Thank you to Chef Pati Jinich of the PBS show Pati’s Mexican Table for providing these tips and recipes for enjoying one of our favorite foods, avocados!
Note About Pesticides: While it is best to buy organic produce whenever possible, non organic avocados are consistently on the Environmental Working Group’s “Clean 15” list–including being the “cleanest” fruit/vegetable of 2014 “with only 1 percent of samples showing any detectable pesticides.”
Avocado Q&A with Chef Pati
Q: Are avocados considered a fruit or a vegetable?
A: Avocados are considered a fruit.
Q: How do I know when an avocado is ripe?
A: You can spot a ripe avocado from Mexico by its green-black pebbly textured skin. When you hold the avocado, it should feel heavy for its size and have no mushy spots. Avocados mature on the tree, but they soften and develop their fullest flavor after picking. You can count on a firm green avocado to ripen within three to four days. If the skin is a mottled color – green with black patches – it will be ready to use in a shorter time, two to three days.
Q: How can I store an avocado?
A: Whole avocados can be stored at room temperature in an area with good circulation to continue their ripening. For speedier ripening, keep avocados in a closed paper bag. To slow down ripening, refrigerate them until a few days before use. When saving part of an avocado for later use, cover the exposed flesh with plastic wrap to slow oxidation.
Q: Are avocados good for you?
A: Avocados are nutritious and contribute good fats to your diet. One ounce or 3 slices of an avocado has 50 calories and contributes nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, making it a good choice to help meet nutrient needs. Avocados are also sodium and cholesterol free and using them in place of common “bread spreads” may help reduce your intake of saturated fat, sodium and calories.
Q: How can I encourage my kids to eat healthfully and incorporate avocados into their diet?
A: There’s nothing better than setting an example for your children – if your children see you eating and enjoying nutritious ingredients that you want them to eat, they are more likely to want to delve into the experience. Another tip I have to encourage kids to eat healthily is to make dishes that they can help assemble in a fun way so they feel that it is their choice to add those elements into a dish. Kids also love rolling, stacking, and dipping while cooking, so with that in mind, I love to use avocado in those formats. An avocado smoothie is a great way to give your children something that tastes delicious and is good for them.
Q: What advice would you give to parents of picky eaters?
A: My advice to parents of picky eaters is to set an example for your children. When they see you eating something, they’ll likely want to try it as well.
Q: Sometimes my son doesn’t want to eat breakfast. How do I motivate him when he’d rather be sleeping than eating?
A: Make him something delicious, like and avocado, mango and berry smoothie, or oatmeal, avocado and agave pancakes! He’ll receive all the nutrition while enjoying something super tasty! If you let your children participate in the kitchen with you (kids love making a mess in the kitchen), they’ll be more eager to participate and eat.
And here are two of Pati’s favorite avocado recipes! Enjoy!
- 4 cups frijoles colados, or seasoned and pureed beans
- 16 corn tortillas
- 1 cup Mexican cream or heavy cream
- 1 cup queso fresco, or fresh cheese, or farmers cheese, or a mild feta
- Avocado slices, optional
- Chipotles in adobo sauce, optional
- Heat a comal or dry skillet over medium heat.
- Taking one tortilla at a time, heat on the comal or skillet for about 30 seconds per side. Take the tortilla with a pair of tongs and immerse it in the bean puree. Place it on a plate, fold it as if it were a quesadilla or a turnover. Drizzle as much cream and sprinkle as much cheese as you like.
- You can also top it with some avocado slices and a bit of chipotles in adobo sauce.
Avocado, Mango & Berries Smoothie
- 1 ripe avocado from Mexico, pitted, meat scooped out and diced
- 1 cup diced ripe mango, fresh or frozen (can substitute pineapple)
- ½ cup mixed berries (such as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries), plus more for garnish
- ½ cup spinach leaves
- 1 ripe banana, peeled and sliced
- 1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
- chia, flax seeds, more berries to serve as garnish, optional
- Place all ingredients, from the avocado to the orange juice, in blender and process until smooth.
- Garnish with chia seeds, flax seeds and/or more berries if desired.