All About Avocado

Avocado is the new “it” food. Well, maybe it competes with kale, but they’re both fast becoming staples in the ‘trying to be healthier’ kind of household.

But if you’ve bought an avocado before, you know that it’s, well, “finicky”. If you don’t use it right when it’s ripe, it gets brown and mushy. But if you try to use it before it’s ripe, it’ll be hard and difficult to eat – not to mention it won’t be as flavorful.
avocado hurry up and eat

I’ve really tried, in these past few months, to make avocado one of my OHI or staple foods: one of those ones that I can use in multiple different ways, so I make a point to always have it ‘on hand’. However I have to admit that as much as I hate wasting, I have thrown one or half of one out just because I didn’t use it up in time.

So today I’m sharing some of my favorite ways to use avocado. These are the ones that you can make ‘on the fly’ – if your avocado suddenly ripens before you’re prepared to use it, for example. Or if you forgot it was there until it was ALMOST too late to eat. Or, if you’re like me, and you’re the only one that really eats avocado enthusiastically and you’d like to ease your family into the delicious & nutritious creation. And just like anything else, you want to eat everything in moderation, so try these recipes a little at a time.

Before we start: if you are unsure why trying avocado is a good idea, here are a few reasons!
– Avocado is one of the only things that is super high in the GOOD fats – monounsaturated. When eaten in moderation, benefits of MUFAs include contributing to low cholesterol and good heart health and reducing your risk of stroke; decreased risk of breast cancer; weight loss and reduced belly fat (when you replace trans and saturated fats with MUFA; see below for ideas to help with this!).
– Avocados are high in essential vitamins and minerals.
– Avocados help the body absorb other nutrients better, when eaten together.
– Avocados are high in protein – without all the bad fats!
avocado facts

I’m going to share some recipes with you, but before I do, consider these ideas and use them in your current favorite recipes:
*Substitute mashed avocado anywhere you would use mayo as a dressing – for example, as a spread on a sandwich, as the binder for chicken salad, to make a salad dressing or a dip.
*Often, avocado is paired classically (and predictably) with lime and cilantro. But by mixing up the citrus and herbs, you can get a whole different taste and revive a tired recipe – for example, lemon or orange instead of lime, and parsley or mint instead of cilantro.
*Cut your avocado in chunks and use it mixed with other chopped veggies in a cold salsa or salad – the most popular of course is guacamole!
*Don’t be afraid to cook/bake/heat avocado. Someone told me this would be gross. They were wrong. 🙂

In case you don’t know, here’s how to pit an avocado and get at that delicious fruit inside. Because you have to start there 😉

THE RECIPES! (Finally)
– I have yet to try these amazing looking avocado fries!
– And these avocado eggs! Or these ones!
– This Homesick Toast is DELICIOUS. (Don’t let the name throw you off. The author is from Australia, and apparently they eat this kind of thing all the time over there – yeah mate – Considering moving?) Instead of lime (I was out! shocker) I used lemon. I didn’t have mint so I skipped it. I used feta, a drizzle of olive oil, freshly ground black pepper and freshly ground sea salt. I spread it on toasted Aunt Millie’s Whole Grain bread. Great for breakfast, lunch, or a filling snack.
Spinach Artichoke Chicken. Instead of the mayo, use 1/2 cup mashed avocado instead. It tastes delicious and even Avocado haters will not even know it’s there!
– You can try this avocado cream. I didn’t like this as much as my own Avocado Ranch spread, but you can try them both and decide what your favorite is 😉

