Ask Peter: Avocado for kids
I really want my children eating avocados but they are refusing. We have a tree full of them so I would like to find ways of sneaking them in. Have you got some sort of kids-will-eat-this ideas that include avocados? Rob
I have a few Brazilian friends who were horrified when they came to New Zealand and saw people eating avocados on toast, tossed in salads with tomatoes and feta, or with something as crazy as grilled chicken.
For them, avocados are to be eaten more as a sweet, much as you would a mango but sprinkled with sugar, or maybe pureed up with milk for a smoothie. For me, and believe me I’ve tried it, sprinkling sugar on avocado just doesn’t do it — and you probably don’t want to do that for your children either.
But avocados are so terrific that getting your children to like them makes good sense. They are packed full of vitamins and minerals, but are also high in fat, which is why we like them so much, I’m sure. That lovely creamy texture is quite unusual in a fruit.
However, the fat they contain is around 80 per cent monounsaturated — which is the good stuff — with the remaining 20 per cent being saturated. They contain “oils” that help prevent high cholesterol and they’re a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E.
It’s worth noting too that avocados are a pear only in shape. When they were first launched on the European market (and possibly New Zealand) they were sold as avocado pears. In reality, they’re not a pear at all, but a large berry with a single seed, and are more closely related to cinnamon.
Avocados mash and puree well and can be turned into the ever-popular guacamole of course, but you can also puree them with chickpeas and roast garlic to make a type of hummus, if your kids like that. They can also be pureed with basil and mint, pinenuts and parmesan cheese to make a pesto to be tossed with pasta.
You can mix diced or pureed avocado into a bechamel sauce to make lasagne or moussaka, and breadcrumb slices and deep-fry them to serve alongside fish and chips or chicken nuggets. Mashed and served on toast is of course an old New Zealand breakfast favourite, but try pureeing them into a berry smoothie, or even just with milk, and serve that at breakfast, or use the avocado milk instead of regular milk to pour on morning cereal.
Diced avocado added to oaty porridge is a treat when used alongside sliced bananas and toasted coconut, and you can grill slices and serve with smoked streaky bacon and tomato chutney on a toasted crumpet.
If your kids like french toast, mash some avocado up and use to fill a sandwich, before dipping in eggs with a little milk, then fry until golden on both sides in equal parts butter and light vegetable oil. Perhaps these last ones aren’t what you’d like to feed the children but they’ll help you get through a few avocados while you come up with other ideas.
I’ve seen cake recipes where pureed avocado is added to a chocolate base for a flourless cake, and I’ve added diced avocado to cheesy muffins. Chop them up and mix with canned spaghetti to fill a toasted sandwich or quiche.
I’ve pureed an avocado with half a mango, chilli, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, basil and a light vege oil to make a delicious, but also light, dressing and used this to dress cold roast chicken or grilled salmon. The dressing is also really good tossed with halved baby potatoes for a potato salad.
And if all else fails, scoop the flesh from the shell, mash with a little Greek style yoghurt and sprinkle with brown sugar and lime juice and pretend you’re in Brazil!
In our Ask Peter series, executive chef Peter Gordon answers your curly culinary questions. If you're stumped over something food-related, send your question to email@example.com and keep checking in for answers. You can read more on Peter on his website, have a read of his Ask Peter articles or check out his recipes on our site.