Creamy, buttery, avocados. Some call them God’s butter. Shaped like pears with a dark green, leathery skin, they are also called alligator pears. Avocados can fit in the palm of your hand, or weigh several pounds each. Most of what we have at the market are the Haas variety, but you may find avocados with names like Bacon, Fuerte, Gwen, Bass, Lamb, Pinkerton, Reed, and Zutano. Many varieties but one incomparable taste.
All About Avocados and Ways to Use Them
Although we think of nutrient-dense avocados as a vegetable, the are technically a fruit. A true Super Food, avocados provide a high level of heart-healthy, monounsaturated fat as well as vitamins C, K, B6, and E, folate, fiber, riboflavin, magnesium, pantothenic acid, and niacin.
Avocados are anti-inflammatory, containing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and 18 of the 22 amino acids our bodies require including nine essentials. A single avocado has almost twice the potassium of a banana, along with protein (2 grams per half) and dietary fiber. Whew.
And if all of this is not enough to convince you of the power of avocados, they contain an impressive array of special nutrients found in plants that may help prevent disease (phytonutrients).
Buying and Storage
Avocados are ready to enjoy when they yield to a gentle squeeze. If they are rock hard, store them in a cool dark place (but not in the refrigerator) for a few days until they ripen. Placing them in a brown bag will speed the ripening process as avocados produce ethylene gas. Refrigerate only after avocados have ripened.
To open an avocado, run a sharp knife from top to bottom around the middle, part it by twisting in opposite directions. To remove the seed, sink the knife blade into the seed and twist, then peel. To remove the seed from your knife safely, grab it with a paper towel.
The internet abounds with ideas on keeping a cut avocado from browning, but none of them have worked well for me, at least. I Because we eat them daily, I wrap the cut half tightly in plastic wrap and its usually fine for the next day. One idea from Bon Appetit, submerge the cut avocado in cold water for a few hours.
Ways to Enjoy Avocados
- Make guacamole
- Sliced for a sandwich
- Top a turkey burger with avocado
- Slice avocado for a salad
- Serve chicken tostadas for dinner, topped with avocado
- Add avocado to a breakfast omelet or along side scrambled eggs
- Whip up Creamy Avocado Dip as a healthy snack or use it as sauce for grilled flank steak or chicken
- Add avocado to smoothies to make them creamy and add healthy fat
- Amazing Avocado Gelato, from my friend Chef Jenny Ross
- Pomegranate and Avocado guacamole
- Add it to a green quinoa salad
- Make a Southwestern Black Bean Salad with avocado
- Delicious in Chicken Quesadillas with avocado
- Make avocado toast with tomatoes and sprouts for breakfast or lunch
- Use it creamy in a turkey tortilla wrap
- Make Avocado Chicken Salad for a delicious lunch
Terrific avocado nutrition information, from WHFoods.
Information and ideas from the California Avocado Board
Avocado Variety Selector, from the California Avocado Commission
Avocados – A SuperFood, even more info for avocado lovers.