– Avocado purees. This deserves a little time. If you have one that’s just about to go bad, puree it in a food processor. If you get the extra large ones, a half will make just about 1/2 cup. What can you do with this puree??? Put it in the fridge in a container or a baggie. I like the baggie idea if you’re going to use it right away (within a day), because you can release more air thus ensuring the avocado puree does not turn brown. I’ve heard that you can freeze these purees, but I have not tried it personally yet, so proceed at your own risk! What can you do with your avocado puree??
— Use it in chocolate cake, cupcakes, or brownies (just Google it. Trust me.)
— Use it for an amazing healthy chocolate fondue. Here’s the thing about the fondue. It is not my recipe or my idea. It is a recipe in Jessica Seinfeld’s (yes Jerry’s wife!) cookbook called Deceptively Delicious. I feel like I would be plagiarizing, or committing copyright fraud, if I copied the recipe here exactly. The recipe is not on her website of the same name, so I can’t link to it either. I can tell you it does contain sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, a teensy bit of margarine, and carrot and avocado purees. I can also tell you that you should just Google it. 😉 There are also lots of chocolate pudding recipes with avocado in them. I have not tried those yet. Fondue is more interesting to me; FROM NOW ON, this will probably be how I use my avocado to make sure it doesn’t go bad. Because who doesn’t want to serve their kids a healthier option for dessert??? (Read this for more on the ‘dessert deal‘ and picky eaters.) And they think they’re getting away with it! HAH! (FYI, even after I told my avocado-hating daughter that there was avocado in this, she still continues to eat it and say how good it is.)

When making a puree, mash the avocado first, then add to food processor. Do it in a glass measuring cup so you can see how much you have before you puree it until smooth.

When making a puree, mash the avocado first, then add to food processor. Do it in a glass measuring cup so you can see how much you have before you puree it until smooth.

If you need more ideas, there are whole BOARDS dedicated to Avocado on Pinterest!
And a whole website with helpful avocado facts!!!

In this post I also describe some tips on how to keep avocado/guacamole from turning brown.

OHI Chicken Quesadillas with Avocado Ranch Spread

Hi! If you’re new to the blog, welcome! Click here for definitions of terminology which may be new to you. 🙂

One day we were out of or low on bread and didn’t have enough to make sandwiches for everyone. I was trying to think of something creative for lunch instead. Tortillas had been BOGO so we had plenty of those. I always have shredded cheese (most commonly, sharp cheddar blends, Italian blends, and Mexican blend) and we were just discussing how we don’t use our quesadilla maker enough – so out it came! I had a ripe avocado begging to be used and I wanted to experiment with seasoning an avocado spread.

Here is what I do when I make an “OHI” meal. I open up my fridge, stare at my fruit/produce basket, and ask myself, what do I have that can go together and be delicious?!? I did have some leftover chicken, some leftover chimichurri, some tomatoes, red pepper, lime, jalapeno, sour cream, mayo, and of course, seasonings.

Here is the hodge podge of OHI I was trying to use up.

Here is the hodge podge of OHI I was trying to use up.

Fresh produce always helps inspire great ideas. So I decided to put all those ingredients into the quesadillas. (If you don’t have exactly these, what DO you have? Toss it in there. I’ll bet ya it’s good!)

So first I chopped the chicken, reheated it in a small frying pan, and tossed it with the chimichurri.

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Then I made this avocado ranch spread. All I did was mash up the avocado, squeeze a little lime juice, add some salt, garlic powder, and onion powder, a very little bit (maybe a tablespoon?) of low fat mayo, and VOILA! Freshly made, very flavorful, delicious avocado spread.

Avocado spread

I spread the avocado ranch on one whole wheat tortilla:
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Then I topped it with Mexican blend cheese, the diced red pepper, chopped tomato, and jalapeno:
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Next I added the chimichurri chicken:
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And sprinkled a little more cheese over top 😉
Then I placed another tortilla over this one. Pinching it closed on both sides, I lifted it carefully and placed it in our quesadilla maker and lowered the lid.

The nice thing about quesadilla makers is there is heat and pressure from both sides, so everything gets nice and melty, and the tortilla gets lightly browned.

