Not only is February Avocado Month – but it’s also the month after we’ve all made our New Year’s resolutions to eat better, lose weight, and improve our health. If you are still looking for more ways to make healthier meals and get more nutrients into your foods, it’s time to give the avocado a try.
Why avocado? This fruit (yes – it is a fruit!) is packed with nutrients, including magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, niacin, and vitamins C and E. There aren’t many foods that are beneficial to almost every bodily function – heart, bones, muscles, metabolism, skin health, immune system, and digestion. Avocados also help your body to better absorb nutrients from the foods that are eaten with it. And a little bit goes a long way – one ounce of avocado has only 50 calories and contains almost 20 vitamins and minerals.
There are many ways to add avocado into your diet to receive all of these wonderful health benefits. You can add a few slices right into a salad to give the same old lettuce and tomato a nutritional boost. But avocado also substitutes well for other foods:
1. Use avocado in place of mayonnaise, whether on a sandwich or in a recipe that calls for mayo, such as chicken or tuna salad. Unlike mayonnaise, avocado contains healthy fats – while still saving you calories and ridding you of unhealthy saturated fat. Plus, the avocado provides the creaminess you want in these kinds of foods, so you won’t even miss your old mayo or salad dressing.
2. Substitute avocado for butter in your baking. They have a high water content, so your baked goods will be softer and chewier. You can use the same amount of avocado as butter as the recipe calls for (i.e., one cup butter = one cup avocado), or if you’re not sure if you’ll like the taste, you can try just swapping out half of the butter, using both in the recipe and then adjusting from there. If you use all avocado, you may need to decrease the oven temperature 25 degrees from the recipe instructions.
3. Avocado can be used in place of eggs in some recipes. This is especially helpful to people who have an egg allergy or intolerance. Use between 2 tablespoons and 1/4 cup avocado for every egg called for in your recipe; this may require some experimentation to come up with the correct consistency for your dish. You may need to adjust the oven temperature here as well, since baked items can brown faster and rise more when using avocado.
4. Cream cheese may also be substituted with avocado, either for the full amount in the recipe or just half, depending on your tastes. Either way, you will still reduce the amount of unhealthy fats in your recipe while adding extra nutrients. Try it in dip or dressing recipes to give your salads and other veggies an extra kick.
Adding avocado to your diet will provide major health benefits, so be sure to try it in at least one dish a week to see how you like it best. Experiment to your heart’s content, knowing that you are doing something good for your body and still keeping that fitness resolution.