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The Whole Family

Awesome Avocados
by Cathe Olson



When I went vegan, one of the foods I quickly became addicted to was avocados. It seemed too good to be true that something so rich, creamy, and luscious could actually be good for me.

Avocados are a good source of healthy fat; in fact, their high oleic acid content may help lower cholesterol. Eaten regularly, avocados can also improve your hair and skin quality. They are a good source of minerals, including iron and potassium. They also supply protein.

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If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, avocados are extremely beneficial. The minerals and folate are excellent for both you and your developing baby and the fat content helps your body to feel satisfied longer so you don't get that spaced out feeling.

Avocadoes are an excellent baby food as well. Their nearly perfectly balanced pH makes avocados easy to digest, and, unlike some of common first foods like rice cereal or bananas, avocados are not constipating. Best of all, they are simple to prepare. Just mash a ripe avocado with a fork. Stir in a little water or breastmilk if necessary to thin and smooth out the texture. That's all!

To determine if an is avocado is ripe, gently press your finger into the skin. The avocado is ripe if it leaves a small indentation. To ripen a hard avocado, just leave it out at room temperature and it will ripen in a few days. To speed the process, put it in a paper bag with a banana. Once an avocado is ripe, refrigerate it so it won't over ripen and turn rancid. To store a cut avocado, I like to leave it in the skin and place it cut side down on a plate - or you can cover it with plastic wrap. Exposed flesh may become brown (like cut apples do) but it is okay to eat.

Avocados are great in so many ways. You can spread them on bread - I find them a great substitute for mayonnaise in sandwiches. They are delicious in salads and burritos. Mashed avocado can be used as a dip for chips or as a garnish for black bean soup. Avocados should only be eaten raw. They become bitter if cooked.

Here are a few of my favorite avocado recipes:

Savory Bagel Sandwich
This is delicious for breakfast, lunch, or a snack.

Spread one side of a whole grain bagel with vegan cream cheese or tahini. Spread the other side with mashed avocado. On the cream cheese or tahini side, place 2 cucumber slices, 1 large tomato slice and top with sunflower sprouts. Sprinkle on a little sea salt or soy sauce if desired. Top with avocado side of bagel.

Makes 1 serving


Zucchini-Avocado Salsa
This a delicious alternative to regular salsa. It is great with chips or as a topping for burritos, tacos, or quesadillas.
  • 2 small zucchini, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium avocados, peeled, pitted, and diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • Dash Tabasco sauce
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Steam zucchini and corn together for 2 or 3 minutes until colors are bright. Place in a bowl with remaining ingredients. Stir together and chill for at least one hour.

Makes about 3 cups

Variation: Add 1 to 2 cups diced tomatoes


Avocado Cream
Before I was vegan, I'd tried avocado ice cream at a local avocado festival, and it was yummy. My version is made without dairy or sugar. This unlikely combination is incredibly rich, creamy, and delicious.
  • 1 cup frozen banana slices
  • 1 medium ripe avocado, diced (about 2/3 cup)
Chop bananas into small pieces in a food processor. Add avocado. Puree until creamy. Serve immediately, or freeze in individual-size containers for later.

Makes 3 to 4 servings

Recipes from The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook copyright 2005 by Cathe Olson and Simply Natural Baby Food copyright 2003 by Cathe Olson

Sources:

World's Healthiest Foods

Whole Foods Companion - Revised and Expanded Edition by Dianne Onstad. (Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2004.)

Nutrition Almanac - Fifth Edition by Lavon J. Dunne. (McGraw-Hill, 2002.)

VegFamily Resources: Visit the VegFamily Shopping Guide for vegan-friendly products and companies that support VegFamily.

Cathe Olson is the author of the new nondairy ice cream cookbook: Lick It! Cream Dreamy Vegan Ice Cream Your Mouth Will Love, as well as Simply Natural Baby Food and The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook. Visit Cathe's website at www.simplynaturalbooks.com and her blog at http://catheolson.blogspot.com.
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