Whenever I think of avocados, my mind immediately goes to a cartoon I saw circulating Twitter one day that shows an avocado running away from another avocado in tears.
The one standing there looks guilty, and says, “I said, ‘You’re the good kind of fat!’”
Aside from the cheeky jab at body image issues, the picture encapsulates both the main health draw of the green fruit and the deeply ingrained way of thinking – that foods high in fat will make you fat.
Part of this can be chalked up to the low-fat craze of the 1990s. Even now, grocery store shelves are still heavily stocked with low-fat and fat-free products.
Without the fat and oil in these products, many of them compensated by spiking the levels of sugar to make them taste better without the fat. This essentially does a disservice to your health, by stripping out the good and adding in the bad.
By shedding the low-fat-is-better mentality, more people can start to warm up to the idea that healthy fats and oils are critical to our bodies’ well-being. Good fats and oils are a source of energy, they help the brain and other muscles function properly and help the body absorb healthy fatty acids.
I would like to introduce those who haven’t tried it to a healthy kitchen staple: avocado oil.
Made from pressing the fruit of an avocado, this oil is high in monounsaturated fat. Research shows that a diet with monounsaturated fat can lower the risk of heart disease and stabilize blood sugar levels.
Avocado oil is also high in Vitamin E, which is why it is a beauty product favourite, similar to that of coconut oil.
If refined, it looks a lot like olive oil and has a mild taste and smell. Unrefined avocado oil is darker green in colour.
While it is relatively new to the world of cooking, it is an excellent oil for high-temperature cooking, with a smoke point of around 480 degrees Fahrenheit (249 C).
The deal with smoke points is that once an oil reaches that point, its structure breaks down, nutrients are lost and the flavour changes. That, combined with potentially dangerous compounds that are created, makes an oil with a low smoke point a bad choice for things like stir fries or deep frying.
The healthiness and high smoke point of avocado oil trumps olive oil. While coconut oil also has a high fat content, it tends to bring along a strong coconut flavour to whatever its used in.
Because avocado oil hasn’t totally permeated the grocery store shelves, it can be trickier to get your hands on than other oils. If you can’t find it in the Yukon, it can be ordered online.
Here are a few of my favourite ways to use avocado oil:
For drizzling: In soups lacking richness, top them off with a light drizzle of avocado oil and a light sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan. The oil will sink slightly and add a buttery texture, while the cheese adds a little perk of salt.
For salad dressing: In your favourite salad dressing recipe, swap out the extra virgin olive oil for avocado oil. My personal favourite is a basic two parts oil to one part apple cider vinegar, with a touch of minced garlic, Dijon mustard and salt and pepper.
For roasting: Toss your chopped vegetables with avocado oil, salt and pepper and pop into a hot oven until they start to brown and crisp up a little bit.
For dipping: This treat is perfect for freshly baked bread. Infuse your avocado oil with some dried Italian herbs, such as oregano, thyme and basil. Drizzle the oil onto a plate, and add some balsamic vinegar. Slice bread into bite sized pieces and dip into the oil and vinegar mixture.