We <3 Avocado!

avocado

It’s funny when I think back to the first time I tried avocado. I’d heard great things and then was disappointed when the taste was totally not what I had expected! I think a lot of people are a bit dubious about them at first and there almost seems to be a bit of mystery surrounding them! ‘Is it a vegetable or a fruit…?’ ‘What do you do with it?’ ‘How do you know if it’s ripe?’  ‘Do you cook it?!’ -just some of the questions I’ve been asked, being known as the avocado fan that I am!

What I tell people is to expect a buttery taste and texture – it’s not your typical fruit – but that’s actually why it’s so great! It’s really versatile and has brilliant health benefits, so I’d encourage anyone to try to incorporate avocado into their diet. Its high in fat, but it’s the good fats, and experts say that these actually help to help burn fat and rev up metabolism.

So eating avocado (in moderation) can actually aid weight loss for those who are concerned. Its high fat content also has the payoff of giving satiety – which basically means it keeps you feeling full and satisfied. So no post meal fridge picking or feeling deprived! It’s also brilliant for nourishing skin hair and nails and can help create a happier brain and heart. So basically you’ll be slim, gorgeous and happy…a pretty good advertisement for them I think…

Convinced yet?! Then here’s a few tips for buying and preparation, as well as my top 5 favourite uses

Buying avocados

What should I look for?

An avocado must be ripe to be eaten – their biggest asset is their soft texture so a hard one just won’t taste good! Check if they’re ripe by gently pressing your thumb into the skin. It should make an indent easily, in the same way as you could with a ripe kiwi or mango. Make sure it doesn’t go in too easily though or it may be a bit overripe and mushy! This means they can be on brown inside. Most supermarkets now do packs of ripe ‘ready to eat’ avocados which can be handy if you need it ASAP. If not you can easily ripen at home and apparently a good trick is to leave it beside a banana to speed up the process.

What colour should they be?

There are actually two kinds of avocado – green and black – something I learned only recently at the Happy Heart Course in The Happy Pear. Before that, I thought that the darker colour just meant that those ones were further along in the ripening process…! According to Stephen and David of The Happy Pear, the black ones are the more nutritious of the two, I remember them referring to them as ‘the Rolls Royce’ of the avocado family which has stuck in my mind since!

Preparing avocados

How do I prepare them?

To prepare an avocado, simply slit it half way round and pop it open in two halves. It should ideally be pale green inside with a tinge of yellow. As I said above, brown means it’s overripe – still edible but it just isn’t at its best.  There is a stone in the middle that you can just remove and you then peel off the skin, which comes away easily. After that you can slice it, chop it, mash it or just leave it in its halves depending on use. As its soft it blends up easily so you can puree large chunks of it using a hand blender or by throwing it in the smoothie maker. More about that below.

So to the most common question of all…

How do I use them?

heart avocado

 

Here’s my top 5 ways:

 1.      To add (good!) fat to a dessert

My absolute favourite thing about avocado is that they make a brilliant base for clean desserts I have a sweet tooth but I try to stay away from processed desserts and refined sugar, as much as possible. Nearly all desserts require some form of fat or oil though and avocado will add this fat, while also bringing all the benefits that good fats provide.  I regularly make my own avocado chocolate mousse that I got from Deliciously Ella’s Blog and have it tweaked along the way. I think it tastes great and it’s nice to get a chocolate fix while knowing you’re also doing your body good! The recipe I use is here >> http://bit.ly/1EpSQJo or my own version of the recipe is on our Facebook page (link is on our homepage).

I find Ella’s recipe makes quite a lot so I would only use about a quarter of her ingredients for one portion (e.g. 3 dates). You can play around with it anyway and add your own favourites. I love to top it with roasted hazelnuts, chopped almonds or walnuts or toasted oats for some crunch and texture.

 2.      Paired with salty sauces

I love Asian food and my favourite sauces are anything involving soy sauce, even just it on its own. As it’s quite salty I find that pairing it with some chopped avocado works well. This isn’t a likely combination maybe but it works! It can be good for a simple lunch too – just throw together some prawns or tuna, soy sauce and chopped avocado and have with some wholemeal bread or Couscous. If you’re watching your salt intake, Tamari sauce has a lower sodium content – you can get it in lots of Health Food Shops and it
tastes quite similar.

 3.      To add substance to a salad

Salads are great but to make sure they keep you going, they have to have some substance. I mentioned already that Avocado is great for satiety so adding it to your salad will help make it a more substantial meal. You could add it to pretty much any salad really but a particularly nice combination I like is to chop it in with some greens (lettuce, rocket, cucumber, spinach – whatever you have) , sundried tomatoes, sweetcorn and some protein (for instance chicken) all drizzled with  a honey mustard or balsamic dressing. You can then add some good carbs like rice cakes, quinoa or again couscous if you’re trying to cut down on bread.

4.      To create a creamy smoothie

If you want your smoothies to taste even smoother, try adding half an avocado to your usual concoctions – for example I put a half one in with pineapple and raspberries recently and it was yum! Another good tip is to use it in place of a banana if you want to avoid overdoing the fruit sugars that can sometimes rack up quickly in a smoothie. Plus the good fats make it a more balanced snack and give all the benefits that I highlighted above. If you want to be really good, go for a green goddess – avocado, spinach, kiwi, apple and lime juice with a bit of wheatgrass thrown in for good measure. You’ll be glowing like a goddess in no time!!!

5.      As a topping for toast

Instead of putting butter or processed spreads like cheese on your bread or rice cakes try mashing avocado and spreading them with this instead. Some people just like to add cracked pepper but if you want more flavour you could top with sundried tomatoes, red onion, hummus etc. The avocado will moisten in the same way as butter does so it’s a perfect alternative. You can also use mashed avocado as a dip by making a healthy homemade guacamole. Try adding lime juice and garlic to give it some kick. Dip in oatcakes or even raw veg like peppers and carrot sticks for a tasty snack.

So there you have it, for us it’s all about the avocado! If you’ve been meaning to try it then I hope this post has given you some inspiration. Likewise if you have any suggestions on how to use avocado then we’ love to hear them!

Happy experimenting! :-)

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