Health Food Writer Tours California Avocado Grove (and Giveaway!)

Avocados on the branchSeptember tends to be one of the busiest months of my year, filled with food writer and registered dietitian conferences on top of my duties as a nutrition spokesperson. For the past few days I’ve been in San Diego at the American Dietetic Association Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo, as both nutrition speaker and attendee.

Before I checked into my room a bus whisked me away to tour an avocado grove, a media nutritionist event hosted by California Avocados. I keep these tasty fruits on hand like other people do bananas, so I was thrilled to receive an invite.

Meal Makeover Moms Liz Weiss and Janice BissexThe entertainment began on the ride there as The Meal Makeover Moms Janice Bissex and Liz Weiss praised avocados while juggling them.

Media nutritionists visit California avocado groveThe backdrop for our lunch was a patio perched beside a pond in the valley between the rolling mountains.

California Avocados host luncheon for media nutritionistsI’m a little obsessed with Mason jars and love how they were utilized in these cute centerpieces.

California Avocado grove ownersThe owners of the grove were precious.

Arugula salad with Beets, Goat Cheese, and AvocadosLunch couldn’t come soon enough following my morning of travel. I will definitely try preparing this salad of wild baby arugula, roasted beets, goat cheese, and avocados tossed in lemon vinaigrette. We also sipped on iced tea with fresh crushed raspberries.

Rockfish en Papillote with Quinoa PilafThe main course was Rockfish en Papillote (baked in paper) with tomatoes, garlic, and capers, served with smoked avocado quinoa tabbouleh with zucchini.

Opened Rockfish en Papillote with Quinoa Pilaf

Chocolate Avocado Pudding with StrawberriesJanice and Liz demonstrated how to cut an avocado while we enjoyed this chocolate avocado pudding. I demolished every morsel of food on the plates I was served, yet still felt comfortable afterward. That’s the beneficial goodness of real, fresh food.

How to Cut an Avocado

I picked up two favorite take-home tips. First, substitute 1/2 avocado (equaling 1/2 cup) for one stick of butter, when a recipe calls for two. The second tip was to be sure to eat the darkest green part of the avocado (the pulp on the outer edge), which contains the highest concentration of nutrients like beta-carotene.

View walking to the avocado groveAfter lunch, we strolled up to the avocado grove.

Avocado farmer in an avocado groveThe farmer shared a few fascinating tidbits.

  • The peak season for California avocados is March through September, and up to November for the northern parts of the state. May and June produce the tastiest avocados, which must be the explanation for my frequent guacamole cravings, kicked off annually by Cinco de Mayo. An icy cold margarita poolside doesn’t hurt.
  • Avocados don’t ripen until picked, unless hot weather begins the process prematurely on the branch.
  • The leaves fall from the avocado tree on an ongoing basis. In California, the leaves remain under the trees, resulting in natural self-mulching.
Golf course on an avocado grove

The family designed a 9-hole golf course beside the grove.

Liz Weiss interviewed Carolyn O’Neil

Liz Weiss interviewed Carolyn O’Neil (Lady of the Refrigerator on Alton Brown’s Good Eats) and me after the tour.

We returned to the hotel where the information exchange continued.

Spending the day with a group of food-connected people passionate about avocados was a delicious way to kick off the conference.

No Whine with Dinner BookReader Giveaway!

The swag bags from the grove tour included a stainless steel avocado slicer and signed copy of Liz and Janice’s No Whine with Dinner: 150 healthy, kid-tested recipes from The Meal Makeover Moms. Since I already own both of these I’m excited to give the new ones away to one lucky reader. Just comment here or on my Facebook page and tell me your favorite way to enjoy avocados. To enter, submit your comment by Friday, October 14, midnight Pacific time. Good luck!

Estimated calories: 1085

 

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Nutrition Expert Shows What’s New in Lunch Boxes, 3TV Phoenix

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Culinary Expert’s Grocery Shopping Haul at Fry’s Marketplace

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41 Comments

  1. Suzanne
    Posted September 28, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I like avocado on veggie burgers and any Mexican dish!! :)

    • Posted September 29, 2011 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      Suzanne, ditto on burgers and Mexican food! Love it. How was your wedding?!
      Michelle

  2. Posted September 28, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Avocados are poisonous for many animals and one avocado has 243 calories. Check out how many calories are in your favorite foods.

    • Posted September 28, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for stopping by, Robert. Actually, according to the USDA Nutrient Database, one California avocado contains 227 calories. 227 very nutrient-rich calories. One serving, which is 1/5 of an avocado contains only 45 calories. And I’ve heard chocolate is poisonous to dogs (anyone care to weigh in?). That is not going to stop me (human) from eating good, dark chocolate regularly.

      Michelle

  3. Heather
    Posted September 28, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    I like to use avocados to replace half the butter in a traditional chocolate chip recipe. No one can tell the difference! :)

    • Posted September 29, 2011 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      Heather, I still need to try that tip! Thanks for the reminder.
      Michelle

  4. Mary
    Posted September 29, 2011 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    I love avacado on sandwiches, burgers, spicy black bean soup, burritos (or anything mexican), and salads, to name a few! when i lived in the caribbean, my neighbor had an avacado tree. i miss getting freshly picked avacados all the time! can’t grow them in new york :(

    • Posted September 29, 2011 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      Mary, all of your ideas sound divine. Oh, to have an avocado tree…
      Michelle

  5. Raina
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    I enjoy using avocados on sandwiches instead of mayo so I get my creamy fix with some extra nutrients and fiber:)

    • Posted October 3, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

      Raina, yes! Bring on the creaminess! Or, how about using mayo and avocados?? That’s what I do. Hehe. But just a thin layer of mayo.
      Michelle

    • Raina
      Posted October 7, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      The creamier the better! The two are delish together!! I make avocado sandwiches this way with salt and pepper you don’t really need any meat. yum! Thanks for the tip on peeling them closer to the skin to get the most nutrients, very interesting.

