Avocado on toast. Who saw that craze coming?! It has swept the UK and has placed the humble avo at the forefront of healthy eating and dairy alternatives. But many are still a little sceptical about eating it regularly. Surely one of our favourite exotic fruits in the BHK, avocados are a vegans dream when looking for a healthy dose of richness and a convenient spoonful of heaven. Avocado is considered a ‘complete food’ due to its amazing nutritional profile. We love them so much, we felt compelled to write a whole post about them where the glorious AVO takes centre stage…..
Finding a good, consistent supply of avocados in Britain is like the holy grail for a cook. They can be so hit or miss. Some are overly ripe, but generally they are as hard as bullets and sometimes never seem to soften up. Its the avocado lottery and you’re never sure until you cut into one just what you’re going to get. This makes sense, they are fragile guys, easily bruised and oxidised. They’ve also come a long way and when we are in Wales (and not Spain, or somewhere else wandering the world) we treat them like rare and precious jewels. Enjoying them accordingly.
My favourite avocadoes are in Mexico. I camped in the Michoacan region, actually in a avocado farm and had memorable breakfasts, avocado feasts, sitting happily under a tree with a big spoon and smile. I find it incredible that we’ve come up with a way to get them all the way to Wales, in tact and generally (most of the time) edible.
A LITTLE HISTORY LESSON
Avocadoes are actually classed as a berry, a tree in the same family as cinnamon and bay and are sometimes interestingly called an ‘Alligator Pear’. They have been used by humans since as early as 10,000BC and are indigenous to Mexico and Central America, although are now grown all around the world; from Spain to Vietnam, the Philippines to Rwanda. In Britain we only became aware of the avo in the 60’s when Sainsbury’s began stocking avocado pears. This could explain the sudden rush from avocado coloured bathroom suites (which are actually coming back into fashion).
The avocado tree needs a climate without frost and little wind, although the Hass variety can put up with temperatures below zero. The ‘Hass’ is now the most popular tree in cultivation, accounting for 80% overall, and each one is related to a single Mother tree, grown by a mail carrier named Rudolph Hass in California, 1935. It is a very productive type and is known as a hybrid Guatemalan. Other varities include Monroe, Bacon, Zutano and Lula. The word ‘Avocado’ comes from the Spanish ‘Aguacate’ which in turn comes from the Nahuatl ‘Ahuactl’ which was also used to describe testicles. You can see why!
PACKED WITH BRILLIANT FATS AND THINGS TO MAKE YOU SHINE!
Avocado is a fruit, sporting one of the proudest pips going! We get 75% of the energy from avo’s via fats. They are also full of protein and dietary fibre. Its a brilliant source of vitamins A, some B’s, C, E and K. It also boasts a load of minerals; potassium, copper, zinc, iron and manganese.
Avo is a fatty fruit, something you don’t see very often. These fats have put some people of avo, but I think awareness about good fats is spreading far and wide and avo’s are a brilliant source of health giving monounsaturated fats. These account for around 63% of the overall fat content and our bodies love them. Polyunsaturated and saturated fats account for the other 20 and 17 percent respectively.
Avocado oil also helps to fight harmful free radicals and assists in the absorption of several essential healthy nutrients like lycopene and beta-carotene. Folates and Omega 3 Fatty Acids in avocado help to keep the brain healthy and help to combat Alzheimer’s. Folates also help to reduce the risk of strokes. Folic acid can also help during pregnancy, aiding the development of a healthy foetus. Avocadoes also contain anti-oxidants that support the immune system and help revert premature aging as well as enzymes and nutrients that aid digestion by reducing inflammation.
The monounsaturated fats in avo’s contain oleic and linoleic acids. These are fats that take care of our hearts, regulating cholesterol and helping to fight LDL (lower density lipoprotein) cholesterol and increasing HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol. This is great news, as LDL leads to furry arteries, which inhibit blood flow increasing the risk of strokes and cardiovascular disease. HDL is our friend and promotes a healthy cardiovascular system.
Avo’s also contain something called beta-sitosterol, a plant based fat that reduces LDL cholesterol by blocking absorption from the intestines. This improves the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol in our blood. Omega 3 fatty acids are also present in the mighty avocado, which help to regulate blood pressure. These polyunsaturated fats assist our heart in beating normally, reducing the risk of strokes and cardiovascular disease.
These friendly monounsaturated fats also speed up our basal metabolic rate (BMR). This is the rate at which we burn calories when at rest. Calories keep us ticking over, repairing cells, keeping our body temperature regular, pumping blood. Eating avocado regularly can actually help us lose weight, contrary to what many people think. These fats make us less fat.
Avocadoes can be mashed and made into a soothing face or hair mask, as well as a skin scrub. Avocado oil has all kinds of magical properties, they are high in vitamin E which helps to eradicate free radicals and combat aging, promotes collagen growth and skin elasticity and hydrates the skin. It can be used as a make up remover and is increasingly being used as a natural alternative in the beauty industry.
TASTY AVO IDEAS
There are the obvious ones. Mash them up with a fork and make your favourite guacamole style salad. Spread them on toast (all the rage in trendy city cafes at the moment). Add them to smoothies, make ice cream out of them, chop into salads and they are great added as a soup garnish (like they do in Mexico). Try a Indonesian style avocado smoothie, coconut milk plus avocadoes, blended and then drizzled with chocolate sauce. Wow! I’ve even heard of someone baking them, but I am yet to get around to this. Will we see a baked avocado in this years Great British Bake Off (a tv program to those reading outside of Great Britain). I doubt it, although would be intrigued to hear Mary’s comments. In Glasgow, I am sure someone has battered and deep fried one (how did that go btw?)
TOP 5 BEACH HOUSE AVOCADO RECIPES
RIPEN WELL AND KEEP ‘EM FRESH
Avocados are best eaten when they have just a little give to them when pressed, although sometime a very ripe avocado is a thing of sheer beauty, this can be a gamble as they can turn very quickly into an over-ripe, blackened mush. Do not buy avocados with blemishes or black dots on their skins. They will ripen quicker when kept with apples and bananas, due to ethylene gas. Some large producers and supermarkets use ‘ethylene rooms’ in order to ripen avocados quickly.
Once cut into, avocados can be kept in a fridge for a few days, best to either squeeze some lemon juice over them and store in a sealable container or wrap tightly in cling film. Exposure to air is an avocadoes worst nightmare. Avocadoes turn blackish brown due to their iron content.
The easiest way to peel a ripe avocado is to take out the stone and cut into quarters lengthways, then simply peel off the skin like a banana. You can also scoop out the lovely fruit with a spoon.
Warning – avocado skins and pips can be dangerous to animals like dogs and cats, cattle, horses, goats and rabbits. Be careful not to leave them hanging around or pop them into their feeding bucket.
SO FRIEND OR FOE?
You know the answer after all of that! It’s highly conclusive, avocados are our supreme amigo! Friend to the heart, brain, skin, eyes and tastebuds. They help us maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure and make our skin shine. They are a meal in themselves and surely one of the finest fruits to be found. Love thy good fats and eat an avocado a day (keeps the grim reaper at bay).
PS – You have to try that Indonesian Avocado Smoothie. Its sensational!!!!!
~ If you created the ‘Friend or Foe’ image, or know who did, please let us know and we’ll credit you. Can’t find you online ~