Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Harvest of the Month featured produce: Avocado | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Harvest of the Month featured produce: Avocado

Maria Martin
Special to the Sun

Thinkstockphotos.comThe avocado is a powerhouse addition to your healthy diet.

Q: What California grown fruit has more potassium than a banana, has anti-inflammatory properties, and grows on a 65-foot tall evergreen tree?

A: The amazing avocado!

We celebrated the end of another successful Harvest of the Month season by tasting avocados in the classroom. Rich, creamy, and delicious; avocados are not only a favorite food for many but also an important addition to a healthy diet.

Avocados are native to Central and South America and have been grown there since 8,000 B.C. There are more than 500 varieties of avocados. It was not until 1856 the first avocado tree was imported into the United States, and the California avocado industry did not begin until 1870. The Hass avocado variety was developed by a California grower in 1932 and within 40 years it had become the dominant variety throughout most of the world. Today, the coastline of Southern California grows more than 90 percent of our nationand#8217;s crop.

The avocado, sometimes nicknamed the and#8220;alligator pear,and#8221; has proven itself as a nutrition powerhouse. Avocados are an excellent source of mono-unsaturated fats which are important for heart health, keeping inflammation under control, and increasing absorption of fat soluble nutrients and vitamins. Carotenoids are important anti-oxidants that are fat soluble. When avocado or avocado oil is added to a salad containing vegetables high in carotenoids like lycopene and beta-carotene (think spinach, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and carrots), absorption of these carotenoids is increased 200-400 percent. The same is true when avocado is added to salsa. Avocados are also a great source of potassium, fiber and Vitamin E.

Pick avocados that are slightly soft without any dark sunken spots or cracks. Hass avocados turn dark green or black when ripe; other varieties remain green. Place unripe avocados in a paper bag at room temperature. Ripe avocados can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. To limit browning, rub lemon or lime juice on the cut fruit.

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There are many ways you can eat avocados other than adding them to your salads. Use avocados as a garnish for black bean soup, add them to your salad dressing recipe to make it creamy, spread it on bread as a mayonnaise replacement for sandwiches, top scrambled eggs with diced avocado instead of cheese, and enjoy healthy and tasty guacamole on baked tortilla chips.

and#8212; Maria Martin, MPH, RD is a member of the Nutrition Coalition and a Health Promotion Dietitian at Tahoe Forest Hospital. The Nutrition Coalition is supported by the Tahoe Center for Health and Sports Performance. Contact us at 587-3769, ext. 7126 or mmartin@tfhd.com.

Julia Walter is the Executive Chef at the River Ranch Lodge and Restaurant. A graduate of Johnson and Wales Culinary School, Julia strives to incorporate seasonal and healthy ingredients in her style of cooking.- Take advantage of peak avocado season to enjoy Juliaand#8217;s recipe for Grilled Avocado Relish. This tasty and creative take on guacamole is great served-with fish, chicken, beef or pork!-

Ingredients

2 ripe avocados

1/4 cup lime juice

1 T white balsamic vinegar

1/4 tsp. cumin

1 chipotle, diced

1/2 red onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

salt and pepper to taste

1. Cut avocado lengthwise. Separate the 2 pieces and remove the pit.

2. Season with salt and pepper and place over a medium grill for about 5 minutes.

3. Allow to cool. Scoop flesh and dice avocado

4. Add lime juice and vinegar.

5. Add rest of ingredients.

6. Season with salt and pepper.