Avocados, my favorite fruit.

avocados

For years the avocado was given a bad wrap.  I used to believe the lies about how fattening they were and how they will “raise” your cholesterol.  Nonsense.  I have learned that anything in its whole food form cannot possible be bad for you, especially when eaten in moderation.   This food is not only one of the most nutritious, it is extremely versatile and many people would benefit from adding this fruit into their daily menus.

Avocados are one of my favorite fruits to eat alone as well as to use in baking.  Although there are hundreds of varieties of avocados, only seven are grown commercially in California with Haas being the most common. (And the one you see the most in stores) Avocados are not only nutritious; they have the amazing ability to replace butter, shortening, eggs and heavy cream in baking recipes.  Avocados also make deliciously creamy soups, salad dressings, smoothies and even ice cream.

The texture of avocados is soft and creamy, just like butter.  Usually, one cup of avocado can be substituted for one cup of butter or two tablespoons for one egg.  Avocados do not melt like butter so you may have to increase or add liquid to the recipe to give it the same melted texture (I like using coconut milk).  A serving size of three and a half ounce of avocados contains nearly 15 grams of fat, while the same size serving of butter contains 81 grams, which is mostly saturated and unhealthy.

I have found that using avocado in baking cake like recipes makes the center rise up higher than with eggs.  Also, the edges of whatever you are baking will become brown before the middle is done so you must monitor the process until you master your oven.  This takes some practice; however, usually  lowering the temperature  about 25 percent does the trick.  I also use a convection oven which seems to produce better results than conventional.  Also, anything you use avocado in will take on a green hue, even after baked which is not usually a problem as long as you let people know its not a Shrek thing.

Avocados are “nutrient dense”, meaning they are packed full of nutritional benefits.  They contain vitamins, minerals and good fats as well as being sodium and cholesterol free.  Yes, they are high in calories but that is why they are called “dense”, you only need a small amount to get a large amount of benefits. They are also great for children and infants as many Pediatricians recommend using them.  I personally eat them raw with just a little bit of salt on them.  I love them sliced in salads and on soups.

Here is a great recipe adapted from Cuisine Paradise:

Avocado - chicken parm

http://ellenaguan.blogspot.com/2011/11/avocado-chicken-parmigiana.html

I replaced the breadcrumbs with 1/2 cup almond meal and 1/2 cup parmesan to make it low carb and I either eat this by itself or with a side of spaghetti squash.