Avocado? Who knew! – Recipe Ideas, Health Benefits, and Hacks!
Avocado? Who knew!
In the wake of the avocado toast trend, everyone seems to be on board the health bandwagon. One might wonder what health benefits they provide or how to pick from the perfect batch (in-store); maybe even look for ways they can use them in their own kitchen (and possibly retire the old “avocado toast” recipe).
You’re probably saying the same thing in your head as I am… never. Ok, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but you can at least get to know this versatile fruit (yes!) a little bit more and discover ways you can incorporate avocados into your diet: providing healthy fats, fiber, and various important nutrients.
Inside their tough exterior, their beautiful green, creamy flesh is a hub of important vitamins that can have a host of beneficial effects on one’s health. Avocados, sometimes referred to as alligator pears, contain more potassium than bananas. Potassium is one of the most important minerals in the body as it regulates fluid balance, muscle contractions, and nerve signals. A diet high in potassium may even inflict benefits such as reduced blood pressure and water retention, protection against strokes, and prevent osteoporosis and kidney stones. 77% of the calories in an avocado come from heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, making them one of the fattiest (in a good way!) plant-based foods in the world. The majority of the fat is oleic acid, the same fatty acid found in olive oil, which reduces inflammation and has been shown to have beneficial effects on cancer genes. The last avocado health benefit I’ll touch on (there are many more) is that the fruit is full of fiber. The amount of plant fiber (indigestible plant matter) in avocados can aid in weight loss, reduce blood sugar, and is strongly linked to a lower risk of contracting various diseases.
So, how do you pick the perfect avocado when you enter the supermarket and are confronted with a mountain of them? The secret lies in the small knob on the top of the fruit. When removed, check the color of the meat inside of it; if bright green, that avocado is good to go. Another trick is to rub the side of the knob that was recently inside of it on your skin. If it leaves a moist residue on the back of your hand, that’s a good sign.
To ripen an avocado quicker, place it in a brown paper bag. The plant hormone ethylene that triggers the ripening process is released as a gas and is trapped causing the fruit to ripen faster than usual. You can also throw in a banana to aid in this process and ripen the banana quicker as well. To make that perfect stage last longer, pop it in the fridge. Many believe that one of the most important factors to consider in making sure your avocado stays delicious is keeping the pit lodged in its crevice, but this only stops the area surrounding the pit from interacting with the air and is not enough to slow the ripening process past the desired point. If you used half an avocado and want to save the other, squeeze some lemon over the skin and/or wrap in glad wrap to prevent browning (or oxidation). A more obscure hack to stave off browning is to store your avocado with a piece of onion that releases syn-Propanethial S-oxide, a sulfur gas that protects the avocado from oxidation and helps maintain the bright green color.
Imaginative Ways to Incorporate Avocados into Your Diet (Besides on Toast)
- Throw it into a smoothie to get an oh-so-creamy texture.
- Try an avocado dip other than guac. How about a kiwi avocado salsa verde?
- Amaze your guests with avocado-inspired appetizers like peanut avocado spring rolls, tomato, peach, and avocado bruschetta, sweet potato and avocado tartare, and avocado and vegetable summer rolls
- Stuff your roasted vegetables with it!
- Eat it with chocolate as a dessert! (trust me, you won’t even taste them): chocolate avocado pudding pops, chocolate cupcakes with avocado icing, chocolate avocado mousse
- Make an avocado soup or chili!
- Craft an avocado pasta sauce!
The list of possibilities for the fruit is endless. Armed with knowledge on why you should incorporate more avocados into your diet, ways you can get creative in the kitchen, and how you can choose the right avocado to accomplish these goals, I trust that this new understanding of how to stay healthier using avocados will outlast any trend.
Related: Overnight Oat’s Recipe