When it comes to food, I am super into my habits. Every morning, I dig into a big bowl of oatmeal, every afternoon I graze on nuts and an apple, and every night after dinner I have yogurt and fruit for dessert. While I don’t think most nutritionists would have a problem with my choices, I do get a bit bored with myself. Yet it’s hard to find a lot of other foods that feed the beast and are still healthy.
That all changed when I noticed a stack of lovely avocados in season at my local farmer’s market and a brilliant idea came to me: switching up some of my eats for avocado. I couldn’t wait to test-run this whole new healthy me!
Low-carb and with no sugars, avocados are a nutrient-rich, versatile ingredient that add creaminess to any dish. “Avocados are everyday superfoods with a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants,” says Lindsey Pine. R.D. Just one serving has three grams of fibre—12 percent of your daily minimum—along with 10 percent of your folate needs, 15 percent vitamin K, 15 percent of vitamin B5 and even a touch of protein (one gram) and vitamin C (4 percent). Plus, avocados contain a natural substances known as plant sterols, which Pine says can help lower cholesterol.
Here’s how I made it through the week, and a few of the more interesting things I discovered after eating a whole avocado every day.
GUACAMOLE IS EVERYTHING
I’ve got a new party trick! My husband and I had friends over at our place on day one, and I whipped up fresh guacamole. To make sure I got my full avocado for the day, I served myself a massive glop of guac before I allowed myself to touch anything else. When I finished, I was so stuffed I was seriously turned off by the cheese platter, the mini hot dogs, the mini burgers, the baguette, and the quiche we were serving. That never happens. Even paired with chips, my guacamole was way healthier than all the other options, making it the perfect way to avoid mindlessly snacking while drinking. (That is until about 2 a.m. and ??? glasses of wine, when I got the munchies and chowed down on the rest of the chips and cheese and baguette. But, hey, I made it ‘til then. Success!)
A WHOLE AVOCADO IS A WHOLE LOT OF KILOJOULES
The one big downside: Integrating a full avocado every day is tricky. A single serving is meant to be one-third of an avocado; one full medium fruit has 1004 kilojoules and 24 grams of fat (even though 15 grams is monounsaturated, the heart-healthiest type, that’s still a lot!). That meant I really had to get creative and space things out to meet my daily quota. Other than the classic avocado toast (and I definitely ate that), here are a few other avocado recipes I enjoyed throughout the week: avocado-cilantro gazpacho, tuna-stuffed avocados, avocado “nice” cream, grilled avocados stuffed with black bean and quinoa salad, and baked avocado fries.
I FOUND A HEALTHIER BURGER PAIRING
The day after our party, as I barely peeled myself out of bed for a Netflix marathon, I was super glad I set aside some guacamole in the fridge. For dinner I topped homemade turkey burgers with a few fat spoonfuls of guacamole. SO good and filling, plus a way healthier hangover fix to pair with burgers than cheese or the batch of fries sitting in the back of my freezer. Win!
AVOCADO WAITS FOR NO ONE
Okay, it kind of goes without saying…but avocados do not store well. Just two days into my challenge, I cut into the one fruit I had left—which I bought just two days prior—to find that even though it didn’t feel overly ripe, it was half-browned. Needless to say, this was not the last time I had to throw an avocado (and two bucks) down the drain in a week. (Also, why are even the not-brown ones sometimes stringy?! Ick.)
I FOUND A WAY TO FIT IN VEGGIES BEFORE NOON
Three days in, I decided to switch things up by adding avocado to my breakfast. I prefer to chew my food than drink it, so smoothies are not my thing. But I know they’re an easy way to get a healthy dose of greens, so I made up my own recipe with a whole avocado, milk, yogurt, and touch of honey. Then I added more green stuff—spinach and matcha powder. And it tasted like... salad. So I scooped in a teaspoon of almond butter and tried again: still bitter and not as good as my usual oatmeal, but still, a whole lot of green first thing in the morning. My meal left me satisfied and light—and I made it to lunch without even thinking about snacking. Smoothies still aren’t for me, but adding avocado did make it more filling, so I’m sure it’s a good option for someone out there.
I SHOOK UP MY SNACK ROUTINE
Every day around 4 p.m., I snack on a handful of nuts and an apple. But one afternoon I tried some watermelon and half an avocado, topping it with a sprinkle of Tajin spices my friends brought me from my native Tucson. (If you don’t know what Tajin is, get some, now...it's addictively delicious!) My avocado creation was super filling and satisfying—here’s a routine I think I’ll stick to once my week is over. Other ideas I saved for later: avocado hummus and avocados with chickpeas and curry powder.
I DO NOT LIKE “HEALTHY” DESSERTS
On day four I decided to have avocados for dessert and found a recipe for paleo chocolate-avocado pudding made with just one avocado, unsweetened cocoa powder, honey, and coconut milk. Healthy, right? Meh. The recipe was for two portions, at 1000 kilojoules and 12 grams of sugar each. Granted it also had eight grams of fibre and nearly a fifth of my daily potassium per serving, but even one portion was practically as many kilojoules as a scoop of cookie dough ice cream—plus I’d need to eat two servings (almost 2100 kilojoules!!) to get my whole avocado for the day! To hit my quota, I had my one portion of pudding for dessert—and sliced half of an avocado onto a salad. Boring but efficient.
Plus, while the texture was thick and creamy like cake batter, it was a way too green for my taste. And I finished in barely five bites. I’ll stick with the yogurt and fruit I usually eat after dinner, which is yummier and has less kilojoules in more spoonfuls. If I want to splurge on kilojoules, I’ll just have Ben and Jerry’s.
I'M STILL A CREATURE OF HABIT
By the end of my avocado week, I have to admit that I was glad to be done. I am not a planner, and I realised there’s a reason why I like my routines: Figuring out how to fit a 1004-kilojoule fruit into every day took work! Still, I was glad to have discovered a few new ways to switch up my meals and still feel full without pigging out on chips. (Also, did my skin look brighter and dewy... or just wishful thinking?) All in all, a worthwhile experiment.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health.