Vegan Grandma

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Vegan Avocado Boats and Some interesting Things About Avocados

I was out most of the day, today, because I went with friends to a little vegetarian restaurant about an hour’s drive away from where I live. The restaurant has a vegetarian buffet on the first weekend of every month. The food there is simple home-style food, but it’s always really good. Today they served vegan vegetable soup, various homemade vegan breads, marinated tofu, and baked sweet potatoes.

Anyway, I didn’t have much time to make dinner, and I wasn’t very hungry, after the buffet lunch, but I did make these vegan avocado boats for a quick supper. The recipe comes from Holidays of the World Cookbook For Students, by Lois Sinaiko Webb, published by oryx press, page 32. I had just picked up the book yesterday from the library, I had all the ingredients, and it was quick and easy. I think that sometimes the simplest things are the best.
According to the book, this recipe is a popular holiday dish in West Africa.

Vegan Avocado Boats
serves 4

2 ripe avocados, cut in half lengthwise, pits removed

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tomato cored and finely chopped

2 or 3 drops liquid hot sauce to taste (optional)

juice of 1 lime

salt and pepper to taste

Using a spoon, scoop out the avocados, leaving each half shell intact to refill later. Put the avocado pulp in a small bowl and mash with a fork (I cheated and used a blender. You can also use a potato ricer).

Add onion, tomato, hot sauce to taste, if using, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

Spoon the avocado mixture into each shell. (I garnished the boats with some diced tomato).

Serve each person with a filled shell. The mashed avocado can be eaten as is, or scooped onto crackers, cucumbers, carrot sticks, or celery sticks.

Some interesting Things About Avocados

Avocados are a fruit, not a vegetable.

Avocados are in season in winter and widely available in markets.

Avocados are also called alligator pears because of their shape and the color of their skin. The four hundred varieties of avocado are found throughout Mexico and South America.

Avocados are popular in Mexican and South American cooking, as well as in West Africa.
Guacamole is a popular dish containing avocados.

The two most poplar avocado varieties are California Haas, and Florida Fuerte. Haas avocados have a dark, pebble-textured skin, a buttery flavor, and a rich, creamy flesh. They are best used for guacamole, spreads, or blended into cold soups, and dressings. The Florida Fuerte avocado has a smooth green skin and a firmer flesh. Fuerte avocados are best used in salads, sandwiches, roll-ups, and salsas because the firmer flesh will hold its shape.

Avocados are a nutritious food, with fourteen minerals, including iron, copper, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium (they have 60 percent more potassium than bananas). They have a low sugar and starch content, making them an ideal fruit for diabetics or hypoglycemics. Vitamins in avocados include A, several B-complex, C, and E.

Avocados act as a "nutrient booster" by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha- and beta-carotene as well as lutein, in foods that are eaten with the fruit.

One-fifth of a medium avocado or about one ounce is 55 calories.

Fuerte avocados have about half the fat of Haas avocados.

Most of the fat in any avocado is the healthy mono-unsaturated kind.

Avocados quickly become over ripe. Choose slightly unripe ones at the store, and let them ripen at home.

Buy dark green, hard avocados which feel heavy for their size. Never buy avocados which have soft spots or that rattle when you shake them. Avocados will brown slightly and become slightly soft to thumb pressure as they ripen.
To quickly ripen very hard avocados, place fruit in a plain brown paper bag with an apple or banana and store at room temperature until ready to eat.

Keep unripened avocados at room temperature. Keep ripe ones in the refrigerator where they can last as long as 10 days.

To store cut avocados, sprinkle fruit with lemon or lime juice or white vinegar and place in an air-tight covered container in the refrigerator. Eat within a day or two.

Never cook avocados, as they will turn bitter. Eat them raw or add them to a cooked dish after the dish is taken off the heat.

If refrigerated guacamole turns brown during storage, discard the brown top layer.

To cut an avocado, remove the flesh by cutting the fruit in half lengthwise, twist it open. The pit will easily come out of one side, then you can slide the tip of a spoon gently underneath the pit and lift it out of the other side.

