When it comes to the avocado, don’t stop at guacamole
BY JUDY MARCUS June 18, 2012 2:36PM
Chocolate-Avocado Mousse is a no-cook, easy and healthy summer dessert. The recipe is from "If It Makes You Healthy" by singer Sheryl Crow and her personal chef Chuck White.
Here’s the scoop
1. To be certain an avocado is ripe, gently squeeze the fruit in the palm of your hand. If it yields to gentle pressure, it’s ready to eat. A ripe, uncut avocado can be stored in the refrigerator for two to three days.
2. An unripe avocado can take four to five days to ripen at room temperature. To speed up the ripening process, place avocado in a brown paper bag with a banana or apple.
4. Brown or black spots on the avocado flesh are not harmful and can be removed by cutting them out.
5. Avocados are best consumed within hours after cutting open but can be stored in the refrigerator for one day if placed in an airtight container or covered tightly in plastic wrap. To prevent discoloration, sprinkle avocado flesh with lemon or lime juice or another acidic agent. If avocado or avocado-based dishes do become brown during storage, you can discard the top, oxidized layer and enjoy the rest.
6. For more information about avocados and an array of recipes, visit www.avocado.org, www.avocadocentral.com and www.avocadosfrommexico.com
Updated: July 21, 2012 6:06AM
There’s no denying it. Guacamole is as much a part of American cuisine as burgers, pizza and yes, apple pie.
But avocado, the main attraction in guacamole, has so much going for it. Why limit its use to a mere topping for chips?
Avocados are loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, including Vitamin C, K, E and B6, folate, potassium and lutein, an antioxidant that may help prevent cataracts. Avocados contain fiber, and they’re sodium-free. What’s more, the fruit — yes, the avocado is a fruit not a vegetable — acts as a nutrition booster, enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients from foods that are eaten with it.
Plus, avocados are low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. According to the American Heart Association, consuming these unsaturated fats in moderation and eaten in place of saturated fats, can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in the blood and risk for heart disease and stroke. And with its smooth, creamy texture and rich, buttery taste, the avocado is literally a natural stand-in for foods high in saturated fats such as butter.
“It’s an extremely healthy swap,” agrees Karen Ansel, registered dietitian and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Ansel enjoys avocado for breakfast. She mashes it up and spreads it on toast or a bagel in place of butter or cream cheese. She also suggests using it to make salad dressings and blending it with orange or pineapple juice and yogurt to create a healthier smoothie.
Chuck White, singer Sheryl Crow’s personal chef, who co-authored the cookbook “If It Makes You Healthy” along with Crow, makes both a creamy chocolate-avocado mousse and an avocado-cucumber soup.
But the possibilities are endless. Think a BLT sandwich without mayo. Smear on mashed avocado instead. Or make a better-for-you tuna salad. In place of the mayonnaise, combine avocado, lemon juice and a couple of spoonfuls of plain, nonfat yogurt until almost smooth. Then blend the avocado mixture with canned tuna. For that matter, you can do the same with canned chicken or salmon.
You can even bake with avocado instead of butter or oil. The California Avocado Commission’s website, www.avocado.org, offers a yummy-sounding avocado, cranberry and pistachio biscotti recipe while the Hass Avocado web address, www.avocadocentral.com, has a recipe for avocado/red velvet cupcakes.
According to the Hass Avocado site, you can replace up to half the fat that’s called for in any muffin or quick bread recipe with mashed avocado. But when substituting avocado for other fats in recipes, it’s all about “trial and error” says Ansel. It’s best to experiment with a recipe before serving it to company. Also, be aware that your light-colored baked goods may take on a slightly green hue.
While “avocado desserts” may sound like an oxymoron, the ones we tried were unexpectedly delicious. And as the weather turns steamy, non-cook avocado desserts make a lot of sense.
With our easy recipes, you’d never know there was avocado in either luscious treat. So here’s a suggestion, if you’re feeding picky eaters, mum’s the word.
At least until after the compliments start rolling around.
Judy Marcus is a local freelance writer.
Makes 3-4 ervings
2 ripe avocados
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup agave nectar (or more if desired)
11/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 cup milk
Fresh raspberries (optional)
Scoop out the avocado flesh and put into a bowl. Using a fork, mash avocados a bit to break them up.
Place cocoa powder into bowl of a food processor. Add mashed avocados, agave nectar, vanilla and milk and process for 1-2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and process again until the mousse is very smooth, about 1-2 minutes.
Taste mousse. If it’s not quite sweet enough, add more agave nectar, 1 teaspoon at a time. Pulse to mix, tasting after each additional teaspoon, until desired sweetness is reached. Spoon mousse into individual martini glasses or ramekins. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-8 hours.
Top with fresh raspberries before serving., if desired.
Summer Avocado Pie
Makes 6-8 servings
1 ripe avocado
½ cup lemon juice
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (9-inch) graham cracker pie crust
Whipped cream or whipped topping such as Cool Whip
Scoop out the flesh from an avocado and place into food processor bowl. Add lemon juice. Pulse a couple of times. Add condensed milk and blend about 45 seconds or until smooth and creamy. Pour mixture into pie crust. Top with whipped cream or whipped topping. Chill in refrigerator for 3-4 hours. Slice and serve.
Adapted from a recipe that will appear in “If It Makes You Healthy” by Sheryl Crow and Chuck White