Time to eat a little greener (and a little creamier)
Matthew Kadey, MSc, RD
While once considered an exotic oddity, avocado has become a staple ingredient in health-conscious kitchens. After all, what’s not to love about this fruit? (Yes, botanically speaking, it’s a fruit!) These avocado tips can give you the inspiration to think beyond the guacamole and make you feel good about luxuriating in avocado’s creamy goodness.
Once for its lofty fat numbers, we now know that avocado is fatty in a good way. One Harvard study found that people who replaced some of the saturated fat in their diets with unsaturated fat, like that in avocado, had a lower risk of heart disease.
In addition, a 2015 study found that including a daily avocado in an overall healthy diet may further reduce levels of small, dense LDL—a type of cholesterol thought to be particularly harmful to your ticker.
Few people use sliceable, diceable, mashable, and blendable avocado to its full potential. Under that bumpy skin is an ultra-versatile flesh that can play a starring role in a range of savory and sweet dishes.
Looking for proof that avocado has impressive chameleon capabilities in the kitchen? Try this Chickpea-Spinach Pasta with Creamy Avocado Sauce. Here, it’s used to make a creamy pasta sauce without the deluge of saturated fat found in most cream-based sauces.
Avocado may keep hunger pangs at bay. Researchers have found that study participants who added half of an avocado to their lunch experienced increased levels of satiety and, on average, a 40 percent decrease in their desire to eat three hours after the meal (compared to those who ate a midday meal without avocado).
Of course, the avocado added calories to the meal (which may have increased satisfaction); however, other studies have found that avocado eaters typically have slimmer waistlines despite the calories in avocados.
Avocado’s creamy texture adds a perfect smoothness to soups—hot or cold. After a long winter of steamy soups, this Chilled Avocado-Asparagus Soup is sure to bowl you over with its bright, earthy flavor. The trio of avocado, asparagus, and edamame (green soybeans) also ensures each spoonful is packed with hunger-quelling fiber. If desired, frozen lima beans can be used instead of edamame. Serve soup garnished with pumpkin seeds and chives.
Research shows that people who regularly enjoy avocado tend have better diet quality. This includes higher intakes of several nutrients, such as unsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins E and K, potassium, and magnesium.
Subbing avocado in for traditional dressings is a great way to up the ante of even the most nutrient-packed meals. When teamed up with punchy herbs, avocado creates a luscious dressing that will elevate salads of all stripes. Try it out in this Green Goddess Salad.
The easiest way to remove an avocado pit is to carefully insert a chef’s knife into the pit, give it a wiggle to loosen, and pull out the pit with the knife. You can then slice the flesh into long strips or cubes and remove it from the skin with a spoon.
Egg cleverly baked inside an avocado and then adorned with colorful salsa makes it feel like you’ve headed out for a fanciful brunch without leaving the comfort of your own kitchen. Try it here in these Avocado Egg Boats with Bean Salsa. In fact, this meal works perfectly for breakfast, lunch, or a weeknight dinner.
Avocados won’t ripen fully on the vine, and so will only reach peak ripeness post-harvest. To determine if an avocado is recipe-ready, pull off the small stem at the top.
You can hasten ripening by placing the avocado in a tightly closed paper bag on the countertop with an ethylene gas-emitting item like a banana or apple. Once ripe, an avocado that won’t be used immediately should be stored in the crisper of a refrigerator for a day or two to slow the ripening process.
Leftover avocado halves can be kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Leaving in the seed doesn’t really do much to halt the browning process. Instead, try storing avocado alongside a wedge of sliced onion or rubbing the cut side of the avocado with a little lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. This can stave off browning for a day or so.
If brown spots develop, simply scrape them away to expose the green flesh underneath. The browning is harmless, but not very tasty.
It’s easy to find comfort in the classics, but subbing avocado into a traditional burger can ramp up the taste, nutrition, and satisfaction. These Salmon-Avocado Burgers with Wasabi Yogurt Sauce team up to create a healthy burger with sophisticated flavor you’ll flip for. You can also use Arctic char or rainbow trout as sustainable choices. Most fishmongers will be happy to skin the fillets for you. Serve burgers topped with yogurt sauce.
Avocado is commonly used in raw chocolate pudding to lend it fudgy awesomeness and added nutritional firepower. These cheesecake-like Mayan Chocolate-Avocado Yogurt Cakes take this idea up a culinary notch with a little fiery kick. If there is some leftover chocolaty avocado topping, grab a spoon and consider it an instant reward for the cook.
Men’s health across the life course
Theodore D. Cosco, PhD (Cantab) CPsychol