Sept. 16 is “Guacamole Day” and a time to highlight the health benefits and versatility of avocados, along with how to choose and prepare them.
What are the health benefits?
An avocado is a fruit, not a vegetable, and can be used as a heart-healthy fat. There was a time when avocados were avoided due to the total fat content thought to be unhealthy. Now we know that avocados contain healthy monounsaturated fat, which can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and maintain or possibly increase HDL (good) cholesterol. An avocado is high in vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, potassium, vitamins E and K, folate, vitamin B6 and C and fiber. Avocados have phytochemicals which protect our cells from damage. A fresh avocado is sodium free.
How do I select, store and prepare an avocado?
Look for avocados with firm skin, no soft spots and yields to gentle pressure. You can store unripe avocados in a brown paper bag at room temperature. When it is ripe, store in the refrigerator for two to three days. Prepare an avocado by cutting it in half, twisting the two halves and then remove the pit. You can then scoop out the flesh or remove the skin with a knife. Rub the avocados with lemon or lime juice to retain the green color if not eating right away.
Versatility of an avocado and ways to enjoy
Avocados can be mashed for guacamole. Mash and spread on sandwiches in place of mayo. Slice an avocado and add to the lettuce and tomato on a sandwich. Chop or dice and add to salads. Chop and add to an omelet or into a stir-fry, mix into deviled eggs, or just slice and eat. By adding to a smoothie, the mashed avocado makes it rich and creamy.
On this day designated to guacamole, try one of these recipes below. The next time you are at the grocery store, pick out an avocado to try.
Makes 4 servings
5 cherry tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced (to taste)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Dash of salt, to taste
Dash of pepper, to taste
Remove pit and peel from avocado and mash in a small bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well combined. Enjoy with your favorite tortilla chips.
Nutrition analysis per serving (does not include salt or pepper): 80 calories, 8 g fat, 1 g protein, 3 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 0 mg sodium
Makes 4 servings
½ cup raisins
1 large red apple
2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. walnuts
Soak raisins in water for five minutes and drain. Add to bowl.
Slice avocado in half and remove pit. Cut flesh of avocado into small cubes, then scoop flesh out of skin.
Core and cut apple into cubes. Add apple and avocado cubes to bowl.
Drizzle honey and walnuts over mixture in bowl. Stir together to combine.
Nutrition analysis per serving: 230 calories, 12 g fat, 3 g protein, 33 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 0 mg sodium
Shrimp avocado taco salad recipe
Makes 4 servings
- ⅓ cup packed cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup lime juice
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp. honey
- ½ tsp. chili powder
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- ½ lb. jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 10 oz. chopped romaine lettuce
- ½ cup shredded red cabbage
- ½ cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 avocado, chopped
- Blue corn tortilla chips, crushed
Combine cilantro leaves, lime juice, olive oil, honey, chili powder and salt and pepper in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Place 3 tbsp. of mixture and shrimp in a plastic bag and marinate in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Reserve remaining dressing to top salad
Once shrimp have marinated, divide batch in two halves. In hot skillet, sear shrimp for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until just barely cooked through. Repeat for both halves of batch.
Divide lettuce and red cabbage between plates and top with avocados, tomatoes, sautéed shrimp, and crushed tortilla chips. Drizzle prepared dressing on top and serve immediately.
Nutrition analysis per serving: 640 calories, 39 g fat, 18 g protein, 59 g carbohydrate, 10 g fiber, 830 mg sodium
Michelle Sedlacek is a Gundersen Health System registered dietitian
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