Forget av­o­cado toast

Treat your­self to heart-healthy av­o­cado tostadas.

Austin American-Statesman - - AUSTIN360 FOOD - By Kel­lie Hynes For Cox Newspapers

I have never met a sat­u­rated fat I didn’t love. Euro­pean but­ter, but­ter­cream frost­ing, cream in my cof­fee — I revel in rich foods that taste as com­fort­ing as a hug. But un­less you’re liv­ing un­der a rock with your triple cream Brie (no judg­ment, I’ve been there), you know that the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion rec­om­mends lim­it­ing sat­u­rated fats to keep our tick­ers happy and healthy.

For­tu­nately, fans of lux­u­ri­ous fla­vors need not de­spair, be­cause foods packed with mo­noun­sat­u­rated and polyun­sat­u­rated fats, aka the “good fats,” in­dulge us and help lower our bad choles­terol. So, as part of my healthy eat­ing plan, I’m cut­ting back on the sat fat and choos­ing more LDL-fight­ing su­per­heroes, like av­o­cado. Now some peo­ple avoid av­o­ca­dos be­cause they have a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing calo­rie-dense. For­tu­nately, a lit­tle av­o­cado goes a long way; in the fol­low­ing recipe, a sin­gle av­o­cado stretches across four yummy serv­ings.

Thanks to av­o­cado toast, the av­o­cado is cur­rently ex­pe­ri­enc­ing celebrity-level trendi­ness. Av­o­cado toast is made by mix­ing av­o­cado, olive oil, lemon or lime juice and sea­son­ings, then mash­ing the whole she­bang onto a thick slab of crusty bread. It’s de­li­cious, but some­what lack­ing in ver­sa­til­ity. We have so many more op­tions, though, when we move on from av­o­cado toast to av­o­cado tostadas.

Mak­ing crunchy, hearthealthy tostadas is easy. Sim­ply place your tor­tillas di­rectly on the rack of a hot oven for a few min­utes; no deep-fry­ing nec­es­sary. The kind of tor­tilla is com­pletely up to you. My fam­ily likes the neu­tral fla­vor of white flour tor­tillas, but corn tor­tillas are lower in calo­ries and sodium. There are even gluten-free tor­tillas if that’s your need or pref­er­ence. For this recipe, I chose whole-wheat flour tor­tillas, which con­tain a lit­tle more fiber and pro­tein than the white flour ver­sion, but are more chewy than corn tor­tillas, even when baked.

Your av­o­cado tostada will taste only as good as the av­o­cado you choose. Skip the ones that are cracked, dented or mushy. In­stead, look for an av­o­cado that barely gives un­der the pres­sure of a gen­tle squeeze. If rock­hard av­o­ca­dos are your only op­tion in the store, let them ripen on the counter un­til they are slightly soft. Once your av­o­ca­dos are per­fectly ripe, store them in the re­frig­er­a­tor un­til you are ready to cook. You prob­a­bly know that the trick to re­mov­ing an av­o­cado pit is to whack it with a knife, and then twist the knife to loosen the pit. It goes with­out say­ing, but let’s say it any­way: Place the av­o­cado flat on a work sur­face. If you hold it in your hand dur­ing the knife whack­ing, your av­o­cado ad­ven­ture may be cru­elly in­ter­rupted by a trip to ur­gent care.

I scooped out the av­o­cado flesh, mixed it with lime juice and salt, and spread it on top of the whole-wheat tostada. The vel­vety av­o­cado con­trasted beau­ti­fully with the crunchy-edged tostada. You can stop right here and be a very happy eater. But if you have just a few more min­utes and in­gre­di­ents, jazz up your tostada with a sweet salsa. I started with fresh pineap­ple, al­though canned pineap­ple (packed in juice, not sugar) works just as well. Fresh ji­cama is a sweet, crunchy tu­ber that pairs with cit­rus fla­vors like magic. Bright cilantro, honey, a bit of red onion and fiery red pep­per flakes round out the fla­vors. Bonus: You can dou­ble the salsa and pair it with other rich foods, like the triple cream Brie stashed un­der your rock.

These easy tostadas of­fer al­most in­fi­nite pos­si­bil­i­ties. Need a lit­tle more pro­tein in your meal? Top them with grilled tilapia, or add a layer of black bean dip un­der the av­o­cado spread. Tired of the same old break­fast? Top your av­o­cado tostada with an egg and pinch of smoked salt. Want it to look even pret­tier? Fin­ish your tostada with a flurry of cotija cheese. Av­o­cado tostadas keep up with any healthy ap­petite, with­out sac­ri­fic­ing a healthy body.

CON­TRIB­UTED BY KEL­LIE HYNES

The qual­ity of av­o­ca­dos mat­ters more in a dish, such as these tostadas, where they are the fo­cus of the plate.

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