Written by Samantha Walter-Cano, Edited by Olivia Zugay
Did you know July 31st is National Avocado Day? In honor of this delicious fruit, let’s learn what makes them special. While you’re at it, make yourself some guacamole or avocado toast to celebrate!
Did you know an avocado is technically a berry? Avocados are native to Central America and Mexico and were first introduced to Florida in the 1800s. Of the three “races” of avocados, only one of them is grown in Florida. This is the West Indian avocado. Unlike Haas avocados from California, Florida avocados are bright green and have a lower fat content.
The Florida avocado tree is considered an evergreen and can grow between 30 and 65 feet tall. If you’re interested in growing avocados in Florida, it is important to consider laurel wilt. Laurel wilt is a deadly disease that has devastated much of the Florida avocado industry. In 2012, laurel wilt was responsible for killing more than 12,000 commercial avocado trees. However, this does not mean that you cannot plant a tree in your backyard. It is safe to do so if you do not live near commercially grown avocados.
If you are considering planting an avocado tree, it is important to note that it is not freeze-tolerant and does best in areas that don’t freeze. Picking a group and a variety of avocado trees can be difficult. For the best information, contact your local extension office regarding what kind of avocado is right for you. You can also question any nursery you visit.
If you plan to produce tasty fruit, your best option is a grafted tree about 2 to 4 feet tall. These trees grow fast and can yield fruit after 3 to 4 years! These trees can get quite big so make sure to provide them with plenty of space to grow! For more information on how to plant and care for avocado trees make sure to check out these publications: Avocado – Gardening Solutions – University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (ufl.edu) and CIR1034/MG213: Avocado Growing in the Florida Home Landscape (ufl.edu).
Not only are avocados tasty, but they are good for you as well. Avocados are an excellent source of healthy fats, such as monounsaturated fats. Healthy fats, such as the ones found in avocados, are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. They also have many other nutrients, such as fiber and vitamins that have anti-inflammatory properties. To learn more about foods for heart health, read this blog: Tips for Heart Health – UF/IFAS Extension Brevard County (ufl.edu).
Now that we’ve learned avocados are good for your health, what are some ways to incorporate them into your diet? Avocados are so versatile and can be eaten in many different ways. Check out some of the recipes below for how to use avocados!
Green Goddess Dressing
What’s better than making a dressing out of avocado to put on top of everything? This dressing is incredibly easy to make and is low in calories!
Recipe by: Breana Lai Killeen, EatingWell
- ½ ripe avocado
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup nonfat plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 small clove garlic, grated
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
*Makes 12 servings
- Stir all the ingredients together, and there you have it!
Avocado Toast is all the talk these days! How exactly do you make it? With this simple recipe, you can master the art of avocado toast! With this, feel free to add your choice of toppings, whether an egg or some arugula.
Recipe by: Elizabeth Laseter, EatingWell
- ½ small avocado
- ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- ⅛ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 slice whole grain bread, toasted
- ½ teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Maldon sea salt flakes or red pepper flakes for garnish (optional)
*Makes 1 serving
- Combine avocado, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Gently mash with the back of a fork.
- Top toasted bread with mashed avocado mixture. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle over desired toppings.
Ever thought of topping your typical grilled chicken breast with some tasty guacamole? Well, that’s exactly what this recipe does. With this easy recipe, you’ll be sure to add some flavor to your dinner!
- Recipe by: Hilary Meyer, EatingWell
- 1 medium avocado
- 2 teaspoons chopped pimientos
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- Pinch of salt plus 1/2 teaspoon, divided
- Pinch of ground pepper plus 1/2 teaspoon, divided
- 2 8-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (1 ounce)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
*Makes 4 servings
- Place avocado in a medium bowl; mash with a fork until smooth with some chunks remaining. Stir in pimientos, lime juice, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of pepper. Set aside.
- Sprinkle chicken with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and garlic powder. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and reduce heat to medium. Cook, turning once, until just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Top with cheese; cover and continue cooking until the cheese has melted, about 2 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and top with the guacamole. Garnish with cilantro.
Avocado. UF IFAS Gardening Solutions. (n.d). Retrieved July 5, 2023, from Avocado – Gardening Solutions – University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (ufl.edu)
Crane, J., Balerdi, C., & Maguire, I. (2020, January 1). Avocado Growing in the Florida Home Landscape. UF IFAS Extension. Retrieved July 5, 2023, from https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/MG213
Kubala, J. (2022, June 29). 7 Potential Health Benefits of Avocado. Healthline. Retrieved July 5, 2023, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/avocado-nutrition.