5 Surprising (and Delicious) Ways to Use Avocado

 

If you were stranded on a desert island, what one food would you absolutely have to have, no matter what?

There’s a lot to consider since we’re talking about survival here. I’ll assume there are coconuts on this island, and having seen Castaway about a hundred times (and being a massive Lost fan), I’ve learned basic coconut-opening skills with nothing but some rocks, arm power, and a bit of patience.

That leaves me with avocados. How can I live without them?

I’ve featured a number of recipes using avocado in the traditional ways: mashed into guacamole, sliced up in tacos, or chopped into a salad.

But have you tried avocado in a cake? Or pudding? Or in mac and cheese?

These fruit (yep, they’re fruit!) are super versatile, and can be used as a substitute for healthy saturated fats, like butter or oil, in many different recipes.

There are over 500 varieties of avocado from all over the world varying in size and color. My personal favorite is the Hass avocado. It’s dark green pebbly skin and creamy flesh stands out from the rest and on any given day, you’ll find at least one or two in my fruit bowl. Aside from its incredible flavor and versatility, avocados pack a mighty punch on the nutrition end. Here are some of those benefits:

  • Sodium and cholesterol-free, but densely packed with approximately 380 calories, 35g of fat, 16g of fiber and 5g of protein in an 8oz serving. Despite the high fat content, these fats are mostly monounsaturated (MUFAs) which are healthier and mainly found in avocados.
  • Speaking of fat: Perhaps the biggest health benefit of eating avocados is oleic acid, an omega-9 fat which helps decrease blood cholesterol by increasing the production of HDLs, or high-density lipoproteins.
  • Vitamins & Minerals: In a 1oz serving of hass avocado (about 1/5 wedge), there is 152mg of potassium (4%DV), 6.3mcg of Vitamin K (8%DV), and 27mcg of Folate (6%DV). Avocados are also rich in Vitamins B6, E,C, and Riboflavin each accounting for 4%DV.
  • Fiber: Avocados are high in fiber with approximately 40% of your DV in one serving. Fiber improves digestion and can help reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.

If I could have an avocado a day, I would. In fact, I usually do!

Here are 5 surprising ways to use avocado that has nothing to do with tacos, salad, or sandwiches:

Avocado Coconut Popsicles from SkinnyTaste

photo courtesy of SkinnyTaste.com

The creaminess of avocado with the subtle sweetness of coconut, make this popsicle a yummy and refreshing treat this summer. With less than five ingredients in this recipe, this is easy enough to pull off any day of the week.

Avocado Buckwheat Pancakes from Kitchen Kemistry

Avocado pancakes
photo courtesy of KitchenKemistry.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s no such thing as too many pancake recipes, in my opinion. This avocado buckwheat version powers up your breakfast with loads of fiber and is a great gluten-free substitute for traditional wheat pancakes.

Avocado Spaghetti from The Londoner

I know what you’re thinking. Spaghetti and…avocado? Surprising, I know. But when you consider the buttery texture and mild flavor of avocado, it makes sense. It’s like a different version of pesto. I’d consider going with a whole wheat pasta here to add some nuttiness and even more fiber.

Avocado Mac and Cheese from Two Peas and Their Pod

photo courtesy of TwoPeasandTheirPod.com

Mac and cheese usually gets a bad rap for being an unhealthy food, but there are easy ways to give this dish a healthy makeover. We’ve seen that avocado and pasta can go well together, so this shouldn’t be much of a stretch. I love the use of cilantro and lime here to give this mac and cheese some punch. This is a comfort food recipe that you can adapt to each season. Add some butternut squash in the winter months!

Fudgy Avocado Brownies from How Sweet Eats

Fudgy Avocado Brownies I howsweeteats.com
Photo courtesy of HowSweetEats.com

Chocolate and avocado may be the most surprising combination….but it works. Trust me. I’ve made chocolate avocado protein smoothies before and it’s delightful. Brownies are the ultimate splurge food, so it’s pretty great to find a recipe out there that won’t make me feel completely guilty. Time to treat yo’self with these brownies!

There are so many amazing avocado recipes out there. Open yourself up to trying one that’s a little out of the ordinary to spice up your weekly menu. It’s time to pick up some avocados!

What’s your favorite avocado recipe?

Please feel free to share your thoughts below or on FB and Twitter.

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Crunchy Summer Rolls with Sweet and Savory Dipping Sauce

Crunchy Summer Rolls

I’ve had a terrible case of snack attacks this week.

Chips, fruits, bagels, yogurt, granola…uh, chocolate covered pretzels. Sure, that’s not all terrible but when you’re eating almost every hour on the hour, it’s time to admit to yourself that things have gotten out hand.

Not wanting to slide back into old, unhealthy habits, I knew I needed a veggie detox stat. It’s what I always do when I feel out of sorts. I had a plan but there was one more hurdle.

This week included a killer schedule that had me running all over the place. Getting to play around with new veggie recipes just wasn’t possible for me.

So, on the menu for this Meatless Monday was a super fast, super easy, super healthy mean-green dish that could get me back on track.

These crunchy summer rolls? Perfection.

Crunchy Summer Rolls

A bit of prep to chop, grate, and grill your fillings is worth the effort. Trust me.

Crunchy Summer Rolls

Forget the rice paper. Go for big, dark, leafy greens. Not only are they packed with healthy nutrients, they’re built to easily roll up whatever you want. How cool is that?

