Loving the BITE: Great Gaucamole

26
May
2011

If there’s one thing I know, it’s that cyclists love some good guacamole.  Or, maybe it’s just me (but I don’t think so).  Either way, this week’s feature ingredient, avocados, pack a nutrition punch and give us a great reason to add guacamole to everything.  There’s many great guacamole recipes out there.  Here’s one:

Recipe of the week:

Great Guac

Ingredients:

  • 3 avocados – peeled, pitted, and mashed
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 pinch ground cayenne pepper (optional)

Instructions:

In a medium bowl, mash together the avocados, lime juice, and salt. Mix in onion, cilantro, tomatoes, and garlic. Stir in cayenne pepper. Refrigerate 1 hour for best flavor, or serve immediately with vegetables, (kale) chips, on burgers and chicken, or however else you can imagine.

Comments:

So really, what does an avocado got to offer?

The short list:

  • Carotenoids: When I think of carotenoids, I usually think of carrots and other orange or red vegetables.  However, avocados are a great source (as is our other green friend, spinach link to http://lovingthebike.com/cycling-nurition/loving-the-bite-green-berry-smoothie).   In fact, they contain a spectacular array of carotenoids including beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein, neochrome, neoxanthin, chrysanthemaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and violaxanthin.  And just like spinach, many of these carotenoids directly support eye health.  It’s this diverse and vast array of carotenoids that researchers believe is responsible for much of an avocado’s anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Carotenoid Absorption: Recent research has shown that absorption of two key carotenoid antioxidants, lycopene and beta-carotene, increases significantly when fresh avocado (or avocado oil) is added to otherwise avocado-free vegetables, such as in a salad. One cup of fresh avocado (150 grams) added to a salad of romaine lettuce, spinach, and carrots increased absorption of carotenoids from this salad between 200-400%. This research result makes perfect sense to us because carotenoids are fat-soluble and would be provided with the fat they need for absorption from the addition of avocado. Avocado oil added to a salad accomplished this same result. Interestingly, both avocado oil and fresh avocado added to salsa increased carotenoid absorption from the salsa as well. Another reason to eat guacamole – avocados and tomatoes equal carotenoid absorption euphoria.  I really like guacamole.
  • Healthy Fats: Like other sources of healthy fats, avocados have been villianized as “fattening” in recent history (most fat storage issues have to do with an over-consumption of carbs, not fats!).  While it’s true that they are 85% fat, the fats provide many health benefits.  They are heart healthy, anti-inflammatory, and they promote healthy blood sugars.
  • Anti-inflammatory Factors: First, the phytosterols that account for a major portion of avocado fats (including beta-sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol), are key supporters of our inflammatory system that helps keep inflammation under control. The anti-inflammatory benefits of these avocado fats are particularly well-documented with problems involving arthritis. Next, avocado’s polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFAs), which are abundant in ocean plants but fairly unique among land plants, provide us with anti-inflammatory benefits. Third, the high amount of oleic acid (over ½ of the total fat in an avocado) helps our digestive tract form transport molecules for fat that can increase our absorption of fat-soluble nutrients while decreasing inflammation.
  • Fiber: Fiber is one key to overall wellness and discourages most all chronic diseases.  One-half cup of avocado provides 3-4 grams of fiber (and only 1 grams of sugar).
  • Lower weight and BMI: In broad food intake studies, participants that routinely eat avocados have been determined to be lower in weight and lower in body mass index than non-consumers. Of course, this can be due to a variety of factors (maybe avocado-eater are overall healthier eaters or more active).  No matter the reason, let’s eat some guac!
  • Cancer prevention: Avocados (specifically avocado extract) have been studied and determined to help prevent the occurrence of cancers in the mouth, skin, breast and prostate gland.  These results are likely due to the unusual mix of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients. Since cancer risk factors almost always include excessive inflammation (related to lack of anti-inflammatory nutrients) and oxidative stress (related to lack of antioxidants), it makes perfect sense that avocados reduce risk.  But, here is where the avocado story gets especially interesting. In animal and lab studies of healthy cells, avocado works to improve inflammatory and oxidative stress levels. But in cancer cells, avocado works to increase oxidative stress and shift the cancer cells over into a programmed cell death cycle (apoptosis), lessening the cancer cell numbers. In other words, avocado appears to selectively push cancer cells “over the brink” in terms of oxidative stress and increase their likelihood of dying, while at the same time actively supporting the health of non-cancerous cells by increasing their supply antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients. Wow.
  • Glutathione: Remember our friend glutathione – the super antioxidant that healthy cells produce when they’re given the right nutrients (see link http://lovingthebike.com/nutrition-tips/nutrition-tip-february-5-2011).   Avocados happen to be a good source of this wonder-nutrient.
  • Vitamin E: Avocados are the best fruit source of vitamin E, an essential vitamin that protects against many diseases and helps maintains overall health.  Specifically, it is an antioxidant that supports brain, cardiovascular, and respiratory health.

Before you get too excited and cut into that avocado that’s been waiting for you in the fridge, make sure to “peel” it instead of cut it.  The method you use to peel an avocado can make a difference to your health. The greatest concentration of carotenoids in avocado occurs in the dark green flesh that lies just beneath the skin, so you don’t want to cut it all off.  For this reason, the best method is to peel it as much as possible.  First, cut into the avocado lengthwise, producing two long avocado halves that are still connected in the middle by the seed. Next, take hold of both halves and twist them in opposite directions until they naturally separate. At this point, remove the seed and cut each of the halves lengthwise to produce long quartered sections of the avocado. You can use your thumb and index finger to grip the edge of the skin on each quarter and peel it off, just as you would do with a banana skin. The final result is a peeled avocado that contains most of that dark green outermost flesh so rich in carotenoid antioxidants!

I’m betting that by now you’re racking your brain, trying to figure out how you can possibly eat more avocados.  Alright, here’s a bonus recipe:

Avocado Smoothie:

  • 1/3 medium avocado
  • 2 Tbsp almonds
  • 1 cup berries, any kind
  • 1 scoop whey protein
  • 1 Tbsp flaxseeds or Chia seeds
  • 1 cup Spinach
  • Stevia (optional)

Mix all in a blender. Process until smooth.

(And, if you’ve got a great avocado recipe, please share it with us!)

There’s really not much more to say.  Eat avocados and you’ll be healthier.  And, healthy cyclists are strong cyclists.

Fuel Your Ride.  Nourish Your Body.

 

Enjoy Your Ride

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6 Responses to “ Loving the BITE: Great Gaucamole ”

  1. Kendall Hill on May 28, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I love avocados! I’ve never tried peeling it, I usually just scoop it with a spoon. I’ll have to try peeling it next time. Thanks for the recipe also!

  2. Kelly on May 26, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Question: Do avocados freeze well? I could live on chips and guac (and the Pacifico/Corona/maragarita that goes along with them), but they aren’t always cheap. Wondering if I can buy on sale and freeze? I have no idea…..

    • Kelli on May 26, 2011 at 11:49 pm

      I have to admit, my first thought was definitely “no.” But, I was wrong.  After digging around a bit, I found this from a site called Avocado Central:

      Did you know avocados can be frozen? Though Fresh Hass Avocados are preferred for their taste and versatility, with the proper preparation, pureed avocados can be frozen and used in guacamole dips, dressings and spread on sandwiches. Whole, cut, diced or mashed avocados do not have as desirable of a result when frozen. Guacamole can often contain other ingredients that do not freeze well so we do not recommend freezing guacamole. Follow the instructions below to get the best possible result when freezing pureed Hass Avocados.
       1.   Wash – Wash the outside of the avocados thoroughly by holding them under running water or in your selected produce wash. Find more avocado washing and preparation tips. 2.   Cut – Cut and peel the avocados. 3.   Puree – Place the peeled avocados in a food processor or blender. Add a ratio of one tablespoon of an acidic agent like lemon or lime juice for each avocado you are freezing. Puree until smooth. This will ensure that the lemon or lime juice is evenly distributed to help to prevent the avocados from turning brown. Mashing the avocado rather than pureeing yields a less desirable result because the acidic agent is unevenly mixed in. 4.   Package – Place the pureed avocado into an air-tight container. Leave ½ to 1 inch of headspace in the container to allow for expansion. Close your container tightly and label accordingly. Freeze.
      Now, we can keep it frugal, too!  Awesome…
      Kelli

  3. Velonista on May 26, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Great stuff! I pretty much follow the guacamole recipe above, but will often add a half cup of spinach (usually leftovers from previous meal). I’ll have to try the smoothie recipe, though: thanks!

  4. Mike Weiland on May 26, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    My secret ingredient for guac is 1/2 a  lime and then I put in the juice of 1/2 a fresh squeezed orange.

    • Kelli on May 26, 2011 at 4:21 pm

      Sounds great – I’ll have to try it.  Not much of a secret anymore! Thanks, Mike!

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Sugar Alternatives for Energy and Hydration

Question: I am using the homebrew sugar formulations (sometimes added to green tea).  I am also trying to wean myself off 1/2 dose adrenalean “lip tonic delivery system” (biorhythm brand- caffeine, hoodia g, synephrine, yohimbe) capsule for energy.

My question is other than juice, can you suggest modifications in lieu of table sugar for energy and hydration.

Answer:

Both raw/organic honey or agave can work great in the homebrew (substitute in the same quantities for the sugar, or to taste), but you do have to shake well in order to make sure they don’t settle out.  Have you tried either of these?  Also, make sure to use at least the minimum amount of salt recommended in the homebrew as the temps rise, you need the sodium replacement if you’re sweating.

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