Mash it, slice it, spread it… Here’s how to get more out of a nutritious avocado

JUST HALF AN AVOCADO counts as one of your five-a-day. ‘The fat and calorie content is higher than other fruit and veg (half an avocado contains around 15g fat and 140 kcal), but don’t let that put you off – the majority of this fat is unsaturated, which is associated with benefits to heart health,’ says HFG expert and nutrition scientist Bridget Benelam. ‘Avocados are also a source of vitamin B6, vitamin E, potassium, copper and fibre and, because they’re so versatile – and can be mashed with other ingredients – they’re a really easy way to get all these nutrients.’
 

1. Quick guacamole

Roughly mash 1 or 2 avocados. Add a generous pinch each of cumin and paprika, then add 2 finely chopped tomatoes, ¼ bunch chopped coriander and a squeeze of lime juice. Mix well and serve with vegetable crudités and warmed wholemeal pitta pieces.
 

2. Breakfast worth getting up for

Mash and spread ½ avocado on to 2 slices of wholegrain toast, then top with tomato slices and lots of black pepper. You could add some smoked salmon, too, for an omega-3 boost.
 

Get it ripe first time

To test if it’s ripe before making the first cut, give it a little squeeze – a ready-to-eat avocado will be firm yet will yield to gentle pressure. A hard, unripe avocado can take four to five days to ripen at room temperature – but if you can’t wait that long, put it in a brown paper bag, or wrap in newspaper, with a banana (this traps the naturally occurring ethylene gas released by bananas that speeds up the ripening process).

3. Easy bruschetta

Combine 2 diced avocados with 3 tomatoes, ½ red onion, ¼ bunch basil (all finely chopped) and 1tbsp each of olive oil and lemon juice. Season with black pepper, cover and set aside for 20 min before spooning on to thin slices of lightly toasted ciabatta or French stick.
 

4. Full-bodied side salad

Drain 1 tin red kidney beans in water and 1 tin sweetcorn in water. Mix with 2 diced tomatoes, 1 large diced avocado, ½ chopped red onion, 1 chopped green pepper, 2tbsp olive oil and 1tbsp red wine vinegar. Chill for several hours to allow the flavours to mingle, then serve with grilled, griddled or barbecued chicken or fish for a delicious light dinner for two.
 

5. Open seafood sandwich

Combine 1tbsp light mayonnaise with crushed garlic to taste, and spread on to 2 slices of rye bread. Top with lettuce leaves, avocado slices and fresh crab meat or cooked prawns. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and season with black pepper.
 

6. Creamy dip with a kick

Mix together 1 mashed avocado, ½ large tub of fat-free Greek yogurt, cumin to taste, and finely chopped coriander. Chill for at least 1 hr before serving.
 

7. Lunch to go

Spread mashed avocado and a little pesto on to a wholemeal wrap. Add baby spinach leaves, ½ tin drained tuna in water and sliced tomato, then roll up.
 

Don’t waste it

Not using the whole thing? Stop the other half going brown by sprinkling it with lemon or lime juice, then put it in an airtight container in the fridge, ready to use the next day.

 

8. Italian classic

Make a tricolore salad for 4. Thinly slice 4 large tomatoes, 2 ripe avocados and 2 balls of reduced-fat mozzarella. Arrange on a plate so they’re overlapping, then add fresh basil leaves and sprinkle with lots of black pepper. Serve with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for drizzling, and chunks of crusty wholegrain bread.

 

9. Hearty oriental salad

Top baby spinach, chopped avocado, thinly sliced mangetout, broccoli florets and grated carrot with a grilled skinless chicken breast. Drizzle over a dressing made from a little sesame oil, reduced-salt soy sauce, rice vinegar, minced ginger and garlic.
 

10. Better than butter!

Spread avocado on to bread as an alternative to butter – 1tsp mashed avocado has 10 kcal and 0.2g saturated fat, whereas 1tsp butter has 37 kcal and 2.6g saturates.