Crunchy Summer Rolls

Having attempted and failed to roll burritos and wraps in the past, I have to say this was simply done. There’s no way to screw this up.

Crunchy Summer Rolls

Sweet and savory with a dash of heat? Sign me up.

Crunchy Summer Rolls

And bonus points for being so pretty to look at.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 red beet root, peeled and grated
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut in half if thick stalks
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced in thin sticks
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 6 large mustard green leaves, washed and dried
  • ½ Haas avocado, sliced
  • Olive oil spray
  • Dash of salt and pepper

Dipping sauce

  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • 2 tbsps of warm water
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar (or fish sauce)
  • 1 tsp reduced sodium soy sauce
  • ¾ crushed red pepper (or sriracha sauce)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsps grated carrot

1. Heat a grill pan and spray with oil. Once hot, place half the asparagus bunch in pan. Spray oil and sprinkle salt and pepper over the top. Grill for 3-5 minutes on each side and set aside with the rest of the fillings.

2. In a small bowl, dissolve warm sugar in water. Then mix in the rest of the ingredients. Allow the sauce to chill in the fridge.

3. Working with one leaf at a time, trim the stems. Place a small amount of each of the fillings in the center. Fold the bottom up towards the center, then tuck in the sides and keep rolling until the fit is snug with the seam on the bottom. Repeat with the rest of the leaves.

4. Place rolls on a serving plate with the dipping sauce and slice in half. Done!

Wasn’t that easy? You can customize this with whatever ingredients you want. I’m not a fan of tofu, but that would go perfectly here, as well as mushrooms, micro greens, or even quinoa.

The next time I feel that snack attack coming on, I can roll up one of these veggie bad boys. Problem solved.

What’s your favorite healthy snack?

Do you have a Meatless Monday recipe to share?

As always, please feel free to share your comments below or on FB and Twitter.

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5 Super Easy Ways to Stay Healthy this Memorial Day

Memorial Day, Happy Memorial Day, Animated Graphics, Animated Gif, Animated Gifs, Keefers photo: Memorial Day, Happy Memorial Day, Animated Graphics, Animated Gif, Animated Gifs, Keefers 673990b9.gifIt’s the unofficial start to summer which means cookouts, beach trips, and a food-filled weekend!

It can be easy to get caught up in the fun and slip off the health wagon once the summer parties begin. From high-calorie eats at barbecues to boozy afternoons at outdoor beer gardens, you can quickly fall off track with your health goals.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! There are many simple ways to substitute typical summer party fare for healthier alternatives that will keep your celebrating while in shape, all season long.

Here are five tips to stay healthy this Memorial Day weekend and onward:

1. Skip the ketchup. It may seem like sacrilege to forgo the ketchup on a hot dog or burger during a barbecue, but think about how much of it you’re eating throughout the day. Ketchup, as yummy as it is, usually has high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient. No need to load up on all of that added sugar each time you reach for that bottle. Mustard is a great alternative, in moderation. It’s much lower in fat, calories, and sugar, but can be high in salt. If you’re not a mustard fan, get your ketchup fix with thick slices of beefsteak tomatoes. They’re naturally sweet, and are nutritional powerhouses with fiber, vitamins A, C, K, B6, and lycopene which protects your skin from the sun and supports strong bones. Better choice, no?

courtesy MyRecipes.com

2. Greek yogurt is all-purpose. Greek yogurt is a familiar breakfast staple, Throw in some granola and chopped fruit, and you’re good to go. But did you know that you can also use greek yogurt for savory dishes? If it’s your turn to bring the potato salad, swap the mayo for the low-fat and protein-packed yogurt instead. I’ve tried this before, and I can guarantee that your salad will still be delicious and creamy without weighing you down. Here’s a simple recipe to get you started:

Potato Salad
courtesy Shape magazine

3. Treat yourself with dessert. And by dessert, I mean fruit. LOTS of it. One of the best things about summer cookouts is that its perfect timing for some of the best fruit in season. Berries, peaches, plums, mangoes, pineapples, watermelon; there are many different varieties available that are both healthy and delicious. A slice of cake may seem tempting, but wouldn’t you rather snack on this instead?

Courtesy TheBetterMom.com

4. Hydrate the smart way. Let’s be honest here. Most barbecues have some kind of alcohol, whether it’s beer or fruity cocktails. It’s a holiday and you want to kick back and have some fun. I get it.  I’m not going to rain on your parade, BUT if you’re looking to go the healthy route this year, be mindful to keep your alcoholic drinks to a minimum, one for women and two for men. It’s important to stay hydrated, especially if you’re spending the day outdoors and playing games. How about you throw in some of the dessert in your water, like these fruit-infused waters?

courtesy TheYummyLife.com

5. Don’t just sit there. After a long and terrible winter, don’t you think it’s time to get up and move around a bit? Go for a swim or hang up a net and play a friendly game of volleyball with your friends. Do all of the things you told yourself you were going to do once the snow melted. Get those potato sacks out of storage. The weather is finally right, so put on that sunscreen and have some fun!

courtesy of Univision

 What are your plans this holiday weekend?

How do you stay healthy during cookouts and summer parties?

Please feel free to share your comments or questions below or on FB and Twitter.

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY EVERYONE!

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