Basics: Avocados

It's happened to all of us...the craving for an avocado hits. It's totally uncontrollable. You dream of the creamy fruit smashed over whole grain toast, and biting into the buttery goodness. The bread is in the toaster and then cut into the avocado only to find it is totally brown. You burst into tears in the kitchen not knowing how you're going to get on with the rest of your day...or life. 

Ok, maybe I'm being a little dramatic, but avocados are one of those fruits (yes, it's a fruit) that seems like a total gamble when you pick them out at the grocery store. 

While I can't guarantee you will never pick out a bad avocado again, I have some tips that will hopefully make the above scene a lot less likely to happen. Today for my "Basics Series", we're going to talk about how to shop for, store, and prepare avocado. 

Avocado is technically considered a fruit but from a nutritional standpoint, it is considered a healthy fat with 77% of its calories coming from fat. The majority of which are unsaturated (the good kind). There is no need to shy away from eating them but keep in mind that they are a dense source of calories (read: don't eat multiple avocados in one day, but one is fine). 

There are a couple things you can do to lessen your chances of picking  bad avocado when shopping. First, you need to decide when you are planning to eat your avocados. Avocados are ripe (ready to eat) when they are soft. They will continue to ripen on the counter. If you plan to eat them the same day, pick ones that give a little when you gently squeeze them. You do not want them to be completely mushy. The skin of ripe avocados also tends to be darker in color. If you plan to eat them in a couple days, pick ones that are more firm.

Next, pick off the little nub at the top of the fruit (see below). If the flesh below it is green, it likely means that it is a good avocado, if it is brown, it likely means the majority of the fruit is brown inside (i.e. not good). This is true for both ripe and unripe avocados. 

Now that you have your perfect avocados at home, how to do you store them and prepare them? I usually buy more than one avocado at a time. Unless I am eating them right away, I usually have firm ones at home. I like to leave one or two out on the counter to ripen and put the rest in the fridge. When I eat one, I pull one out of the fridge to ripen. This way, I don't have to make daily trips to the store for my avocado fix but I can have some control over when I want them to be ready. 

                        All unripe avocados, keep two out, put the rest in the fridge for later. 

                        All unripe avocados, keep two out, put the rest in the fridge for later. 

When you are ready to eat your avocado, they are really easy to prepare. Simply slice the entire thing lengthwise with a sharp knife and split apart. If you plan to eat the whole thing, carefully insert the blade into the pit and twist so the pit comes loose. If you are only eating half, leave the pit in when you store it. You can slice the fruit in the flesh before you scoop it out or leave it whole and scoop it out with a spoon. Easy as pie :)

Avocados turn brown when they are exposed to air due to oxidation (similar to apples and bananas). Reducing the fruits exposure to air and adding some citrus will help prevent the oxidation from happening. If I do not eat the entire avocado, I wrap the remaining half tightly in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator. I have heard that the pit can help prevent oxidation so I usually eat the half without the pit first and wrap up the half with the pit. 

I love avocados in just about anything...smashed on toast, made into guacamole, made into salad dressing, or tossed into salads. The use of avocados goes way beyond that though. Check out some of these delicious and unique ways to use avocados from some fellow healthy food bloggers. 

Chocolate Avocado Cookies from Sprint 2 the Table

Blood Orange Avocado Scones from Sprint 2 the Table

Crispy Avocado Tacos from Healthy Aperture

Avocado, Jicama and Cucumber Salad from The Lively Table

Avocado and Mushroom Toast from Courtney's Cookbook

Watermelon Avocado Tomato Stack from C It Nutritionally

S'mores Chocolate Avocado Pudding from Athletic Avocado

Grilled Avocados Stuffed with Corn and Black Bean Salsa from Nutritioulicious

Avocado and Tomato Caprese Salad from Simple and Savory 

Superfood Salad from the Foodie Physician 

Smashed Chickpea and Avocado Sandwich from Food, Pleasure and Health

Minty Strawberry Avocado Salad with Citrus from Athletic Avocado