The Amazing Avocado: Quick Ways to Use Avocados to Reap the Benefits
Avocados are healthy, nourishing, and hydrating. Here’s how to add them to your daily routine.
Considered a superfood for much of the last decade, the avocado’s popularity doesn’t seem to be slowing down. More than ever, people are experimenting with this versatile fruit—creating and swapping recipes online via countless food blogs and Pinterest pages. Restaurants are also getting in on the trend, opening a whole new world of avocado options beyond guacamole. There’s even an avocado bar in New York City named Avocaderia that’s serving up the latest twist on avocado toasts, bowls, salads, and smoothies.
Avocados are considered a superfood for a reason. Rich in more than 20 vitamins, nutrients, and minerals, they are a good source of monounsaturated fatty acids—the cholesterol lowering, healthy kind! They are also low in fructose. Whether it’s your love of avocados, or your vow to become more vegan, make space in your day for the goodness of the avocado.
1. A Nutritious Breakfast on the Go
An avocado smoothie is a good way to get your metabolic cylinders firing in the morning. This nutrient-packed drink lets you enjoy the benefits of the avocado on-the-go or after a morning workout. As a recovery beverage, it can be a good source of fiber and potassium, an essential dietary mineral and electrolyte. Avocados contain more potassium than a banana and more protein and fats than any other fruit. This smoothie recipe provides vitamins A, B12 and E, fiber and zero cholesterol (if nondairy). You can add veggies, fruits, and nutritional supplements as desired.
Avocado Smoothie Recipe
Yields 1-2 servings.
1 large avocado, pit discarded, and pulp removed from skin
1 1/2 cups milk of choice (coconut, almond, or low-fat)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sweetener of choice such as 2 tablespoons maple syrup or stevia to taste
1 scoop protein powder, optional
In a blender, combine all ingredients until smooth. Don’t add ice, as it will dilute the flavor. Serve cold.
Avocado Toast: So Many Options
Not feeling like a smoothie today? Toast up a slice of whole-grain bread (Dave’s Powerseed bread is good choice for fiber and protein) and spread it with mashed avocado. Top it with a leafy herb such as chopped fresh basil, cilantro, dill or parsley. Sliced tomatoes also make a delicious topping on avocado toast. Add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or glaze, a dash of red chili flakes, or one of our personal favorites, Trader Joe’s “Everything but the Bagel Sesame” seasoning blend. For added protein, crown it with an egg (poached, over easy, or scrambled).
2. Cook With Heart Healthy Avo Oil
Avocado oil is earning its rightful spot in kitchens everywhere. Just like the fruit itself, avocado oil (made from pressing the fleshy pulp, not the seed) is packed with healthy fats. Substitute vegetable oil with avocado oil for cooking. Or whisk avo oil with lemon juice and pepper to create a simple vinaigrette for salad, fruits and veggies. (Avocado oil can increase absorption of the carotenoids in the salad by up to 15 percent.) It’s a healthier vehicle for frying food and has a higher smoke point (500° F) than olive oil.
For added flavor, infuse the oil with your favorite herbs, then drizzle it on top of dips, soups, garlic bread, or toast. Use it on crusty bread to make an excellent side for soup. Avocado oil can be found in grocery stores. Look for cold-pressed oil, which reportedly does a better job at extracting the nutrients from the fruit without compromising quality or damaging delicate proteins and antioxidants.
How to Maintain the Green Goodness – The Best Tips for Storing Avocados:
- You can keep avocados on the kitchen counter for three to four days.
- Hasten the ripening process by keeping them in a brown paper bag, away from direct sunlight. Add a piece of fruit, such as an apple, which emits ethylene to hasten the process.
- Don’t refrigerate avocados until they’re ripe (soft to the touch). Ripe avocados will keep for three to four days in the refrigerator.
- To store an avocado half, squeeze lemon juice on the cut surface to avoid browning. Freeze it in a zip lock bag or a storage pod (found in department stores).
3. Nourish Your Body and Increase Your HDL at Mealtime
Avocados are a great for creating flavorful and healthy meals. Their rich, creamy texture makes them versatile additions to a variety of dishes from salads to pasta. It’s always good to reduce saturated fat in your diet. The good fats in avocados help the body absorb vitamins A, D, K, and E and may improve the balance of HDL and LDL cholesterols in the body. Thicken soups or sauces with avocado instead of heavy cream, or substitute butter with avocado oil to bake healthier cakes and cookies. Try Chicken Avocado Corn Salad (recipe below) for an easy dinner “bowl” entree. Mashed Avocado Quesadillas (recipe below) are another great dinner option or appetizer when sliced into small pieces and served with a side of salsa.
