Foothill gourmet: Avocados are the best

By From page B2 | May 12, 2014

Donna BrownAt our house, eating an avocado is a pleasure anytime one is ripe. Avocados are colorful and delicious additions to recipes and an excellent fresh accent to meat, fish, chicken and salads.

We eat them because they are heart healthy. They also supply healthy monounsaturated fats, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins. Their monounsaturated fats help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and boost HDL (good) cholesterol.

Avocados contain the mineral potassium, which helps balance the body’s electrolytes. Ounce for ounce, avocados contain 60 percent more potassium than bananas.

Containing the mineral magnesium, avocados help produce energy and are important for muscle contraction and relaxation.

Vitamin E in avocados is an antioxidant slowing down the aging process and protecting against heart disease and various forms of cancer.

Glutathione, another antioxidant, acts to neutralize free radicals that can cause cell damage.

Several ways to use ripe slices of avocado follow.

For a (less than 10-minute) workday breakfast, add a slice of low-fat Swiss deli cheese and/or lean meat to a tortilla. Broil until the cheese melts, add the meat portion and leftover veggies like a slice of tomato, grilled onion or avocado.

Avocado slices can garnish weekday dinners, weekend breakfasts or lunches, brunch eggs, wraps, fish entrées, chicken entrées, pasta entrées, fried rice or open-faced tuna sandwiches.

Avocados add pizzazz to every meal and easily replace higher fat ingredients.

Avocados have a bad rap for being high in fat.

Try these suggestions to save fat: Toss a single serving salad with 2-3 fresh avocado slices (55 calories per ounce) and balsamic vinegar instead of Italian salad dressing (140 calories per 2 tablespoons).

Accent a sandwich with 2 tablespoons mashed avocados instead of 2 tablespoons mayonnaise and save 145 calories.

Sprinkle diced avocados, 55 calories per ounce, over scrambled eggs instead of cheddar cheese, which contains 110 calories per ounce.

Top soups with avocado slices or dices, 1 gram of saturated fat per ounce, instead of adding sour cream, 4 grams of saturated fat per ounce.

Fill an avocado half with fresh fruit or a seafood salad.

Fill egg white halves with guacamole for a twist on deviled eggs instead of yolk and mayo and increase the potassium by 70 grams per tablespoon.

California avocado breakfast burrito serves 4. Ingredients: 4 flour tortillas 10-11 inches in diameter, 1 cup diced red bell pepper, 1/3 cup chopped onion, 3 tablespoons butter, 8 eggs, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese (optional), use pepper jack for a spicier option, 1 ripe avocado, peeled, seeded and diced, and tomato salsa for garnish.

Preparation: Wrap tortillas in foil; warm in a 400 degree oven. While the tortillas heat, sauté bell pepper and onion in butter until soft, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, beat together eggs and salt. When vegetables are done, pour eggs into pan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until eggs are cooked, about 3 minutes.

Put 1/4 of the egg mixture down the center of each warmed tortilla, sprinkle with diced avocado and 1 tablespoon cheese. Fold in top and bottom of each tortilla. Roll up from side. Keep in a warm oven until all tortillas are made. Serve on warm plates garnished with salsa.

Around the world, avocados are enjoyed in creative ways. Brazilians add avocados to ice cream, Filipinos purée avocados with sugar and milk for a dessert drink and Latin Americans wrap avocados to give as a wedding gift.

Donna Brown

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