AVOCADOS AS A SUPERFOOD
The avocado is considered a “superfood” to the diet and health industries.
Although the term “Superfood” used by widely esteemed medical experts such as the Mayo Clinic, it is still difficult to get concrete definition for this widely used term.
Scientists and nutritionists at the Institute of Food Technologists, the leading professional society in food science, recognize that some foods by their basic nature pack a healthy punch by adding vitamins and minerals, cancer-fighting antioxidants and other healthy components. The institute, however, cautions that the term “superfood” can be misused as a marketing tool.
According to the Mayo Clinic, superfoods 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.
Many foods that are traditionally known to be good for you, such as leafy greens, nuts and berries, appear on most superfood lists. Some newer lists delightfully feature the creamy, nutritious avocado.
Avocados are a delicious and versatile fruit. Although primarily grown in California, avocados are actually widely available year-round.
This interesting little fruit (yes, it’s a fruit, not a vegetable — the same confusion as with the tomato) used to have a bad reputation because of its’ high fat content, but now it is recognized that avocados have the desirable monounsaturated fats, the same kind found in olive oil.
Avocados in the Kitchen
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.
- After opening the avocado, its flesh can darken, but a little toss with lemon juice will help.
For years, most diners equated avocados only the familiar 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.
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.
- In a small bowl, gently toss diced avocado with lemon. The lemon juice will add flavor and also keep the diced avocado from discoloring.
- With a sharp paring knife, cut shrimp into bite sized pieces, 2 or 3 pieces.
- 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 whole few cilantro leaves. Serve immediately, or chill in the refrigerator for up to an hour.