I never grew up with avocados, so I had to learn to like them. They aren’t particularly attractive and back then, green foods were not appealing. Today, however, I appreciate the awesome attributes and versatility of the avocado. They are a natural superfood.
Although some deem avocados a vegetable, they’re actually a fleshy, creamy, buttery fruit that’s grown in warmer climates. There are oodles of varieties that come in different flavors, textures, shapes, colors, and sizes. So why are people so crazy about avocados? Well, the taste is phenomenal, and they are the superstar in a gazillion recipes.
Avocados are high in omega 3 fatty acids, in fact, 77% of their calories come from fat. But, it’s the good fats that lower cholesterol and improve heart health. They are a great source of vitamins, including K, E, C, B5, and B6. They also contain decent amounts of magnesium, manganese, niacin, folate, riboflavin, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, pantothenic acid, oleic acid, and beta-carotene.
Oleic acid has been linked to reducing inflammation, like that in arthritis. It’s also an excellent source of carotenoid lutein, which reduces the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. They also contain glutathione which is a powerful antioxidant that supports our immune systems. Contrary to their creamy texture avocados are loaded with fiber, which contributes to weight loss, sugar balance, improved digestion and lowering cholesterol.
Avocados fit into any diet plan, from a raw vegan to meat eaters. I have a few avocados in my diet every week. They blend so nicely into any meal, and you can do so much with them. The web is saturated with lots of nutritious and delicious recipes for dips, sauces, sandwiches, soups, drinks, smoothies, casseroles, hummus, and of course guacamole. Here’s one of my favorite recipes.
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 whole wheat or regular (or both) pita breads, cut in half
Flaky sea salt
1 large ripe avocado, coarsely chopped
1/2 packed cup arugula
1 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 packed cup cilantro
1/3 packed cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
Juice of one lemon
Juice of half a lime
1 garlic clove, smashed
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
A few dashes of hot sauce or cayenne pepper, optional
To make the pita chips, position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a pastry brush, brush both sides of the pita halves with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Cut each half into 8 wedges and place them on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for about 15 – 18 minutes or until they are crisp and browned.
To make the hummus, place the avocado, arugula, beans, cilantro, lemon juice, lime juice, garlic, chili powder, salt and pepper into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the processor until the mixture is coarsely chopped. With the food processor on, slowly stream the olive oil into the processor and process until the mixture is creamy. Taste for seasonings, add the hot sauce or cayenne pepper and more salt and pepper if needed. Pulse the machine a few times to incorporate any additional seasonings.
Add the mixture to a serving bowl. Serve the pita chips on the side. Enjoy!