Gung- Ho! Guava & Avo

by Margaret Elizabeth Johnston

As the month of February rolls in, we may be thinking of a few ways to lose some of the weight we may have put on with not only the lockdown issues and less freedom of movement in general, but also the holiday splurges we may of indulged in. Weight loss can be a lot easier to work towards if your diet is not only tasty but satisfying due to having a high fiber content and “good fats”. Minding sugar intake, even being careful of fruit sugars, can be hard if you are a fruit lover as I am, however, some of the fruits that are available to us in Thailand so readily have a remarkably high fiber content and very little sugar, one of them being the Guava, Psidium guajava. A few of these fruits, and you can feel very full. I will also include Avocado, Persea americana, because there is a misconception that “eating fat makes you fat” but it is eating the wrong kind of fat along with too much sugar that can make you fat. Avocadoes also have a high fiber content and are considered a “good fat”. (There are four types of fats: saturated, monounsaturated, trans and polyunsaturated. The complete understanding of these can be a whole article unto itself and I just want to suggest some ways to incorporate both the guava and the avocado in this article but please know that in general, fat from non-animal products like avo’s, olives, nuts & seeds fall into the “good fat” category. Yes, eggs too, but this is why I say it is a whole article unto itself!) For now, let’s just move forward with these two fruits to incorporate into your lifestyle for weight loss and health.

Both the Guava & Avo, along with potential weight loss, can boost the system for some great health and fresh vitality as we come into 2021. I delight in being able to indulge in one of my favorite fruits, the Pink Guava, but I’ll speak of the Thai Guava first which more of us may be familiar with. In Thailand, one often eats Thai Guava’s sliced up raw and dipped in sugar with dried chili, sliced up small and added to green papaya or green mango salads or even pickled. I prefer the sweet Pink Guava’s to have plain as a delicious snack or to use in smoothies for they have a lot of pectin in them and create a real rich creamy texture for this. But both types of guava are full of vitamins and minerals for supreme health!
Thai Guava’s are fairly easy to find year-round and they are a bit harder, not as sweet, and more yellow inside than the pink. The Thai Guava is known as Farang in Thailand. This is rather funny because it is the same name the Thai’s use to call foreigners. It refers to when this fruit was introduced by Europeans in the 17th century representing something foreign in any way being brought into the local community.

Pink Guava is sweet and tangy! I have a smoothie idea here to share and did a painting of the Pink Guava I call “Gung-Ho Guava!” that I include in this article for your enjoyment. Some of you, my regular readers, may know I travel around with my suitcase full of art supplies and portray local fruits & flowers on my journeys and discuss medicinal ways to incorporate these “superfoods” into your lifestyle. Hopefully, I can satisfy some of your desires for healthy ways AND cater to your art culture cravings! Choosing guava to paint was a challenging subject because in watercolour, the white of anything is supposed to be the paper and the delicate guava flowers are white in general. I am pleased with the results finding that white can include light lavenders, greens and yellows when observed closely. This species of guava that can be found growing profusely in Thailand is green even when ripened with a touch of rose and light yellows showing through. Knowing when the fruit is ripe to pick is a skill one must develop since the guava can drop off the stem and then the fruit flies will “have at it” laying their egg’s in the fruit which will be disappointing when maggots are infiltrated into your well expected treat! So, making sure to get the fruit right off the tree or from a trusted guava seller is always best!

Guava, having loads of fiber, being easy to digest, having a high Vit A & C content along with lycopene, a strong antioxidant, I can easily say this fruit is well worth our respect. For gut health, there are antimicrobial properties and with the level of magnesium in this fruit, it can help to relax the body and contribute to great mental clarity. Vit B3 & B6 is present, B6 being proven to help with neurodegeneration. Ripe guava’s emanate a divine scent, like a sweet vanilla/strawberry. When I buy guava’s and they are sitting in my fridge, every time I open the fridge I get a waft of this sweet guava scent and I cannot help but to want to make a smoothie so my guava purchases run out quick! 

As I mentioned, guava’s have a high level of pectin so make very creamy and thick smoothies without the need to freeze the fruit. I added some papaya, also low in sugar/high in fiber, and some good seed fats (like Tahini/sesame seed butter) to my smoothie. Frozen banana is also a way to cream-up your smoothie but if trying to stay low sugar, please use lightly or add some avocado! Both papaya and guava can go right though one’s digestive system so with these added fat suggestions, it will make this yummy breakfast last longer, and the nutty flavor goes with this concoction very well. 

Avocados are a staple in my diet when I can find them. They are considered a nutrient dense superfood due to being able to help increase the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D, K and E. Unbeknownst to some, an avocado is a fruit. Botanically, it is considered a large berry containing a single seed. This fruit matures on the tree but ripens off the tree and this is where I find my avocado selections stilted at times. Knowing when to pick is especially important, as with most fruits, otherwise you will have a hard avocado sitting around your kitchen for a week with no softening and then it just goes brown. Sometimes you can get lucky and by putting it in a brown paper bag with a ripe banana, you can speed up the process!  Ripe bananas contain a natural plant hormone called ethylene, which can trigger ripening in mature fruit.  

