Avos in Season

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Olé! Add an avo to your plate with Mexican-inspired guacamole

Guacamole. It’s the tantalising topping no self-respecting corn chip can live without. The life of the party, it’s also the ultimate fuss-free dip, adding zing to crisps, zest to shrimp and taking crudités to dizzyingly delicious new heights.

Quickly and easily made from mashed fresh avocados and seasonings such as lime or lemon juice, garlic and cilantro, velvety guacamole is not only perfect for busy hostesses, but busy moms too. It makes a fine lunch or suppertime accompaniment to everything from haloumi and mozzarella sticks to baked potatoes, pastas and pizzas.

With the SA Avocado Growers’ Association (SAAGA) telling us to ‘add an avo’ to all our dishes this avo season, guacamole provides the ideal way to do just that.

In addition to being extremely versatile, this saucy side is pretty well travelled too. It’s believed to have originated among the ancient Aztecs in Mexico, where avos were revered as aphrodisiacs and for their bountiful health benefits. The Spanish were said to have then picked it up here while exploring the New World and taken it back to Europe with them. Meanwhile, back home, word of Nahuatl āhuacamolli or avocado sauce spread, and soon guacamole found a following among communities throughout South and North America.

One of its greatest fan bases is actually in the USA, where guacamole is today considered the traditional Super Bowl Sunday snack. It’s estimated around 8 million pounds of guacamole are eaten every Super Bowl Sunday, accompanied by 14 500 tons of chips. The delightful dip has become so popular in the States that it even has its own national holiday on 16 September as well as an official Facebook page.

In South Africa, you can enjoy fresh guacamole made with home grown avos virtually all year long. Choose from the green-skinned cultivars Fuerte, Pinkerton and Ryan, available from March to August, or the gorgeously nutty-flavoured dark-skinned Hass, which is available from June to November.

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Add an avo and give your family favourite meals a makeover!

‘What’s for supper?’ is the one question all working moms and dads dread. Between making breakfast, beating the school bell, beating the traffic, pleasing the boss, pleasing your co-workers, making your daughter’s ballet class, catching your son’s cricket game, conquering your kids’ maths homework, feeding the dog…it’s hard to find the time to constantly dream up dazzling new dishes that will make everybody happy.

Why not look to your family’s favourite meals for inspiration instead, and jazz them up with a little green goodness using avos? That’s right, it’s so easy to transform those everyday favourites into something special just by adding an avo…or two or three!

For many of us, those favourite meals are born out of the traditional South African dishes our families have enjoyed for generations. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be brought smack bang into the 21st century and dressed up with a few melt-in-your-mouth slices of fresh avo here and a swirl of zesty guacamole there.

Diced avo in a traditional tomato and onion sambal helps cool off even the hottest Durban curry; slivers of avo on cold pickled fish makes for a refreshing take on this Cape Malay staple; and chopped avo mixed with mango atchar takes bunny chow and pap dishes to delicious new heights.

Avos are no stranger to the South African braai, so it’s hardly surprising they pair so perfectly with meat. Traditional T-bones and chips, Karoo lamb chops and ostrich steaks from the heart of Oudtshoorn are simply heavenly when topped with well-seasoned slices of avo, fresh microgreens and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. That’s not to mention the creamy deliciousness avos impart when tucked inside beefy boerie rolls; chicken and beef shawarmas; and juicy beef and chicken burgers.

Meat-free Mondays have never been easier: avos are ideal in vegetarian dishes as they’re incredibly versatile and add oodles of flavour. Baked potatoes topped with low fat cream cheese and mashed avo, or pasta with pesto and chunks of feta and fresh avo make for filling, tasty veg dinners.

Many hand-me-down recipes call for large quantities of fatty ingredients in their sauces and gravies. Isn’t it good to know avos offer a healthier, natural alternative? Chicken schnitzel is so much more appetising when topped with mashed fresh avo and lashings of lemon juice than when smothered under a mountain of fatty sauce!

Avos are king when it comes to salads. Rich and creamy, they add that something special that makes salads well, heavenly. But just because it’s winter, it doesn’t mean salads are off the menu. Oh no! There are loads of salad greens and vegetables out now that are perfect for seasonal salads.

