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Embrace the Era of Avocado

Zaboca shakes its bad rap with heart-healthy recipes
Published: 
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

More than half of the food the average Trinbagonian eats is imported. This should come as no surprise since our twin isle’s annual food import bill is approximately $6 billion. By purchasing local, you funnel money back into our community and support its growth and sustainability for future generations. Our weekly column “In Season” features a sweet and savory recipe for one readily-available ingredient, so you can take advantage of the vibrant bounty from farmers’ markets, local farm stands, and your own yard.

T he West Indies is home to the largest avocados that grow roughly to the size of two fists. Main varieties include Pollock, Lula, Russell and Simmonds. High season begins in July, peaks in September and ends in November. At this time of year, avocado, what we Trinbagonians like to call “zaboca”, is the darling of any local market and the go-to ingredient for choka, buljol, dips, and even smoothies. These green berries (yes, avocados are technically berries) offer rich, buttery texture to every dish they touch. But Trinis love it simple: sliced with a generous sprinkle of salt.

Long time ago, zaboca was deemed “poor man’s butter.” Now, it’s aptly called “rich man’s butter.” Across the country, markets and roadside vendors are selling one avocado for as low as $15 and as high as $30, depending on the size and the type. Its health benefits make it worth its value.

Avocados are high in fat, but it’s the kind of fat that’s good for you. Monounsaturated fats help reduce cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. Zaboca offers a great source of dietary fibre to improve digestion and maintain bowel health and potassium to help combat depression and fatigue, while regulating heart rate and blood pressure. Vitamins C, E, K, B5 and B6 strengthen your bones, boost your immune system and keep your skin silky smooth.

Avocados do not ripen on the tree. They will ripen, or “soften”, naturally about one week after being harvested. You can, however, speed up the ripening process by placing an unripe avocado in a brown paper bag or wrapping it in newspaper and letting it sit at room temperature for two to three days. To check if your avocado is ripe, give it a soft squeeze. It should yield to

gentle pressure.

Keep any remaining avocado fresh by storing it in the fridgebwith the pit in place, wrapped tightly in plastic. If not, the flesh will quickly oxidize and turn brown after being exposed to air.

SAVORY

POKE BOWLS

Poke (pronounced poh-kay) is a very trendy Hawaiian dish that’s having a moment right now. Imagine your yellowfin tuna sushi roll deconstructed into a bowl. This is exactly that!!

Total time: 40 minutes

Yields: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

2 cups sushi rice, rinsed

½ cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

½ cup frozen edamame

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup sesame oil

3 tablespoons lime juice

½ tablespoon freshly grated ginger

4 green onions, thinly sliced

2 pounds raw sushi-grade ahi tuna, cut into½-inch cubes

3 cucumbers, peeled and diced

¼ cup limu seaweed

½ large avocado, diced

1 tablespoon black (or white) sesame seeds, lightly toasted

DIRECTIONS

1 Combine sushi rice and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit covered for 10 minutes.

2 In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine vinegar and sugar together and microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds, or until the sugar dissolves. Stir and gently fold the vinegar mixture into the rice, until fluffy but still sticky. Transfer to a large bowl.

3 Bring a small pot of water and salt to a boil. Add the frozen edamame and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until bright green. Drain and rinse under cold water. Pop the beans out of their pods and set aside.

4 Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, lime juice,

grated ginger and green onions together

in a large bowl. Add tuna, cucumbers and

edamame and stir to coat thoroughly.

5 Divide the rice into four bowls and

top with tuna mixture, seaweed and

avocado. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds

on top and serve.

SWEET

FUDGY AVOCADO BROWNIES

Don’t ever let your overripe avocados go to waste! Zaboca’s smooth texture can easily replace unhealthy fatty ingredients like butter or heavy cream when baking. Best part? No one will ever know the difference.

Total time: 40 minutes

Yields: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

Half of 1 large, overripe avocado

(skin and pit removed)

1 180-gram bar dark chocolate

½ cup pure maple syrup

¼ cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ cup cocoa powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, chopped into ½-inch pieces

DIRECTIONS

1 Preheat oven to 350°F.

2 Line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper, or spray with cooking spray, and set aside

3 Place the chopped chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl and melt on HIGH for 30 seconds. Stir and repeat, until completely melted. Let cool.

4 Process the avocado, maple syrup, and sugar for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until all the ingredients come together. Add the chocolate and eggs and blend until smooth. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

5 Using a spoon or spatula, gently fold in the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt until combined. Then, fold in the chocolate chips.

6 Spoon the batter into the prepared pan evenly and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Test the middle of the batter with a toothpick or knife. It comes out clean, then it’s done.

7 Remove from the oven and cool in the pan completely.

8 Slice into squares and serve, or store in an airtight container for up to one week.