However, a quesadilla maker takes up a lot of space, and I haven’t been very creative in finding other uses for it. (I’ve wondered if I put waffle or pancake batter in it, would I have a really large, pre-cut breakfast that’s finger-friendly?? Maybe I’ll try this someday.) So if you don’t have a quesadilla maker, don’t go out of your way. You can easily make a quesadilla by putting the tortilla in a large frying pan and cooking it the same way. I’d suggest using a lid a BIT smaller than the pan to put a little pressure on top. You will probably have to flip this over. It can get messy if you’re not careful. Sometimes I would place a large plate over top of the pan, flip the pan upside down (dropping the quesadilla onto the plate), and then sliding the quesadilla from the plate back into the pan (so the uncooked side is now DOWN). This can be tricky. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK! I recommend use of an oven mitt! 🙂

So now, once the quesadilla is finished, use a large spatula to remove it and place it on a plate or a cutting board. Use a large chef’s knife to cut through the sections, or use a pizza cutter.
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Serve with the Avocado Ranch Spread, and some sour cream too if you & your family like it.
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These are SO good and flavorful. I made some with plain chicken shortly after, and they were just not the same. I suppose you could say this is a Second Meal for the Chimichurri!!! I originally made it for this Steak recipe. It’s so good, and healthy! I’ll be making it again for sure, especially now that I have a second use for it. (You can also toss sliced chicken with it and put it over a salad with some sliced avocado and this homemade dressing. OHHHH SO GOOD!)

Check out this meal plan using chicken breast for more Second Meal ideas!

Chicken Quesadillas with Fruit Salsa

This is Meal #6 in our meal plan using chicken breast.

What we’re Repurposing:
Chicken from Baked Seasoned Chicken or Spinach Artichoke Chicken
Veggies from pasta – chopped red onion, chopped red pepper, chopped Roma tomato

You’ll Also Need:
Whole Wheat Tortillas (2 per quesadilla)
1 8oz bag Shredded Mexican blend cheese
1 Avocado
1 Lime
Salt
Cilantro (you’ll need less than 1 bunch)
1 Large Mango or 2 Ataulfo Mangoes
3 Kiwi, peeled and chopped
1/4c fresh chopped Pineapple
Jalapeno (however much you like)
Sour Cream
OPTIONAL: chimichurri **see OHI recipe (link to be added soon)

Here is the original recipe for the avocado cream and the fruit salsa.

To make the fruit salsa:
Here are the Ataulfo mangoes I used. They are smaller than the ones I normally use – but they were only $.50 each, so I went with these and they still taste the same.

Peel the mangoes first!

Peel the mangoes first!

Chop the mango by making knife cuts lengthwise and crosswise and then sliding your knife underneath parallel to the cutting board to remove the chunks. Add to your salsa bowl (or, to save on dishes, make directly in tupperware so you can save leftovers!).
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Slice the kiwi and then chop it into smaller pieces and add to salsa.
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Chop the red onion and add to salsa.
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Dice up the cilantro, chop the pineapple, and add them to the salsa along with the juice from half a lime. Stir and then salt to taste.

Delicious!

Delicious!

The original recipe called for jalapeno IN the salsa, but I left it out because of the kids.

For the avocado cream:
Note: I actually like this LESS than the avocado spread I made in some OHI quesadillas. But you might like it, so I’m including the recipe here still.
Mash 1 avocado in a bowl. Add about 2 Tblspn minced cilantro, juice from the other half of the lime, 1/2c sour cream, and a little salt. Stir until well combined.
(recipe for my avocado spread soon to come on a different post – link will be at bottom)

To make the quesadillas:
1. Spread the avocado cream on one tortilla and then cover it with cheese
2. Add chopped chicken, tomatoes, red pepper, jalapeno, red onion.

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I left the jalapeno out in the kids’ quesadillas

With jalapeno

With jalapeno and red onion

3. Place another tortilla over top. With one hand on each side holding the tortillas together, place in quesadilla maker. *If you don’t have a quesadilla maker, you can make these in a large frying pan or skillet. Placing a lid or plate over the pan right away will help the cheese melt more quickly, before the tortilla burns. You can also use the fajita size tortillas and fold them over. If you cook them this way, you will probably need to flip them. Use caution and be sure the cheese is melted so you don’t end up with a mess!
4. Slice into triangles and serve with avocado cream or sour cream and fruit salsa.

