Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave without access to the internet, you know that avocados are experiencing an unprecedented moment of glory.
Once mistakenly thought of as an artery-clogging, fatty fruit that should be avoided, avocados are now enjoying their new-found celebrity as one of the healthiest foods we can eat. I couldn’t be happier as a chef, health and fitness advocate and avocado FREAK!
The avocado tree is native to the Americas, thriving from Mexico to Colombia when first encountered by Europeans in the 15th century.
I thought I was pretty well versed in avocados until I was in Hawaii last year and got to hang with the Fruit Hunter, Ken Love, and got schooled on the myriad of varieties of avocado indigenous to the Hawaiian islands. I couldn’t believe it. I was in avocado heaven.
Turns out there are hundreds of varieties. So the obvious question is: how can there be hundreds of varieties of avocados and only one dish made with them? (Guacamole, right?)
I’m here to put on my chef’s hat and share 8 things to do with avocados that aren’t guacamole.
My day nearly always starts with avocado. Just cutting into the fruit and seeing that gorgeous pastel yellow-green flesh puts a smile on my face. The easiest way to get that goodness into your gut is to use it as a creamy base for a green smoothie.
I’ll toss avocado, kale, ginger, banana, honey and almond milk in the blender for a silky smooth, filling breakfast.
2. Avocado toast
This is a classic. I happen not to eat gluten, so rather than bread, I use toasted nori and add some avocado, a few thin slivers of jalapeño, a squeeze of lime, cilantro and crunchy sea salt.
For the adventurous, add some radish or radish sprouts or even some good-quality canned tuna with olive oil.
3. Lettuce with avocado vinaigrette
I love bibb, butter and Boston lettuces. To amp up a simple salad, I use avocado as the base for a vinaigrette.
Put an avocado, a clove of garlic, some lemon or lime juice, a little full-fat organic kefir, some green herbs like basil or tarragon and extra virgin olive oil into a blender and blend until smooth.
Toss with the lettuce and herbs, cherry tomatoes and sunflower seeds or nuts.
4. Avocado salad
Dice an avocado into half-inch chunks, drizzle with coconut oil, lime juice and add some hearts of palm, a little cilantro, mint and basil and some thinly sliced shallots.
5. Grilled avocado
Yup. I cut the fruit in quarters, leaving it in the skin, then season with salt and pepper and grill lightly on all sides, then serve with a sprinkle of Japanese togarashi spice, a squeeze of lemon and some sea salt and sesame oil.
6. Avocado cups
Scoop the flesh out of the fruit, dice it up and toss with some grapefruit, fresh herbs, olive oil and spoon it back into the skin. If you’re into dairy, a little burrata or fresh mozzarella make a decadent addition and a perfect little snack.
7. Chilled soup
This is a delicious summery starter. It will oxidize after a little while, so it’s best made and served within a few hours.
In the blender, blend a few avocados, garlic, kefir or coconut milk, toss in some cilantro and coconut oil, season with salt and pepper and chill quickly in the fridge. Serve with thin slices of Serrano chilies a drizzle of olive oil and top with cilantro leaves.
8. Scrambled eggs …
…and avocado. This is a favorite and it’s not just for breakfast. I actually love eggs for lunch or dinner — and avocado just makes it that much better. I whisk a few eggs, then sauté some vegetables over low heat in olive oil.
Maybe some shallot rings, summer squash, green beans, then I add in the eggs and gently fold them together. When they are nearly set, but still a little wet, I add diced avocado. For a supercharged meal, add a tablespoon of chia seeds to your eggs 5 minutes before scrambling them.
These are by no means precise recipes. The wonderful thing about cooking is that it’s about expression and improvisation. If you don’t like cilantro, try basil!
Cook from the heart, cook for the body and cook with love. And remember #realfoodheals!