CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Holy Guacamole

Parties that revolve around events such as the Super Bowl often don’t have a main course butguacamole rather a number of appetizers. Among the most popular appetizers are dips. They can accompany chips, crackers, veggies or even meats or seafood such as chicken wings and shrimp.

One of my favorite dips is guacamole, which is made up of mostly avocados but also can have other ingredients such as garlic, cilantro, lemon juice, tomatoes, cheese and crab meat or fruit the likes of mangoes, pineapple and jicama.

I like mine rather simple, with a little garlic, lemon juice and jalapeno pepper. That’s not to say I’m averse to some of the other ingredients.

For the record, it’s estimated that Americans will consume 120 million pounds of fresh avocados in this week of the Super Bowl. That’s up 20 percent from last year. It’s also estimated that the amount of avocados consumed during the Seattle Seahawks-New England Patriots game will be enough to fill an entire football field from end zone to end zone more than 46 feet high.

That’s a lot of avocados!

Nutritionally, avocados are good for you, too. One-half of a medium avocado provides 20 percent of your Daily Value for fiber. Avocados are naturally sodium-free and cholesterol-free and act as a nutrient booster by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha- and beta-carotene as well as lutein, in foods that are eaten with the fruit.

And a recent study at the University of Pennsylvania, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, says that consuming one avocado a day alongside a moderate-fat diet was found to lower “bad” cholesterol (LDL) among overweight  individuals.

Avocados also are one of the few fruits (yes, it is classified a fruit) that provide “good” fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated). And according to the AHA, those fats when consumed in moderation and eaten in the place of saturated and trans fats can help reduce overall cholesterol levels and decrease risk for heart disease.

So if you are making plans for a big Super Bowl party, don’t forget the avocados. For many, they will be the game’s most valuable player!

Holy Guacamole
4 avocados
½ cup chopped white onion
2 diced Roma tomatoes
Juice of 1 large lime
½ cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 seeded and chopped jalapeno or serrano pepper
1 finely minced clove garlic
1 teaspoon salt (or more if desired)
¼  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1½ teaspoons chili powder such as ancho (optional)
In a large bowl, lightly mash flesh of avocados. Leave it chunky. Add chopped white onion, diced Roma tomatoes, juice of lime, chopped cilantro leaves, chopped pepper, minced clove garlic, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and chili powder. Stir together lightly.
Taste and adjust seasoning. Press plastic wrap directly on the dip and cover with another lid. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

Basic Guacamole
2 large rip avocados
4 canned, peeled green chili peppers, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons lemon juice or lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Peel and seed the avocados. Mash one avocado in a bowl, and finely chop the other. Mix the two with remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for several hours before serving.

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