Ingredient of the Week: Avocado

Ingredient of the Week: Avocado

The avocado gets its status as a superfood because it is so highly nutritious. Although commonly mistaken for a vegetable, it is actually classed as a fruit. More specifically a berry, as it has a tough outer layer of skin, a middle layer of  flesh, which encases a seed or seeds. In this case one seed or pit, rather like a plum or peach. It is incredibly versatile and can be served for all meals of the day. For breakfast or brunch on toast with eggs. For lunch, sliced up on a sandwich, or in a salad such as my smoked salmon sushi rice salad. For dinner, mixed in to a spicy salsa, to be served alongside steak, as in my jerk beef, rice and avocado salsa recipe. Or even used to make a chocolate mouse for dessert. I have not yet tried this but plan to, and will let you know how it goes when I do.

But why is it so nutritious and adaptable?

Avocados are very high in mono-unsaturated fats, or good fats, as they help to prevent heart disease and lower blood cholesterol. This high fat content leads to its very soft and creamy texture, which allows it to be used for so much. This does result in avocado also being high in calories, but it’s other nutrient content definitely outweighs this as an issue. You only need half of an avocado to count towards one of your portions of fruit and vegetables per day. Alongside good fat, avocado is also high in vitamin E, both of  which are effective in reducing tissue inflammation. High intensity exercise can sometimes cause this to occur, so it is good for athletes to include good quantities of this in their diet. In addition the high content of potassium and folic acid help in muscle growth and repair. Vitamin C aids a healthy immune system and magnesium helps with the proper functioning of the nervous system.

In addition to the above, avocado also contains lutein, an antioxidant which has been proven to help protect against damage to eyes, and the development of cataracts. Now I know my eyes don’t work well but it is still important to keep them as healthy as possible. So this is yet another great reason to include avocados in my diet.

How I prepare it

Firstly, check that the avocado is ripe enough to eat. If you squeeze it, it should give a little. If it is too firm, it will not be nice to eat.

Slice the avocado in half lengthways by cutting into the flesh and running the blade around the stone. Twist the 2 halves until one separates from the stone. Slice both halves in half again and the 2 quarters still on the stone should now easily come away. They may need a little encouragement.

Now peel back the skin from the flesh. You should be able to do this with your fingers if you are gentle enough, and the flesh is soft, but you may need a little help from a sharp knife, if it is proving tricky.

Slice the flesh in to appropriate size pieces, or mash with a fork depending on what you are using it for. Enjoy.

I just love eating avocado. If I see it on a menu, it will generally sway me to choosing that dish. I’m always looking for different ways to sneak it in to my diet. My favourite has to be on toast with eggs, or salmon, or both if I’m very lucky! What is your favourite way to enjoy avocado? Do you have a favourite recipe you would like to share?  Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Thank you for reading and speak soon,

Lora



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