Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Guac This Way - Guiltless Guacamole

Guiltless Guacamole, photo by Valerie Phillips
A few weeks ago I did a story for the Standard-Examiner called Haute Guac, featuring "guiltless guacamole" ideas.

Someone posted a comment on the story that said, "Anyone who puts peas into guacamole should be shot; but instead will probably be elected to the Senate."
Actually most people wouldn't realize they're eating peas in their guacamole, if you thoroughly puree the peas. It's just a slightly sweeter taste. Avocados have such a mild flavor that they can easily be switched up with other green veggies. Once you've added cilantro, onions, tomatoes, garlic, chiles, and a squirt of lime, it's surprisingly hard to tell the difference. 
Guacamole's main ingredient — avocados — contain a lot of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, as well as potassium, fiber, B vitamins, and vitamins E and K.  But they're also high in calories.  A medium-size avocado is 322 calories, and about 70 percent fat. 
One solution is to add some other good-for-you ingredients. You still get some of the heart-healthy benefits of avocados but without as many calories.
Green peas are the secret ingredient in a Guiltless Guacamole recipe from "Desperation Entertaining" by Alicia Ross and Beverly Mills (Workman Publishing, 2002). The peas, which are virtually fat-free, cut half the fat from the usual guacamole recipe. A cup of cooked peas also offers nine grams of fiber, 38 percent of the daily allowance of vitamin C and 26 percent of vitamin A.
Zucchini is another good mix-in for a hybrid guacamole.  After all, people have been sneaking zucchini in everything from brownies to casseroles for years.  Zucchini is low in calories (19 per cup, raw) with no fat. It's also a significant source of vitamin C and a good source of magnesium and thiamin. In this Zukamole recipe, the zucchini and garlic are roasted for a nicer flavor and texture. 
Guacamame is a brighter green due to the edamame in it. 
With Guacamame, part of the avocados are switched out for edamame. They can be bought frozen and shelled in many supermarket frozen food sections. The soybeans give the guacamole a bright green color, although the avocado in it will eventually darken. 
When pureed together in a processor, this dip is thick and a little coarse. Sturdy veggies sticks could stand up to it. But if you want to serve it with baked tortilla chips, which are usually brittle, thin it with a little yogurt or water. Otherwise you'll have chips breaking off in the dip.
Edamame will boost the protein content, as a cup of it contains 17 grams of protein,  20 percent for iron, 16 percent for vitamin C, and 10 percent for calcium. 
Broccomole is another hybrid option. Because broccoli has a stronger flavor, it requires a bigger ratio of avocado in order to keep it from overpowering the dip. Surprisingly, the results weren't too far off from the traditional guacamole flavor. A cup of chopped cooked broccoli has about 54 calories, less than a gram of fat, and 160 percent of the daily value for vitamin C.
Keep in mind that you can customize these recipes with more salsa, hot sauce, extra chiles or spices to suit your taste. 
2 medium-size zucchini
1/2 head of garlic
1/4 cup water
2 medium avocados
1/4 cup cilantro sprigs
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 cup salsa
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375.
Slice zucchini in half, lengthwise.  Place the half-head of garlic in a roasting pan with the zucchini. Brush them with olive oil.
Roast about 1 hour, or until vegetables are tender. Let vegetables cool slightly. Cut off the root end of the garlic head. Squeeze the garlic pulp from the skins into a food processor bowl (or a deep, narrow bowl if using an immersion blender). Chop the zucchini into chunks and add to the bowl with the water, cilantro,  and lime juice, and process until well-mixed. Peel and seed the avocados and add to the bowl, along with the cilantro and cumin.  Process until smooth.
Pour into a serving bowl and mix in the salsa.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with tortilla chips, crackers or raw veggies. Makes about 3 to 4 cups.
Options: Add 1 4-ounce can chopped mild green chiles, or hotter fresh chiles, if desired.
— Valerie Phillips
1 1/2 cups frozen green peas, thawed
3 cloves garlic
1/2 medium-size red onion (or about 1/2 cup chopped)
1/2 cup densely packed fresh cilantro
1 very ripe, medium avocado
1/2 cup spicy prepared salsa
Juice of 1 lime
Set peas in a colander to drain. Peel the garlic. Peel onion and cut into 4 pieces. Rinse cilantro and shake the leaves to remove excess water. Remove and discard tough lower stems. Peel and seed the avocado. Process all ingredients in a food processor (or blender) until very smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Option: Add chopped chiles or hot sauce if more heat is desired.
— Adapted from "Desperation Entertaining" by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross (Workman, 2002)
1 medium-size avocado, peeled and seeded
1 cup cooked edamame (shelled fresh soybeans)
1 4-ounce can chopped mild green chiles
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup cilantro
1/2 cup prepared salsa (or more to taste)
Process the avocado, edamame, chiles, garlic powder, lime juice and cilantro in a food processor for about 30 seconds, until almost smooth. (If you try processing this in with a stand blender or immersion blender, add about 1/4 cup water.)
Pour into a serving bowl and mix in the salsa. Serve with crunchy vegetables or baked chips.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups.
Option: Add chopped jalapenos or hot sauce if more heat is desired.
— Valerie Phillips
1 1/2 cups chopped frozen broccoli
1/4 cup cilantro sprigs
2 medium ripe avocados
1 4-ounce can chopped mild green chiles
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 cup prepared salsa
Place the frozen broccoli in a microwave-safe bowl. Add a few tablespoons of water and cover. Cook for 4-5 minutes on high, or until broccoli is tender.
Pour the broccoli in a food processor or stand blender. Add the cilantro and process until pureed. Peel and seed the avocados and add to the food processor along with the chiles, garlic powder, and lime juice. Process until ingredients are well-mixed.
Pour into a serving bowl and add salsa. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 3 to 4 cups.
Option: Add hot sauce or jalapenos if more heat is desired.
— Valerie Phillips

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