Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The versatile avocado: Fruit or Vegetable?

Let’s start with what an avocado is? A fruit. The avocado tree originally comes from Central America and is a member of the laurel family. The Laurel family comprises aromatic trees that are used for spices and flavorings; but, it happens to be that the only member of this family – the avocado -- is known as a food and for its use as an oil. In addition, did you know that there are close to 500 varieties out there? Some that we may be most familiar with are Hass, Fuerte, Lamb Hass, Bacon and Reed Avocados.

Avocados many times have been given a bad reputation for being fattening, but the fat contained in them is mostly monounsaturated fat. This is the kind of fat that makes your heart happy. This fruit contains one of the highest levels of beta-carotene as well as more potassium than a banana! Many times, avocados are mistaken for a vegetable and not a fruit because they lose their sugar content as they mature and are best known for dips such as guacamole, but they can also be used in soups and stews and even desserts.

The nutrition that avocados provides is extraordinary in lowering cholesterol levels, providing antioxidants for the body, decreasing the risk of some cancers and even providing healthier skin and hair.

As far as recipes go, avocados are known best for their use in the dip, guacamole. Although there are so many different recipes, this is what I usually do:

3-4 avocados, mashed
¼ cup diced fresh cilantro
¼ cup diced onion or scallions
1 small tomato, diced
1 jalapeño, seeds removed, diced
fresh lemon juice, to taste
½ tsp. to 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Salsa, like Herdez, once again to taste
Hot sauce, like Tapatio
Seasoned salt & pepper

I found this recipe for guacamole from a 1963 version of the Good Housekeeping Cookbook.
In a chopping bowl, chop 1 small onion, 1 small dried red pepper (optional), 1 tomato, fine. Add 6 peeled avocados, 2 ½ tsp. salt, 2 tsp. lemon juice, 2 tbsp. mayonnaise, 1 tsp. salad oil, 4 drops Tabasco. Makes 8 servings.

Enjoy the many benefits of this prized fruit in your next meal...

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