With their silky texture, great flavor and numerous nutrients, you gotta love avocados! Technically a fruit, avocados are a potassium dynamo (one avocado contains more than twice as much blood pressure–lowering potassium as a banana). They also provide a variety of other minerals and vitamins, such as B vitamins, vitamin E and copper, and are packed with super-heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. If the only way you’ve ever eaten an avocado is sliced up in a salad or as guacamole, think again. These creamy gems are incredibly versatile and can be used in an array of tasty recipes. Several different ways to use avocados plus some recipes to try…
• Grilled. To grill an avocado, slice it in half, twist to pull apart and remove the pit, but leave the skin on. Brush the avocado flesh with a touch of extra-virgin olive oil and a spritz of fresh lime juice. Then place cut side down on a stovetop grill or an outdoor grill for five to seven minutes. Scoop out the flesh or serve in the skin as a tasty, warm side dish.
• In a salsa. Avocado salsa is a great topping. To make: Toss one diced avocado with one diced fresh tomato and one-third cup of chopped red onion. Then drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and fresh-squeezed lime juice, and season with salt and pepper. Spoon over your favorite grilled fish or a Mexican entrée.
• As a substitute for mayo. To replace artery-clogging saturated fat with a tasty healthy fat, try using ripe avocado in place of mayo on a sandwich or butter on bread. You can also make a heart-healthy green goddess salad dressing by using a ripe avocado instead of mayo and sour cream.
1 cup of fresh spinach leaves
1 garlic clove
2 Tablespoons of white wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons of lemon juice
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
1 Tablespoon of fresh tarragon, chopped (or dried tarragon)
½ teaspoon of black pepper
What to do: Put all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and mix until smooth. It’s a delicious dressing for potato salad or dip for veggies.
• In ceviche. This delicious, easy-to-make ceviche (a cold seafood dish) features two avocados plus cilantro for zest.
1 pound of cooked shrimp (peeled, deveined and chopped)
2 avocados, chopped (about 1 cup)
½ red onion, chopped
¼ cup of fresh cilantro, minced
¼ cup of lime juice
½ teaspoon of ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon of salt
What to do: Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Chill in the refrigerator for one hour. Serve with sliced bell peppers and/or cucumbers and pita chips or whole-wheat crackers. Yield: 16 servings (1 serving = ⅛ cup).
• In desserts. Bet you didn’t know that you can use avocado as a substitute for butter or oil in your favorite baked goods and desserts. One-half cup of puréed ripe avocado equals about one-half cup of butter. You can also use it to make a sinfully rich, heart-healthy dark-chocolate pudding.
⅓ cup of honey (or agave syrup)
⅓ cup of unsweetened, dark cocoa powder
¼ cup of peanut butter (or substitute any nut or seed butter).
What to do: Put all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and mix until the pudding is smooth. Yield: 6 servings (1 serving = ⅓ cup).