This is my favorite food:
I sometimes refer to the avocado as proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Lately I've been happily buying up six packs of beautiful gator-pears at Costco for about a buck each.
Recently, my Mom-in-law asked me what foods are good for the brain. I responded: fat. I give this response because fat is what your brain cells are made out of, so it’s a logical assumption on my part that eating fat will provide fuel for your brain.
Avocado is my topmost, favorite, super-happy way to eat fat.
Over the years I've had a love/hate relationship with edible fat. At one point I was firmly on the, “if you don’t want to BE fat, do not EAT fat" bandwagon. I have since, after better research, gotten off that one.
It was silly of me to get on there in the first place since technically I've known better since I was in my early twenties. Twice in my life my attempts to force my body to be thin have made me seriously ill. Most recently I tried giving up food in favor of subsisting only on “health-shakes” with a predictable result that is well documented earlier in this blog. The short version is that my liver’s response to the diet was: “Nope.”
A decade prior to that, I tried a slightly less drastic seeming (but in retrospect similar) plan where you leave all the food choices up to your consultant and eat only the pre-packaged insta-food that they sell to you (cough*JennyCraig*cough). I lost weight at first, but since their quickie meals had almost no fat in them my gall bladder was left with nothing to do. Bored (and undoubtedly angry) it formed stones and had to be removed.
You’d think I would have learned back then that forgoing real, fresh food was a bad idea for me – but sadly I did not.
These days I’m working on dealing with the root mental cause behind my obesity (an eating disorder) and feeding myself with the freshest, most nutritious things I can find, research, and afford. Avocado is an important part of my dietary choices.
Here is why I love the pebbly green monsters:
1) They taste awesome. The avocado often reminds me of a hard-boiled egg yolk for richness and flavor, but it’s even better. It’s creamy, delicious, and satisfying. When I take a bite of avocado my brain responds by saying, “mmmm… yes, fatty goodness.” There is a valid reason why we crave fat and receive a pleasure response for eating it – that’s because we need fat in our diets and it is good for us.
2) They play nicely with others. When eaten with other vegetables the oils in avocado actually help your body absorb the nutrients in the other vegetables more effectively too. Almost every day I eat a big bowl of cut, fresh, raw vegetables. Adding half an avocado in with the mix and stirring it all up together with a little salt and pepper looks a bit weird, but is 100% better for me (and better tasting) than any salad dressing.
3) They are so, so good for us. The fat in an avocado is the kind that a body truly needs. Cholesterol lowering, triglyceride lowering, blood sugar regulating, heart protecting, yummy yummy fat. The same type as is found in nuts and olive oils. Studies show that people who regularly consume avocado tend to weigh less. The reason why is unknown – my guess is that it’s just because they’re a popular food among health nut types. However personally, I've noticed that the satisfaction they give me helps me to resist the siren song of fats that are less good for me. After my avocado salad at lunch I’m feeling pretty sated, so when they roll out the afternoon cake at the office it’s a lot easier for me to avoid it.
The entire fruit contains on average about 235 calories, so I try to eat only a half per day. However if I slip up and eat the whole thing that’s not a slip I’m going to cry about like I would chowing down on too many potato chips.
In conclusion, if you haven’t had the opportunity to get to know these little beauties I encourage you to give them a try. Since most people encounter them for the first time as guacamole – here’s my recipe. Enjoy!
· 4 ripe avocados - diced (Haas avocados are ripe when the skin is very dark green and they give ever so slightly when squeezed)*
· 1 large, ripe tomato – diced
· ½ red onion – minced
· 2 or 3 garlic cloves – minced
· 1 big handful of chopped fresh cilantro
· The juice of 1 lime
· Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Eat with veggie sticks, pita, tortilla chips, or use as a spread on sandwiches. This is also a great topping for baked chicken or fish.
*Note: Alton Brown refers to the avocado as an “edible food grenade” because once they've been popped open they will oxidize and turn brown very quickly. The acids in lime juice and tomato will help to slow this process, but if you need to store any extra guacamole make sure you cover it very carefully with a tight layer of saran wrap pressed firmly against the surface. Air is the enemy!