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Semi-local food: Avocado

Posted Dec 15 2009 12:00am

I’m as dedicated a fan of local food as you’ll find anywhere, but I have to confess: I also love the winter months, when it’s all but impossible to be a pure locavore (at least around here), and you’re pretty much forced to expand your horizons.

Sure, you can still eat local potatoes, carrots, winter squash, onions, apples, and cranberries -- and I do! But I also grab the opportunity to scarf up mangoes, pineapples, pomegranates, kiwis, and other foods that could never, in a million years, be coaxed to grow in cold New England soil.

I still try to buy as local as possible, which, in the wintertime, might mean pineapples from Hawaii and pomegranates from California, rather than strawberries from Chile and bell peppers from Holland. Sometimes you have to bend a little. Actually, that goes for just about everything having to do with food.

My favorite semi-local food, by far, is the avocado.

Okay, I buy avocados even in the summertime. They’re just such a perfect food: beautiful, rich, delicious, and so good for you. In fact, I get a little green myself -- with envy -- to think that in some places, avocados just grow by the side of the road and fall off the trees and get run over. I’d kill to have my own avocado tree.

I know what you’re thinking: aren’t avocados loaded with fat?

Yes, they are, but it’s monounsaturated fat, the healthy kind that helps keep your cholesterol in balance. You need some fat in your diet, and it’s much better to get it from avocados than from fast-food burgers, baked goods, or come to think of it, almost any other source.

Avocados are also full of potassium, B vitamins, fiber, and vitamin E. Because they pack a lot of nutrition along with those calories, you’re less likely to experience food cravings later on.

The avocado’s flavor is smooth and mild, which makes it an ideal foil for sharper-tasting ingredients like onions, tomatoes, peppers, and citrus fruits. Avocados excel as a sandwich ingredient. My all-time favorite sandwich: sliced avocado, cheese, and roasted red peppers on sourdough bread.

Here’s a super fast recipe for bean and avocado wraps adapted from the Mexican Avocado Association website, though again, I’d choose California avocados, given a choice. (Also check out their recipe for avocado cheesecake -- I don't know if I’d make this, but it sure is pretty!)

Avocado & black bean wrap

(makes 1 sandwich, but can easily be multiplied)

2/3 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained (freeze remainder, or throw leftover beans into soup)
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup salsa
1 whole-grain tortilla, large size
1/2 avocado, chopped

Pour salsa into a strainer and allow excess liquid to drain for a minute or two.

Mix drained salsa, cumin, and black beans. Fill tortilla with bean mixture and chopped avocado. Wrap tortilla around filling and enjoy!

To all friends of Make Friends With Food: Today’s the last day to vote for this blog in the People’s Health Blogger Awards competition on Wellsphere. Yeah, they make you create an account and a password -- but it’s free, and you can un-join anytime. Or stick around and check out the healthy eating info on the site!
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