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Thursday, September 18 2008

Avocados used to get a bad rap - they have fat. Yep, they sure do. But it is the kind we need in our diet. It is a monounsaturated fat, which helps to lower your LDL (lousy cholesterol). Avocados are also an excellent source of fiber and Vitamin B6 and have twice the potassium of bananas.

Avocados are versatile, but are also somewhat fragile. You can ripen them quickly by placing them in a brown bag for a couple of days. Once ripe, however, they bruise easily so do require a little bit of tender handling and should be eaten soon after they ripen.

There are many ways you can add avocado to your meal choices beyond guacamole. Not that I don't like guacamole, because I do and can't imagine a taco or fajita without it. As an example, avocado is now a standard ingredient in California Rolls as a Sushi selection.

Salads: A favorite in our house is a marinated avocado salad: Diced red onions, quartered Roma tomatoes, cubed avocado tossed with a 3:1 mix of oil (canola or olive) to rice wine vinegar. Serve on a bed of mixed greens. It is so light and refreshing.

Stuffed: Use the avocado as a serving dish. Fill an avocado half with chunks of crab or shrimp and a drizzle of 1000 Island dressing. Consider chicken or tuna salad as a filling also.

Breakfast: My favorite in-a-hurry breakfast is a slice of whole wheat and flax bread toasted. Top with slices of avocado, spread them like butter and a sprinkle of seasoning salt. It is just perfect - quick and filling.

Toppings: I put slices of avocado on top of chili or tortilla soup. With a dot of sour cream and a sprinkle of Monterey Jack cheese it is the perfect finishing touch. It is also an excellent burger condiment. I make a turkey burger and mix salsa in with the meat. Grill, melt your favorite cheese and top with a slice or two of avocado.

Sandwiches: How about sliced avocado on a Club sandwich, or a BLT, or turkey, or roast beef? You get the idea. I also make a melt sandwich - slices of sourdough bread topped with sliced turkey or chicken (tuna salad is also wonderful), thinly sliced tomatoes and red onions. Top with sliced avocado and grated swiss (Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, or Sharp Cheddar work well also). Pop under the broiler and serve open face. With some fresh fruit, this is a good for you and filling lunch.

Sweets: Yes, avocado is used in sweet, not just savory, recipes. I make avocado bread (like a zucchini bread) and you would never know. I have not tasted avocado pie but the reviews are always excellent. In South America, avocado shakes (avocado with milk and ice blended like a shake) it is a fairly traditional offering.

There is still no substitute for a bowl of guacamole with fresh tortilla chips. I would take it any day over sour cream dip. But the next time you have some avocados in the house consider some of these ideas for a special taste treat.

Judy Ferril is a freelance writer in Minneapolis. Are you a stranger in your own kitchen? Do you think eating healthy means no fun or flavor in your meals? Judy is the self-trained executive chef for the Ferril family and loves to share her passion for cooking and healthy foods with others. Join Judy Ferril at Baking With Lemons. What does baking and lemons have to do with fun, flavor, and health? Come see, stretch your imagination and enjoy new tastes and flavors at Baking with Lemons and Local Food Connections for fun and healthy local food options. Judy Ferril

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 09:25 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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