Healthy Ingredient of the Week – Avocado

By Guest Blogger Becka Levin, GIC

Every Monday for the next few weeks, we’ll spotlight a different healthy ingredient.  We’ll include information on its health value and share some unique ways for cooking with it.

This week we will highlight avocado. While the bright green color may discourage some picky eaters (I know I was too scared to try avocados until college), your taste buds and body will appreciate the addition of this nutritious and delicious food.

 Why are avocados healthy anyways?

Avocados are considered “superfoods” by some: they contain over 20 essential nutrients to help our bodies function. As an incredibly nutrient-dense food, avocados pack a large number of nutrients for a relatively small amount of calories. They contain fiber, which helps you feel  full, and 13 vitamins that your body needs to function. Avocados are full of healthy unsaturated fats that can lower blood cholesterol levels, which helps decrease your risk of heart disease. The creamy taste of avocados can make you think you are getting away with something!

 Avocados are grown mostly in Mexico and California (where the popular Hass avocados are from). They are ripe when soft.

Recipes

Easy Guacamole
Serve with whole grain tortilla chips for a little extra fiber.

Ingredients

½ cup finely chopped white onion

2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

½ tsp. salt, or to taste

2 ripe Avocados, halved

½ cup coarsely chopped tomato

Instructions

1. Combine half the onion, and half the cilantro in a bowl.

2. Add salt, then grind into a smooth paste. Transfer to a serving bowl.

3. Make crosshatch incisions in avocado pulp with a knife.

4. Scoop pulp out with a spoon; combine with onion mixture. Mix well.

5. Stir in remaining onion (and cilantro if used); gently mix in tomatoes.

6. Adjust seasoning with salt and serve immediately.

 

Artichoke, Avocado, and Chicken Salad

This easy salad recipe is comprised of only four ingredients! It also falls into the Mediterranean Diet, a “diet” that copies the eating and food preparation methods of the Italians and the Greeks.  This diet is consistently ranked in the top 5 for Best Diets by US News and World Reports.

Ingredients

1 (14-oz.) can artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained cup pimento-stuffed green olives, sliced

10 oz. cooked chicken, shredded

1 (10-oz.) bag chopped romaine lettuce

2 ripe Avocados, peeled, seeded and chopped

Dressing of choice (consider using olive oil and lemon or a light version of your favorite)

Instructions

1. Gently toss a small amount of the dressing with each of the artichoke hearts, olives, chicken. Reserve remaining dressing.

2. Place lettuce in a large flat serving bowl. Toss with half of the dressing.

3. Top lettuce with the artichoke hearts, olives, chicken and avocados.

4. Serve immediately and pass remaining dressing on the side.

 

Easy Turkey Sandwich

Try this variation of a turkey sandwich for lunch, or add slices of avocado to your favorite sandwich.

Ingredients

2 slices whole wheat bread

2 lettuce leaves

1 tomato, sliced

1 avocado, sliced

3 slices sliced turkey breast

Instructions

1. Toast bread (optional, but definitely adds to flavor and texture).

2. On one slice, layer lettuce leaves, sliced tomato, and sliced turkey.

3. On the other slice, place your sliced avocado or spread into a paste.

4. Place the slice with avocado on top of the turkey.

5. Enjoy!

 

California Avocado Scramble

Start your day with a filling, healthy breakfast!

Ingredients

2 eggs

Handful spinach leaves

2 tomato slices – diced

1 oz. red onion – diced

⅓ avocado, diced

1 oz. Bell pepper mix

1 oz. shredded jack cheese

Instructions

1. Sauté vegetables (except avocado) in frying pan, with a drizzle of olive oil.

2.  Whisk eggs and pour on top of vegetables, then scramble eggs with vegetables.

3. Cook until done, sprinkle with cheese and top with avocado.

 

Avocado Smoothie

Satisfy your sweet tooth with an extra healthy kick from avocado.

Ingredients

1 cup low fat vanilla yogurt

¼ cup low fat milk

1 ripe avocado, peeled and halved

1 ⅓ cups frozen strawberries

1 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. cinnamon

Instructions

1. Put yogurt, milk, avocado, and strawberries into blender.

2. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.

3. Pour into tall serving glass.

 

Information and recipe ideas from avocado.org

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