Green Goodness

Avocados are a popular fruit, especially in the Southwest.

Dan Skay, executive chef at Parker Adventist Hospital, in Parker, Colo., loves avocados.

“We’re in the Southwest,” Skay explains. “We use avocados in everything. They have a beautiful color and they taste good. Avocados have fat, but it’s good fat; monounsaturated, so it’s a healthy food.”

He adds that, although the price has risen in recent months, avocados are still a relatively inexpensive food.

At Parker, avocados can be found in everything from salads to entrées. The foodservice department even makes an avocado gelato. Sometimes, Skay says, avocado is the star of the show.

“We can use it as a showpiece by serving it as a stuffed avocado, filled with a tuna or chicken salad,” he notes, explaining that his chicken of choice is a roasted achiote chicken made in house. Another of Skay’s favorites is a dish in which a fruit salsa is used as a base, followed by avocado slices and topped with a Yucatan chicken salad.

Because of the fat content of avocados, when stuffing the fruit with tuna salad, Skay sometimes will use an olive oil and lemon juice dressing in place of mayonnaise.
Avocados get an interesting treatment at the University of Connecticut, in Storrs, where Robert Landolphi, manager of culinary development, has helped create Sain, a line of raw foods prepared in the university’s central kitchen. Landolphi says raw foods are ones that have not been cooked in the traditional sense—nothing is heated above 118°F—and ingredients have not been chemically processed, pasteurized, homogenized, genetically modified, hybridized or otherwise compromised.

“One of our top sellers off this line is our avocado chocolate pudding,” Landolphi says. “It’s a very simple preparation. We blend together avocado, raw cocoa powder and just a little bit of maple syrup. It comes out very rich and buttery, and the students love it.”
The pudding, which has less than 200 calories, sells for $2.95 in UConn’s retail locations.

Avocados can also be found in Sain’s Classic California Sushi Roll With a Twist. In the UConn version, the rice is replaced with puréed cauliflower and there is no surimi—which, because it is heated during processing, can’t be considered a raw food. Carrots, cucumbers, avocado and alfalfa sprouts join the cauliflower in a nori wrap with a bit of fresh wasabi. Sain’s California roll sells for $4.95.

Avocados are popular on many college campuses, especially in California, where most avocados are grown. Last year, Stanford University in Palo Alto used avocado as the centerpiece of the menu when it debuted its food truck, the Cardinal Chef Mobile Gourmet, at the third annual Healthy Taste of Stanford food fair. Three avocado recipes were served from the truck during the two-hour event: California Avocado Pita with Grilled Chicken, Quinoa and Yogurt Mint Dressing; California Avocado Spinach Salad with Salmon; and Classic Guacamole. Stanford worked with the California Avocado Commission (CAC) to develop the menu, and the food truck featured customized Fresh Hand Grown in California Avocado merchandising, including production facts and figures.

“The event was great education for the students,” says Eric Montell, executive director, Stanford Residential and Dining Enterprises. “It gave us some new menu ideas and helped to introduce students to the food truck, which has been a big hit.”

Montell says avocados have always been a student favorite, in everything from guacamole to avocado slices on sandwiches and burgers.

The CAC works on a regular basis with non-commercial institutions and contract management firms such as Sodexo and Compass Group on avocado promotions, particularly during National Nutrition Month, in March, and for Cinco de Mayo. 

What to know about avocados

• Avocados are classified as fleshy fruits, falling into the subcategory of berries. (The other subcategory is drupes—fruits such as peaches, nectarines and cherries.)

• There are three groups of avocados: West Indian, Guatemalan and Mexican. California avocados are primarily Guatemalan and Mexican, while West Indian avocados are grown mostly in Florida.

• Avocados originated in south-central Mexico around 6000 B.C. but were not widely cultivated until about 750 B.C. Early Spanish explorers were introduced to avocados—which they called aguacate—by the Aztecs, who considered the fruit to be a sexual stimulant. Spaniards brought the avocado back with them to Europe.

• A judge in Santa Barbara, Calif., planted the first avocado trees in the state in 1871. Grown primarily in California and Florida, avocados did not become a commercial crop until the early 1900s and didn’t become popular until the 1950s. But by the mid-2000s, avocados were being used by nearly 50% of American households, according to the USDA.

• The name “avocado,” the Anglicized version of aguacate, is attributed to Sir Henry Sloane, the founder of the British Museum, who is said to have coined the word in 1696.

• A medium-sized avocado has about 250 calories, mostly from monounsaturated fat. It also has 20 vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients, including vitamins E and C, folate and fiber.

Source: California Avocado Commission 

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The School District of Philadelphia and Baltimore City Public Schools are the latest districts in the Urban School Food Alliance to switch to compostable plates.

The move to the eco-friendlier products will save 19 million polystyrene products from landfills, according to a news release .

Schools often use polystyrene products due to their low cost. Polystyrene trays cost on average around 4 cents apiece, while compostable plates cost an average of 12 cents each. The Urban School Food Alliance’s collective buying power enabled them to create a compostable plate that costs...

Managing Your Business
allergies

Guy Procopio got a taste of the future when Michigan State University hosted a Boy Scout event in 2015. Out of 10,000 participants at the East Lansing, Mich., campus, Procopio, the director of dining services, received 1,400 requests to meet special dietary needs, including a wide spectrum of allergies, gluten intolerance or insensitivity, and other new or unusual hyper-specialized diets.

This dining trend isn’t letting up, at least in America: Food allergies in children increased approximately 50% from 1997 to 2011. They now affect one in 13 children in the United States,...

Industry News & Opinion

Students of Broward County Public Schools in Florida were treated to a special meal by celebrity chef Aria Kagan during lunch last week.

The chef and former contestant on “The Next Food Network Star” prepared her farm-fresh pesto panini in front of students at McNicol Middle School in Hollywood, Fla.

Her visit was part of the district’s Chefs Move to Broward initiative, through which a chef from nonprofit Wellness in the Schools visits district cafeterias each month to prepare a healthy meal. The chef then teaches cafeteria staff how to make the dish so it can be...

Managing Your Business
woman alone in kitchen

In a post-Harvey Weinstein world, there’s an awful anticipation over which star’s worst-kept secret will be outed next. The outpouring of claims of sexual harassment and abuse helped popularize the #MeToo social media campaign, encouraging women to share their stories and spurring allegations against upwards of 60 high-profile men. In October, the movement’s momentum hit the foodservice industry. Since, behemoths such as Mario Batali, John Besh and Todd English were forced to confront accusations of alleged sexual harassment or misconduct.

For many women, the scope of the industry’...

FSD Resources