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Many think an avocado is a veggie but really it’s a pear shaped berry (thats right my friends, it’s a fruit).
Although, from a dietary standpoint you want to think of it as a fat. In other words, if you are trying to add more fruit to your diet I wouldn’t suggest eating more avocado but if you are trying to add more healthy fats to your diet, an avocado can be your best friend.
You don’t want to be afraid of the fat in your avocado, it is a mono-unsaturated fat which is some of the healthiest fat you can eat. As a matter of fact here is what the American Heart Association has to say about monounsaturated fats:
“[They] help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. They also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body’s cells. Monounsaturated fats are also typically high in vitamin E, an antioxidant vitamin most Americans need more of.”
Rich in vitamins A, E + K, which are all fat soluble, avocados also have vitamins B, C and trace minerals including magnesium and potassium (both known to help reduce blood pressure). And just to give you a measurable mental picture, one avocado has 2x the amount of potassium as one banana.
They also have more protein and less sugar then any other fruit on the market and they are loaded with antioxidants and inflammatory qualities.
Technically there are hundreds of different avocado varieties out there, but here in the united States there are notably just two; California avocados (aka HAAS) and Florida avocados.
The Florida avocados have a smooth green skin and tend to be larger then the California avocados. They also have less fat so they are not as rich and creamy as the Haas, but because of this they also hold their shape a bit better and work really well in a recipe where you would want the avocado to maintain it integrity (like in a salad).
The Haas on the other hand have a dark green or black pebbly skin, and the flesh is richer and creamier. This is the kind avocado that makes amazing guacamole and for me, when I think of an avocado, this is what I imagine; rich, buttery, creamy deliciousness.
When you are shopping for avocados you want to avoid and sunken in dark spots or cracks. More times then not, they will still be hard, which is fine, because they will continue to ripen once you get them home.
You will know you have a perfectly ripe avocado by using this little trick: Hold the avocado very gently in your palm and press very gently against its surface using your thumb. A ripe avocado will yield to gentle pressure, without feeling squishy.
You can also lift up this little belly button to take a peek at the color – if its a bright vibrant green, you’ve got a good one, if it looks brown under there – leave it at the store. But either way, pop that belly button back on when you’re done.
Once you have your avocado home, leave them right on the counter in a cool dry place until you are ready to use them.
A hard avocado will usually ripen within a few days. If they ripen before you are ready, you can put them in the fridge to slow down the ripening process. On the flip side if you need to ripen them faster, you can pop them a paper bag and leave them on the counter to speed things up.
Once your avocado is cut it will begin to oxidize (aka turn brown) quickly. The best way to avoid this is to give a hearty squeeze of citrus, this will help to slow down the oxidation process.
If you need to store an avocado that has already been cut, cover the surface with some lemon or lime juice and place in an airtight container in the fridge. You may still have bit of oxidation but I have found this to be the best option for storing the unused portion of the avocado.
Working With Your Avocado
Working with your avocado is very simple. Grab a knife and cut the avocado in half lengthwise. When you cut in you will feel the pit, you can use that as your guide as you go around the avocado.
Then simply twist and separate. One half of the avocado will have the pit in it and the other won’t.
To remove the pit you have two choices; you can carefully tap the butt of your knife into the pit, twist and remove OR you can give your avocado a little squish and the pit should pop right out.
Then you can either peel the skin off or scoop out the flesh with a spoon.
Now you are ready to slice, dice or mash your avocado. And never forget the option to leave the avocado in its skin, sprinkle with salt and enjoy with a spoon.
Avocados love to be paired with citrus, garlic, scallions, beans, tomatoes and onions. They also make an amazing heart healthy solution to mayonnaise and LOVE to be paired with cocoa.
Do you like avocados and if so what are some of your favorite ways to eat them?
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