Originally from Mexico, there also are separate domesticated beginning versions of this fruit coming from Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. It was in 1526 the avocado began infiltrating into Europe, Hawaii in 1833 and California 1856. In Thailand, avocado production seems to be increasing every year. In the provinces of Chanthaburi, Songkhla, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Rayong, Chaiyaphum, Nakhon Ratchasima, Tak and Nan, avocadoes are grown. It is in the northeastern and northern regions where the larger concentrations can be found. So, for just under 200 years this fruit has come a long way from a small variety of choice to the overwhelming 500 varieties! It can be a fussy subtropical species to grow needing lots of applied water, not just natural moisture from rain or run-off. Low winds (so the flower does not get dehydrated) and well aerated soil is also needed plus this fruit is only partially self-pollinating so careful orchard space and care must be taken into consideration. I often can get discouraged trying to find avocadoes that ripen well and can be easily found but after knowing the care involved to delight in these fruits, I am pleased when I find my favorite market seller in my own neighborhood.

Once I cut an avocado and have it on my plate or in a recipe, squeezing some lime/lemon on it can prevent it from browning. (I have discovered that if you only eat half of the avocado, keep the pit in the other half of the fruit you refrigerate, and it will stay fresher longer!) I just love eating them in so many ways from straight out of the skin with some salt using a spoon to putting in smoothies, mashed on rye-toast, with tomatoes in salads and it goes on and on.  One can even use it in stir fry’s, it is divine heated! Avocados can range from 200-350 cal. each depending on size.

The high level of diverse fats in an avocado is great for hair/skin/nails and for the whole body in general. The avocado is virtually the only fruit (also some nuts but we know they can be a fruit too) that contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Avocados are also a good source of vitamins A, B, C, E, K, copper and fiber, plus, the potassium content is high. Adding 1/2 of an avocado or more to your daily diet adds not only nutrition but helps to stay satiated throughout the day as mentioned above. Make some guacamole (avo, lime, cilantro, then get creative w chilies & a bit of crushed salt) and enjoy using as a healthy dip for chips (blue corn!), cream up your smoothies or toss into your salad today!

Before wrapping up these ways to use both the guava and the avocado I did want to mention that both these fruits can be used medicinally. Guava leaf extract is very potent as an antioxidant and is loaded with vitamins and minerals. The extract is antimicrobial and can help to relieve and neutralize harmful bacteria in your gut. Lowering blood sugar and cholesterol (as with the fruit also) is also noted, along with relieving menstrual cramps. A skin tonic can be made from the leaf extract to relieve facial irritation like acne or rashes.  It is found that using a combination of both water and alcohol for a solvent is best leaving the highest potency available for use.

Boil 1 cp water along with 50 guava leaves, strain, cool. Soak 25 leaves in 1/2 cp vodka 1 wk, strain cool. Mix both, keep in fridge in brown/green bottle. Apply to skin for outer issues (you can use just the water tincture if preferred) and/or take 1/2 Tbls a day under tongue when needed, regular smaller does if trying to relieve a chronic condition. This tincture has been created by me with much reading up on the subject and is safe for ordinary use, no alcohol for pregnant woman, just water tincture, same as for children. One can purchase the supplements in pill for also from local health food stores however fresh is best!

An extract of avocado leaves can be created similarly, using the tincture under the tongue. It has been shown to be of use to slow hyperactive activity for cancer, support liver function and can be used for dysentery. Even the bark of the avocado can be used for diarrhea. For topical applications, the seeds are well known to produce an oil that is a healthy alternative to palm oil in cosmetics and can also be directly on the skin. In the past, the oil has been known to be used in dye for making clothes. 

It is so easy to think of mango’s, pineapples and bananas, all high in sugar, when we think of our local fruit markets along with some of the more exotic rambutan, dragon fruit and durian but let us not forget these two wonderful fruits and think of healthy ways to add them to our diets. I write this article in December 2020, after a long hard year for most, hoping that by the month of February 2021 we are all out and about getting our fresh air and exercise, having pushed through the harder times and reaping some clear visions for our future. May 2021 bring in some lighter days and easier ways. 

Miss Margaret enjoys learning about local fruits & flowers she stumbles upon during her travels and portraying them in her bright & bold watercolours educating us along the way of how to use these divine gifts in our own lives as food and medicine. Food IS medicine in her world. One can follow her on her journeys throughout S.E. Asia and some of the rest of the world via her website at www.mejcreations.com. Her art and health blogs are fun and informative and one can sign up for a bi-monthly newsletter too!

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