To mash an avocado, remove the flesh from the skin and place it in a bowl. For a silky-smooth consistency, mash with an old-fashioned potato ricer. For a coarser texture, mash with a fork or pastry cutter

Replace butter with avocado spread, or use avocado dip and raw vegetables to replace your chips and ranch dressing. A tablespoon of butter has 24 grams of fat, compared to 5 grams of fat in a tablespoon of avocado.

Use slices of avocados for a mixed vegetable salad, or add them to tomato, corn and chile pepper soup.

Squirt an avocado half with lime juice and a sprinkling of salt for an appetizer.

Top orange slices and thinly sliced sweet onions with diced avocado.

Combine avocados with hearts of palm and endive for a salad.

Combine mashed avocado with vegan mayonnaise to make a dressing for potato salad.

Brazilians add avocados to ice cream

Filipinos puree avocados with sugar and milk for a dessert drink.

Latin Americans wrap avocados up and give them as wedding gifts.

Avocados are used not only in salads and the ever popular guacamole, but also in breads, desserts, main dishes and non-culinary creams for facials and body massages.

Both green and dried avocado leaves can be used for wrapping tamales, or seasoning for barbecues and stews. Dried leaves will keep for several months on a tightly-closed container.
For an attractive appetizer, fan out avocado slices alternately with grapefruit sections and a garnish of fresh tarragon leaves.

See my blog for September, 23, 2006 for a Vegan Key Lime Mousse recipe which uses avocados.


Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tips, by David Joachim, published by Rodale
"The Great American Detox Diet"

A book worth reading is The Great American Detox Diet, by Alex Jamieson, a certified holistic health counselor and personal chef. She is also the fiancé (or maybe by now, wife) of Morgan Spurlock who is the director and star of the film documentary, ‘Super Size Me’. Morgan had agreed , that once his 30-day McDonalds experiment was over, he would let Alex put him on a diet to repair the damage Morgan did to his body in a month of gorging on nothing but McDonalds foods. The book describes this "detox diet".

Here are some quotes from the book:

"In January 2005, the highly respected journal, The Lancet, released the results of a 15-year study that monitored more than 3,000 people who ate fast food only twice a week. Over this period, the subjects not only gained weight, but many of them also developed serious conditions, like insulin resistance, which is a precursor to diabetes."-p. ix

"......the researchers concluded that those who eat fast food two or more times a week are, on the average, 10 pounds heaver than those who do not."-p. 17

"Morgan"s Detox Diet:



Refined carbohydrates (white bread, white sugar, white rice)




Dairy, Meat


10 to 14 glasses of filtered water a day

Whole grains: brown rice, millet, quinoa, oats

Nuts and seeds

Phytochemical rich -foods: blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, peaches, plums, sea veggies, cabbage, tomatoes

Soy products

Beans and legumes

Acidophilus to replenish good bacteria in the intestines

Focus on organic fresh foods

*liver supportive herbs and greens: chicory, escarole, dandelion greens, watercress, endive, arugula, radicchio, broccoli rabe, dandelion root, licorice root, gingerroot"-p. 22-23

"Natural sweeteners are preferable to refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup................Transitioning to sweeteners such as agave nectar, brown rice syrup, and date sugar can ease the daily stress that our sweet diets have on our bodies.....Not only do natural sweeteners cause less of a spike in blood sugar levels, but they also still contain key nutrients that help the body with sugar metabolism".-p. 79

"Agave nectar is a natural liquid derived from the agave cactus......Agave absorbs slowly into the body, decreasing the highs and lows associated with sucrose intake..........Agave nectar is useful for baking and cooking; replace one cup of sugar with 3/4 cup of agave nectar. Reduce recipe liquids by 1/3 and oven temperature by 25 degrees F."-p. 79

"I choose to avoid using [peanut oil, canola oil, corn oil] and use mainly extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and sesame oil when I cook."-p. 109

"The best way to ensure that your body is getting the kinds of carbs it needs to run smoothly and stay "clean" is to keep eating whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits that give you the extra dose of fiber needed to clean out your system. The natural foods with the highest amounts of fiber are lentils; black, kidney, and lima beans; chick peas; potatoes with the skin; peas; non-instant oatmeal; pears and apples with the skin; Brussels sprouts; and peaches."-p. 117

"Multigrain' means that the bread or cereal is made from more that one grain (like oats, rye, or wheat), but it doesn’t mean the grains are whole grains."-p. 117