconut Cream
1 small can of Native Forest coconut cream
½ teaspoon maple syrup
lecithin granules (optional)
Add all of the ingredients for the pudding to a food processor and blend until creamy smooth.
Add extra almond milk if you feel your pudding should be a bit creamier.
Whip the ingredients for the Coconut Cream in a chilled bowl with a mixer or blender and return to refrigerator to thicken. You may add 1 to 2 tablespoons of lecithin to thicken.
Serve pudding with whipped coconut cream and some chopped nuts or seeds.
Hazelnut Avocado Brownies
Makes 9-16; ready in 25 minutes
1½ cup hazelnuts
½ cup cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
2½ cup pitted dates
½ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup coconut oil
2 tablespoon hazelnuts, crushed, for topping
Place hazelnuts and dates in food processor and pulse for at least 30 seconds so they are mixed well.
Add in cacao, syrup, vanilla and cinnamon; pulse.
Spray an 8-inch-by-8-inch pan with nonstick spray, or cover with coconut oil, and then pour brownie batter into pan and use a spatula to smooth everything out.
Place pan in freezer, allowing it to set.
Mash avocado with a fork — make sure to mash really well so mixture is smooth.
Add in cacao, syrup and oil and use an electric mixer to combine everything.
Stir until smooth.
Pour icing over brownies, using a spatula to smooth everything out and place back in freezer for approximately 5 minutes before cutting into brownies.
Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.