Food Facts - Avocado

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Avocado season is beginning, one of my favorite fruits! You should be able to find them at a good price through the end of the summer. Here are some things you may not have known about avocados:

Avocados will not ripen on the tree. They must be picked from the tree to initiate ripening. The leaves supply a substance that prevents ripening. This is why they are usually very hard when arriving at the supermarket, its a sign of freshly picked avocado. A firm avocado will ripen in a paper bag or in a fruit basket at room temperature within a few days. As the fruit ripens, the skin will turn darker. Avocados should not be refrigerated until they are ripe. Once ripe, they can be kept refrigerated for up to a week.

Avocados are loaded with nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, and folate. They're also cholesterol and sodium free. Avocados contain 60% more potassium per ounce than bananas. This fruit is an excellent source of monounsaturated fat.

A few quick serving ideas:

*Use chopped avocados as a garnish for black bean soup.

*Add avocado to your favorite creamy tofu-based dressing recipe to give it an extra richness and beautiful green color.

*Mix chopped avocados, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice and seasonings for a rich-tasting twist on traditional guacamole.

*Spread ripe avocados on bread as a healthy replacement for mayonnaise when making a sandwich.

*For an exceptional salad, combine sliced avocado with fennel, oranges and fresh mint.

*For a beautiful accompaniment to your favorite Mexican dish, top quartered avocado slices with corn relish and serve with a wedge of lime.

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