I come from an Irish-Catholic family, which, as you might expect, subscribes to the meat-and-potatoes diet, emphasis on the meat. My dad in particular was not the best example of clean eating. At family dinner, if we had an especially fatty cut, my sister would recoil at the white, delicate marbling, while Dad would cut off a piece and drop it in his mouth. Delicious, his expression would read.
Unsurprisingly, I’ve inherited some of my parents’ eating habits. For a while, my breakfasts featured an omelet—filled with swiss cheese and beef. To a stringent vegan, I might as well have sacrificed a calf to the gods.
Now, I’m trying to change my diet, eat more vegan, and the transition has been difficult. I’m surviving this detox, though, and one loyal, supportive friend deserves some credit: the Avocado.
Enjoy the Versatility
Before, my drug of choice was cheese. As I’ve transitioned into clean eating, the avocado has been my antidote. It’s a great, healthier alternative to all that dairy. In my sandwiches, the avocado is a great creamy substitute for cheese. It also perfectly brings together all the different flavors, just as dairy did for me. Another benefit: the avocado is rich in flavor, but not overpowering.
And if you do want to make the taste a little bolder, there’s plenty you can do—the avocado is a very versatile fruit. For example, if you want to make some guacamole, you don’t have to stick just to the traditional ingredients: tomatoes, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and, of course, plenty of avocado. Throw a sliced apple in there, and you’ll get extra zest and sweetness. Even better: pomegranates. Their juicy crunch breaks up the buttery texture of the avocado.
To get the best bang for your buck—both literally and figuratively—you should keep a couple things in mind. First, avocados can be expensive out of season. And second, to get all the antioxidants that the avocado offers, you need to slice them properly.
First things first: navigating the avocado market. This fruit is in season in the spring, and, naturally, they tend to be cheapest then, at as little as $1 per avocado, according to avocado.org, a USDA-approved resource about the fruit. Out of season, the price can rise by as much as 50%, to $1.50.
Based on an analysis of USDA reports, consumer costs generally start rising in September and then begin to decline in February. During that off-season, on average, you would spend roughly 25% more on the avocado. And if you’re like me, a recent college grad with minimal income, then that cost can add up. I’m on the one-a-day habit, and, to save cash, about $50 per off-season, I have to get creative. The Huffington Post was able to help me out on this one: to save your money, freeze your avocados.
Use the Right Technique
First, though, you have to cut and peel your fruit, which leads me to my next point: technique. Carotenoids, or antioxidants, reside in the dark green flesh that touches the avocado’s scaly skin. You don’t want to throw away that part. You need to cut and peel properly. Rather than hack at the fruit, 1) cut lengthwise and then separate into halves. 2) Remove the seed. 3) Then cut lengthwise again, into quarters. 4) Now, it’s time to peel the skin. Grip the edge of the skin and peel like you would a banana—this quartered shape makes the process a helluva lot easier. 5) Finally, store your avocados in a plastic bag and freeze. You’re ready for winter.
I miss meat and cheese. I really do. But the Avocado is proving to be a faithful friend. It’s a base for a new cornucopia, a host of new flavors I’m excited to explore. Wish me luck!
Image Source: Will Merydith/Flickr