The Many Uses of Avocados
I'm about to let you in on a little culinary secret. And very soon, you're going to thank me for sharing it. Ready? Avocados can be used for so much more than for guacamole. Among other things (like toppings and side dishes), they can be used as cooking substitutes, as the basis for sweets, and as an enriching milkshake ingredient. Amazing, right? I certainly think so.
Photo by Carla Soriano What would you make out of this pretty green food?
Not too long ago, I thought avocados could be sliced to go with Mexican dishes, or mashed for dip-making, and that's about it. It wasn't until a visit to Houston's Avocado Throwdown that my view on avocados was expanded. I was amazed by all the things you can do with avocados. I knew right then and there that I had to share my findings with you, dear readers.
Before taking a look at some cool 'cado possibilities, I should mention some interesting nutritional tidbits about avocados. They contain nearly 20 vitamins (vitamin E & B included) and minerals, fiber, folic acid, and unsaturated fats (the good kind). And unlike many of our favorite foods, avocados are low in sodium and do not contain one of the human heart's biggest enemies - cholesterol.
Avocados as Substitutions
Chances are, you put butter and mayonnaise in lots of the foods that you eat. Both are creamy, indulgent, and just put a little extra "something" into a dish. But while butter and mayonnaise taste quite good, they are filled with calories, fat and sodium, a.k.a. unhealthy goodness. Enter the alligator pear (the lesser-known name of the avocado). Just like butter and mayo, avocados are rich in flavor and have a creamy texture. But avocados are actually healthymaking them an excellent substitute for butter, mayonnaise, shortening, and sour cream. Best of all, in most cases, you can use equal parts mashed or sliced avocado for the ingredient you're replacing. i.e. one cup mayonnaise can be interchanged with one cup mashed avocado. Here are some dishes, along with their recipes, that use avocado this way:
Avocados in Sweet Treats
Another underrated use of the avocado is as a component in sweet dishes. While it may sound crazy, the bright-green ingredient adds a delicious touch to desserts. I by no means have a scientific explanation of how or why this is true, but I can tell you that when you try it, you'll be pleasantly surprised. Here are some great treats that include avocados:
Avocados in [Milk]shakes
If making sweet dishes out of avocados sounds a little extreme, you may get a kick out of making a shake - milk optional - with avocados in it. Now, these are nothing like the milkshakes in Houston you just read about a little while back ago. No, these shakes are in a category of their own: best made at home, with fresh produce. You'll be amazed at what an avocado does to the creaminess factor of a shake, and you'll be pleased to know that avocado shakes and smoothies range from super-sweet to caffeine-laced to refreshing to fruity. Here are some avocado shakes to shake things up a bit:
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