JEFF TIEDEMAN: Amazing avocadoThis creamy fruit not only tastes good but is good for you.
Have you ever tried to imagine what it was like for your ancestors?
And I don’t just mean those who lived several generations back. I’m also talking about parents and grandparents.
What especially intrigues me is how they survived. And it doesn’t matter where they came from — Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East — even our Native Americans, the first inhabitants of what we called the United States.
Not only didn’t they have all the conveniences of modern time (no computers, cellphones, iPads — even TV — and the like), much of the food that we enjoy today was foreign to them.
Only 20 to 30 years ago, a lot of people who lived around here weren’t familiar with foods such as quinoa, Greek yogurt, fresh seafood such as mahi-mahi, tuna, halibut, salmon, etc. and a variety of in-season fruits and vegetables, all of which are readily available in supermarkets, even some of the smallest towns across America.
So, what’s the reason?
Increased ethnic diversity has a lot to do with it. But more so, it has to do with globalization, which connects markets and businesses worldwide.
One of the foods that I didn’t start to enjoy until well into my 20s is the avocado, which is considered by some as one of superfoods of the 21st century. (In stores now is the black-skinned Hass variety from Mexico. The California Hass comes in March.)
Avocados once were considered off-limits for anyone who was dieting because of their high calorie count (276) and fat (30 grams).
But studies have shown the fat is monounsaturated, the kind thought to lower bad (LDL) cholesterol and boost good (HDL) cholesterol and helps with the growth and development of the central nervous system and the brain.
Avocados also contain good amounts of potassium, vitamin A, niacin, fiber, phytonutrients and the antioxidant lutein, which is good for the eyes.
Although a fixture in Tex-Mex and south-of-the-border cooking for years (they were discovered in Mexico approximately 291 B.C. and have been grown commercially in the U.S. since the early 1900s), avocados didn’t become popular until their use in salads in the 1950s. Today, almost 50 percent of American households consume avocados.
There are a few things you need to know about purchasing and storing avocados:
— To use right away, choose ripe avocados with smooth dark green skin or pebbly skin that is almost purplish-black. Don’t buy if fruit has uneven soft spots.
— Refrigerate only ripe avocados; unripe avocados will not ripen in the cold. Leave them on the counter to ripen in three to four days. Place them in a paper bag with an apple or banana to speed up ripening.
— Store ripe avocados for up to five days. Any longer, the flesh can become mushy, tasteless and dark.
— You can freeze pureed avocado for about four months to use in dips, sauces and spreads.
One of my favorite uses for avocados is in guacamole, a paste that also can contain lime juice, garlic, cilantro and hot chilies. It’s very good on tortillas and tostadas as well as being used to make meat dipping sauces.
You also can mash, season and spread them on bread for sandwiches or slice them for salads and sandwiches, puree them for smoothies and use them in cooked dishes.
I’m pretty sure my grandparents — and parents for that matter — didn’t eat avocados. But I bet they would have loved them.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.