Avocados – An Oily Fruit?
The fact that avocados contain a good dose of heart-healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats makes them unique among fruits. Avocados also contain oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that may help lower cholesterol. It’s fattening, but it’s a good fat. Mmmmmm.
Avocados are a good source of potassium. An adequate intake of potassium can help ward off high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. If you experience leg cramps, eat avocados. Potassium, being a water soluble electrolyte, can be lost (sweated out) very quickly here in the Phoenix heat, especially if you are a runner or athlete and active in the summer months. This fruit also is a good way to incorporate lutein, which helps eyesight and protects against breast cancer, in your diet. Research has also shown certain compounds in avocados are able to seek out pre-cancerous and cancerous oral cancer cells destroying them without harming the healthy cells. Additionally, avocados are high in beta-sitosterol (a plant sterol), a compound that has been shown to lower cholesterol levels and helpful in reducing an enlarged prostate.
In one study, 45 volunteers experienced an average drop in cholesterol of 17% after eating avocados for only one week. Avocados are the best fruit source of vitamin E, an essential vitamin that protects against many diseases and helps maintains overall health. These are just a few of the benefits of enjoying avocados.
Avocados are best when used fresh. This prevents the oxidation, or discoloration, that occurs relatively quickly. The browning does not affect flavor, but is unsightly. The browning is a result of oxygen in the air reacting with an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase. This enzyme reacts with phenolic compounds in the avocado, changing its chemical structure and thus the color. However, a squeeze of lemon or lime juice helps slow down the unsightly browning. Contrary to popular belief, placing the pit in with the avocado does not slow down the browning.
When selecting ripe avocados, the skin should be a dark greenish brown. It should still be firm, but “give” slightly when gently squeezed. You can accelerate ripening by placing the avocados in a brown paper bag for a day or two.
To slice them, first cut lengthwise around the seed. Twist the two halves apart in different directions, scoop out the pit with a spoon. Using a large spoon, separate the flesh from the skin. Place the fruit flat-side-down and slice to the desired width. To dice them, simply halve, remove the pit, and using a butter knife, slice the avocado while in the skin lengthwise then cross-wise, then scoop out the diced avocado with a large spoon.
Our salads almost always contain avocados, even if it is a Caesar salad. Sometimes I will make a salad dressing out of avocados and orange juice by pureeing green onions, avocado, orange juice, salt and pepper in a blender. One of my favorite snacks is avocado and Italian dressing. Simply cut the avocado in half, pop the pit out, pour the dressing in the hole and start scooping out the rich heavenly morsels of joy.
We eat a ton of Mexican food in our family. Therefore, it goes without say there is always some spicy guacamole and chips nearby. When they are on sale, I buy a lot of them so I can make a lot of guacamole and freeze it. It freezes very well because of the high fat content. The variations of guacamole are countless. Here is one of mine.
Chef David’s Homemade “Guac”
3 large avocados, pitted and diced
1 large Roma tomato, seeded and diced
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced and mashed with Kosher salt
2 scallions, finely minced
2 Serrano chilies, finely minced
3 tablespoons cilantro, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lime, juiced
In a bowl, using a fork, combine the avocado, garlic, scallions, Serrano chili, half of the lime juice, salt and pepper. Mash the ingredients together, but leave some chunks. Fold in the tomato and cilantro. Transfer to a serving dish and smooth the top surface. Use the remaining lime juice to cover the top surface (to retard browning), then cover with plastic wrap pushing the wrap in direct contact with the lime juice on the guacamole. This prevents oxygen from browning the guac.
Serving suggestion: A good guacamole is a rich and spicy dip. Instead of eating the usual salty tortilla chips, grab a bag of the Garden of Eating, Unsalted Blue Corn tortilla chips. These chips have an outrageous nutty flavor that complements the guac. Another alternative is to fry up your own corn tortillas and LIGHTLY salt them with celery salt, but go light with the salt.
NEW THAI CLASS!!
This week we announced our newest one-day hands-on class in Thai cuisine. Thai cuisine has now become the most popular Asian cuisine in America. In the class you will:
· Learn the basic ingredients characteristic of Thai cuisine that make Thai dishes “pop” with flavor
· Identify and use flavor components common to Thai cuisine
· Learn the staples used in Thai dishes and how to prepare them
· Prepare and eat signature dishes native to Thai cuisine
· Understand the origins, nature of Thai cuisine and the unique ingredients
Contact us or call us to get on the schedule as classes fill fast. This class is limited to 5 students as this is a hands-on class, using fresh ingredients. The full-day class is scheduled for October 22nd. I hope to see you there. All recipes are gluten-free! Reach us at [email protected] or 480.226.0444.
Chef David Hall