  6. Laurie
    Posted October 7, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    I like to make a salad of diced avocados, halved grape tomatoes and diced persian cucumbers, pepper, sea salt, balsamic vinegar and a splash of olive oil. Delish.

  7. Posted October 7, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    I LOVE avocados! I enjoy them on sandwiches, in salads, in quesadillas, and as a dip for veggies. I’ve never tried the chocolate chip cookie idea. That’s a must try!

  8. Posted October 7, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    I also keep avocados on hand like bananas. They’re always ripe ones ready to eat and others going through the ripening process. I love my mango & avocado salad that also includes red onions, cilantro and fresh lime juice. Soooo very refreshing!

    Thanks for sharing your experience at the grove :)

  9. Posted October 8, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    Guacamole! (just mash and add chopped onion, chopped tomatoes, a little dash of pepper, some cilantro- that’s it), I like it simple.

    We also serve it on the side when we have rice and beans or black bean soup.

    Our family loves them.

  10. Rebekka
    Posted October 8, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    There are so many ways I enjoy avocados. I love making burritos using fresh diced avocados in them, also use them in salads and as an extra add in to baked goods. One of my most fave ways to eat an avocado is slice it in half, sprinkle on a bit of sea salt and pepper, then eat it. Yum!

  11. Leslie Lynch
    Posted October 8, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    We mix avocado, salsa, lime and shredded cheese for our take on guac. We also have a great recipe for ‘greekamole’, which is guac with feta cheese and chopped onion and tomatoes. Delicious!!!

  12. jessie
    Posted October 8, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    I love to eat avocados all the differant ways .

  13. jessie
    Posted October 8, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Love them any way, they can be ate

  14. Carmen
    Posted October 8, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    I love avocado on just about anything, but I really think it’s great on a BLT. I guess that would be a ABLT! My little boy like his sliced with a a little lime juice.

  15. Janelle
    Posted October 8, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    I love making a BLT with thick turkey bacon, L, T and sliced avocado. Super delish! 2nd fav is on my scrambled eggs

    • Posted October 12, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Janelle,
      Huh, I haven’t ever tried avocados on top of scrambled eggs. One more good usage tip! Thanks.
      Michelle

  16. Anita
    Posted October 8, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    I enjoy avocados chunks on top of my mexican style soup along with a few tortilla chips…so good!

  17. Kay-Lynne Schaller
    Posted October 8, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    I love to mash an avocado with a big spoonful of Salsa (Santa Barbara Olive Company Salsa or Trader Joes) and a squeeze of lime, and then put this on sandwiches, in omelettes, or just eat by the spoonful!

    • Posted October 12, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Kay-Lynne,
      I do the same thing! – dice an avocado and stir in salsa. On of my favorite snacks. Thanks for stopping by!
      Michelle

  18. JM
    Posted October 9, 2011 at 2:58 am | Permalink

    Wow – what beautiful pictures! I like to eat avocados plain, but I am definitely going to try them replacing butter in a cookie recipes.

    • Posted October 12, 2011 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      JM,
      Glad you like my photos – thank you! I just added 1/2 an avocado to a muffin recipe, and it worked out well.
      Michelle

  19. Linda Byrn
    Posted October 9, 2011 at 3:28 am | Permalink

    In Indiana, when the tomatoes are ripe, I have avocado, tomato, lettuce sandwiches for lunch most days. When the tomatoes disappear, I slice the avocado in half, sprinkle it with salt, and eat it with a spoon, right out of the skin. Delicious!

  20. pat galas
    Posted October 9, 2011 at 3:33 am | Permalink

    Avacodos are very popular at out house. My family never fail to ask for them on a salad or a sandwich. They enjoy the flavour and the health benefits they bring.

  21. audra
    Posted October 9, 2011 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    I love avocado mixed into corn salad salsa. Delish.

  22. Mariseli
    Posted October 9, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    I love avocados in sandwiches, salads, and burgers as well as in a well made guacamole. But, my favorite way to eat avocados is as a side item to a hearty meal. Put a little bit of salt on it and let it be the center of attention. Growing up my mom always had sliced avocados at the center of the dining table. Delicious!

    • Posted October 12, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Hi Mariseli,
      I find myself eating avocados right out of the skin with just a sprinkle of salt lately, too!
      Thanks for sharing.
      Michelle

  23. Miranda
    Posted October 9, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    I love avocados on tacos and sandwiches.

  24. Kathleen
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Love slices of avacado on my turkey and cheese sandwich

  25. sara
    Posted October 11, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    I like to slice them thin and put them on a turkey on whole wheat sandwich!

    • Posted May 23, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

      YUM, that sounds dvniie! When I lived in SoCal and we bought 4 avocados every week at the farmers’ market (year round!) I used to LOVE making a salad of butter lettuce, persimmon slices, and pecans with a simple honey mustard dressing – try it, it’ll totally transport you to Cali!

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