The In-Season-Every-Season Avocado

Very few garden––or field or orchard––foods are in season all year round. The fruit of the avocado tree, is available all through the year. That’s good news for those of us who love the deliciously smooth, buttery texture and flavor of this interesting––even mysterious––food.

California and Mexico are the largest producers of this healthful delight, but Peru is catching up in their avocado production. Smaller producers grow avocado in Florida and Texas. Along with its flavor, this amazing food––frequently labeled ‘nature’s perfect food’––has many health properties. Let’s check them out:

• The unusually high fiber content weighs in at about 7% by weight. This means that about 25% soluble fiber (excellent for feeding good gut bacteria) and 75% insoluble fiber (valuable for lowering heart disease and blood sugar levels and maintaining healthy weight).

• The mighty avocado provides about 20 essential nutrients such as Vitamins A, C, D, E, K and B-complex vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, B-6, B-12 and folic acid), and potassium.

• More than three-quarters of the avocado’s calories come from fat, thankfully, it’s the heart- healthy monounsaturated fat (oleic-acid) that lowers inflammation and has shown a lowering of risk for some types of cancer.

• New studies are finding that avocados are improving lipid profiles. Including avocado in the daily diet is showing a significant reduction in total serum cholesterol.

• Brain studies are suggesting that the nutrients in an avocado (Omega-3 fatty acids) may contribute to reducing and perhaps reversing symptoms of memory loss and early stages of brain related diseases.

• The Journal of Nutrition published a study indicating that eating an avocado with raw carrots and tomato sauce greatly enhanced the absorption of alpha and beta-carotene and their conversion to an active form of Vitamin A. (Life Extension, January 2018)

Perfect Pairings

The amazing avocado pairs nicely with nearly any recipe you choose. From toast to tacos, to eggs or enchiladas, the avocado compliments almost any food. Its versatility ranges from soups, salads or sauces, and can be sliced, diced and mashed!

These are a couple of my favorite Summer recipes using avocado:

Fruity Avocado Salsa

Serves 2-4

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1 medium avocado, slightly firm, peeled, pitted and diced

1 medium mango, peeled, pitted and diced

3-4 large strawberries (about 1cup), hulled and diced

1/4 red onion, diced

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

1 teaspoon jalapeño, finely chopped *if you like “hot” increase to 1-Tablespoon

Juice of 1/2 a lime

Sea salt to taste

• Combine in medium mixing bowl: avocado, mango, strawberries, onion, cilantro, onion and lime juice.

• Season with salt to taste

• Serve with tortilla chips, chicken, fish or pork; Salsa is best served soon after it is made.

Grilled Avocados

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Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon lime juice

2 large ripe avocados, halved, seeded and peeled (about 1 pound total)

1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/8 teaspoon salt

1⁄4 cup bottled picanté sauce

1 ounce Monterey Jack or farmer cheese, shredded or crumbled (1/4 cup)

Snipped fresh cilantro

Salad greens (optional)

Bottled picanté sauce (optional)

Dairy sour cream (optional)

· Stir together olive oil and lime juice. Brush avocados all over with olive oil mixture. Sprinkle cut sides of avocados with salt.

· For a charcoal grill, grill avocado halves, cut side down on a rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals for 5 minutes or until browned. Turn avocado halves, cut side up. Fill centers of avocado halves with the 1⁄4 cup picanté sauce and shredded cheese. Cover grill and grill about 5 minutes more or until cheese begins to melt. (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place avocado halves on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as above.)

· Remove avocados from grill. Sprinkle tops of avocado halves with snipped cilantro. If desired, serve on a bed of salad greens with additional picanté sauce and sour cream.

How to Pit and Peel Perfectly

· Pick avocados that are uniform in color and give slightly when pressed with fingertips.

· Halve avocado lengthwise and twist to separate. Remove pit by gently striking it with a heavy knife and then turning the avocado slightly to release the pit.

· Peel the skin as you would a banana, or score flesh with a small knife and gently separate from skin with a spoon, then scoop out.

Summer is a great season to let your creative culinary juices flow. Experiment with the best of

the garden and make it a ‘guac n roll’ summer!

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