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California Avocados – My Very Special, Very Versatile Kitchen Staple

breakfast_tacosFor years I’ve enlivened my salads with avocados and used them to make guacamole, but three recent events dramatically increased my family’s avocado consumption.

The summer of 2009 my two daughters and I, along with our spouses, committed to reducing our meat consumption. We quickly discovered that California avocados offered richness and body to our meatless dishes while also providing nutrition benefits. In our new way of eating, a BLT might be an A(vocado)LT instead. After a few bites we always seemed to repeat the same phrase, “Didn’t miss the meat here!”

A year ago my daughter Maggy went a step further, committed to a mostly vegan diet. Avocados not only stood in for meat, but now we are finding they are a great substitute for dairy too—in smoothies, baked goods, and “butter” for morning toast.

At my husband’s annual physical last fall, his doctor observed his cholesterol numbers were slightly elevated. She gave him two choices: start the meds right away or try to correct it with diet. He chose the latter, and for three months he cut out nearly all cholesterol rich foods. This lifestyle change was not easy, but avocados played a big role in his success in making the transition to this new way of eating and he didn’t feel deprived. The “good fats,” mono and polyunsaturated fats, in California avocados helped with the feeling of satiety; and the creamy texture and nutty taste made avocados a great spread or topping swap for butter, cream cheese, and mayonnaise. He just didn’t miss those foods. He was eating a healthful diet and getting the good fats and great flavor from naturally cholesterol free avocados.

The follow up blood test was a pleasant surprise. His number dropped a dramatic fifty points, well below two hundred. Shocked, the nurse asked “How’d you do it?” His response: “I reduced my intake of cholesterol, bad fats (saturated and trans fats) and sodium from my diet and replaced them with healthier alternatives”

Now that it’s just my husband and me, I turn to avocados – and especially California avocados – to add creamy goodness – at breakfast on our toast or tortilla, at lunch in our sandwich or salad. We enjoy them for dinner too. I love my no-cook avocado sauce tossed with whole-grain pasta or farro. We frequently enjoy them as a salad too. Just last night I halved an avocado, removed the pit and spooned a little vinaigrette into each opening. Now that’s good fast food!

There was a time when avocados were a special item on my shopping list. Now, they’re like chicken broth, onions, pasta, and canned tomatoes—a necessary staple –that adds “something special” to every dish.

Here are two of my favorite recipes with California Avocados.
 

Farro-recipe-final

 

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