The Denver Avocado Takedown is coming up. This Denver Life Magazine and Examiner food editor will be a judge, so sign up now for the event at Casselman’s Bar on Nov. 6th at 2:00 pm. There will be tons of prizes from Le Creuset, Anolon, Wustoff and Microplane and a $1000 Grand Prize for the best avocado recipe. Each person gets a case of ripe avocados to test their skills. If you prefer to be a taster, tickets are $15 for an avocado feast to remember. This is the second stop for the Avocado Takedown; Los Angeles had first dibs. Denver has a chance to rub LA’s nose in a green-guacey mess by showing them Denver has what it takes to take them down. For more information link here. To enter, email this address: [email protected] To buy tickets go to Casselman’s Bar website.
In preparation for my role as an impartial judge (bribes not withstanding), I did a little background check on avocados. I discovered the avocado is a misunderstood food that deserves more respect. The first myth: the soft fleshy avocado is a fruit, not a vegetable. Who knew? It’s in the same family as berries.
So where did avocados get their nasty reputation as a junk food for tailgate, beer-drinking parties. Blame the English and the Spanish. British expatriates living in Jamaica used to call avocados alligator pears because of the strange green, bumpy skin. Even today Jamaicans call avocados pears.
But the bad reputation actually comes from an illicit reference to the shape of the fruit— ahuacatl—the Aztec word for “testicle.” The Spanish explorers couldn’t pronounce it, so they called it aguacate, which led to the term guacamole. Starchy Europeans further added to the fruit’s reputation as a food of ill repute by deeming it an aphrodisiac, and thus never daring to eat it in public for fear of slanderous sexual innuendoes.
Lucky for us, we can eat avocados in public without fear of reprisal or sexual gossip. But that hasn’t changed the fruit’s reputation as a high fat, unhealthy food. Shame on us for perpetuating this myth. The avocado is perhaps one of the healthiest foods for its high folic acid levels and heart healthy fats. Women of childbearing age should consider consuming avocados because one avocado contains 23% of the daily-recommended dose of folic acid, which can reduce the chances of birth defects. The other myth is that avocados are high in unhealthy fat. Yes, they are fatty, but they contain good fats including monounsaturated fats that lower (not raise) cholesterol and oleic acid which can reduce the risk of breast cancer. Avocados are also high in lutein, which lowers the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
Singer Sheryl Crow’s new post cancer cookbook, If it makes you healthy, includes avocados as one of her go-to foods when she was in recovery and now when she is on the road. Crow says while in treatment she learned about the power of nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants like lycopene, which reduce the risk for some cancers, including breast cancer.
The book includes 100 recipes that contain cancer-fighting spices and nutrients, like nuts, cocoa and healthy fats. One recipe in the book is Lime-Kissed Stuffed Avocados (see below). Chef Chuck White, Crow’s personal chef and co-author says he makes this recipe when he is on the road with Crow and her band. “Everyone loves them because just about everyone likes avocados and they are filling without being heavy—the perfect snack or light meal,” he says. “To tell if an avocado is ripe, hold it in your hand and exert gentle pressure. It should give nicely, but not feel mushy (similar to determining the ripeness of a peach),” says White. “You can buy hard avocados and let them ripen on the counter, but that can take up to a week. To speed up the ripening process, place the avocados in a paper bag with an apple or banana, and they should ripen in a day or so.”
Lime-Kissed Stuffed Avocados
Recipe courtesy of If it makes you healthy, by Sheryl Crow
4 ripe avocados
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons fresh store-bought salsa, preferably organic
1. Blue corn or flax seed tortillas, preferably organic
2. Cut the avocados into halves and remove pits. Carefully scoop the flesh from each avocado, leaving the skins intact so that you can refill them. Transfer the avocado flesh to a glass mixing bowl. Add the lime juice, salt, cumin, garlic powder, and pepper and mash with a fork or potato masher. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
3. Spoon the avocado back into the scooped-out skins. Garnish the top of each with a tablespoon of fresh salsa.
4. Serve with organic blue corn or flax seed tortillas.