It is no secret that I love avocados. I will find a way to put it into just about anything, and I mean anything. I turn it into pudding. I sneak it into cookies, cakes, and banana bread. I smear it on sandwiches. I crack an egg into it and bake it. I whisk it into a salad dressing. I turn it into a vegan enchilada sauce. I have not yet tried it in my morning Greek yogurt, but now that you have me thinking of the idea, it just may need to happen.
Still, I’ve found many people are a little put off by avocados, unsure of which ones are ripe and how to choose one, intimidated by the obtrusive pit in the middle, befuddled by how to coax it out of its shell, and all of this before they even have to think about what to do with it once it’s all prepped and ready, sitting in a green lump on their countertop. I was given the opportunity to host an avocado-centered event this summer, and I thought, what better way to help people overcome their reservations and clear up some confusion? I’m in a remarkably fortunate position at the store to interact with a lot of people every day in the context of living healthier lives, and so that’s exactly what I did.
ripen one quickly. Let’s face it: avocados can be finnicky. Not quite as finnicky, I’d say, as the elusive pear, which sits rock-hard in your fruit bowl for a millenium before it ripens for 2 hours and then goes bad (please tell me I’m not alone here). But nonetheless, avocados can be finnicky, too. There are a few tricks I’ve picked up along the way:
- If you won’t need an avocado for several days, choose one that’s fairly firm and yields only the slightest bit to pressure. Take it home and store it at room temperature until it ripens.
- If you need it immediately, you’re going to have to hope the supermarket has a few ready-to-go avocados, which isn’t all that common. These are soft and pliable but not overly-wrinkled. Flick the stem off and peak underneath: if it’s green, it should be ok; if it’s brown, it might be past its prime.
- Ripe avocados will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.
- If you don’t think you’ll get around to using it in time, cut it open (we’ll get to that in a minute), mash it up with some lemon or lime juice, portion it out into ice cube trays (1 cube = 1/4 avocado), and freeze for later.
- If your unripe avocado isn’t cooperating, and it’s still rock-hard the day before you need it, pop it in a brown paper bag with either an apple or a banana. These fruits release ethylene gas, which helps ripen other fruit and should make your avocado soften up a little more quickly.
crack one open. All you need is a knife, a cutting board, and a ripe avocado. You want to cut it in half length-wise (as shown in the picture), working around the pit like you would if you need to halve a peach. Gently twist the two halves apart. One will have the pit still attached. You have three options for getting it out: carefully (carefully!) wedge a sharp knife into the center of the pit and lift it out; use a spoon to pry it out (warning: it may go flying); or just dig in with your hands (guess which one I usually opt for). The riper it is, the more easily the pit will come out, but even under-ripe avocados can be managed fairly easily. From here, you can get the avocado flesh out of the shell in a few ways:
- The easiest is to just scoop it out with a spoon; this is fine if you’ll be mashing it up.
- If you need it to be neatly sliced, take your knife and slice through the flesh without cutting through the avocado skin, and scoop out the slices with a spoon.
- For dicing (squares of avocado), make a hatchmark design (slice it horizontally as before, then make additional vertical slices to divide it into squares), then scoop it out with a spoon.
- You could also probably just cut straight through the skin and peel it off later, but scooping has always worked for me.
love one today. Rich in monounsaturated fats (those are the heart-healthy ones that we want more of) and nearly 20 vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (a fancy name for good stuff found in plants), avocados kind of rock. You can eat a quarter of one for just about 50 calories and half of one for right around 100. The texture is smooth and creamy and the flavor is neutral with just the slightest hint of butter, so it’s enormously satisfying and can give your taste buds the impression of indulgence. Incorporating healthy fats into your meals and snacks can make you feel fuller and more satisfied, it can aid in weight loss, lower cholesterol levels, and even help blunt the effect that carbohydrates have on blood sugar levels. Really, what’s not to love? But in case you need more convincing, let me count the ways I love to eat avocados:
- when baking, replace butter with an equal volume of avocado.
- …and while you’re at it, replace the butter in frosting recipes with it, too! (try chocolate first if the green color weirds you out.)
- whisk with lime juice and cilantro (or chili powder, or lemon juice, or vinegar, or Mrs. Dash seasoning or…) for a creamy dressing, sauce, or dip.
- add to your morning smoothie for the perfect consistency.
- spread it on sandwiches instead of mayo or cheese.
- mix it into pasta (or quinoa!) salads instead of mayo.
- make deviled eggs or egg salad with less, or no, mayo.
- …in fact, just use it instead of mayo, period!
- use avocado oil for all your high-heat cooking – it’s heat stable and nutritious!
- brush sliced avocado with avocado oil and grill to enjoy as skewers or as part of a delicious summer salad.
- or, just dice it, raw, and add it to your favorite summer salads!
- mash it on whole grain toast and top with tuna and grape tomato halves.
- …or scoop out an avocado shell and stuff it with the avocado, tuna, and tomato instead!
- turn it into a simple guac, or a fancy guac (tomatoes, black beans, even pomegranate seeds pair well), or a lighter guac (combine it with green peas, Greek yogurt, or cottage cheese).
- make a creamy, chilled soup when it’s too hot to cook.
- whip up a batch (or two, or three, or…) of my favorite chocolate avocado pudding.
- then use that pudding to make rocky road oatmeal!
- crack an egg into 1⁄2 avocado (you may need to scoop out some flesh first) and bake it at 425 until set, 15-20 minutes.
- make marshmallows…yes, seriously!
- And while we’re on the topic of decadent, how about some avocado pop tarts?
- churn up some avocado ice cream.
- wrap it up in your favorite sushi or sliced across sashimi!
- mash one into a package of extra-lean ground turkey breast and form into patties to get juicy, flavorful burgers without pesky saturated fat!
- put it on top of chicken.
- …or just eat it with a spoon!
In case that wasn’t enough avocado love for you, you can always peruse the love one today website. But I think this blog post is quite long enough for today!
Although I did receive financial compensation for writing this post, all views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely and entirely my own and based on my own unique experiences. For nutrition information on avocados, please be sure to visit the LoveOneToday.com website.