In recent years, healthy and organic eating has become increasingly important to people all across America. Many have made the switch from white bread to whole grain, and have cut high fructose corn syrup out of their diets. Another important piece of dietary information is that there are “good fats” out there. Any type of fatty food has likely gotten a bad reputation just due to the fact that it contains fat. But the truth is that there are indeed “good fats” and “bad fats” out there.
Bad fats refer to saturated and trans fats. These are the ones you want to try to stay away from, or eat in moderation: butter, ice cream, fried foods, candy bars, and so on. Good fats refer to monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. These fats, contrary to popular belief, are good for your heart and can help maintain a healthy weight. Good fats include items such as olive oil, nuts, tofu, fatty fish such as salmon, and my personal favorite food: the avocado.
(For a more complete list of good and bad fats, see this website)
Avocados are filling, versatile, and packed with nutrients. They have a creamy, buttery consistency and can even be substituted for ingredients containing “bad fats” in many recipes. Here I will share with you how to prepare an avocado and my favorite ways of serving them.
Your first step is to pick out a good avocado. An avocado is ripe when it is slightly soft to the touch, but still fairly firm overall. It may take a few tries to pick out one that is just right.
To open an avocado, take a paring knife and slice into the avocado in half lengthwise, all the way around the pit. Then slice those halves in half, so you have four quarters. Discard the pit and peel away the skin. Another option is to scoop out the insides of the avocado with a spoon.
Another important thing to know is how to store an avocado. Avocados, like apples, turn brown when its fleshy insides are exposed to air. The acid in lemon or lime juice can prevent this from happening. Simply squirt a small amount of lemon/lime juice onto the inside of a half-used avocado and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for later use. Or, you can press saran wrap against the inside of an avocado to prevent browning. This is the method I use.
There are three ways I typically use an avocado: simply sliced, on a sandwich or wrap; in guacamole; or as a substitute for butter (take a ripe avocado and use a butter knife to spread it, or even throw a few chunks of it in a food processor to make an easy sauce!). Guacamole is my favorite way to eat an avocado. It was one of the first recipes I learned to make on my own and is always a crowd pleaser at cookouts and parties.
2 ripe avocados, skin and pits discarded
1 small tomato, diced
1 small shallot, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, diced (use half a pepper for less heat)
1-2 Tbsp lime juice
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp minced garlic
3 scallions, chopped
small bunch of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
Using a fork, mash the avocados in a medium-sized bowl to desired consistency. Add all remaining ingredients and stir until well-incorporated. Serve with tortilla chips or to top off a sandwich or burger.
A few notes:
–For a sweeter, tropical twist, add diced pineapple or mango to your guacamole.
–If you don’t have the time or ingredients to make guacamole from scratch, try mixing your favorite salsa with a mashed avocado. It may not be as authentic, it still tastes delicious and is a healthy time-saver.
–If you have an aversion to cilantro, substitute fresh chopped parsley.
For more information on avocados, check out The Amazing Avocado.
All images courtesy of Hungry Hannah
More tips on avocados:
About the author: Hannah is a recent college graduate and she loves to cook and blog in her spare time. Her food blog, Hungry Hannah focuses on healthy yet satisfying eating. She aims to show others that eating healthily doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice taste or creativity. She also believes that anybody can create a healthy and balanced meal on a budget, and that it’s never too late to learn how to cook. When she’s not blogging, she likes to draw, spend time with family and friends, and travel.