Avocado Leaves:  A Secret Mexican Ingredient
Flavors of the Sun
Flavors of the Sun
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Ingredients

  • 500 g black beans
  • 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 large white onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 jalapeño or serrano chile
  • 1 branch of fresh epazote
  • 1 or
  • 2 avocado leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • 6 minutes more. Add the garlic and chile. Cook for 1 minute Add cold water to cover the beans by at least one inch. Add the epazote, if using. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat once the water starts to boil, cover, and cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until beans are tender, adding additional water as necessary. Add toasted avocado leaves during the last 15 minutes with salt to taste. Discard chiles, epazote, and avocado leaves. Serve with garnishes such as sour cream, grated cheese, avocado, salsa, cilantro, and lime wedges.Are There Medical Uses?Of course there are. Of course. For centuries, perhaps millennia, herbalists have said that for every disease known to man, there is a plant-based cure. An extension of this belief is also held be many: for any disease that affects any given human population, the plant that cures it grows near-by. And so it goes with avocado leaves in the world of folk medicine. As a treatment for intestinal parasites, avocado leaf tea and sometimes the peel of the fruit are used in the various countries in the Americas, where the plant originated. The leaf combined with the avocado tree bark has also been used as a cough treatment and for digestive disorders. To increase breast milk, the leaves are sometimes eaten raw, but beware, as the leaves and bark of young stems are also used to induce abortions in pregnant women. Considered a carminative, or gas reducer, the leaves are used in the treatment of diarrhea, gas, and abdominal bloating. The leaves are considered helpful as well in ridding the body of high levels of uric acid, which can lead to gout. And while I can’t attest to its efficacy, I can say that there are many phytochemical research sites that have ongoing studies using avocado leaf extract for treating such varied conditions as high cholesterol, epilepsy, and liver obstructions. For now, I’ll stick to their use as a bit of culinary exotica.Victoria Challancin

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