One of my favorite hobbies is sifting through my grandmother’s and mom’s old recipes and recreating them with a healthier spin. I firmly believe that healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated. Or tasteless. Whenever I’m trying to improve upon a dish, I like to focus on where I can increase its nutrient density – either by decreasing sugar/oil or adding in vegetables, fruits, whole grains or lean proteins. A simple swap here and there can completely transform the healthfulness of the recipe.
Take for instance the use of mayo in creamy dressings and salads. While I do enjoy a little mayo on a sandwich, I dislike the greasy mouth feel that often accompanies too much of it. To get more bang for my calorie buck, I like to swap in mashed avocado anywhere I would use mayo. For comparison, avocado is about ½ the calories of mayo: two tablespoons of avocado contain 50 calories compared with 100 calories for the same amount of mayonnaise. Avocado also contains half the fat (4.5g to 9g) and is cholesterol free.
To substitute an avocado for mayonnaise, cut a ripe avocado into cubes then mash it well using a fork or the back of a spoon. Then, use anywhere you would mayo! Try it with tuna sandwiches and potato salad. If substituting avocados in a dressing, simply add the avocado equivalent to the blender and purée as directed by the recipe.
Ready to get started? Check out the recipes below for Creamy Avocado Egg Salad and Smashed Potatoes with Avocado Chimichurri Sauce.
Creamy Avocado Egg Salad
4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 large avocado, pitted and peeled
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. scallions
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a medium bowl, combine the hard boiled eggs, avocado, lemon juice, scallions, and mustard. Mash with a fork. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Smashed Potatoes with Avocado Chimichurri Sauce
2 pounds Dutch yellow baby potatoes (or any small potato)
1 tbsp. olive oil (or cooking spray)
2 cups fresh parsley plus more for garnish
2 scallions, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic
¼ cup olive oil
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 avocado, peel and pit removed
Salt/pepper to taste
Cover the potatoes in cool water in a medium saucepan. Bring the water to a boil and cook the potatoes for 20 minutes or until fork tender.
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Drain the potatoes, place on a lightly sprayed baking sheet and smash down to flatten, using either a potato masher or back of a wooden spoon.
Spritz a little oil or cooking spray over the potatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and crispy.
While the potatoes are cooking, make the sauce.
Place the parsley, scallions, 4 cloves of garlic, olive oil, and lime juice in a food processor or high-powered blender until finely chopped.
Add in the avocado and a generous pinch of salt and pepper and blend until just combined.
After the potatoes come out of the oven, drizzle with sauce and garnish with parsley and minced scallions.
Photo Credit: Alex Caspero