Avocado, Kale, and Coconut: The Trend That Won’t End
Creamy avocado, verdant kale, and tropical coconut are foods that are now seen regularly on restaurant menus and frequently on the shopping lists of home cooks. With an emphasis on super foods, and the desire for many of us to get the most nutritional bang for our buck, foods such as kale, coconut, and avocado were able to gain popularity; it’s now difficult to recall an era when these foods were seldom seen in mainstream grocers. Now, even years after they first saw a rise in demand, these foods are still as sought after as ever. While avocado, kale, and coconut offer an abundance of nutritional benefits, that’s not the only reason they have remained so popular. Many chefs and home cooks have discovered the versatility that these foods offer, and food manufacturers have also come up with new and interesting products featuring these culinary superstars.
Avocado is a nutrient-dense food. “Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats which are heart healthy and help decrease LDL, or ‘bad cholesterol,’ levels,” according to YaQutullah Ibraheem Muhammad, a registered dietitian residing in Atlanta, Georgia. Avocados also contain phytonutrients that help prevent cancer.
Kale is a low calorie food packed with vitamins and nutrients. “Kale provides about two-and-a-half grams of fiber per serving and is also a source of vitamins A, C, K, and the B vitamin folate,” says Muhammad. Kale is also high in nutrients that promote eye health.
Coconut is also nutrient-dense, as its water is rich in electrolytes and minerals such as copper, calcium, and iron. Additionally, “Coconut meat and water contain about seven-and-a-half percent of your daily required levels of potassium,” according to Muhammad. Surprisingly, that’s more of the brain boosting mineral than found in bananas.
The unexpected flexibility of these items proves to be a major draw for home cooks. While most of us are familiar with avocado’s usage in guacamole, some cooks have begun experimenting with avocados in a variety of ways. “Avocado provides a smooth and creamy texture to smoothies, dips, and sauces,” says Muhammad. Try adding a bit of this fruit to your blender the next time you whip up a fruit smoothie. The addition of avocado will provide creaminess as well as a healthy dose of good fats. Some have begun using avocado as an alternative to butter and mayonnaise, enjoying this mashed fruit on toast, as a spread on sandwiches, and even in pasta dishes. Try adding some mashed avocado in place of mayonnaise the next time you prepare deviled eggs or potato salad.
Avocado also pairs surprisingly well with chocolate. Recipes for chocolate pudding, mousse, and even truffles have been developed featuring this fruit, and they are easy to find on popular recipe sites. The addition of avocado keeps these desserts decadent tasting without the use of heavy cream or butter.
Kale also provides home cooks with a variety of options. Ariel Bornè, a teacher originally from Baltimore, Maryland, has been cooking with kale for many years. “I grew up eating a lot of kale as a dinner vegetable as a child,” states Bornè. “My father would purchase it by the bushel from the farmer’s market, and we children would clean and help my mother to prepare it.” Bornè continues to use this green leafy vegetable in her dishes. “Kale is great in smoothies, salads, sautéed as a side dish, and even baked,” she states. One of Bornè’s favorite side dishes is a simple sauté of fresh kale with garlic and onions; a bit of honey can also be added for those who are sensitive to kale’s natural bitterness. She also loves the fact that kale is ideal for those with food sensitivities and allergies, as it is not a common allergen. Muhammad enjoys baking kale in the oven to create crisp kale chips, which are a great substitute for high-calorie potato chips.
For those on the lookout for new and interesting snack options, kale products are a healthy alternative to traditional treats. Offering a faster option than preparing your own, store-bought kale chips are available in many supermarkets. They come in flavors ranging from Ranch to Nacho Vegan Cheese.” Kale crackers have also recently appeared on the scene. Featuring wholesome ingredients like kale, sea salt, flax seeds, carrots, and seasonings, kale crackers are a smart snack option.
Coconut is a food that has endless options. Bornè admits, “I would eat fresh coconut from the shell as a summer treat as a child. As I got older, I learned to recognize the flavor of coconut in many Caribbean, Indian, and Thai dishes.” Bornè also uses many coconut-based products in her home kitchen. More mainstream grocery stores have begun keeping coconut-based products in stock. Coconut milk and coconut cream add a richness to stews, soups, sauces, and curries. Many vegan chefs also use these items as substitutes for dairy items in recipes. Coconut oil is a great swap for butter in cooked and baked dishes and adds a slightly sweet and fruity flavor to savory dishes. Coconut amino acids are another item that have increased in usage. Made from fermented coconut tree sap, they are a low-sodium liquid seasoning that’s a great substitute for soy sauce and provides an ideal alternative for those looking to avoid soy-based foods. Coconut wraps are another interesting item that have been spotted. These wraps, made with coconut meat, coconut water, and Himalayan sea salt, are a low-carb alternative to traditional flour tortillas. With less than eight grams of carbohydrates per wrap and free from gluten, they are ideal for diabetics and those following a gluten-free diet. These new items have kept consumers interested, and more products will likely continue to pop up as more manufacturers discover the usefulness of this fruit.
Looking at the nutritional benefits and wide variety of uses of these foods, it’s easy to see why avocado, kale, and coconut have continued to rise in popularity. The next time you’re craving a chocolate dessert, try out a recipe for avocado chocolate truffles. If you prefer a crunchy snack, kale chips can satisfy your craving. These alternatives offer health benefits and will keep you on trend.
Amani Jabbar is a certified fitness trainer and a college English instructor. She holds an MA in English and is a mother of three. She enjoys coupling her love of writing with her passion for health and wellness.