I’ve lived in my home for forty-seven years and for most of that time we had an enormous Haas avocado tree in our back yard. Talk about an embarrassment of riches! In addition to the abundance of avocados we had to eat and give away year after year, we also had the prettiest possums in the neighborhood–their coats silken and glossy from feasting on our tree’s crop. Then, a few years ago, the tree went into a decline and I had to have it removed. That was a dark day. To my great chagrin, I am now (avocado) treeless. Bummer.
I have not lost my taste for avocados though, and, thanks to Costco, I’m able to keep my fruit bowl well-stocked. That is a very good thing since avocados are a healthy food choice.
Avocados, technically a single-seeded berry, are a sodium-free and cholesterol-free fruit that acts as a nutrient booster by increasing the body’s ability to absorb a number of vitamins including vitamins A, D. K, and E. Avocados are also a nutrient-dense food. According to the California Avocado Commission, a fifth of an avocado contains only 50 calories but delivers nearly twenty vitamins and minerals to the human body. (Who, by the way, was the person at the CAC who concluded that a fifth of an avocado was a serving? NO ONE has the willpower to eat just one-fifth of an avocado! Ever. Am I right about this?)
A native to Central America, the Haas avocados most commonly grown here in southern California are related to avocados that originated in Guatemala and contain almost no sugar or starch. A Haas avocado can contain as much as 30% oil–making it one of the fattiest plant foods in existence. Harold McGee in his book Of Food and Cooking says that, at 30% oil content, the avocado can be compared to a piece of well-marbled meat. Don’t despair, though. The health advantage of the avocado’s oil (over that of meat) is that it is largely monounsaturated–the “good fat” as the Haas Avocado Board and numerous health experts like to point out. The oil in avocados is generally credited with a number of health benefits including the reduction of inflammation in the body and the reduction of LDL bad cholesterol.
To maximize the health benefits of eating avocados, the experts recommend that you select an avocado with a “slight neck” rather than one that is rounded at the top. The slight neck is an indication that the avocado was ripened on the tree and predicts that the avocado will have a better flavor than one that is picked unripe. Those experts also recommend that you carefully peel your avocado to protect the darker green flesh that lies just below the avocado’s skin, flesh that is particularly rich in healthy carotenoids. To do this, the California Avocado Commission suggests that you use the “nick and peel” method: “Cut the avocado lengthwise. Hold both halves and twist them in opposite directions until they separate. Remove the seed and cut each of the halves lengthwise into long quarter sections. Using your thumb and index finger, grip the edge of the skin on each quarter and peel it off, the same way you do with a banana skin.”
Apparently, avocados’ benefits go beyond nutrition, too. A “Healthy Living” column in The Huffington Post credits the fruit with properties that can help repair damaged hair, moisturize dry skin, treat sunburn and minimize wrinkles. I’m so onto that last one!
Here is an excellent avocado salad dressing recipe. I’ve been wanting to find a good avocado-cilantro salad dressing for a very long time. The marriage of avocado and cilantro has seemed like a natural to me.
I think you will enjoy this dressing.
10 minPrep Time
10 minTotal Time
- 3/4 C. milk
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 1/4 C. fresh cilantro (chopped)
- 1 fresh medium jalapeño pepper (seeds removed) chopped
- 1 medium Haas avocado
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- 2 T. chopped green onion
- Juice of one lime
- 1/8 t. ground cumin
- 1/4 t. ground pepper
- 1/2 t. kosher salt
- Put all of the ingredients into your blender and blend until smooth.
- You can leave the seeds in the jalapeño pepper if you want your dressing a bit more spicy.
You can add extra milk to the dressing to thin it.
My recipe is an adaptation of one that appeared on the Skinny Taste blog. Here is a link to the original recipe: Zesty Avocado Cilantro Buttermilk Dressing