Carb Solutions: Big Game Avocado Chips
Over half of the U.S. adult population, some 154 million, qualify as being overweight or obese. Another 29 million of us have Diabetes, many as a direct result of being overweight. Then there are the 23.9 million overweight children who are dutifully following the example of their XXL adult role models. Diabetes and these extra pounds cost this country billions annually in both medical and economic resources, not to mention the effect these weight-related maladies have on a person’s overall mental well-being and happiness. However, both diabetes and being overweight are very manageable, even preventable, with a few lifestyle tweaks. By maintaining a sensible diet in conjunction with some consistent exercise, no matter how minimal, we can all be in total control of our own weight. One easy way to start taking that control is to make decisions about the foods we eat based on the glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL).
Simply put, our bodies convert all foods into sugar calories that provide energy to the body via the bloodstream. The Glycemic Index assigns a score of 1 to 100 to all foods based on how speedy the body converts that food into sugar. Foods that break down slowly enable the body to assimilate these calories of energy more efficiently without overwhelming the body with more sugar than it can process. While this is especially important for diabetics who process sugars much slower than others, everyone can benefit from eating low glycemic scores. They also reduce appetite and encourage the metabolism to burn body fat. Conversely, a diet of foods high on the glycemic charts has been proven to actually increase appetite and impede effective fat oxidation.
A QUICKIE GLYCEMIC PRIMER:
• The glycemic index of a food compares its effect on blood sugar level to that of pure glucose, which has a score of 100. White breads, which are made of processed white flour, are at the top of this scale, scoring a “perfect” 100 on the glycemic index. For perspective, a score of 55 or below denotes a low-glycemic-index food; 70 or above is considered very high. Serving size is not a consideration in arriving at a food’s Glycemic Index number.
• The glycemic load, on the other hand, focuses on how many digestible carbohydrates (sugars) a food contains in a typical single serving, which is defined as approximately 3.5 ounces. For glycemic load, a score of 20 or more is high, while ten or less is low. </i>
As a very involved fantasy football participant (fanatic), who watches almost every NFL game played each week thanks to broadcasting technology, I am always on the lookout for new healthy, good quality, low carb game day snack foods not usually found at retail stores. Plus, I can’t deny that chips ‘n dip craving thing that haunts all of us low-carbers. For instance, a big bowl of guacamole is mandatory at any Big Game party. In fact, the avocado industry plans months in advance for this game in what might be considered the ‘Super Bowl of Marketing’ complete with retail promotions supported by a pricey halftime commercial. Great! Except that a bowl of dip needs a chip (the words even rhyme!). However, few low carb options on grocery shelves satisfy my tastes.
The fact is that there is no flavor or decadent experience that can rival that of the high caloric combo of salty chips‘n guac. Alas, those days are done, carb counters – especially if your body and/or physician has said enough already – so there is no choice but to move on (glycemic-ly speaking). A great way to conquer the salt/white flour/empty calorie cravings is to get inventive in the kitchen. If you don’t cook, learn to cook as it inspires healthy eating. Home cooking also gives you more control over which ingredients you put in your body. Pretty empowering!
While cruising the ‘net in search of a new snack idea, this recipe caught my eye with so much skepticism that I just had to try it. After two weekends of testing under battle conditions (watching some 30 football games), here’s a way to transform the guac experience INTO a tasty chip that actually satisfies!
Still, like the game of football itself, this simple recipe will take some practice to get right. I burned my first batch! Here are some tips I learned the hard way. Bake these chips on parchment paper to ensure they will come off easily once baked. The parmesan cheese is key to this recipe working—do not reduce the amount of cheese used in this recipe as it’s the cheese that crisps up into a chip. I ran the parmesan through a small food processor or a finer grate to ensure an even spread throughout the batter. If portions of a chip are just avocado with no cheese, then that part of the chip will not crisp up. Also, lemon juice is a critical ingredient in the batter. When the avocados are baked, they will start to develop a slightly acrid flavor, lemon masks that bitterness. The chips need to be very thin to crisp up. A slightly thicker, more cracker-like texture will require longer baking time and a very bitter result. It takes a bit of focused attention to get the right amount of green/golden on each chip. If under-baked, the chips will still be green and soft. If baked too long, the cheese burns and the chips will be bitter. It’s a delicate balance that takes a bit of culinary patience to achieve the perfect low-carb snack for two-handed football viewing—beer in one hand, chips in the other. Good luck and enjoy the game.
Servings: 24-36 chips
1 ripe Avocado, mashed or pureed
1 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Melissa’s Hatch Seasoning, to taste
Using a small blender or immersion blender puree avocado. In a small mixing bowl, combine the avocado puree with the cheese, lemon juice and seasoning until completely blended.
Add 1 heaping teaspoon of avocado batter to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Space each dollop of batter 3 inches apart. You should be able to fit 12 chips on a half sheet pan.
Measure and cut the second sheet of parchment paper to fit the pan and place it on top of mounds of avocado batter. Using the back of a teaspoon, make a gentle circular motion to flatten each mound into thin circles through the paper. Gently peel back the parchment paper, scrape any avocado stuck on the paper to put back onto rounds. Do a final shaping with a knife or spatula. Think thin.
Bake chips in batches for about 15 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Keep watch carefully to make sure the chips do not turn dark brown.
The chips will crisp up further as they cool. Chips are best eaten after they are cooled completely, accompanied with a cold brew of choice. Refrigeration will soften the chips – good excuse to eat them all!