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Guacamole Round-Up: Superbowl Eats!

When my husband saw me making up different kinds of guacamole, he was confused. "You already make the best guacamole," he said. And friends? It's true, I do make a mean guacamole. Our group of friends in Dallas often had fajita nights where we combined forces to make a delicious and easy Tex-Mex meal. I was always in charge of the guacamole. Unlike my usual experimental ways, I make guacamole the same way every time.

So why change it up? Because I do like variety, and trying new things. And, because most people I know do better with a recipe than by making it up as they go - so maybe a few new recipes will stir your creative juices to help you create you next go-to recipe.

I used to be the girl who went to Superbowl parties primarily to eat the food, only really paying attention to the TV when the commercials came on. Then I got married a man who loves football and writes commercials. Now, the commercials have often circulated the internet before the game - he's seen them all already and will let me know when the good stuff is coming. I spend more time watching the game than the ads. Wha?! But one thing hasn't changed - I still am all about the food!

I haven't narrowed down the main dish, yet. So many great choices of slow-cooker comfort food that is just perfect for such an occasion - chili, buffalo chicken, pulled pork, etc. But one thing's for sure - there will be guac!

There are many great health benefits to avocados. They are packed with heart-healthy fats, vitamin E and fiber. A recent study showed a diet rich in avocado could help lower LDL cholesterol. [Remember, LDL is seen as "bad" cholesterol, an indicator of heart disease risk.] It's becoming more well-known and accepted that a low-fat diet isn't necessarily the best thing for weight loss, or for cardiovascular health. But this research was surprising to many. Was it the monounsaturated fat from the avocado? The fiber? Something else altogether? Unclear. But we do know that it made a difference.

To put the difference in perspective, the avocado diet decreased LDL cholesterol about 14 milligrams per deciliter of blood. Compare that with a decrease of about 7 mg/dL for the low-fat diet, and about a 8 mg/dl drop from the moderate-fat diet.

The article goes on to remind you that guacamole is often eaten with chips - an easy way to load up on calories before you realize it. Try dipping veggies in your guacamole, the same way you might dip them in hummus. Think beyond carrots and celery, and try radishes, jicama, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, asparagus, or sugar snap peas.

Speaking of veggies, I thought about giving a recipe for a lighter version of guacamole. In the end, I liked a few others better. But here's the bottom line: you replace some of the avocado with a green vegetable. This definitely involves a blender or food processor, because chunks of asparagus in your guacamole isn't super inviting. Green peas, green beans, asparagus and spinach are all good options to try. I would try a 3:1 avocado to vegetable ratio as a place to start. Play around with it and see what you like best.

Both of these tips - blending and dipping - are great ways to encourage vegetable consumption in your house. Don't get too excited, though. No need to blend in asparagus and eat the dip with radish. The key to making substitutions in recipes that your friends and family will still eat is not to make too many changes within the same recipe!

Without further ado, here are three versions of guacamole:

  • Katie's Traditional Guac
  • Roasted Tomatillo Guac
  • Mango Shrimp Guac (yes, you read that right)

Katie's Traditional Guac

For my traditional guacamole, I start with a homemade pico de gallo. I like to do about a 2:2:1 ratio of tomato, white onion and cilantro. Then add serrano or jalapeno peppers, lime juice, salt and garlic powder to taste. That could look like 1 white onion, 3-4 roma tomatoes, 1/2 cup cilantro, 1 jalapeno, juice of 2 limes, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp salt. For me, the key is the cilantro and lime juice. I always want more of those - I love the fresh taste. If you are one of the unfortunate people who thinks that cilantro tastes like soap, skip it :) Add to that 2-3 mashed avocados, depending on the size.

You're noticing that my measurements are not super precise. Two reasons: (1) it doesn't have to be, it's a forgiving dip, and (2) when you are relying so heavily on the fresh, raw produce, slight changes due to seasons or ripeness will make a major impact. Sometimes you get a lime that barely has any juice. A tomato that is a little too mealy. A jalapeno that knocks your socks off. You get the idea. This basic recipe gives you room to make it your own and play around with what works for you.

Roasted Tomatillo Guac (adapted from A Veggie Adventure)

This was a new one to me. It involved roasting tomatillos and serrano peppers (or in my case, putting them under the broiler) until they are charred. Make note that the tomatillos need about 2-3 times under the broiler that the peppers do. When they are sufficiently charred, take them out of the oven and let cool until you can touch them. Peel off the skins, remove the core (the tough parts) and chop up. It's going to be soupy :) Add in fresh minced garlic, red onion, cilantro, lime zest and juice. Combine all these with your mashed avocado. Salt to taste.

Note that my tomatillos weren't overly charred in the above picture. You're going to want to char them more - the skins come off much easier that way! Your recipe might look like something this: 4 tomatillos, 2 serrano peppers, 1 Tbs minced garlic, 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion, 1/2 cup cilantro, zest and juice of 1 lime, 3-4 mashed avocados, 1/8 tsp salt.

Mango Shrimp Guac (adapted from The Oregonian)

This was by far the most interesting, and the quickest to make. It's truly just mango, salad shrimp and sriracha added to seasoned avocado. I think that if you had some good Louisiana-style hot sauce, that would make an excellent alternative to sriracha, as well. Note that the addition of the hot sauce makes the guac look a little brown. It hasn't gone bad, it's just not as pretty. The mango and shrimp add a nice color, though.

And so, the recipe looks a bit like this: 1 mango diced, 4 oz salad shrimp (cooked/thawed and patted dry), 2-3 Tbs sriracha, 2-3 mashed avocados, juice of 1 lime, 1/4 tsp cumin, dash of salt.

All three of these were winners. It's definitely a personal preference thing. The Mango Shrimp adds a bit of sweet and tangy, the Tomatillo a richer roasted flavor, and my Traditional is just fresh, fresh, fresh!

If you find yourself with leftover guacamole (who are you and how did that happen?!), let's dispel the myths on storage. Adding the avocado pits WILL NOT improve the lifespan of the guacamole. All it does is protect the guac just under the pit. What you want to avoid is oxidation, i.e. exposure to air. Instead, smooth out your leftovers so you have a nice even surface. Then, pour a 50/50 mixture of lemon or lime juice and water on top - just enough so that there is no guacamole exposed to the air. When you're ready to enjoy those leftovers, just pour off the liquid. Or, create an air-tight seal with plastic wrap pushed against the surface of the guacamole. Either way, voila! You have green guacamole.

What about YOU? Do you have a favorite Superbowl recipe? What about guacamole? Or do you enjoy your avocados another way?