Tag Archives: slow food

Guacamole

Guacamole

Guacamole

There are as many ways to make guacamole as there are Mexicans to make it.  Everyone (and their mother and their dog, etc) has their own way of making it, which of course, is the best way.

Some guacamoles are runny, green and whizzed through the blender, so they’re smooth and pourable.  Others are chunky, with roughly mashed hass avocados and juicy, ripe chopped tomatoes studding it like jewels.

Some have white onions, cilantro (fresh coriander for those in the UK), parsley, jalapenos, garlic or lime juice.

I’m a fickle guacamole maker.  I’ll use whatever I happen to have that’s delicious and fresh…and happens to be in the house.  The only essentials as far as I’m concerned, are a really nice ripe buttery hass avocado and a fresh plump jalapeno.  If I happen to have cilantro and juicy baby plum tomatoes hanging about in the fridge, then that’s all the better.

Avocados are brilliantly good for you. They’re packed with all kinds of healthy stuff:

Beta-sitosterol:  This inhibits the absorption of cholesterol and promotes lower blood cholesterol levels.
Folate:  Promotes healthy cell and tissue development, so it reduces the risk of birth defects if you’re pregnant.
Potassium:  Helps balance the body’s electrolytes. Ounce per ounce, avocados contain 60% more potassium than bananas.
Vitamin E:  An antioxidant which slows down aging and protects against heart disease and various forms of cancer.
Glutathione:  Acts as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals that can cause cell damage and lead to disease.
Lutein:  This protects against prostate cancer and eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
Magnesium:  Helps produce energy and is important for muscle contraction and relaxation.

Here’s how I made the guacamole I ate for my supper tonight:

Ingredients:
1 ripe medium hass avocado
1 small handful of cilantro*, finely chopped
pinch sea salt
pinch coarsely ground pepper
4 or 5 baby plum, cherry or grape tomatoes, cut into quarters
1 jalapeno, finely diced
1/4 key lime

Method:  Cut the avocado in half and scoop out the buttery flesh. Roughly mash it with a fork, or if you’re lucky enough to have a molcajete**, give it a gentle mash with with the chopped cilatro, sea salt, pepper, and jalapenos.  At the very end, gently fold in the tomatoes and squeeze the lime over the top.  I’m not too keen on a lot of lime in guacamole, but a little bit cuts through the fattiness quite nicely.

Guacamole

Guacamole

You can eat this with tortilla chips, but its even better scooped up into little tacos with soft corn tortillas. Londoners can buy these fresh from the Cool Chile Company at Borough Market by London Bridge or you can get them frozen from the little Latin American food shop on Old Kent Road, near East Street. (Don’t ask me the name of it, because I have no idea if it even has one!)

*In Canada and the US, we call this fresh herb cilantro, for the Spanish name, but in UK its called fresh coriander.
**A molcajete is a Mexican mortar & pestle made from lava stone.

Organic? Who has the time?

Ok, so not everyone has time to peruse the farmer’s market every weekend, slowly mulling over the decision about whether to buy strawberries or raspberries. In fact, as much as I love doing it, even I don’t always have the time. In an ideal world I would have a job where I could spend my days thinking, talking, writing, and musing about food. Oh yeah, and eating it too. But right now, like most of you, I have a busy job, where often a bowl of takeaway miso soup is all I get to quickly scoff at lunch. Its not until I get home in the evening that I can release my stress by aggressively crushing garlic with the flat of my 9″ chefs knife, passionately beating batter or losing myself in the pedantic process of creating a complex sauce. Even on the weekends sometimes I just don’t have the time, and this is why I have some quick tips on healthy, organic shopping for busy people.

Quick Tip One: Subscribe to an organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Scheme.
These are sometimes called Farm Box Schemes or Vegetable Box Delivery Services. Whatever you call it, they’re really great. They’re all your seasonal, local vegetables (and sometimes fruits, if your scheme is big enough) packed in a box which is delivered weekly and safely stowed in an agreed spot, so when you get back from work on delivery day, your order is waiting for you. Some schemes are run by individual farms, some by larger farm cooperatives and some people have made small businesses out of it. Able & Cole in London have been able to partner up with meat, dairy and other producers so you can get almost an entire grocery order with your weekly delivery box. Of course, if you’re ordering meat and dairy, you’ll need to be home for the delivery so these can be safely tucked into the fridge right away.

Quick Tip Two: Online Grocery Shopping
Its the lazy way out, but if I know I have a crazy weekend coming up (hey its summer – there’s weddings, BBQ’s, parties, travelling around and social events with friends galore) I’ll spend a lunch hour at work doing an online shopping order, and I can still make sure that the bulk of my order is organic, without spending hours trawling through the non-organic produce. I tend to use the Ocado website, where I can create a shortlist of my preferences, such as ‘organic’ or ‘organic and wheat free’ or similar. Otherwise, just do a search for ‘organic’ and all the organic items will come up as a shortlist, and you can select the items on your grocery order from that. Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s and I think even ASDA offer similar options.

 Quick Tip Three: Prioritise
So it’s 7pm and you’re just getting out of the office. You worked through lunch, so no time for an online order and you live alone, so how the heck are you supposed to eat a whole box of organic veg each week? If you’re eating any fruit or veg at all, chances are they’re gonna come from the shop on the corner. Use this handy list from the American Environmental Working Group’s website – The Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15. Kind of obvious, but avoid The Dirty Dozen because they’ll up your pesticide intake, being the worst contaminated fruits and vegetables out there. Instead, if you aren’t able to buy organic, then try to go for the Clean 15, which are the least contaminated produce you can get.

The Dirty Dozen
Apples
Celery
Strawberries
Peaches
Nectarines
Grapes
Bell Peppers
Blueberries
Lettuce
Potatoes
Kale
Spinach

The Clean 15
Sweetcorn
Pineapple
Avocado
Asparagus
Sweet Peas
Mangoes
Eggplant
Cantaloupe
Kiwi
Cabbage
Watermelon
Sweet Potatoes
Grapefruit
Mushrooms