Summer salad
Credit: woodleywonderworks on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Guacamole has

been done to death

I think every type of guacamole recipe has already been written about. So I searched for some new ways to enjoy the rich, creamy texture of avocados in a salad, a smoothie and a dessert.

After making my Fresh Fruit G-F Dessert for July 4th, I had a plenty of blueberries and strawberries to use up.

The flickr photo by woodleywonderworks (above) inspired me to create a similar salad with the vinaigrette from my Watermelon, Arugula & Avocado Salad - but I added a bit of maple syrup to it for added sweetness.

But first, I wanted to research how to choose a good avocado and how to make them last longer.

The Sign (on the right) Gave Me a Chuckle

Please do NOT squeeze my Hass avocados
Credit: Link Humans on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Hass Variety

About 80% of avocados grown in the world are the Hass variety. Mexico produces the most avocados globally; in the US, 95% are grown in Southern California.[1] I am only familiar with Hass avocados, so I will be using them for all of the recipes in my article.

For those of you with the perfect climate, my friend AstroGremlin on InfoBarrel successfully grows avocados and has written about the one essential your avocado tree may need.

AvocadosCredit: slgckgc on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

How to Pick Out the Best Avocados

These are some lesser-known tips that have helped me. You'll need to consider when you'll be using your avocados. If you have a few days, pick the harder ones.

First of all, forget pressing on the widest part of the avocado - you'll only bruise it and chances are everyone else in the produce section has done the same. It might feel ripe only because of that.

1) Press down gently around the stem area on the avocado instead. It should give a little to gentle pressure.

2) Check the skin for a uniform dark green colour without any cuts or mushy areas.

3) Find the stem remnant near the top of the avocado, remove it and check for a green spot. If it is brown, the flesh inside the avocado will be brown.

4) If your avocado is a bit on the hard side, ripen it up at home for a couple of days by placing it in a brown paper bag (at room temperature).

Up next is a short (1:37 second) video of Executive Chef Ruben Lozano explaining and demonstrating these helpful tips.

How to Choose the Perfect Avocado

Need to Save Half?

I've often found myself not able to use up an entire avocado and I end up tossing half of it out. Finally I found this tried and true method of prolonging the life of an avocado half from a video uploaded by Jerry James Stone.

How to Store an Avocado Half for a Week

Rose's Avocado, Berries and Cucumber Salad

Serves: 3 | Prep: 15 mins | Total: 20 mins


This recipe was inspired by the intro photo of my article. I tweaked the vinaigrette from my Watermelon, Arugula & Avocado Salad recipe by cutting back on the oil and lemon juice. I found a little maple syrup helped to give it an earthy, mild sweetness.
 
Ingredients:
 
1/2 head of lettuce (or other leafy green)
1 sliced avocado
1/2 cup blueberries
3/4 cup hulled and sliced strawberries
1/2 cucumber sliced
 
Vinaigrette:
 
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (good quality)
2 tbsp. lemon juice (or juice from 1 lime)
1 tbsp. maple syrup (preferably Grade A Light) or honey
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
 
Directions:
 
Wash all of your produce and set aside to dry.
 
In a small bowl, whisk together all of the vinaigrette ingredients.
 
In a large bowl, tear up lettuce leaves. Prepare and slice avocado, strawberries, and cucumber and add to lettuce. Throw in blueberries and gently toss salad. 
 
Pour vinaigrette over salad or over individual portions of salad.

Rose's Avocado Banana Maple Smoothie

California Avocado Aperitif
Credit: California Avocados on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Avocado Banana Smoothie (Kid-Approved)

Makes: 3 - 4 | Prep: 10 mins | Total: 13 mins

This recipe was based on trial and error. If you do not have really ripe, sweet bananas, you might find you need to add some juice. I prefer a creamier taste and add some unsweetened evaporated milk or almond milk to mine.

Ingredients:

2 ripe (or frozen) bananas
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 ripe avocados (cubed or sliced)
1 tbsp. maple syrup or honey
1 - 2 cups of crushed ice
Optional: 1/2 cup orange juice
Optional: regular milk, unsweetened evaporated milk, or non-dairy milk (almond milk is wonderful)
 
Directions:
 
In a blender, crush ice. Add broken up pieces of banana, avocado, yogurt, maple syrup (or honey) and puree until smooth.
 
Taste it first and then consider adding orange juice and/or milk, unsweetened evaporated milk, or non-dairy milk to create a sweeter, creamier overall flavour.

Dark Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Chocolate and Avocado Pudding with Coconut Milk
Credit: California Avocados on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Dark Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Makes: 4 | Prep: 10 mins | Total: 40 mins

This recipe was based on one I found on YouTube by Shira Bocar with Everyday Food. I feature her video following the recipe. I used Grade A Light maple syrup instead of honey for mine. And I felt a little shaved chocolate and coconut was a nice touch.

Ingredients:

3 ripe avocados 
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup honey (or maple syrup)
6 tbsp. (just over 1/3 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
Optional garnish: sea salt, shaved chocolate and/or coconut flakes
 
Directions:
 
Add all the ingredients to a food processor (or blender). I mash up the avocado with the back of a wooden spoon in my blender. Pulse a few times, mix, and then puree until smooth. Pour (scrape) into 4 dessert bowls or goblets and chill for at least 30 minutes.
 
Garnish with sea salt or shaved chocolate and/or coconut flakes before serving.

Dark Chocolate and Avocado Pudding

Eat Clean with Shira Bocar

Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor

Cuisinart DFP-14BCN 14-Cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless Steel RoseWrites 2014-06-27 4.5 0 5
4.5/5

Need a Food Processor?

Cuisinart's 14-Cup Food Processor comes highly recommended by chefs

Cuisinart DFP-14BCN 14-Cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless Steel
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This is the same food processor that Shira Bocar uses (in the above video). What impresses me most about this model is the stainless steel construction and dishwasher-safe parts. It has an extra wide feeding tube (thank god) and even comes with shredding disc and dough blade. Amazon has included an instructional video so you can see more of this bad boy in action.