Between the ages of 14 and 24, I steered clear of avocados. Why? They're high in fat!
After struggling to lose weight for 10 years, I became frustrated and decided to focus on being healthy instead of thin. To my surprise, that's when I lost weight.
Now I know that eating balanced meals and snacks helps you reach and maintain a healthy weight. Each food group offers different nutrients that our bodies require to function properly. When we meet our bodies’ needs, we feel full.
Fat is part of a balanced plate of food. That's why you can eat tons of low-fat diet food and still feel hungry. When you prepare meals and snacks, just make sure the fat you eat is from a natural source. Don’t mess with Mother Nature! Salmon, olives, eggs, whole milk, and yes, avocados, are full of healthy fat.
Avocados are packed with nourishment that:
- boosts your immune system
- helps prevent cataracts
- regulates blood sugar
- lowers bad cholesterol
- encourages bowel movements
- slows the skin-aging process
- helps to keep blood pressure under control
- prompts cancer cells to stop growing and die
- reduces the risk of diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular disease
Fresh food is medicine. And avocados help it go down.
How do I know my avocado is ripe?
Avocados are bright green when they're harvested. As they ripen, they become a purplish-black colour. The best way to know if an avocado is ready to eat, without damaging the fruit, is to put it in the palm of your hand and give it a gentle squeeze. A firm avocado is too hard. A squishy avocado is too ripe. An avocado with a little give is Goldilocks-right. If you don't plan to eat it for a day or two, keep it in the fridge. Just make sure you lock your front door!
Check the avocados you bring home from the grocery store have a stem. Some people remove the tiny knob to look for readiness. If it comes away easily and it's green underneath, your avocado is ripe. The downside to this technique is that if it's not ready, your avocado will begin to rot. Without the stem intact, air gets in.
To ripen your avocado in 2-3 days, place it in a paper bag with an apple or banana. Keep at room temperature.
Make avocados part of your balanced breakfast
There are countless ways to include this fruit in any meal. Diced avocado is gorgeous in a green salad with tomato, red onion and a simple balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing. Avocados also make a fancy starter when cut in half and stuffed with shrimp that have been tossed in mayonnaise, a little ketchup and a dash of cayenne pepper. Then, serve on a bed of lettuce. Don't stop there! Instagram has nearly 7 million more ideas.
In the meantime, if you're looking for a quick balanced breakfast, try avocado on toast (fruit & carbohydrate) and a latte or glass of milk (dairy). I'd also add an apple or orange as I love fruit.
Make it like so...
Step 1: Slice the avocado
Step 2: Place it on toasted bread (whole grain is best)
Step 3: Mash the avocado gently with the back of your fork
Add a little salt and/or lime juice to bring out the flavour. Lime also helps to keep avocado green.
Run-out-the-door Avocado Wrap
If you need to dash in the morning, substitute toast for a wrap to make it easier to eat on-the-go. Eating breakfast saves you from snacking throughout the day. And making breakfast at home saves you a shocking amount of money that you can spend on other more interesting things!
If it's a weekend morning or you're entertaining guests, put avocado on toast as a base for gourmet ingredients. Try:
goat cheese and bacon
boiled egg sprinkled with garam masala
slices of tomato and red onion topped with smoked salmon and capers (option: put cream cheese on toast before avocado)
A potato masher speeds up the process if you’re making a big batch of any of the above.
Each of these additions incorporates protein, which makes your meal more balanced. If you have time, roll any of these protein options into your avocado wrap.
Meet the monster of avocados!
When my mother-not-in-law, Carole, was recently visiting us from England, we went to Chinatown to check out the huge variety of fruit and vegetables offered, compared to your average grocery store. Carole lived in Jamaica for a few of her formative years and she was excited to see an Avozilla—an avocado native to South Africa and similar to the kind she ate as a kid. These huge avocados are about five times heavier than a regular avocado! Their skin is also smoother and brighter. We brought one home to make guacamole. It was delicious and made food prep easy; we just needed to scoop out the flesh of one piece of fruit.
After maintaining a healthy weight for more than 18 years I can safely say: Eat avocados! Eating balanced meals and snacks that include foods naturally high in fat is an important part of a sustainable lifestyle.
Ok... that's a wrap!
What do you put on your avocado toast?
Kelly Clark shares how she got healthy in her blog It took me 10 years to lose 10 pounds at the10principles.com. She is based in Toronto, obsessed with Preloved clothing and is passionate about sustainable living.