Avocado – the Hip, Healthy, “Gotta Have It” Superfood
Avocado is on the very top when talking about sexy “Superfood” in the food and diet industry.
“Superfood” is a term used by food nerds to define those fruits, vegetables or substances that by their very nature pack a super healthy punch by adding vitamins and minerals, cancer-fighting antioxidants and other components that keep you on top of your game.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a superfood must meet at least three of the following five criteria:
- Be a great source of fiber, minerals and other nutrients;
- Be high in phytonutrients
- Assist in reducing heart disease and other illnesses;
- Have a low caloric density; and
- Be readily available.
Phyto” refers to the Greek word for plant. The plants with these compounds protect the plants from insects and the sun.
Any foods that are traditionally known to be good for you, such as leafy greens, nuts and berries, appear on most superfood lists.
Currently, the avocado is leading the pack. Delightfully creamy, versatile and nutritious, avocados can add a lot of excitement to your menu.
This interesting little fruit (yes, it’s a fruit, not a vegetable — the same brain twister as the tomato) used to have a bad reputation because of its high fat content, but now it is recognized that these small delicious delights pack a heavy dietary punch with the desirable monounsaturated fats, the same kind found in olive oil.
Follow these simple tricks when working with avocados. Run a sharp knife around the pit longways, and twist to halve. Using your knife, rap the pit with the blade; it should be slightly imbedded. A quarter twist will loosen the pit cleanly. SEE VIDEO!!
After opening the avocado, its flesh can darken, but a little toss with lemon juice will help. Although most diners are familiar with the old standby guacamole — a spicy dip made simply from the mashed flesh of the avocado mixed with spices and lime juice — the ideas below add interest to this “super” ingredient.
This avocado recipe for Stuffed Shrimp Salad is beautiful, easy and perfect for a lunch or even an appetizer in an indulgent dinner menu. Just make sure you remember the lemon/acid trick to prevent the beautiful avocado flesh from darkening.
AVOCADO STUFFED SHRIMP SALAD
- 1 dozen medium shrimp peeled and deveined
- 2 tablespoons seafood boil spices like Old Bay or Zatarain’s
- 1 ripe avocado halved and flesh diced (avocado half skins left intact)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro chopped
- 1 rib celery diced
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
- In a large saucepan, boil 1 quart water with seafood spice. Add the prepared shrimp to the boiling water, return to boil, cover, and remove from heat.
- Cook’s note: The shrimp just needs to cook until opaque to remain tender and sweet. Sitting in the hot water about 5 minutes should be sufficient.
- In a small bowl, gently toss diced avocado with lemon. The lemon juice will add flavor and also keep the diced avocado from discoloring.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the mayo, seasoning, celery and cilantro. Add shrimp and toss with dressing, stirring gently to combine. Stuff the avocado skins with the mixture and garnish with a few cilantro leaves. Serve immediately, or chill in the refrigerator for up to an hour.
There are SO many great cherry tomatoes on the market now – red, yellow, orange, purple – that this makes an awesome and gorgeous appetizer plate. Love the peppers for the “fuses” of the Cherry Tomato Bombs.
CHERRY TOMATO BOMBS
- 32 cherry tomatoes
- 4 teaspoons Sriracha chili sauce divided use (your favorite hot sauce can be substituted)
- 1/2 cup cream cheese softened
- 1 ripe fresh avocado, peeled and seeded
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 32 1/2-inch long thin strips red bell pepper or chili pepper (for spicier appetizers and the peppers for FUSES)
- With a sharp knife, cut a small slice off the top of each cherry tomato. Using a melon baller or small spoon, hollow out the center of each tomato, discarding seeds and juice. If the tomatoes will not stand up, cut a very thin slice off the bottom so they are flat.
- Blend cream cheese and Sriracha sauce well. Spoon mixture into a zip-close bag, clip a small edge off the bag, and fill each tomato about halfway with cheese mixture.
- Halve avocado and remove seed. Cut the flesh into 1/4-inch cubes, and toss with fresh lemon juice to prevent the fruit from discoloring. Place avocado cubes on top of the cream cheese in each tomato, pushing down gently.
- If desired, add a generous drop of Sriracha on top of each tomato, and insert a pepper strip to look like a cherry bomb fuse. Serve.
The days of only one kind of slaw, the sweet mayonnaise weeping shredded cabbage of old has been updated in a million different ways. Here, we use the innate creaminess of the avocado to bind the slaw and add flavor. Don’t knock it ’til you try it! All the fresh ingredients add a terrific kick.
CREAMY AVOCADO SLAW
- 1 ripe avocado diced
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped
- 1/2 whole jalapeno pepper finely diced and seeded
- 1 tablespoon lime juice freshly squeezed
- 1/2 tablespoon honey agave or preferred sweetener
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups 1 bag shredded cabbage
- In a blender, puree the avocado, sour cream, cilantro, jalapeno pepper, lime juice and sweetener until smooth. Season dressing with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with a few spoonfuls of the avocado puree until lightly coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.