I grew up surrounded by avocado trees. There were seventy-five of them on our heavenly acre of orchard in Santa Barbara, California. I’m told avocados were my first solid food – and believe me, it was love at first bite! These friendly fat fruits are a mainstay of my diet and belong on the top shelf of any raw pantry. In Dan’s and my new book, Raw Food for Dummies, I cover all sorts of information about avocados as well as some fabulous recipes, two of which are reproduced here. Avocados have so many health benefits; the fact that they’re so delicious is almost a side note to why we should eat them. But – like so much else on our beautiful planet – they make healthy living delicious!
The typical avocado is about 250 calories, 75% of which are fat calories. But wait – almost all of an avocado’s fat is monounsaturated – the kind we need to process the other less desirable kinds. In fact, avocados are proven to decrease LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (helpful cholesterol). Did you know avocados have more potassium than bananas do? And extracts of avocado are being researched as aiding in the reversal of hypertension and diabetes mellitus. And a new study out of Japan suggests that avocados may have an antibacterial component. Avocados are truly amazing. Here is one of my favorite avocado recipes (also featured on page 128 of Raw Food for Dummies, along with easy to follow instructions on how to pit and peel them):
Yield: 2 servings
1 cup orange juice
2 cups stemmed and chopped kale or other dark leafy greens
1 small cucumber, peeled and chopped
1⁄4 cup fresh parsley, basil, or dill weed
1 tablespoon light miso
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1⁄2 teaspoon garlic, crushed (1 clove)
1⁄2 green onion, chopped
1⁄2 avocado, peeled and pitted
Filtered water as needed for desired consistency
1 Combine the orange juice, kale, cucumber, herbs, miso, lemon juice, garlic, and green onion. Blend the mixture until smooth.
2 Add the avocado and blend again — no more than 1 minute — until smooth.
The avocado originates in Mexico, the earliest reference to which dates around 10,000 BC. The avocado tree also has a long history of cultivation in both Central and South America, with an avocado shaped urn found near the pre-Incan city of Chan Chan dating from 900 AD. The domesticated avocado tree we know today is descended from these ancient roots and provides us with this irresistible treat. Beside being a creamy, delicious alternative to dairy foods like sour cream and butter, not to mention making a wonderful base for chocolaty raw treats, the avocado is perhaps best know for its place in south of the border style cuisine. One of my favorite avocado recipes of this sort is Avocado-Pineapple Salsa found in Raw Food for Dummies on page 198:
Yield: 3 servings
1⁄2 cup diced pineapple
2 Roma tomatoes, finely diced
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1⁄4-inch cubes
1⁄2 cup peeled, seeded, and finely diced cucumber
1⁄4 cup packed chopped cilantro
1 green onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1⁄2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1 1⁄2 teaspoons lime juice
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 Put all the ingredients into a bowl and stir to mix.
Avocados are so special to me. My history with them is so close to my heart when I remember my childhood and my father’s avocado trees. And I love all the ways I can incorporate them – my first food – into so many delicious raw dishes. Avocados are so satisfying and such a sensual food. They are truly one of the best, most comforting and healthy things we get to keep with us as we embark on our raw journey. Enjoy!