4. Hydrate Your Skin At Bedtime
You don’t have to go to the spa to give your face a quick boost. Just head to the kitchen and grab an avocado. Packed with nutrients beneficial for maintaining healthy skin, avocados can help enrich dry and damaged skin. In recent years, a number of cosmetics lines have been adding avo oils due to their ability to nourish the skin with essential vitamins (including 25 mg of vitamin E per 100 g of avocado oil) and phytosterols. Plant-based sterols help maintain the structure of cell membranes, stimulate collagen and hyaluronic acid production in the skin, and aid in reducing wrinkle formation.
Additional Avocado Oil Skincare Benefits
Avo oil also has a high concentration of oleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid, which acts as a moisturizer by increasing skin permeability and moving ingredients deep into the skin. These fatty acids are connected to improving skin tone and reducing signs of premature aging. Massage the oil on your face and skin, or add it to your moisturizer or body lotion. The oil is rich in pigments such as chlorophyll and carotenoids, which act as antioxidants and fight free radicals responsible for inflammation, sunburn, eye ailments, wounds, even plaque psoriasis.
Masks that Soothe the Skin
There are many good commercial avo masks available. Kiehl’s Avocado Face Mask provides much needed hydration with no messy cleanup. Origins’ Overnight Hydrating Mask is a bedtime option. Glow Recipe’s Avocado Melt combines avocado with retinol. If you like to experiment using ingredients right from the kitchen or garden, here is a homemade mask to try:
Avocado Honey Face Mask
This easy–to–make face mask for dry skin uses only two natural ingredients, avocado and honey, both of which act as natural moisturizers. Take 1 fully ripe fresh avocado, remove the skin as well as the seed, and mash it up into creamy pulp in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of honey and stir the mixture until it turns into a uniform paste.
Apply to skin and leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse off the mixture with lukewarm water and pat dry your face with a soft towel. Lemon juice is an astringent and clarifying agent. To help cleanse your pores, try adding 1/2 teaspoon of a freshly squeezed lemon juice to your homemade mask.
Amazing Avocado Recipes: Tested and Approved
Chicken Avocado Corn Salad
Yields 2-3 servings
For the salad:
4 ears of corn, husked
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups shredded or cubed cooked chicken (rotisserie chicken works well)
3 medium or 2 large avocados, seeded, peeled and cut into dice-sized pieces
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup chopped red onion
For the dressing:
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- Brush corn with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat for 6 to 8 minutes, turning frequently, until kernels begin to char. Use a sharp knife to cut corn off the cob.
- In a medium bowl, combine corn, chicken, avocado, cilantro, and onion.
- Whisk together dressing ingredients. Pour over salad and toss to combine.
- Serve immediately or cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. (If serving after chilling, take the salad out of the fridge and let it sit for about 30 minutes to bring it closer to room temperature before serving.)
Note: You can make this dish with just one avocado and substitute frozen sweet corn for grilled corn on the cob.
Mashed Avocado Quesadillas
Yields 2 servings
2 ripe avocados
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 lime
Handful chopped cilantro
1/2 cup cooked black beans, rinsed
1/4 cup canned or frozen corn
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large burrito–size tortillas, cut in half (use whole–wheat or gluten–free if desired)
- In a small mixing bowl, mash the avocado. Add the garlic, cumin, sea salt, pepper, lime juice and red pepper and stir.
- Add the cilantro, beans, corn, and onion to the avocado mixture. Stir to combine.
- Spoon half the mixture onto a tortilla half. Fold to close. Repeat with other tortillas.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil.
- When the oil is hot, add a folded tortilla to the pan and let cook until browned on one side, then flip to brown the other side.
- Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
- Serve immediately with a side of salsa or Greek yogurt and a cilantro garnish if desired.
Note: Add Monterey Jack cheese to make these quesadillas extra tasty.
Maureen Ryan Thorpe is a freelance writer who grew up on the North Shore of Boston and has written about people, places, and technology for years. She aims to impart tips to readers on how to “do-it-yourself,” save money, think creatively, and live life to the fullest.