Diet

Avocado health benefits and a quick quinoa-avocado salad recipe

And learn five ways to incorporate avocado into your recipes (including breakfast)!

Avocado

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Avocados are not only creamy and delicious, but they’ve also got some incredible health benefits. This favourite fruit has the power to prevent cancer, reduce the risk of stroke, lower cholesterol, improve eye health and is one of the best sources of vitamin E (a crucial vitamin that repels many diseases).

As well, avocados are a great source of healthy fat, meaning your body uses it for energy rather than  storing it. If you’re one of the few people who doesn’t love the taste and texture of plain avocado, but want to get the health benefits, here are few creative ways to add them to your diet and recipes.

1. Mashed
Guacamole would be nothing without ripe avocados. Try these easy steps to make a healthy dip:
– Peel the skin off the avocado and remove the brown pit (watch our how-to pit an avocado video).
– Cut the fruit into cubes the size of your thumb and mash in a large bowl.
– Add diced tomato, onions and jalapeno along with the mashed avocado into a bowl.
– Add salt, pepper, lime juice then blend everything together using a fork.
– A great tip for ensuring your guacamole doesn’t brown is to either put the pits back on top and/or add some lime juice to the top while storing.

2. Stuffed
Similar to the taco bowls you’ve seen at Mexican restaurants, avocado skins can be used to serve your favourite dishes. To make this healthy alternative simply cut an avocado lengthwise and take out the pit. The two halves you’re left with are perfect for stuffing. Might I suggest quinoa, salad or beans? But really whatever you can fit (depending on the size of your fruit) is perfect. You could even add your guacamole back in and serve with some baked tortilla chips.

3. In a smoothie
Using avocados in smoothies is a great way to thicken them and make them healthier.
– Once peeled and pitted, mash the avocado into pulp using a spoon or fork.
– Add the pulp, honey, vanilla, and rice milk into the blender and blend the mixture for one minute.
– If you’ve got a go-to smoothie recipe you can also add a quarter of avocado to enhance the richness.

You can also use avocado in pasta sauce to make a rich and smooth vegan pasta.

4. Layered or as a spread
Avocados are a delicacy when used in sandwiches and salads. After peeling and pitting, simply slice your avocado and get building. You can eat it alone between two pieces of spelt bread or top a big bowl of leafy greens or quinoa with it. The richness of the avocado goes perfectly with foods such as beans, hummus, goat cheese and tomatoes.

If you’re looking to liven up a meal with a condiment, you can smash the avocado to use as a spread for your sandwich instead of mayonnaise or butter — the texture is almost exactly the same, but the health benefits are much higher!

5. Wrapped
If you like eating wraps on the go, you’ll enjoy making your own using avocados. All you need is a small whole grain or sprouted tortilla, an avocado and the vegetables of your choice. Finally, add a small touch of olive oil and sea salt to enhance the flavour of the tortilla and the avocado.

Super-quick quinoa salad recipe

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
2 cups water
½ tsp Himalayan rock salt
2 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
3 large carrots, thinly sliced
1/3 cup parsley, minced
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
¼ cup sunflower seeds

Dressing ingredients:
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbsp tahini
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 clove of garlic, grated
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. To cook quinoa, use a 2:1 ratio of water to grain. Once boiling, put quinoa in and simmer for 5-7 minutes then switch off burner and add salt and let stand with lid on for another 5 minutes.

2. Combine all the vegetables in a large bowl. Add the quinoa and mix well. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour over the salad.

3. Mix well and refrigerate until chilled.

What’s your favourite way to eat avocado?

Marni Wasserman is a culinary nutritionist in Toronto whose philosophy is stemmed around whole foods. She is dedicated to providing balanced lifestyle choices through natural foods. Using passion and experience, she strives to educate individuals on how everyday eating can be simple and delicious.