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**Now, I’m going to make a suggestion. After this week of chicken you might be looking to eat some BEEF. I recommend planning your next week starting with this steak with chimichurri and making the chimichurri a day or two early (it’s good in the fridge for up to a week). Before you make the quesadillas, toss the chicken in the chimichurri sauce. It. Is. SO. good!

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I made these for lunch one day while trying to use up leftovers (what a surprise!) The chimichurri added an unbeatable layer of flavor.

Click here for the complete story on these OHI quesadillas, including my original avocado spread recipe!

Steak Wraps & Salads (Second Meal)

I am loving wraps lately to use up leftovers.  You can add whatever you like to them, and they’re usually fairly healthy – especially if you get whole wheat tortillas.

So after I made grilled Chuck steak the other night, I made wraps for lunch with the leftovers.

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I sliced the steak, reheated it gently by sauteeing in a pan, then layered it on a tortilla with cheddar, chimichurri, avocado, and tomato. If you have enough steak left, this would work as dinner the next night too.

Or, you can make a salad.  Prepare the steak the same way, then toss it lightly in the chimichurri. Place over your green of choice, adding whatever toppings you like. I put romaine lettuce first, then cheddar and tomato, the steak, and avocado. It’s great with this homemade dressing.
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My lovely sister had the idea of making burrito bowls too – rice and beans topped with these same ingredients.

If you used lean beef, you can feel good about making a healthy choice for lunch. It doesn’t take much time at all, and as a mom, it sure feels more grown-up to eat one of these options than it does to eat a PBJ or grilled cheese (not that I have anything against those classics).

Now enjoy a very simple but elegant feeling second meal!

Guacamole

Fixed my guacamole! Yum!

Recipe:

3 Small Avocados or 2 large ones, halved, seeded, cut, and peeled.
Juice from 1 large lime
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt, or more to taste
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 Roma tomato, seeded and finely chopped
2 tomatillos, diced
1 TBLspn cilantro, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced

So first you mash the avocado and gently stir in the lime juice and salt. Then fold in all the rest of the ingredients. I’ve gotta say, the trick is the 2 tomatillos. I’m telling you, they make it. They’re an indescribable combo of a cooling effect yet kind of zingy. I am also generous with the cilantro… If it looks like it needs more, I add it. Then I add more salt to taste. (If you’re wondering, yes, kosher salt is better! )
Let sit at room temperature for one hour to let the flavors really marinate.

It is So. Good. 🙂

But how do you keep it from going bad/brown?

Good question. I wondered the same thing, so I asked one of the cooks I work with. He said, keep the avocado pit in it, and lay a piece of lettuce over top. Well I don’t have lettuce, but I did cover it with plastic…
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And now you can enjoy your guacamole with chips, on wraps, on tacos, on steak, on burgers, as a veggie dip… Whatever your heart desires!

Quick Tip of the Day – Pitting an Avocado

Ever wondered the best way to pit and cut an avocado?

1. Make a vertical cut with your knife as far as you can go (to the pit) and rotate the avocado so you make a full circle.
2. With the knife still in the cut, bend it to start separating the two halves. They should easily pull apart from each other at this point.
3. Set aside the half without the pit and hold the other half in your hand. Take your knife and bravely stab the pit. (Usually I do this vertically, but as you can see in the picture the pit was coming apart so I went to Plan B!)
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4. Start to tilt the knife with it still inserted in the pit, rotate it fully, and…

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5. The pit should come out on your knife blade, completely removed from the avocado.

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6. Now, for chopped avocado, carefully cut strips vertically along the avocado all the way down to the skin; then do the same horizontally. You can use a spoon (or even better, a grapefruit spoon) to easily remove from the skin. You can even remove it before cutting if desired.

A great early food for babies as it is soft enough for babies learning to chew, but still has good nutrition!

Read more avocado recipes, benefits of avocado, and more here!