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The Three Amigos: Bread, Miso and Avocado

When these three friends are together on a plate, a perfectly balanced, healthy and delicious meal is at your fingertips and will satisfy your digestive system with what you need to feel great.

The problem with bread for most of us is how much bread is enough and how to stop at one or two slices. We are spoiled for choice with the varieties of bread the many wonderful artisan bakers in our neck of the woods can offer. For gluten sensitive folks, there is now an array of tasty gluten free varieties too. Bread is comforting and convenient. I find myself reaching for it at least once a day. The challenge is what to put on the bread to add to its healthy quality.

I have always enjoyed avocados and have prepared and eaten them in myriad ways: guacamole, green goddess dressing, salads. I have made cold avocado soups and have added mashed avocado to chocolate cake. I assumed that avocados come from a tropical place far away and at times I felt guilty eating avocado out of season and paying for food miles. Then a year ago I was liberated - at the monthly Castlemaine Farmers Market. I bought avocados from a farmer who grows them in Echuca. AND, as locally grown food promises they are the best tasting avocados and inexpensive to boot. Ever since then I only buy avocados from her and can enjoy them guiltfree!

There are roughly seventy varieties of avocado grown in Australia. With different varieties ripening at different times, we can enjoy locally grown avocados from July to December. I usually buy a few under ripe ones. I keep them in the fridge, to hasten the ripening process I put one with ripening bananas on my kitchen bench. If it is cold it could take four or five days to ripen and as the days warm up only two or three days. Avocado is ready for eating when it feels soft while cradled in the palms of your hand or lightly pressed near the stem. When it is fully ripe the stem easily falls off.

Cutting an avocado open brings me similar joy and anticipation as when I unwrap a gift. Cut it lengthwise with a sharp knife and twist it into halves. The pale greenish yellow smooth flesh looks and feels like butter. And it IS the butter of the plant world. Avocado provides mono-unsaturated fat which improves cardiovascular and heart health. Ayurvedic medicine prescribes avocado to counteract heat as it is considered a ‘cooling’ food. Excellent for hot days and for lowering fever. Even though I would like to eat a whole avocado in one go, I usually eat one half with each meal and therefore I keep the seed intact in the other half. Store this other half in an air tight container and keep it in the fridge. Hold the other half in one hand, score it with a table knife into strips and using a large spoon, scoop out the flesh in one go. Resist eating it as it comes out - it will be worth the wait when assembled with the other two components.

Miso: This protein dense fermented bean or grain paste has its origin in Japan and parts of China. Some people say that it tastes similar to vegemite. While I also enjoy vegemite, miso offers a depth and umami flavour of its own. Miso contains high protein and essential minerals and vitamins Bs, E and K. Because it is fermented, it is full of good bacteria which promotes gut health and good digestion. Because miso is now widely used and sought after, it is readily available in green grocers and supermarkets. At the monthly Castlemaine Farmers Market, there is a Japanese lady who sells her delicious homemade miso paste as well as other Japanese fermented specialty foods.

Now comes the fun and easy assembly part. Lightly toast a slice of your favourite bread. Spread it with miso paste and then top it with smashed or strips of ripe avocado. I usually devour mine as is, but you can dress it up with freshly cracked pepper, or a squeeze of lemon, or chopped herbs of your choice. (Miso paste is salty and therefore you may not need additional salt.) It should take no more than ten minutes to put this meal together but eat it slowly to enjoy each bite. Savour a healthy and simple meal that can taste this good without cooking.

When I am in need of a larger meal it takes another fifteen to twenty minutes to make poached eggs and put them on top. To me this qualifies as a big breakfast, or a filling lunch or a light dinner. Whatever you call it, it’s simple and sublime.

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