Food Focus

Avocados: One of the Healthiest Fats

Avocados are one of the most healthy foods God provides us. Did you know the avocado is a fruit and not a vegetable? It is actually considered a berry which the Aztecs referred to as the “King's Butter”.  For the Fit.Church meal plan, though, avocados are considered a great source of fat.


3 Reasons You Should Eat Avocados


1. Avocados provide beneficial fat.

We discuss healthy fats in another article here, but avocados reinforce the truth that our bodies need healthy fat in our day-to-day meal plan. Avocados help lower the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and help raise the levels of good cholesterol (HDL).  


2. Avocados are a great source of fiber.

A great reason to eat avocados is that they contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, and are made up approximately 75% insoluble and 25% soluble fibers. This makes it powerful in our meal plan, as most natural foods do not have both. Soluble fiber is great for appetite control as it has the effect of making us feel full, while insoluble fiber helps our body remove waste and toxins from our system with efficient bowel movements.  


3. Avocados are a natural source for complete protein.  

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website states “A complete protein source is one that provides all of the essential amino acids.” This is important because complete proteins are what our body uses to repair and build. Avocados are special in that they are one of the few “complete protein” sources that are not animal based.  


4 Ways to Use Avocados

Googling for avocado recipes will produce more than 34 million results. Don't be afraid to experiment, but here are our four favorite ways to use avocados.


1.  Guacamole is originally a Spanish dish with many variations. 

Dice (in small pieces) about half an onion, a cup of cilantro, 2-3 tomatoes, a poblano pepper, and a jalapeno pepper and add them to the meat of 2-3 avocados to make a guacamole.  Once mixed add salt and the juice of limes (or lemons) to taste. Use your guacamole as a dip, a sandwich spread or on burritos.   


2.  Add avocado slices to salads.  

In just about any kind of salad we will slice an avocado and toss in the salad. It is a wonderful addition to a salad, adds a wholesome fat, and cuts down on the amount of dressing needed when served. 


 3.  Use avocado as a substitution for mayonnaise.

We no longer even keep mayonnaise in our home.  Instead, I take Greek yogurt (0% fat), add the meat of 1-2 avocado, salt and pepper, and various Mrs. Dash seasonings (my favorite is Tomato and Basil). I mix this well, and use this spread like I used to use mayonnaise. It is oh, so yummy, doesn’t have the calories that mayonnaise has, and has much better nutritional value for our bodies.  


4.  Add avocado slices to egg white omelets.  

I slice avocados up and use approximately three 1/8-inch slices in an egg white omelet. What else do I put in my omelet? It depends on the morning, but I usually add various vegetables: spinach, onions, bell pepper, and mushrooms, and then sprinkle it with perhaps 7 grams of shredded parmesan.   

Experiment on your own for how you might utilize avocados. Some people do not immediately like the texture or taste of avocado.  Try them, and as you eat more healthy you may develop a taste for them.  If you can substitute avocados for things you used to eat, you will be doing your body a favor!  


Some info Sourced From the web site, A Cup of Green, the article, 5 Reasons You Should Eat Avocados 

CDC handout, Can eating fruit and vegetables help people to manage their weight? Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/nutrition/pdf/rtp_practitioner_10_07.pdf

Summer Squash: Healthy & Good for You

Where we live squash is one of summer's most prolific crops. Squash, corn and beans were the three main agricultural crops grown by natives in North America. Native Americans shared many varieties of squash with European settlers and today squash are grown all over the world.  

Technically, from a botanical point of view, squash is a fruit because it contains the seeds of the plant. Squash are divided into two categories: summer and winter.  


Summer Squash


Summer squash have four varieties; crookneck, zucchini, straight neck and scallop. These squash are completely edible with thin skins and seeds, therefore can be eaten raw or cooked. Because of their high water content they are best stir fried or grilled for health reasons and to prevent them from getting mushy. Steaming, baking, and simmering are all methods that can be used to prepare summer squash.  


THE Health Benefits of Squash


Summer squash are very nutritional: rich in vitamins A and C, magnesium, fiber, folate, riboflavin, potassium and vitamin B6. They are also high in manganese which helps process fats and glucose in our bodies.  Summer squash are heart healthy - the presence of magnesium and potassium helps control blood pressure. Folate aids the body in removing toxins which contribute to heart attacks and strokes.  

Summer squash also aids sight because they are high in beta carotene and lutein, which aids in the prevention of cataracts and macular degeneration.  In addition, summer squash boosts our immune system, aids our digestive system, regulates our blood sugar, and is good for our bones.  


4 Ways to Consume Squash


Googling for squash recipes will produce more than 35 million results. Recipes for its’ use are plentiful, but here are the way we like to eat squash. 


1. Boiled Patty Pan squash.

I used to love eating potatoes by the bag.  While I still occasionally eat a potato, I simply can’t eat them like I used to, thus one of my favorite ways to prepare Patty Pan or Scallop squash is to simply boil them. Don’t over boil them, but boil them until a knife will slip into them. I like to eat the boiled squash with a bit of salt and pepper, and even a small patty of butter. 


2. Stir-Fried Squash.

When we stir-fry our squash, we often use a variety of zucchini, patty pan, and yellow squash with onions. We use a table spoon or two (depending on the number of servings we are preparing) of olive oil, heat it without letting it get so hot that it starts smoking and then add the squash along with onion, mushrooms, or bell peppers.  Cook until soft, and add salt and pepper to taste.


3. Grilled Zucchini. 

I love grilled zucchini. We slice zucchini length wise into strips about 1/4 inch apiece. We have an olive oil mister which allows us to lightly cover them with oil and we grill them on the barbecue. If you like them softer, grill them longer. Finally, after the grilling we will often sprinkle some fat free feta cheese on them for flavor along with salt.  


4. Grated Squash.

This is a way we utilize zucchini that is completely different since we started eating clean. We grate zucchini and use it as a foundation for spaghetti. After grating, rinse the zucchini and then slightly heat it so it is not stone cold, but yet still firm (you can use a microwave or steamer). Pour spaghetti sauce over the top with ground turkey and sprinkle it with parmesan cheese. This really hits the spot for spaghetti without the heavy carbs from the pasta.  


Experiment on your own for how you might utilize squash. You might have not enjoyed squash in the past, but we encourage you to try the Andrews' recipes and see squash in a new light!