As suddenly as September, I noticed avocados everywhere. Small mountains of them at my local supermarkets, on menus at high-end eateries and fast-food franchises, yes, the avocado is front and centre, and with good reason: It's a tasty, nutrition powerhouse, a perfect food for everyday.
Canadians' love affair with avocados has been steadily intensifying - Canada is now the third largest importer of avocados from Mexico, and the fruit was ranked among Canadian chefs' top 10 perennial favourites. Not surprising given its noteworthy versatility and nutritional content - it's one of the world's most nutritious fruits.
Avocados contain almost 20 essential nutrients such as folic acid, protein, iron, vitamin E, vitamin K and a variety of B vitamins, just to name a few, plus an avocado boasts more than nine grams of fibre per avocado.
Fattening you say? It's the "good fat," making them ideal for use in a variety of dishes.
Cholesterol-free, avocados are a good source of lutein, which helps maintain healthy eyesight; a source of potassium and are low in sodium, which helps regulate blood pressure.
And - avocados may help improve the look of skin. The oil contained in the avocado may also significantly increase the amount of collagen in skin, which is normally depleted with age, reducing wrinkles and improving skin tone.
Something to chew on next time you indulge in the creamy goodness of an avocado.
The following recipes are courtesy of Avocados from Mexico.
CHOCOLATE AVOCADO CUPCAKES
You can use your favourite cream cheese frosting on these babies!
- 2-2/3 cups (650 ml) cake and pastry flour
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) cocoa powder
- 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) baking powder
- 1 cup (250 ml) sugar
- 1/2 tsp. (2 ml) salt
- 1 medium avocado, pureed
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup (175ml) melted unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup (175 ml) skim milk
Place oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line cupcake bake pan with paper cups.
In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, sugar and salt. In separate bowl, combine avocado puree, eggs, butter, vanilla and milk until well blended.
Add liquids to dry ingredients and mix until moistened. Batter may look lumpy. Do not over-mix.
Scoop batter and fill cups almost to the top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cake tester or toothpick comes out clean when placed into a cupcake's centre. Allow baked cupcakes to rest in pan for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Makes about 14 cupcakes.
AVOCADO MAC AND CHEESE
Talk about a mac and cheese makeover! Smooth and delicious.
- 1 cup (250ml) wagon wheel pasta
- 3/4 cup (175ml) skim milk
- 1 fully ripened avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup (125ml) thawed frozen peas
- 3/4 cup (175ml) diced sharp white cheddar cheese
- 1-1/2 tsp. (7ml) lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. (2ml) salt
In large sauce pot, cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Meanwhile, in small saucepan heat milk until hot; remove from heat, set aside.
Reserve 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the avocado for later use. When pasta is almost cooked, in blender, combine remaining avocado, peas, cheese and lemon juice; gradually add hot milk; blend until smooth.
Drain pasta; return to sauce pot. Stir in cheese sauce; add remaining 1/2 cup (125 ml) diced avocado; toss gently.