Friday Feature: Avocado 10 Ways

There are lots of great ways to eat an avocado–one of the superstars of a Mediterranean Diet. Easy to peel, they contain good fats and are linked with a reduced risk for chronic diseases. Here are ten ways to enjoy their buttery, creamy flavor and vibrant color:

1. Mash a quarter of an avocado on toast for a quick breakfast or lunch.

2. Top chili with chopped avocado and cilantro.

003

3. Use chopped avocado in place of tomatoes in salsa or add to a tomato based salsa, homemade or store-bought, to create a tasty dip for chips.

4. Slices of avocado taste great in sandwiches or wraps.

5. Try adding chopped or mashed avocado to pasta. I like the looks of this dish from Inspired Taste. Simple enough for a quick dinner.

This is the photo from the Inspired Taste website.

This is the photo from the Inspired Taste website.

6.  Add chopped avocado to salads–both green and grain varieties.

008

7. Add to eggs or omelets before cooking.

8. Coarsely mash with a lemon juice and salt as a dip for chips or crackers. Or spread on sandwiches as a healthy alternative to mayonnaise.

9. Feed it to your baby! Avocado is recommended by baby expert, Dr. Sears, as a great first food for its healthfulness and versatility.

Sam enjoying his first ever avocados. He looks good in green!

Sam enjoying his first ever avocados. He looks good in green!

10. Make an avocado butter by mashing a ripe avocado with one tablespoon of lemon or lime juice, salt, and pepper and use a topper for a baked potato.

And remember, if you find a good deal on them at the store, they can be frozen! (Best used in mashed form.) Stock up!

A rare sighting of the elusive, wild avocado. Yes, they grow on trees!

A rare sighting of the elusive, wild avocado. Yes, they grow on trees!

Advertisements

Nuts: The Nutritional Powerhouses That Are Good For the Waistline

A reader chastised me for leaving something very important out of last week’s almond butter post.  And she was right.  This is a family nutrition blog after all.

Besides making great nut butter, almonds–and other nuts–pack a nutritional wallop.  Small but mighty!

Can you identify this nut in its shell?

Can you identify this nut in its shell?

Lot’s of good stuff, including:

  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Antioxidants
  • Omega 3 essential fatty acids
  • Fiber
  • Protein
  • Folic Acid
  • Magnesium

That’s quite an impressive list.

I have to admit that, even knowing this, I kept my distance from nuts. Because, while they’re healthy and all, they also contain a sizeable amount of fat.  Up to 80% of a nut is fat.  And while these are predominantly good fats (the heart healthy unsaturated kind), the calories do add up.  I was sure I could get more bang for the buck elsewhere.

Lucky for me, and anybody else who thought nuts would make them fat, the evidence proves otherwise!  For more information on studies that show nuts actually can help you lose weight, check out Dr. Michael Gregor’s post.

Here’s the catch.  You knew that was coming, right?  Nuts are really good for you–in a heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cholesterol lowering way.  In moderation.  We’re talking about an ounce or so.  Depending on the nut, that could be a small handful, or it could be just a few.  It also means you have to eat them in place of other fats–not in addition to them.

There is a lot to be happy about:

  • They’re filling!  My typical breakfast these days is an ounce of nuts and a piece of fruit to go with my morning tea.  I find I don’t need that mid-morning snack anymore.
  • Nuts are portable.  Grab an ounce and you’re out the door.  Nothing to prepare and nothing to clean up.
  • There’s lots of variety.  You’ll never get bored.  I switch from one kind to another day by day to mix things up. 

Here’s some useful information from the North American Vegetarian Society:

nuts_seeds_chart-smWhat about feeding nuts to kids?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies as young as 6 months can eat nuts ground up and in other foods–as long as they aren’t showing signs of any food allergies or have a family history of food allergies.  And whole nuts are fine for children age 4 and up.  They are filling and provide greater nutrition than snacks like crackers and pretzels which contain refined carbohydrates.  Parents magazine has a great article on safely feeding nuts to children which includes several kid-friendly nut recipes.

So, yeah, I’m feeling liberated.  I’m eating nuts, guilt free (!), and life is good.  My current nut of choice?  Pistachios.

What nuts are you eating?

Nuts get most of a shelf at our house.

Nuts get most of a shelf at our house.

Baby Meets Butternut (and alternatives to rice cereal)

There’s a new baby in the house!

OK, so she’s not my baby.  But we are related.

Mia is my grand-niece.  7 months old and full of personality.  Just like her mother, Alex. They drove up today to pay me a visit.

Time to make baby food.

Admittedly my “baby” is now 13.  It’s been a while since I had to feed an actual baby. Today was my lucky day.

And with all the hoopla over baby rice cereal, it’s good to know that there are other stand-in grains that make good first cereals.  They’re easy to make at home.

All you need is a blender.

Pearl barley ground to a fine powder.

Pearl barley ground to a fine powder.

We adapted a couple of recipes from The Baby & Toddler Cookbook by Karen Ansel and Charity Ferreira.

We made grain cereal from pearl barley which is similar to a plump rice and packed with fiber.  I had some millet on hand as well.  It’s easily digested and loaded with B vitamins, amino acids and minerals.

Simply mix the cereal (created from blending a 1/4 cup of grain to a fine powder) into a saucepan with a cup of boiling water.  Reduce heat and whisk until smooth and water absorbed, about 5 minutes or so.

These cereals are wholesome first foods, but the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that partially breastfed babies–who get more than half of their food from breast milk–receive an iron supplement of 1mg/kg per day if they aren’t eating other iron fortified foods.

We also whipped out a butternut squash puree.  Making baby food is so ridiculously easy and requires so little work that it’s hard to see how Gerbers has stayed in business as long as it has.

So here’s a perfectly roasted organic butternut squash.  It was so large that I had to cut it in quarters to get my knife through it.  It was as easy as scraping the flesh out of the shell (after it cools!) and running it through the blender.  It was a perfect consistency although it could be thinned if necessary with water, breast milk or formula.

It’s a great first food for babies–full of lots of vitamins and beta-carotene.  Keep it stored in a covered container in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze in ice-cube trays and store in plastic freezer bags for up to 3 months.

They're done!Mia is known for her discerning palate and is quick to send food back to the kitchen if it is not prepared to her liking.  We waited anxiously while she examined it for texture and color.

First encounter with butternut squash.

First encounter with butternut squash.

OK so far...

OK so far…

She loves it!

She loves it!

Meet the new poster baby for butternut squash everywhere!

What first foods did your baby(ies) love?