European sailors on their way to the New World used avocados in place of butter.
There are more than 80 varieties of avocados. The most common is the year-round Hass avocado, whose original mother tree still stands in California.
The avocado is also known as an alligator pear, because of the shape, green skin, and rough texture of the Hass variety. (The Florida avocado has a shiny, smooth surface.)
The two main U.S. producers of the fruit are California and Florida. The Golden State far outranks the Sunshine State, however, with more than 6,000 groves accounting for about 90% of avocado crops.
Avocados are a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamins C, K, folate, and B6. Half an avocado has 160 calories, 15 grams of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and only 2 grams saturated fat. One globe contains more than one-third the daily value of vitamin C, and more than half the day’s requirements of vitamin K.
Avocado in Salads
Consider adding avocado or avocado oil to your salads. Antioxidants such as lycopene and beta-carotene are better absorbed with the healthy monounsaturated fat avocados have in abundance.
Super Bowl Guacamole
What would guacamole be without avocados? On Super Bowl Sunday, Americans eat about 8 million pounds of guacamole. For Cinco de Mayo, the tally is closer to 14 million.
Avoiding Browning in Avocados
To help prevent an already sliced avocado from browning, sprinkle lemon juice on the exposed flesh, and then refrigerate in a plastic bag.
Avocado Beet Salad with Vidalia Onion, Blood Orange, and Orange Vinaigrette
3 beets, red and/or golden
2 ripe avocados
1 large blood orange, peeled, sliced into rounds
1 small Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
6 cups mixed baby greens (or any greens)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp sherry or white balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup orange juice
2 tsp finely grated orange rind, divided
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400.
Remove root and leave 1-inch stem on beets; scrub; wrap each one in foil. Place beets on baking pan. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour or until tender. When cool enough to handle, rub off skins and slice into wedges.
Prepare vinaigrette by combining olive oil, vinegar, orange juice, 1 teaspoon orange rind, salt and pepper in a small bowl; whisk to combine.
Cut avocado in half. Remove pit. Scoop avocado from skin with large spoon. Slice each half into 6 slices.
Divide salad greens among 6 plates. Top each with beets, oranges, onion, and avocado.
Drizzle vinaigrette over salad.
Garnish with remaining orange zest and toasted walnuts.
Makes six servings
Nutritional information per serving: 238 calories; 153 calories from fat; 18 g fat; 2 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 252 mg sodium; 19 g; carbohydrates; 6 g fiber; 9 g sugars; 4 g protein.