Try a new healthy food: This week it’s avocados

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John Turrell, the Wellness Coordinator at the Greater Portland Branch of the YMCA of Southern Maine wants us to feel healthier and be a little adventurous, so he’s encouraging us to try (or retry) nine new healthy foods. We’re on number four — avocado.

Guest post by John Turrell, Wellness Coordinator, Greater Portland Branch, YMCA of Southern Maine.  

After a quick trip to Greece for Greek yogurt, let’s head to South and Central America to try avocados. When you first look at these bumpy, green-skinned fruits, it is hard to imagine that inside it contains a slightly sweet flavored and richly smooth interior.

Avocados add an intriguing heart-healthy fruit choice to your diet. Half of a large avocado contains 7 grams of fiber and 13 grams of unsaturated fats. Both  improve blood cholesterol levels and help make you feel full and satisfied following a meal.

The question is how to eat this unusual fruit? It is probably most popularly used as a green dip, called guacamole, but unfortunately, it is then usually eaten with less-than-healthy chips.

Instead, try slicing the fruit on top of a salad, or blend it into a homemade vinaigrette salad dressing. Creamy slices of avocado can replace butter or mayonnaise on a sandwich to reduce saturated fat without sacrificing flavor.

When purchasing the fruit, how can you choose the best? Look for fruit with dark green to black skins without bruising or soft spots. Avocados at the peak of ripeness will gently yield to pressure. If you can’t find ripe fruit get a hard, unripe avocado and let it ripen on a countertop.

Avocados certainly do not fill our normal idea of fruit, but it can add a unique and healthy touch to the look and nutrition of a fancy meal. So have a little adventure and perk up a winter meal with avocado.

To help you get started with John’s advice here is a recipe from Oldways. Not only does it use avocados it also includes quinoa, which we featured a few weeks ago.

Avocado with quinoa

Source: Oldways

Quinoa with wilted beet greens and avocado slices
Author: Oldways
In her encyclopedic cookbook Vegetable Literacy, Deborah Madden shares the magic of pairing avocado and quinoa, inspiring Oldways to create this recipe. The creamy coolness of ripe avocado blankets nutty textured quinoa in perfect harmony. Add tender, wine-kissed beet greens to the mix, and you have a simple, gourmet-tasting meal that takes less than 25 minutes to prepare.
  • 1 cup of quinoa (golden)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Green tops from one bunch of beets, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Pinch of <g class=”gr_ gr_892 gr-alert gr_spell gr_disable_anim_appear undefined ContextualSpelling ins-del multiReplace” id=”892″ data-gr-id=”892″>alleppo</g> pepper, Grains of Paradise or crushed red pepper
  • 2 ripe avocados
  1. In a small pot, bring 2 cups of water and 1 cup of quinoa to a boil. Simmer on low for 25 minutes.
  2. While the quinoa cooks, saute the olive oil and garlic in a medium-sized pan on medium heat (about 2 minutes). Add the beet greens, sherry or wine, and sea salt, and saute together for about 5 minutes, or until the greens are wilted.
  3. Open your avocados, remove the pit, and carve each half into several slices lengthwise.
  4. Serve as a layered dish: placing the quinoa down as the bed; draping the beet greens over the quinoa, and topping with avocado slices.
  5. Add pinches of pepper and additional sea salt to taste.
Serving size: 4-6 servings Calories: 360 Fat: 21g Saturated fat: 2g Carbohydrates: 38g Sodium: 365mg Fiber: 11g Protein: 9g

And if John’s tips and the recipe weren’t enough, check out these other delicious avocado suggestions from Oldways.

Avocado tips

Thank you for reading this guest post from John Turrell. If you try the recipe, please let us know how it was. And if you have a tip on how to enjoy avocados share it with us! Passing along what we do (and eat) to stay healthy and well is what the Catching Health blog is all about. You can add your suggestions and recipes to the comment section near the end of the page. ~ Diane Atwood

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Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. She now hosts and produces the Catching Health podcast and writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.