From first food to last (hello, dessert!) the creamy, green superfood never ceases to surprise.
Oil About It
When pressed, avocados render oil that is ideal for more than cooking. Like olive oil, it contains oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that may lower cholesterol. Its green color, buttery flavor and high-temperature smoke point (500 degrees) make it a tasty choice for roasting and sautéing vegetables and a healthier option for frying foods like potato chips and French fries. You’ll also find avocado oil in personal care products such as moisturizers, shampoos and conditioners, hair and face masks, under-eye puffiness reducers and lip balms.
Creamy, ripe avocados and their monounsaturated fats make ideal substitutes for animal fats such as butter or shortening in baking recipes, as well as mayonnaise, sour cream, salad dressing and cream cheese. Plus, avocados’ relatively high water content means your breads and pastries will be extra moist. Substitute avocado for butter or oil in a 1:1 ratio. You might have to reduce your oven temperature and increase baking times, so be ready to experiment. Also try these healthy swaps:
Blend one avocado with mustard, a couple tablespoons of nut milk (almond or coconut), mustard to taste, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a pinch each of salt, sugar and paprika; use the mixture in place of mayo in your tuna, chicken or egg salad.
Trade one or two avocados for the tahini in a hummus recipe to save calories and fat (saturated and unsaturated).
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends introducing babies to solid food between 4 and 6 months of age. Thanks to its smooth texture and mild flavor, not to mention its nutrient density and the fact that you needn’t cook it, avocado is an ideal first food. Mash it thoroughly with a fork or immersion blender or puree it in a food processor with breast milk, formula, pears, or bananas until it reaches a desired consistency.
Although it would still be a stretch to call potato chips or french fries health foods, they’re getting a boost from companies like Boulder Canyon and other natural food manufacturers who are cooking the snacks in “good-fat” avocado oil rather than the more common vegetable oils that are loaded with saturated fat.
- 2 avocados
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1/ 2 teaspoon Tabasco green pepper sauce
- 1/ 4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/ 2 cup red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1 tablespoon raw sunflower seeds
- 4 small whole-wheat pita breads
- 4 pieces red leaf lettuce
- Cut avocados into quarters and remove pits. Place wedges in bowl. Add orange juice, green pepper sauce, and coriander. Toss gently to coat avocado. Add red bell pepper, tomatoes, cucumber and sunflower seeds and toss again.
- Cut top part of pita bread (about 1/3 of the circle). Gently stuff with 1/4 of the avocado mixture. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Add 1 red lettuce leaf and enjoy.
Avocados Around the World
Avocado for dessert? It isn’t an obvious combination for us Yanks, but cultures around the world know better. Filipinos, for example, puree avocado with sugar and milk for a dessert smoothie. In Brazil, it’s added to ice cream. Try this recipe created by Dos Caminos chef Ivy Stark for the California Avocado Commission.
Avocado Ice Cream
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2/3 cup pure honey
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons lime zest
- 3 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and pureed
- Whisk together eggs, honey and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over low heat, bring the half-and-half, buttermilk and lime zest to a full simmer. Once liquid begins to bubble, remove from heat. Cover and let steep 2 hours.
- Once cream mixture has cooled, strain into another medium saucepan. Over low heat, bring to a simmer again.
- Temper the egg and honey mixture by adding the simmering cream to the mixture in a ladle a little bit at a time while whisking. Then, return the mixture to the saucepan. Continue to simmer over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until the custard thickens enough to coat a spoon and the thermometer reads 170°F to 175°F, about 4 minutes (do not allow mixture to boil).
- Strain mixture into a clean bowl and allow the steam to escape. Cover and chill mixture until cold (at least 3 hours, and up to 1 day).
- Process the custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add avocado puree halfway through freezing.
- Transfer to a bowl or tub and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours, and up to 3 days.