Avocado here, avocado there, avocado everywhere. For a few years, especially in certain food trend scenes, the western world and Italians have “discovered” avocados and seem like they can’t get enough of them!
Put this way, you might think that I detest them. It’s actually the complete opposite!
I appreciate avocados too and use them frequently in my dishes and recipes, as I’ll tell you about soon. I think I should start this conversation by busting a widely- circulated myth, that has no basis in truth.
The avocado is a delicious and really culinarily useful fruit, it has a bright, greenish-yellow color, that makes it visually attractive and even “cute” in appearance and it has many interesting properties to its name, but… it’s not a “superfood”.
There, I said it.
In reality, the whole category of superfoods, is mostly invented for marketing purposes and doesn’t really have any scientific basis to back it up, so, when somebody uses this term, especially when trying to sell you a product, speaking about how good it is for your body and maybe even, for your mind… I’d say to take it with a grain of salt.
Now that this little myth is out of the way (busted!), we can come back to talking about all the reasons and things, that really make avocados so great, that if used properly, can really lend an exceptional touch to your dishes, making them good, tasty, “diverse”, colorful and completely healthy.
Asking them to do more would be a little too much, don’t you think?
Avocados are fruits, originating from tropical places, like Mexico (which is their top producer in the world), Brazil and Colombia. This also means that, having locally produced and 0 km avocados, while being in Italy, is a little hard to do (even though, there are some cultivations of them in southern Italy).
Its name, probably originates from the Aztec word for “testicle”. Because, really looking at one, that’s exactly what it looks like. What? That’s all nature for ya’!
Besides this anatomic curiosity, what makes avocados such interesting fruits, is their characteristic pulp: succulent, thick and creamy, it lends itself really well as an ingredient, that can be used in an infinite number of avocado-based recipes, be it sliced, cubed or blended!
Watch out though: avocado pulp, while having all of these characteristics, is not to be considered as a “lite” ingredient! Actually, just take a glance at the nutritional values (Which I suggest to be consulted always, to inform oneself, but not to harp and be hung up on) and take them into account.
100g of ripe avocado pulp, in fact, contains: 15g of fat (of which, 13g are unsaturated), 9g of carbs (of which 7g are fiber) and 2g of protein.
So, avocados definitely can’t be chalked up to being called “proteic” fruits (with only 2g!), or even “lite”. However, it’s exactly this last characteristic, that makes it interesting: used in the right way, avocados can, in fact, give our dishes that right balance of “good” fats (alternatively to animal and “industrially” produced, fats), that are necessary, not only to make foods taste better, but also, contribute to a healthy and balanced diet.
Pay attention though: the key words are “used in the right way”.
And here, we come to some weak points…
As much as they might look alike, avocados are not pears (notable for being a noble fruit, for it’s goodness and simplicity “of heart”). Knowing how to use and get the most out of it, takes a little more understanding.
First and foremost, please, never peel an avocado like a pear! You know that bad feeling that you get when you see people putting ketchup on cold and gluey pasta, in American films? That’s the feeling I’m trying to describe.
The right way to “go about” using an avocado is to cut it in half and then, dig out the pulp, with a spoon. Be careful though, as the pulp, when unprotected, can tend to get dark. This isn’t a problem: just remove the thinnest veil of skin and the “heart” of the pulp will be as good, as if the avocado were just opened!
Understanding when an avocado has reached its full ripeness (to know which ones to buy and when to use them), is really important too! The pulp of a well matured avocado must be soft and thick, but, sometimes, the external skin/peel can feel a little hard, so it can be tough to judge what’s gong on on the inside, once in a while.
Fortunately, there’s a little trick to solve this. To know if an avocado is mature enough, try to remove the stem: if it comes off without too much resistance, this is a good sign! Then, if the pulp under the stem is a bright green color, the fruit will be at the right ripeness to be used and enjoyed in your recipes! A brown color, on the other hand, means that it’s past its maturation point.
In case your avocado is trying to keep its stem (and is not yet ripe), to accelerate its ripening, just put the fruit into a paper bag with an apple or a banana: two or three days are usually sufficient.
“Ok Alice, but, once my avocado is ripe, opened and correctly dug out, with that beautiful and tasty green pulp… what should I do with it?”
The response is: a bunch of things!
I, for example, use them on my Avocado Toast: on a crunchy base, of whole wheat, rye bread (made with my sourdough), they add that fantastic softness and creamy-ness, that in every bite, melt away and link so perfectly with the flavors of the other ingredients, whether they be salmon, eggs or even citrus fruits.
Even when blended and transformed into sauces, avocados can enrich and cause cravings in many different kinds of dishes, like a delicious and fragrant Bowl, in which it brings the right concentrations of vegetable fats, or even, in a Smoothie, to which it gives a special consistency and an intense and irresistible color.
Lastly, obviously, avocados are the base for the famous, guacamole dip which belongs to traditional Mexican cuisine and has been exported the whole world over and is the perfect accompaniment, to many different kinds of foods and snacks.
When speaking about sauces and dips, it’s worth mentioning that, many times, these avocado-based condiments, frequently have, other added fats (in Italy, we usually use olive oil). This isn’t a problem, if everything has been evaluated and all it means, is that there isn’t only one source of fats in the foods, but two!
There are so many ways and reasons to enjoy eating avocados, this great and widely-appreciated table top “revolutionary”.
But my name wouldn’t be Alice Fazi, if I didn’t invite you, as always, to not get “hung up and stuck on” only one ingredient. Avocados are delicious, but not un-interchangeable. In fact, in Italy, we have another source of “good” fats, one of the most special and appreciated in the whole world: extra virgin olive oil.
Using avocados in its place is ok, works really well and can be fun and tasty, especially if it pushes you to experiment with new ideas and find new solutions, but from a health standpoint, there’s no need to prefer them to using good old olive oil.
You can, however, feel completely free to choose to use whichever one you want, always, depending on your personal tastes and how “exotic” or “mediterranean” you want to feel like.
This is my philosophy and the philosophy a the base and core of, FreshEnergy!
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