Now’s the perfect time to give your family meals a makeover, as the local avo season is about to start. Look out for the green-skinned cultivars Fuerte, Pinkerton and Ryan from March to August, or the gorgeously nutty-flavoured dark-skinned Hass from June to November.

Go on, add some zing to your supper; add an avo!

Add an avo … or two or three to your everyday meals!

Spinach

Warm Winter Spinach Salad with Avo

Tired of heavy winter stews, but still want something warm and comforting? This dish is perfect for brunch or a Sunday night supper. Add chunky avo pieces to a spinach salad of baby leaves, quartered boiled eggs, sautéed asparagus, crispy bacon or pancetta and parmesan shavings. Finish it off with a delightful dressing of 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar and 4 tablespoons of avocado oil (or olive oil). Add all ingredients to a screw-top jar, shake and pour over.

Steak

Blokes’s Steak with Avo Guacamole and Biltong

Make your steak Michelin Star worthy with a fresh avo topping. Mash two or three avos with lime juice, finely chopped spring onions, a deseeded chopped tomato, one clove of chopped garlic and a few splashes of Tabasco sauce. Add a few dollops to your grilled steak and top with biltong shavings. Serve with onion rings and a little extra guacamole for dipping.

Panini

Chicken Panini with Avo ‘Mayo’

Replace your mayonnaise with creamy avonnaise! Whizz one avo in a blender until smooth, drizzle about 50ml of avocado oil (or olive oil) through the feeder, followed by two tablespoons of lemon juice.  Mix into shredded cooked chicken, season with salt and pepper and spread generously on Panini bread.

Pasta

Pasta with Avo, Fillet, Pine Nuts and Chilli

Toss strips of grilled fillet and slices of avo with warm pasta, garnish with toasted pine nuts and a touch of chilli. Serve warm with parmesan shavings for a quick mid-week dinner.

ChickenCurry

Chicken Curry with Avo Sambal

What is chicken curry without a sassy sambal on the side? Add diced avo and chopped fresh coriander to your traditional chopped tomato and onion and toasted coconut for a touch of the exotic.

Spud

Marvelous Meat-free Mondays: Baked Spud with Glamorous Avo Topping

Add a zesty mashed avo topping to your baked potato for a substantial dinner, no meat needed. Simply slit your spud open and add a generous dollop of low fat cream cheese. Then mash your avo, add seasoning, a dash of lemon juice and a drizzle of avocado oil (or olive oil). Pop this on top of the cream cheese and top with micro herbs, sprouts and seeds.

SAAGA successfully grows local market

A decision taken by the board of The South African Avocado Growers’ Association (SAAGA), to double their local marketing budget for 2012, produced excellent results for the past season.

When looking at the volume of avocados sold in relation to the prices reached over the past decade, it typically shows that where supply was higher, the prices were generally lower. 2012 stands out as a welcome exception – despite a 50% growth in volume sold on the National Fresh Produce Markets, compared to the relatively lower volumes, higher priced 2011 season, the avocado price still increased in 2012.

Statistics prove that South Africans are currently eating more avocados more often. This could be attributed in part to SAAGA’s decision to invest a considerable proportion of its member’s levies on increased consumer awareness and education through the media and supermarkets.

In addition to the general awareness campaigns, the association also worked hand-in-hand with major retailers to increase sales during the 2012 avocado season.  In-store activities were rolled out nationally and included display competitions, cooking demonstrations and consumer sampling. Retailers that participated reported an excellent growth in their avocado sales, ranging between 30% to 195% compared to the sales of 2011.

Piet Muller, past chairman of the SA Subtropical Growers’ Association (Subtrop), and chairman of SAAGA Soutpansberg Regional Committee, said that he was pleased when the SAAGA board announced the increase in the local marketing budget for 2012.

“I believe that this decision has had a huge impact on the local marketing of avos and took the pressure off the export of green skin avocados. The increased budget did not only add to the existing campaign but also increased the scale of activities in the retail sector.” Muller concluded by saying: “The great improvement in the local avocado market will add momentum to future growth.”

