Fruit of the Month: Avocado
One of nature’s most delicious superfoods, avocados come in many sizes, colors and flavors. The rich and creamy fruit, called aguacate in Spanish, is technically classified as a large berry and is an unforgettable addition to salads, dips, main dishes and even beverages.
Native to the Caribbean, Mexico, South and Central America, avocados (Persea americana) are part of the flowering Lauraceae plant family – the avocado tree’s unlikely cousins include bay laurel, camphor and cinnamon. In Costa Rica, the ubiquitous Hass avocado – the small, dark-skinned variety familiar to most avocado lovers – and local varieties are offered at nearly every roadside stand, grocery store and farmers’ market throughout the country.
Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats (the good kind) and fiber, as well as B vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin K and potassium – about 60% more than in bananas! The benefits of this silky fruit are many, and avocados have been shown to aid in preventing prostate and breast cancer, lowering cholesterol, preventing stroke, maintaining heart health, and promoting eye health.
Avocados are available year-round in Costa Rica. The Hass variety, which is often imported from abroad, is more expensive, averaging $1.75-$2.00 per pound. Costa Rican avocados – at least 19 different varieties that flourish at different altitudes – are larger than the Hass and feature soft, green skin and fruit that is high in fatty acids (read: delicious). Local avocados cost around $1-$1.50 per pound. Note that many farmers’ market vendors sell avocados by the unit – depending on the size and season, expect to pay anywhere from 50¢ to $1 per avocado.
Guacamole (Avocado Dip)
3 avocados, mashed
1-2 limes, juiced
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup diced onion
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
In a medium bowl, mash avocados and add lime juice and salt. Once incorporated, stir in the onion, cilantro, diced tomatoes and minced garlic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to blend and intensify.