alligators and alligator pears, oh my!

CawCaw County Park! After 3 days of rain, the sun pokes out her little head long enough for us to revisit CawCaw, this time with my camera.

our favorite picnic spot- cawcaw

This is our picnic spot on the reclaimed rice fields trail- see the little bench under the tree? And what you don’t see is the alligator snoozing in the sun just 20 yards away. shyah. More photos of CawCaw to come, but first– a bit about nutrition, yay!

So a few weeks ago I fell deeply in love with the eggplant, that gorgeous and mysterious vegetable of so many asian stir fries,  italian pasta dishes, and of course–the french ratatouille. And while I will always hold a special fondness for that rather attractive and delicious vegetable, I find that this week, I’m falling for the avocado.

Oh, avocado, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways… I love you with my eggs at breakfast, I love you in spinach-based salads at lunch, I love you on the side of my stir-fry for dinner… but most of all, I love to mash you up in guacamole, OLE’!

After extensive research on the interwebs, I determined that all you really need to make guacamole is a few avocados and a little imagination. Ingredients vary from recipe to recipe- some people even added in mayonnaise or cream cheese… bleh. So I made up my own recipe:

OH MY GUAC!
Mash 3 avocados, mix with 4 scallions, finely chopped  (white and green parts), 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt, and  1 fruit’s worth lemon or lime juice (to keep avocado from browning). Refrigerate for 1 hour so flavors can properly mingle.

Some terribly interesting facts (no, really) about the our featured fruit(?), the  “alligator pear”:

  • Avocados are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure.
  • Not only does adding avocado to a salad of carrot, lettuce and baby spinach or to salsa greatly increase the absorption of carotenoids from these foods, but the improvement in carotenoid availability occurred even when a very small amount-as little as 2 ounces-of avocado was added.
  • Adding avocado to salad increases absorption of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lutein 7.2, 15.3, and 5.1 times higher, respectively, than the average amount of these carotenoids absorbed when avocado-free salad is eaten.
  • Add avocado to your favorite creamy tofu-based dressing recipe to give it an extra richness and beautiful green color.
  • Spread ripe avocados on bread as a healthy replacement for mayonnaise when making a sandwich.
  • For an exceptional salad, combine sliced avocado with fennel, oranges and fresh mint.

And now, to go with that delicious guacamole, how about some Black Bean Burgers & Salsa? I found these recipes online (probably allrecipes.com) and modified them (as always) to make them my own.

Black Bean Burgers

  • 1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained, rinsed, and mashed
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, minced
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • big dose of  sriracha or hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), and lightly oil a baking sheet.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix black beans, bell pepper, onion, and garlic with a fork until thick and pasty.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and hot sauce.
  4. Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties.
  5. Place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side.

Serve in sammich form on whole wheat bread with spinach, sliced tomato, onions and bell peppers. Or mash up the patty & serve in burrito form in a whole wheat wrap with a little  Best Salsa Ever (drained well to preserve burrito integrity),  and OH MY Guac! In place of sour cream, use plain organic yogurt.

Best Salsa Ever

  • 1 can or frozen box of shoepeg corn, rinsed, drained
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 zucchini, finely chopped
  • 2 or 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro, torn into small bits
  • 1/2 cup scallions, white and green parts finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar

mix and refrigerate for at least an hour.

And before we get to the photos, here’s an interesting factoid I found on another site: When crushed garlic was heated its ability to inhibit cancer development in animals was blocked; yet, when the researchers allowed the crushed garlic to ‘stand’ for 10 minutes before heating, its anticancer activity was preserved. A sulfur-based compound called alliin and an enzyme called alliinase are separated in the garlic’s cell structure when it is whole. Cutting garlic ruptures the cells and releases these elements allowing them to come in contact and form a powerful new compound called alliicin which not only adds to the number of garlic’s health-promoting benefits but is also the culprit behind their pungent aroma and gives garlic its “bite”.

Now, without further ado, I give thee CaCaw County Park:

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/galacticbloom/5424128032/&#8221; title=”our favorite picnic spot- cawcaw by galacticbloom, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5260/5424128032_b3322c323e.jpg&#8221; width=”500″ height=”334″ alt=”our favorite picnic spot- cawcaw” /></a>

cawcaw

cawcaw

cawcaw

cawcaw

cawcaw

cawcaw

cawcaw

cawcaw

cawcaw

cawcaw

and here’s me, standing in the marsh grass, 20 yds from an alligator.

cawcaw

not a care in the world… but I never really realized how big those sunglasses are– they’re gigantor, omg.

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