If green foods scare you, you’ve never had an avocado, or found the right ways to use avocado. There is a reason for all the guac-induced madness that exists in American society today. Little omega-3 pushing miracles, these fruits—yes fruits, not vegetables—pack all of the right nutrition and flavor into any meal.
Avocados dish out heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. And, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), a study by researchers at Ohio State University found that the fat from avocados helps people better absorb carotenoids, a type of antioxidant found in many veggies, like carrots, sweet potatoes and spinach. Plus, avocados are a good source of fiber. Talk about a superfood!
Avocados have a very delicate taste, making them a versatile addition to any dish. Even if you absolutely despise the color, you’ll find yourself surprised and impressed with how they can rise to the flavor occasion. An eighth of an avocado (or one tablespoon pureed) counts as one Extra on Nutrisystem. And with all of these crafty way to employ them, consider all three Extras accounted for today!
Here are 14 fantastic ways to cook with avocado:
1. Sub for mayo.
There is nothing worse than a dry sandwich. Unfortunately, mayonnaise and traditional hoagie spreads are ingredients to use with caution when dieting. So, slather up your meal with something better. Mashed avocado is that extra something special your sammy needs, so you can really enjoy your healthy meal—not choke it down.
2. Add creaminess to sweet potato.
Sweet potatoes are the perfect blend of sweet and savory. But there’s one way to make them even better: Next time you’re roasting up some of this sweetness, mix some ripe avocado into the finished product. This creamy mash will taste better than ever. No butter or milk necessary.
3. Bake cookies.
If you’re on the cutting edge of the cooking-for-health scene, maybe you’ve seen this before. It is now 100 percent possible to bake awe-inspiring cookies—with healthy fat! Adding the nutritious punch of avocados, these diet-worthy recipes leave the bad stuff behind.
4. Create salad dressing.
You would be absolutely shocked how unhealthy salad dressings can be. Topping your hearty bowl of greens with some of these crazy bottled sauces can result in absolute diet disaster. The ones that aren’t total calorie-bombs are typically still bad news because of their sketchy ingredient lists. Save yourself any future regret, and make your own dressing by blending up mashed avocado for the creamy base to your acid of choice. Avocado oil also works wonders.
5. Sneak it into brownies.
Yes, just like you can use avocado for cookies, brownies are incorporating them too. Trade the saturated fats for omega-3s and eye-enhancing antioxidants like lutein.
6. Top salads.
Your body needs healthy fats to help it absorb all of those wonderful nutrients lying in your vegetables. Slices of avocado take salads to new heights with a creaminess no one can deny. Maybe you’ve already tried topping your Mexican-inspired taco salads with this superfood, but be adventurous. Have you ever had a spinach salad with roasted red peppers and avocado? To die for!
7. Sauté veggies (or meat.. or anything).
One of the biggest perks about the avocado is the oil it produces. Avocado oil, like coconut oil, has a much higher smoke point than extra virgin olive oil. When you cook with oils well past their smoke points—many people make this mistake with olive oil—the outcome is less than stellar. According to the Mayo Clinic, nutrition goes down and so does the flavor. Next time you’re taking to your pan, go for the avocado oil, instead.
8. Green up smoothies.
Why do nut butters get all of the love when it comes to smoothies? Avocado is an excellent addition to any hearty drink. It brings that velvety texture any smoothie junkie wants in their cup. Berries and the rest of your fun additions can mask the taste and the color. Let the cold, sweet satisfaction begin.
Using foods as moisturizers is nothing new, thanks to the arrival of coconut oil on the healthy skin scene. It seems like everyone will slap coconut oil on today—hair, skin, and so much more. Avocado can play a similar role. Consuming more avocados means more good fat to keep the dryness away and your body in tip top shape. Applying a small amount of avocado oil directly to your skin and hair can form a protective barrier, keeping it nourished. And goodbye fly-aways!
10. Make more nutritious tuna salad.
As we’ve said before, fatty mayonnaise doesn’t always fit into your diet when you’re trying to lose a few pounds or keep them off. But again, how realistic would it be to never ever enjoy your favorite deli salads again? Tuna salad, salmon salad, chicken salad and more need a thick and creamy base to essentially glue all of your delicious ingredients together. Just mash up some ripe avocado with a fork (maybe adding a hint of lemon or lime juice) and add it to chopped pieces of your favorite protein.
There are some really exciting ways to get creative with your avocado-based salad recipes. Explore some of the options posted here, like the Avocado Chicken Salad Sandwich or Skinny Avocado Egg Salad or take things into your own hands and get experimental.
11. Spice up popcorn.
We can agree: There is definitely a time and place for butter on popcorn. But we can also attest that this might not be the best option if you’re trying to hit a weight loss goal. Avocado oil makes a fantastic change of pace for popping and flavoring up your bowl. Add a light sprinkle or pop your kernels with the stuff and the sky is the limit. Chili powder for something smoky, cinnamon when sweetness is in order… whatever you like!
12. Cradle an egg.
Did you know you can bake an egg in an avocado? Cut an avocado in half, remove the seed and break an egg in its place. Bake it until the egg is done and you’ve got healthy fats and nutrition for days. It’s indulgent, in the most wholesome way possible. Eating the whole thing would be just over the limit for Extras, so stick to 3/8 of the avocado. It’s also totally acceptable to share this breakfast with your sweetheart.
13. Treat yourself with pudding.
Avocado has another use that couldn’t be sweeter: An awesome base for pudding. Dieters are thrilled to know that they won’t be blowing their diet, next time they feel the need for a childhood favorite. Avocado serves as a base for pudding with a bit of cocoa powder and sugar-free honey (one tablespoon of sugar-free honey is one Extra on Nutrisystem). Snack Packs can’t top this whole-food alternative. Completely delectable and no belly fat consequences.
14. Assemble salsa.
Everyone does guacamole. But, combine the Mexican dip favorites—guac and salsa—for the ultimate party-starter. Chili spice, roasted vegetables and fresh tomato are powered up with chunks of avocado or cilantro-studded guacamole, for an unbelievable pop of flavor. You’ll start to rethink any fear of foods on your plate touching when these get mixed together.