The Elixir – Uptown Soul Food: Avocados

BY Eileen Z. Fuentes (@theSPEACHgal)

My first SOUL food article was such a hit that I am super excited to feature another of many more articles in this series. My aim is to get you more familiarized with the foods that are available in our neighborhood and more importantly to encourage you to go out and actually eat them! But first, for those of you who may not know what SOUL food is, let me start by defining that… It stands for foods that are;

Seasonal, Organic, Unprocessed, and Local.

Avocadoes are one of the most satisfying, nutritious superfoods that Mother Earth has blessed us with. Could you believe that some people are afraid of this amazing fruit (yes fruit) because of its high calorie content? These poor souls are truly missing out on one of life’s grandest gifts. Avocadoes are considered a complete food because they supply potassium, magnesium, vitamins, protein, starch, fiber and very-good-for-you fat…the monounsaturated kind that has the power to protect your heart and lower your cholesterol. And contrary to popular belief, avocadoes can actually aid in weight loss as the body prefers to burn monounsaturated fat when exercising over the saturated kind found in meat and dairy. It can also help your body absorb other nutrients more efficiently. If that is not enough, emerging research indicates that eating avocadoes supports brain health and function.

Selecting avocadoes is easy. There is really no need to select the organic version as this fabulous fruit is #2 on the clean fifteen, meaning it is less likely to test positive for pesticide residue. Like many Uptown inhabitants, the avocado is native to the Caribbean, Mexican and South/Central America, so you can easily get them anytime beginning in the spring through early fall. When buying avocadoes, you should go for those that are free of dark spots or cracks. It should yield slightly to the touch when pressed but should maintain some firmness. You can also take off the stem for more clues. If it is green underneath, the avocado is ripe. If it’s brown, it’s not. If you happen to get them before they are ready to eat, just place it in a paper bag on your counter until it ripens. When all else fails, just ask the person selling it to pick one for you until you learn to do this yourself.

There are so many things you could do with avocadoes from a basic salad to using it as a spread on your sandwich instead of butter or mayo. You can also top your soup with it or blend it with a couple of other ingredients it to make a homemade creamy dressing. I personally love love love guacamole and if you want some great recipes, click here. Rick Bayless is the world’s greatest guacamole guru hands down. For those of you who still aren’t convinced that you should run out and eat an avocado right now, here is some targeted advice.

*Men: Protect your goods…avocado is a potent prostate protector as it inhibits the growth of cancer cells specifically in this precious body part. Here’s a fun fact: The avocado had an ancient reputation for increasing sexual prowess. The Aztecs, whose name for the avocado was ahuacatl, which means testicle, used the ahhhhh-vocado as a sex stimulant and believed so deeply in its sexual nutrients that virgin women were forbidden to leave their houses during avocado harvest days. Click here for more trivia on this topic.

*Ladies: Did you know you could get your sexy on with avocadoes? In one word, YES! There is probably nothing else that moisturizes and nourishes your hair (and skin) like homemade avocado conditioner. Some of you may already know that a mashed ripe avocado, mayonnaise, olive oil, honey and an egg (vegans can substitute mayo for coconut milk and omit the egg/honey) can turn your hair from dry and brittle to shiny and supple. And note, leftovers can be frozen for later use or rubbed on your feet for an at-home pedicure.

*Parents: Sneaking health into our children’s bellies has never been easier! Start introducing the avocado to your kid’s diet right away. Avocadoes make an excellent baby food when pureed with other vegetables. As your kids grow, you can sneak it into their food, which is easy because of its creamy texture. Add it to a fruit smoothie and its consistency will be very similar to ice cream. They will have no idea.

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  • James Bosley
    August 17, 2010 at 11:25 am

    I have a question about avocados. What is the difference between the bright green smooth kind like in the photo and the kind that I buy that’s rough skinned and kind of grayish.

    Thank you for a very informative and lively written piece.

  • Ben
    August 17, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Just thought I’d point out that avocados are definitely not SOUL. As mentioned in the article, they have to be shipped in from tropical climates, so they are in no way local.

    • Ricardo
      August 17, 2010 at 10:57 pm

      Ben, there is so much in this article and that stood out? You have to admit, there is something new in here that you might have not known.

      To Eileen, your historical reference to the Aztecs really blew me away! What a fun fact. Keep the info coming!

      Ricardo

  • Elieen
    August 17, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Hi Ben,

    Thanks for the feedback and you are correct. Avocados are not local. My intent is to meet the SOUL food qualifications as much as possible. It is however, Seasonal, Unprocessed and as I mentioned there is no need for it to be Organic. As the weather cools and the Fall season approaches, you will begin to see a lot more local produce in my articles. I did mention this in my story on mangoes..take a look and thanks again!

    https://www.uptowncollective.com//2010/06/30/the-elixir-%E2%80%93-uptown-soul-food-mangoes/

    Eileen

  • Unity carrie
    August 17, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    First mangoes ..now avocadoes, you know what that means: my special mannngoesss and avoooocadoessss dance!!!

