Avocados were first cultivated in South America with later migration to Mexico. It was believed that a Mayan princess ate the very first avocado and that it held mystical and magical powers. European sailors traveling to the New World used avocados as their form of butter. Avocados were first seen in the United States in the early 1800′s and California is currently the largest producer of avocados stateside. There are more than 80 varieties, with the “Hass” variety dominating the crop share. A single mature avocado tree can produce more than 400 pieces of fruit in a year.
Avocados are loaded with nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, and folate. They contain 60% more potassium per ounce than bananas and are cholesterol and sodium free. Avocados are higher in fat than other fruits but this fat is mainly in the form of healthy fats such as poly and monounsaturated fats.
How to Select, Ripen, and Peel an Avocado
- Look for firm avocados if you’re planning on using them later in the week, otherwise, select fruit that yields to gentle pressure for immediate use.
- Color alone will not tell you if the avocado is ripe. Ripe fruit will be slightly firm, but will yield to gentle pressure.
- To speed the ripening process, place the avocado in a paper bag, and store at room temperature until ready to eat (usually two to five days). Placing an apple together with the avocado speeds up the process even more.
- Cut the avocado in half, slightly twist the two halves, separate, and remove the seed. Starting at the small end and remove the skin with a knife, or, if you prefer, you can also scoop the flesh out with a spoon.
- To retain a fresh green color, avocados should either be eaten immediately or should be sprinkled with lemon or lime juice or white vinegar
Here’ s a quick and easy menu idea. Pick up a few avocados from Marsh’s produce department and a rotisserie chicken from the deli and in no time you will have dinner on the table!
Chicken Spinach Avocado Wraps
- 1 deli rotisserie chicken
- ? cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil
- 2 Tbsp. lime juice
- 1 tsp. chili-garlic paste
- 4 (10-inch) flour tortillas
- 2 California avocados, peeled and thinly sliced
- ½ cup chopped cashews
- Fresh spinach
- Remove bones and skin from chicken, and coarsely chop meat
- Stir together mayonnaise and next 3 ingredients until blended; stir in chicken.
- Place chicken mixture evenly down center of each tortilla; top evenly with avocado slices, cashews, and spinach leaves. Roll up, and wrap individually in plastic wrap. Chill 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.