HEALTH

Kicking off the spring with tasty avocados, one of the top 'superfoods' out there

Manuel Villacorta, MS, RD.

 (Manuel Villacorta, MS, RD.)

“Superfoods” is the latest and hottest buzz word going around in the world of food. In fact, I have written two books on superfoods. In my private practice, I always recommend superfoods to my clients as it is the basis of my wellness and weight loss program. But what are superfoods? 

There are many definitions, and although there is not a scientific one, I define superfoods as hardworking functional foods that far surpass basic nutritional content. To me they are, quite simply, the cleanest, most powerful, antioxidant-rich, phytonutrient-rich and anti-aging foods available anywhere. 

So where do you find them? 

Many people don’t know that in the United States, the state of California is home to many superfoods — and I am fortunate enough to live there.

There is one superfood that I would like to shine the spotlight on, which is one of my favorite fruits: the avocado.

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Last year, I was invited to a California Avocado grove tour where I saw first-hand how avocados are grown and harvested, visited a nursery to see the grafting and growing process and an avocado packing house. I learned about the devotion and care given to the avocado life cycle, as well as a few fun facts about this delicious fruit. 

Approximately 90 percent of the nation’s avocado crop is produced in California on nearly 4,000 small, family farms — the Hass avocado, which is the most well known and wildly consumed variety in the world, was born right here. So if you’re looking for an avocado grown in the United States with delicious flavor and texture, just look for the California sticker.

As a conscientious consumer, I care about where my food is grown. As a registered dietitian and nutritionist who writes about all kinds of superfoods, I consider California avocados a great superfood. 

In just a 1-oz serving of avocado, it provides 81 micrograms of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. Research suggests that both lutein and zeaxanthin, may help maintain eye health as a person ages. In addition, avocados contribute nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, including 8 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for dietary fiber, 6 percent DV of folate, 4 percent DV for potassium, and vitamins E and C, and 2 percent DV for iron, all within a 1-oz serving.

The California Avocado growing season is well underway and runs through the fall. To kick it off, I have made a delicious Stuffed California Avocado with Jicama (also known as Mexican Turnip) Salad.

Stuffed California Avocado with Jicama (Mexican Turnip) Salad

Serves: 6   Serving Size: ½ avocado

Ingredients

3 cups jicama, peeled and cubed

1 carrot, sliced

3 radishes, thinly sliced

1 ½ cup sweet yellow corn*, fresh or frozen

¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon sea salt

3 ripe, Fresh California Avocados**, peeled and halved

Directions

1. Add the jicama, carrot, radishes, corn, cilantro, vinegar, lime juice, oil, chili powder and sea salt into a medium-size mixing bowl. Stir and make sure it is well mixed. Set aside and let it marinate for about 5 minutes.

2. Cut each avocado in half by starting at the top portion of the avocado. With a circular motion, move the knife around the avocado and back to the starting point. Twist and separate the two halves. Remove the skin from each halve and remove the pit.

3. Place the avocado halves on a plate, facing up. Spoon a handful of the salad on top of the avocado, enough to fill in the pit gap. Garnish with extra cilantro.

*Note: If using frozen corn, please set out to thaw for at least 10 minutes.

**Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados, adjust the quantity accordingly.

As with all fruits and vegetables, wash avocados before cutting.

Manuel Villacorta is a registered dietitian in private practice, MV Nutrition, award winning nutrition and weight loss center in San Francisco. He is the founder and creator of Eating Free, an international weight management and wellness program and author of three books, Eating Free: The Carb Friendly Way to Lose Inches, Peruvian Power Foods: 18 Superfoods, 101 Recipes, and Anti-Aging Secrets from the Amazon to the Andes and his newest book, Whole Body Reboot: The Peruvian Superfoods Diet to Detoxify, Energize, and Supercharge Fat Loss.

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