With future growth in mind, SAAGA embarked on a national consumer research project in 2012. The answers to questions like: how often South African consumers buy avos, where they buy from, whether it is planned or impulse purchases, how they eat their avocados and what they know about the nutritional value of the fruit, have been used to determine the main message and marketing activities for this year’s season.

Using this knowledge about the consumer and a substantial budget for local marketing in 2013, SAAGA will once again ensure that avocados are top of mind for the South African consumer. This year’s campaign will focus strongly on retail and special efforts will be put into reaching the vitally important informal market.

Make avos your first choice!

Avos make for the perfect substitute to many dishes instead of using other unhealthy ingredients. Rich and creamy, they add that something special that makes meals heavenly and guilt free!

Crackers and cheese a favourite of yours? A match box size block of cheddar cheese contains 10g of fat and 186.3mg of sodium.  Using the same amount of avo spread onto a cracker with freshly sliced tomato and black pepper would drop total fat content to 4.5g and the sodium to 2.1mg.

Black and green, the ‘in’ colours this season

It’s autumn and the South African avo has arrived in stores fresh off the local trees in time for the new season.

This must-have ingredient will be readily available in South Africa throughout autumn, winter and into spring 2016. With an eight- month long season that extends from March to November, various varieties of home-grown avocados are available virtually year round.

This combined with its multiple health benefits and culinary versatility, makes it this season’s most trendy element of any delicious meal.

Grab a Hass – because black never goes out of fashion!

The Hass avocado, characterised by its thick, pebbly skin that varies from dark green to black, is one of the most sought after South African cultivars among international consumers.

The Hass differs from its traditional green counterparts in that its ripeness is determined by the changing colour of its skin, which is linked to the softening of its flesh. So ripe Hass avos can be anything from a decadent dark green to purple and even black – and this dark colour simply means it’s ripe and ready to eat, not that the fruit has spoiled.

The Hass’s rich, nutty flavour is fast making it a favourite among local consumers too. That’s not to mention its thicker, bruise-resistant skin which offers a longer shelf-life, its equally significant health benefits and its extended availability from June to November.

But let’s not forget South Africa’s ever-popular green-skinned cultivars – Fuerte, Pinkerton and Ryan. These mainstay varieties are still as popular as ever with their creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture and availability throughout winter from March to August.

Whether it’s black or green, South Africa’s avos are all delicious, nutritious and avosolutely healthy!

Hearty and healthy – what more could you ask for?

Avocados have long been renowned for their health benefits and today are recognised for the valuable role they play in a balanced diet.

While it’s true that avocados are relatively high in fat, they mostly contain the heart-healthy monounsaturated or ‘good’ fats. Avos are also classified as ‘nutrient dense’, which means they provide substantial amounts of nutrients in each serving.

Because of their bountiful benefits, avos are now also regarded as part of the world’s elite group of superfoods – foods packed with high levels of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and other phytochemicals.

Avos literally deliver goodness in every slice!

The family favourite

Avos are the quintessential one-size-fits-all fruit. They’re ideal for every member of the family, from young to old. They’re perfect as first-foods for babies, mashed up soft and creamy; great as sandwich fillers for kiddies and teens; ideal on their own for busy moms and dads on the go; and even suitable for granny and granddad in soups and as toppings.

Avos pack a powerful nutrition punch, which means all this little superfruit’s health benefits are passed on to each family member, maximising the positive effects of their balanced diets at that particular life stage.

What did you do with your avo today?

Avocados are one of the most versatile fruits around. It’s not hard to see why – they can be mashed, diced, sliced and pureed for everything from guacamole; salads; pizza toppings; sandwich and wrap fillings; soups; snacks and dips; and even ice-cream.

They’re great for breakfast, lunch, supper and dessert, as well as in between snacks for when you’re on the move. And with zero preparation time involved, they’re ultra-convenient, and quick and easy to prepare no matter what dish you’re making. It really couldn’t be easier!

Must-try dishes for the 2016 season include glorious avo frittatas; avo and scrambled egg; delish avo burgers; and mouth-watering
avo cheesecake.