Day to Night Ingredient: Avocado

Lentine Alexis
by Lentine Alexis
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Day to Night Ingredient: Avocado

We all know cooking homemade meals is the fastest way to eat better and meet our happiness and wellness goals. But having to go shopping for new ingredients every time you want to cook is like a hitch in the chain. Having ingredients on hand that can stand in for great breakfasts, lunches and dinners (and everything in between) is like having a silver bullet that guarantees you’ll shoot straight when it comes to making nutrient-packed, healthy (and delicious) meals. Sweet potatoes are one such ingredient, but so too is the ever-adaptable avocado.

Yes, avocados have been exploited as the most zhushed up toast topping of the century, (which is delicious) but these omega-3 rich, vitamin-and-mineral packed fruits are some of the easiest ingredients to have on hand to make meals fast, easy and satisfying.

Avocados don’t need much to become the star of the show — they don’t actually like to be cooked, making them a great candidate for fast meals. But avocados do love to be blended, baked, grilled or sliced and enjoyed as they are. Store avocados at room temperature until ripe; they’ll give a bit when squeezed. Then transfer to the refrigerator to stop their ripening (they’ll stay perfectly ready for eating for a few days longer).

Here are some best ideas and practices for getting avocados on your plate, no matter the time of day!

These little boats of avocado and egg goodness may look impressive, but they’re remarkably quick and easy. As in, you could bake them while taking a shower or getting that one stubborn kiddo to brush their teeth. (Not to mention they’re Paleo-friendly and highly portable, which means you could bake them and put them in a bowl to go; the jammy yolks and creamy avocado will still be spreadable on toast when you get where you’re going on busy mornings.

AVOCADO-BAKED EGGS

Ingredients

  • 2 large avocados, halved and seeded
  • 4 large eggs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  •  2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or other herbs

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F (220ºC).

Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with non-stick spray. Using a spoon, scoop out about 2 tablespoons of avocado flesh, creating a small well in the center of each avocado.

Gently crack 1 egg, and slide it into the well, keeping the yolk intact. Beware: Some of the white may run over the edge. Repeat with remaining eggs and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Bake until the egg whites have set but the yolks are still runny, about 15–18 minutes.

Serve immediately, garnished with chives, if desired.

Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1/2 avocado plus 1 egg

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 71; Total Fat: 5g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Monounsaturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 185mg; Sodium: 70mg; Carbohydrate: 0g; Dietary Fiber: 0g; Sugar: 0g; Protein 6g

Avocado is such a nutritional powerhouse that it’s not a bad idea to have it as your midday main course. Served atop toast, as the center of a great sando or the meaty-est non-meat addition to a great salad or noodle bowl (as below), avocados are the answer. Buckwheat noodles are gluten-free and anti-inflammatory. In this recipe they cradle flavorful chicories and greens. You could substitute the buckwheat noodles for another favorite noodle, steamed rice or even quinoa.

CHICORY AND NORI BUCKWHEAT NOODLE BOWL WITH AVOCADO

Ingredients

For the salad

  • 2 cups (450g) chicories (and/or tat soi, radicchio and bok choy)
  • 2 cups (450g) baby spinach
  • 4 ounces (113g) buckwheat noodles, cooked according to package directions
  • 5 small, fresh radishes, sliced very thinly
  • 1–2 avocados, soft but not squishy, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup (45g) hazelnuts, toasted with the skins removed and chopped coarsely
  • 3/4 cup (84g) toasted nori, crumbled

For the dressing

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice or rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Flaky sea salt and black sesame seeds, to finish

Directions

Allow a heavy skillet to warm over medium heat on the stovetop.

In the meantime, drizzle chicories with olive oil.

Transfer to hot skillet and allow to cook until just wilted, tossing once to evenly cook. Remove the chicories from skillet and allow to cool slightly, then toss with baby spinach. Set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice or vinegar, oil and maple until well combined. Set aside.

On individual plates, or in a large, broad bowl, layer the cooked buckwheat noodles with cooked chicory and greens mixture; make it colorful! Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to coat the leaves completely.

Next, sprinkle with sliced radishes, sliced avocados, toasted hazelnuts, nori and sesame seeds and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.

Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1 cup greens, 1 oz pasta, 1/2 avocado

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 280; Total Fat: 13g; Saturated Fat: 3g; Monounsaturated Fat: 3g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 58mg; Carbohydrate: 36g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 14g; Protein 5g

Move over marinara! This creamy avocado-starring pasta will be your new go to for pasta night. Creamy avocado, tangy feta, bright little edamame and dashes of lemon and pepper, this dish is unexpected, impressive and almost as easy to make as popping a jar of prepared tomato sauce (but much more satisfying).

AVOCADO CAVATAPPI WITH EDAMAME

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces (400g) cavatappi pasta
  • 1 cup (155g) shelled edamame (frozen or fresh both work)
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/4 cup (37g) feta
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups (450g) baby spinach leaves, gently torn
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Crushed red pepper, to taste

Directions

Fill a large pot with water to boil the pasta; add a good bit of salt and a glug of olive oil. Bring to a rolling boil, add pasta, cook according to package directions.

Just as the pasta is done, add the edamame and allow the residual heat to blanch the beans.

Drain and rinse the pasta and edamame with cool water. Set aside to let cool a bit.

Place the pasta and beans into a broad bowl. Slice, pit and score the avocados, scooping out the buttery avocado flesh. Add all of the avocado quickly and then squeeze the lemon over the entire mixture. Add the torn spinach leaves. Toss well.

Season with salt and pepper, and add a good glug of olive oil. Toss well again.

Scoop into bowls and top with crushed red pepper.

Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1 cup

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 437; Total Fat: 9g; Saturated Fat: 5g; Monounsaturated Fat: 3g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 43mg; Carbohydrate: 69g; Dietary Fiber: 5g; Sugar: 1g; Protein 17g

About the Author

Lentine Alexis
Lentine Alexis
Lentine is a curious, classically trained chef and former pro athlete. She uses her bicycle, raw life and travel experiences and organic ingredients to inspire athletes and everyone to explore, connect and expand their human experiences through food. She previously worked as a Chef/Recipe Developer/Content Creator and Culinary Director at Skratch Labs – a sports nutrition company dedicated to making real food alternatives to modern “energy foods.” Today, she writes, cooks, speaks and shares ideas for nourishing sport and life with whole, simple, delicious foods.

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