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Go green with the versatile avocado

There is definitely a celebratory day for everything. Spicy Guacamole Day is Nov. 14. I couldn’t pass up this one because avocadoes are one of my favorite foods.

Avocadoes are so full of flavor and nutrition. It’s a shame that many people skip over these nutritional powerhouses because of their high fat content. Though avocados are high in fat, most of it is heart-healthy monounsaturated fat which helps reduce total cholesterol and LDL (the bad cholesterol) while also helping to raise HDL (the good cholesterol).

Avocadoes are also rich in fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium and folate. They actually have 60 percent more potassium per ounce than bananas. Two tablespoons of mashed avocado, or one-fifth of a medium avocado, provide only 55 calories.

Guacamole is a dip that is made with avocadoes and can be eaten with tortilla chips, vegetables, used as a spread on sandwiches, burgers and tacos, or as a stuffing in baked potatoes and deviled eggs. Guacamole, with its many variations, is easy to make.

Here are additional ways to use an avocado:

Add diced avocadop to eggs or omelets before cooking, stuff avocado halves with brown rice, olives and garnish with a sprinkle of bleu cheese, combine avocadoes with berries, apples, and mango chunks for a tasty fruit salad, put sliced avocado in wraps and sandwiches, combine diced avocado with chopped tomatoes, corn kernels, chopped cilantro, pepper and cayenne for a delicious salsa. 

Guacamole on the go

Recipe from Alice Henneman of Nebraska, registered dietitian

1 ripe avocado

1/8 teaspoon cumin

Dash of cayenne pepper

½ to 1 ripe Roma tomato, diced; or use about ¼ cup of cherry tomatoes cut into smaller pieces

Salt (if desired)

Mash avocado with fork. Mix in cumin and cayenne pepper. Stir in tomatoes. Taste; add more cumin and cayenne as needed. Add salt to taste, if desired. 

Latin-style lettuce wraps

Recipe from the California Avocado Commission

½ pound extra-lean ground beef (93 percent or leaner)

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 cup fresh tomato or tomatillo salsa

1 ripe, fresh, large avocado, peeled, seeded and diced

8 large iceberg lettuce leaves

Hot sauce, optional

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat. Cook ground beef in pan; season with cumin. Cook meat until browned. Serve meat with salsa and diced avocado, for wrapping in lettuce leaves. Season to taste with hot sauce if desired. Top with sliced or diced red onion if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 160 calories, 10 g fat, 40 mg sodium, 7 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 14 g protein.

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