    I fed Madi mashed avocadoes as one of her first two solid foods. Avocadoes are actually recommended for fully breastfeeding babies as an initial solid food because they have a mildly sweet taste and as such will be more palatable to a baby that is used to sweet mother’s milk.

    You can also do a hydrating facial mask by simply dabbing mashed avocadoes on your face after washing it.

    I do buy them organic because first I don’t want to take a chance on any pesticides and secondly because I want to support farming that does not use pesticides. Besides a bag of organic Haas avocadoes at Whole Paycheck is cheaper than the single conventional Hass avocadoes.

    As for the fact that they are not local, while this is true the availability of local produce where I live is greatly limited and the nutritious advantages of this lovely fruit make it a staple in our home. I grew up eating avocadoes in my home country and couldn’t imagine giving them up.

  • Eileen
    August 17, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    Hi James,

    Thanks for the compliment! In short, the reason for the differences is location, location, location.

    The rough skinned variety grown primarily in California, originates in Mexico and Guatemala. You see them more often because they can ship with less bruising and are available year-round.

    The larger, smooth avocado is grown in Florida but hails from the Caribbean. This version has a higher water content, has less fat and is cheaper (particularly now that it’s in season). Due to its delicate skin, they are only found in the east coast.

    Thanks again…now go get yourself either variety and enjoy 🙂

  • Eileen
    August 17, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Hi Unity Carrie,

    You made some very valid points…particularly about the breastfed infants diet to include avocado. As a mother of 3 nursed children, I only wish I had known that then. Fortunately they actually enjoy eating them now. The one who doesn’t is getting it without her knowledge 😉

    I can’t agree with you more about my relationship to this amazing fruit. I have to budge on my SOUL food limitations and go with what my ancestors thrived on…at least until I have enough moola to purchase a second home in the caribbean!

    Thanks for your comment and keep them coming!

    Eileen 🙂

  • Daisy Guzman
    August 17, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    I always thought that avocados were too high in cholesterol, and that’s the reason why I don’t eat them. My bad cholesterol is triple the amount of what it should be. Regarding mangoes, I don’t eat them because of the sugar content. I’m not diabetic and don’t want to be one. I need some advice.

    Daisy

  • Eileen
    August 17, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    The cholesterol myth as it relates to avocadoes is just that…a myth. As you can see from my story, it actually helps not hurts heart disease. As for mangoes, the many benefits outweigh the disadvantages. You should eat mangoes for many reasons but more specifically because your ancestors have been eating this for a long time (same goes for avocadoes). Your body will thank you…and so will I because I want you around for a long time!

    Eileen

  • Gerry Withy
    August 18, 2010 at 12:25 am

    This is a great article. Avacado is my favorite fruit. I eat it almost everyday. At home in Antigua we pick them off the trees when we need them. We ate them with bread and it tasted so good. We used to have a feast every Sunday after church “Codfish and avacado” I had some tonight in my salad. I am going to try the conditioner. Thanks so much. When is your book coming out? (smile), Regards.

  • Elieen
    August 18, 2010 at 8:13 am

    I just have one thing to say Gerry…lets bring the tradition of cod fish and avocado to the East Coast!

    As for the book, it will come as my audience grows. I’ll have to add that to my long-term to-do list. Thanks for your input and story and keep eating those avocadoes, apparently its working 😉

    Eileen

  • Ramona De La Cruz
    August 18, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Eileen – the wonders of avocadoes for *Ladies it’s really interesting. Not sure who invented it but, as you may recall, I always used the conditioner your mentioning on you, my friends, family, co-workers and myself.

    So please give credit to where credit is due. You can speak for experience that as a conditioner it really works.

    Additionally, I always have loved Avocadoes for all the reasons that you’re mentioning and add to it how delicious they taste.

    Like Gerry says, Bread with Avocado or Green Plaintain with Cod Fish and a slice of Avocado is the best!!!!!

  • Eileen
    August 18, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    Dear Ramona (mom),

    I never said I invented the conditioner as a matter of fact, I said many other may know of this not-so-secret concoction. I will give you credit for the introduction to me personally and for the many women before you who were intuitive enough to turn this wonderful fruit into hair magic.

    See you at the cod fish and avocado party and thanks for the feedback!

    Eileen

  • Debs
    August 23, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Eileen,

    Great article keep them coming, Do you get the same benefits if you eat in guacamole?

  • Elieen
    August 23, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Hi Debs,

    Great question! Actually, I would dare to say guacamole has MORE benefits. Additions like cilantro and onions have additional healing properties that enhance all the great things that already exist in the avocado.

    It sounds that, like me, you LOVE guacamole…seriously check out the Rick Bayless site mentioned in the story. He’s got great recipes!!! My articles are going to appear on Tuesdays so I will officially keep them coming.

    Best,
    Eileen

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