A Guide to Avocados – Cooking and Preparing the Healthy Avocado

avocado.JPGAvocados are familiar in guacamole, and perhaps in some of those California-style dishes, but far too many cooks are still shying away from using them at home.

What you might not realize is that there are significant health benefits to cooking with this fruit.

Not only are avocados rich in vitamins C and E, but they are also full of the “good” kind of fat, which can lower cholesterol and leave you feeling full and satisfied.

This guide to avocados will help you learn how to prepare and enjoy the tasty green avocado.

What Are Avocados?

Many people assume that avocados are a vegetable because they aren’t sweet. However, avocados are actually a fruit – specifically, a berry. They grow on trees, but they won’t ripen on the branch. To become usable in cooking, the fruit must be picked and allowed to ripen at room temperature. The avocado needs warm temperatures with little to no frost, and is mostly grown in Mexico, Florida, and California.

Selecting Avocados

If you’re buying avocados, look for a dimpled green skin free of deep depressions. When you squeeze the fruit gently, it should yield to the touch if it is fully ripe. If your avocado is still hard, allow it to ripen at room temperature until it yields gently to a squeeze. Brown patches on the skin are totally normal, and don’t impact the flavor of the fruit. If your avocado feels mushy or the surface is cracked, the fruit has begun to decay.

How Do You Prepare Avocados?

When eating avocados, the skin is removed and the soft fleshy part inside is eaten. The easiest way to prepare avocados is to cut them in half, remove the large pit, and scoop out the flesh or simply strip away the peel. If you are serving the avocado raw, sprinkling it will lemon juice will prevent unsightly browning.

How Can You Use Avocados?

• Raw Avocados: The easiest way to serve avocado is to simply enjoy it raw. You can eat avocados in slices, serve on crackers, or use it as a garnish for sandwiches or salads. You can also fill half an avocado with shrimp, garlic dip, or garden vegetables for an easy, healthy, and attractive meal.

• Dips and Sauces: Create your own homemade guacamole for a Mexican dinner, or blend with tangerines and pepper for a delicious sauce. You can also create salad dressing, avocado mayonnaise, dipping sauce, and even green ketchup with avocados.

• Baked Avocado: Avocados taste delicious when baked, especially if they are mixed with cheese, walnuts, and/or bacon. Avocados also make a great ingredient in lasagna and other baked pastas.

Avocados are healthy and flexible, and well worth working into your staples of favorite foods in the kitchen. Try adding avocados to some of your favorite recipes today.

And why not check out the handy Avocado slicer to help you keep your slices neat and even.