Avocados. I know a lot of things about them – like, for example, I know they can be so expensive that I daydream about growing an avocado tree in my backyard.
I also know they are full of good-for-you fat, and, happily, I know that my kids will eat them. So I budget around them. Other people budget for meat or for their favorite bottle of wine, or for a quick vacation. I budget for avocados.
Weirdly enough, avocados have many uses aside from hitching a ride to your mouth on a tortilla chip. Avocados are not just for eating anymore, so if you wind up with one that is slightly past its eat-by date and has turned brown on the inside, don’t throw it out. These little guys are awesome for moisturizing skin. They can also be used to condition your hair and possibly, most magical of all, to get rid of puffy under-eye bags even faster than cucumber slices. I don’t know how they work, but I also don’t question miracles when they come my way.
It’s not often that I get to experiment with avocado facemasks at home; we rarely let an avocado go uneaten. We eat avocados straight out of their peels, sprinkled with a little sea salt. While avocados are probably best known as the main ingredient in guacamole, I’ll let you in on a little secret: avocados also make a fantastic addition to smoothies and ice cream, both of which we eat all summer long in our house. Just don’t tell your kids. Or mine. Because even my own avocado lovers would run the other way if they knew what went into their smoothies. Let’s just keep this between us friends. Deal?
Choosing avocados in the store can be tricky. Are they ripe? Too ripe? Too hard? It’s hard to know what to do when all you really want is to make guacamole part of that night’s dinner.
Bright green avocados that feel hard are far from being ripe. I usually buy these if it’s Monday and I know that I am planning on using them for Shabbat – they can take four or five days to ripen. To ripen avocados faster, keep them, along with a sacrificial banana or apple, in a closed paper bag on the counter for a few days.
Avocados that are brown and green together are closer to being ripe. At that point, they are probably two days away from being perfect, while avocados that are all brown, but still retain their shape with no indentations, are ripe right that minute. Once avocados turn a very dark brown or even black, they are overripe and not as tasty.
All these recipes are best when made with avocados that are brown and ripe, but not overripe and mushy.
Chocolate Chip-Almond Smoothie
½ large and ripe avocado
½ cup almond butter
1½ cups unsweetened chocolate almond milk
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1½ cups of ice
¼ cup chocolate chips
Add all the ingredients into a blender, starting with the ice. Let the rest of the ingredients fall around the ice. If your blender is not a heavy-duty one, crush the ice in it first, before adding the rest of the ingredients.
Blend everything in ten-second intervals until well mixed. You may have to scrape down the sides of the blender several times.
Different almond butters are of different consistencies, so if the smoothie is too thick, add more almond milk in ¼ cup amounts, blending between additions.
Avocado Soft Serve Ice Cream
2 frozen very ripe bananas, quartered
2 frozen avocados, peeled and quartered
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
4 tablespoons honey
1 tsp sea salt
½ cup mini chocolate chips
½ cup chopped almonds, walnuts or pecans
Line a 9″x5″ loaf pan with parchment paper.
Peel the bananas and avocados and put them in the freezer for several hours, until mostly frozen.
Then add the bananas and avocados to the food processor. Blend on low for ten seconds.
Add in the cocoa powder, vanilla, honey and salt, and pulse until thoroughly combined. You may need to scrape down the sides several times.
Pour the banana mixture into a medium-sized bowl and add in the chocolate chips and nuts. Mix well until combined.
Pour the ice cream into the loaf pan, smooth the top and place a piece of parchment paper, cut to size, over the top of the ice cream.
Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and freeze for an hour.
Feel free to top with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.
One Minute Guacamole
4 ripe avocados
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp lemon juice
Start with a zippered gallon sized bag.
Scoop the avocado from its peel and add it, along with the other four ingredients, into the bag. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag.
Use your hands to give the bag a really good massage. That’s it, you’re done. Time to eat.
Fancy (But Still Easy) Guacamole
4 ripe avocados, cut into 1″ pieces
½ cup chopped red onion
1 can drained hearts of palm, cut into 1″ pieces
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp lemon juice
Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and toss gently.
Serve at room temperature.
Avocado Fun Facts:
Botanical name: Persea Americana
Avocados are often referred to as a vegetable, but are actually a fruit from the berry family.
There are over 80 varieties of avocados.
The most popular variety is called Hass.
90% of all avocados grown in the USA come from California.
How to Keep a Cut Avocado Fresh
Sprinkle a little lemon or lime juice on the exposed avocado and refrigerate. The ascorbic acid in the lemon or lime keeps the avocado from browning.
Store in the refrigerator, in the same container as chopped onions. The onion’s sulphur dioxide will keep the avocado green.
Minimize air contact with the avocado. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate.