Friday, April 15, 2011

When Life Hands You Avocados, Make Brownies

Two days ago I made avocado brownies. This ridiculous baking endeavor was inspired by a book called The 10 Things You Need to Eat: and More than 100 Easy and Delicious Ways to Prepare Them (O’Connor and Lieberman).
“Superfoods” are one of the latest health fads. When you start reading about the all the fiber and nutrients in spinach and the all the health problems that eating more spinach has been shown to reduce the risk of, you probably won’t deny that its a pretty super food. And some foods have disease-fighting properties that are more than the sum of their parts, such as cabbage and its ability to reduce the risk of cancer.

But the concept of “superfoods” sends some misleading messages. No one food is necessary for health, and eating a lot of a few healthy things is not as good as eating just some of a wide variety of healthy things. For example, kale, arugula, chard and collards are also extremely healthy foods similar to spinach but with their own fabulous nutrient cocktails.
The ten healthy foods this book features are spinach, tomatoes, cabbage, nuts, berries, lentils, quinoa, fish, beets, and avocados. Do note that all but one are plants.
Avocados are so great for you because they contain, among other nutrients, a lot of unsaturated fat. Remember, saturated fat (bad fat) is found in meat and dairy products. Its solid at room temperature (think butter and lard). Unsaturated fats (good fats), which are liquid at room temperature, are the primary fats in oils, nuts and fish. The difference between saturated and unsaturated fats is commonly known in the fields of nutrition and disease prevention. If you are trying to eat healthier and you aren’t discriminating between fats, I strongly urge you to do some research on the subject (Know Your Fats, American Heart Association).
Avocados contain a lot of healthy unsaturated fat, and apparently you can use them in place of butter in baking and still get the same rich texture. The recipe I used called for one avocado, some oil, almonds, half a cup of whole wheat flour, and six eggs! That’s a lot of eggs for brownies and not a lot of flour so from the start I was apprehensive about the ratios.
The brownies did not come out well. Some (my boyfriend) have gone as far as to say they were “nasty,” but I’d stop at “not that great.” They were not chocolaty enough which was because I omitted some chocolate that I didn’t have, and the consistency was a little gummy which was surly because of all the eggs. So the verdict is still out on avocados in baked goods. I’m still optimistic that I can provide a tasty avocado brownie recipe in a subsequent post.
The take-home message is that plants are good for you.

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