Thursday, May 7, 2009

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Living in California, Cinco de Mayo is considered a pretty big deal. Before I moved here, to be honest, I’d never heard of it. But as our population becomes more and more integrated with our amigos from across the border, we embrace more of those customs and cultures…a good thing, in my opinion. Especially when some of those cultures we embrace is Mexican food. What better way to celebrate this popular day than to dive into some fresh guacamole. To that I say:


(the following is a reprint of my 9/19/08 post, “Viva Avocado!”)

As much as I love eating avocados today, it’s hard to imagine that I didn’t taste my first one until I was well into my twenties. I grew up in a small town in a small New England state. Our foods of choice leaned more toward clam cakes and chowder than tacos and enchiladas. Avocado? I hadn’t a clue what one was.
And don’t even get me going about guacomole. Guaca…huh?

I understand that the avocado existed when I was growing up Back East, and they may even have been available at the local grocery store where my mother shopped. But mom never purchased one, never brought one of those green-skinned babies home. Believe it or not, I did not know WHAT an avocado WAS until I relocated to sunny California in the mid-80’s. And even then, I wasn’t sure what to do with one or how to eat it.

Today, avocados seem more popular and prevalent in everyday cuisine. In most restaurants you can find them chopped atop salads, sliced in between sandwiches, and, in its most popular form, as guacamole, that amazing green nacho-chip-dipping-taste-sensation.

While your mouth is watering, consider these interesting facts about the avocado:

* a member of the berry family, avocado is a fruit, not vegetable
* the Aztecs named it after the word, ahuacatl, which meant “testicle,” because of its shape
* they have been around since 900 A.D.
* they have been grown in North America since 1856
* also known as the alligator pear, Jamaicans call them pears

(for more fascinating information about the avocado, visit this site)

Most of you by now have tasted avocados, but if you still are like I was, back in the day, you should give them a try. You don’t know what you are missing. But do you know the best way to cut one open? Here’s a video that will help:

Hey, next time you have that chip loaded with guac, happily remind yourself that besides enjoying a delicious snack, you are also getting:

* 10 grams of dietary fiber
* more potassium than one banana
* vitamins E and B
* 10 grams of the good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated)


While very healthy for you, avocados are also high in calories and fats. The good news: these are the good fats–monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. These are heart-healthy fats and help lower LDL (bad cholesterol).

The bad news, for those counting calories or watching their weight, is that an average size avocado has around 300 calories–so tread carefully. I know that I can eat one all by myself, diced, with a sprinkle of sea salt.
Try it! In moderation.

It’s hard to imagine that I spent half my life deprived of the succulent taste of avocado. Maybe that’s why I’ve spent the last twenty-five years eating more than my share, trying to make up for lost time.

You should too!

Always remember that you can watch hundreds of self-help videos about health and nutrition, and any number of other topics, at

Until next time…