Clever Uses for Avocados

    Avocados have so many uses, from facial cleanser to pie filling. (Photo by s.e. smith for Networx.)Avocados may be delicious, but these versatile fruits have many other uses beyond their role as a guacamole ingredient or toast topping. As an extra benefit, Florida or California avocados are rich in a number of vitamins and nutrients including vitamin E, potassium, B vitamins, and fiber. Avocados will even lower levels of LDL, aka “bad cholesterol”!

    How to Select Avocados

    If you’re going to use avocados around the kitchen or the house, it helps to know how to select them. Look for evenly-colored specimens at the store without any obvious soft spots, dents, or cuts. Fully ripe avocados should yield slightly to pressure and appear darker in color. If they’re not ripe yet, stick them in a paper bag with a few bananas; the ethylene gas produced by the bananas will speed the ripening process. This trick works for other climacteric fruits like apples, melons, and peaches, all of which can ripen off the tree. (And explains why fruit stored with bananas sometimes seems to go bad really quickly!)

    Try Them in Salads or Sandwiches and on the Grill

    In the kitchen, avocados are a great addition to salads and sandwiches. They can also be used in dips and spreads beyond guacamole, one of the most famous avocado dishes. In addition, grilled avocado is an interesting and surprising addition to summer feasts; try brushing it with olive oil and adding cracked sea salt for a more intense flavor. Avocados may also be battered and fried with other vegetable tempura; the rich fats turn very creamy and flavorful in the deep fryer.

    Avocado Pastry Delights??

    For more adventurous chefs, avocado is sometimes used as an ingredient in raw and vegan cakes, tortes, and tarts. For a simple dessert spread, filling, or dip, try blending avocado with dark cocoa powder and a sweetener like honey. You can adjust the ingredients to taste to get proportions that satisfy your sweet tooth. Using a pastry bag, you can pipe the resulting rich, creamy avocado mousse onto a tart shell or into puff pastry.

    Avocado as a Natural Beauty Mask

    Thanks to their high concentration of beneficial oils and vitamins, avocados are also great applied externally, especially for those with dry skin. A classic example of an avocado beauty product is a face or hair mask made by crushing an avocado and adding milk or oil to make it spread more evenly. Almond milk and other non-dairy milks can be used in addition to products like goat milk, if desired. If this sounds messy, try a tidier shortcut: Massage the skin with the inside of an avocado peel, which contains a humectant that helps seal in moisture.

    Ease Under-eye Puffiness

    For those tired of putting cucumber slices on sore eyes and dark under-eye circles, try avocado for a refreshing change. Two thin slices left under the eyes for 10 to 15 minutes can help ease under-eye puffiness and make the eyes look more alert.

    Avocado Skin Cleanser

    You can also skip the expensive facial cleanser and make your own with avocado, if you’re feeling adventurous. Mix avocado with plain yogurt and milk to create a heavy cream consistency. You can dip facial wipes in the cream and use it to remove makeup and dirt, and clear your pores; try adding some oatmeal or ground walnut shells to the mix if you want a light exfoliation along with your facial cleanse. The same hydrating, clearing cleanser may be applied to the hands and feet, especially when your skin feels dry and irritated. Make your cleanser in small batches as it spoils quickly.

    Updated October 3, 2018.

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