Avocados 101 – Picked, peeled, and prepped to perfection!

Avocados are becoming a must-have to pick up in the produce department because of their versatility and variety of powerful nutrients. Between their healthy monounsaturated fats that can improve heart health, the fiber that may lower cholesterol, and folate’s ability to improve brain health and prevent birth defects, avocados can definitely be considered a superfood! However, when it comes to picking, storing, and preparing them there are many different options. These tips will make you be a pro at successfully including this wholesome fruit in your diet.

It all starts with picking the right avocado at the store. This first step will depend on when you plan to eat your avocado. Use these guidelines below to pick out your avocados:

• Yields to gentle pressure: eat within a day

• Firm: eat in 2 to 3 days

• Hard: eat in 4 to 5 days

Are you not going to eat your avocado when you originally planned? If you want to delay your avocado from ripening, simply place it in the fridge. Or, to speed up the ripening process, place it in a brown paper bag with either an apple or banana and fold shut. Check the bag daily until you find the avocado is your desired ripeness.

There are a couple of ways to reach that green deliciousness on the inside. After cutting in half, remove the pit. Then you can either scoop the flesh out with a spoon, or peel the skin off. Peeling helps you get closer to that dark green layer of flesh closest to the skin; this is where the highest concentration of lutein is. Lutein is an antioxidant that has been shown to be beneficial for eye health.

Ready to make a recipe? You’ll be happy to know that the ways to prepare avocados are endless. Of course there is the classic guacamole, but you can also put avocados in smoothies, on toast or sandwiches, in salads, dips, deviled eggs, brownies, and more! Just be sure to properly store what you don’t use from the cut open avocado by drizzling with olive oil or lemon juice, wrapping with plastic wrap, and refrigerating. Check out the avocado boat recipe below to step up your avocado game!

Fresh Avocado Boats

Total time: 10 minutes

Serves: 4

All you need:

2 large ripe avocados from Mexico, halved and seeded

2 tbsp fresh lime juice

½ cup loosely packed arugula

¼ cup chopped pineapple

2 tbsp finely chopped red onion

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped, optional

Hy-Vee sea salt

Lime wedges

All you do:

1. Sprinkle avocado halves with lime juice. Top with arugula, pineapple, red onion and, if desired, jalapeno pepper. Sprinkle with sea salt. Serve immediately with lime wedges on side.

*Note: Chile peppers contain volatile oils that can burn your skin and eyes. When working with jalapeños, wear protective gloves.

Source: Hy-Vee Balance, March issue

Nutrition facts per serving: 170 calories, 15g fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 10mg sodium, 11g carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 2g sugar, 2g protein

Daily values: 35% vitamin C, 6% vitamin A, 2% calcium, 4% iron

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The information is not intended as medical advice.

Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

Laura Schmidt is a registered dietitian representing Hy-Vee as a nutrition expert promoting healthy eating throughout the community.

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