Thursday, March 23, 2017

Baked Avocado Fries with Cilantro Lime Dip

Going along with my green theme for March, I wanted to share an awesome avocado recipe that went over extremely well in my latest cooking class. I will admit, I was a bit skeptical on how these fries might turn out; however, with a few seasoning adjustments, I am sold! Before getting into the recipe, I just want to share some quick information about avocados and how to choose/ripen.

Avocados are a powerhouse of nutrients! Just 1/2 has 20% of your daily value for fiber and they are also good sources of potassium, folate, and Vitamin E. One unique thing about avocados is that they are a fruit (many don't believe me when I say this) and have a nice dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. These are the good kinds of fats that help to decrease inflammation in your body.

When selecting an avocado, choose one that is firm, yet will yield a bit to gentle pressure; color is not always a good indicator of ripeness. If you buy avocados that are not ripe, simply throw them in a paper bag and store at room temperature. For faster ripening, add in a kiwifruit (or two). It took about 2 days for me to ripen some rock hard avocados I bought for this recipe. Once ripened, store in the fridge for about 2-3 days. If you store cut avocado, you can sprinkle with lemon/lime juice and wrap tightly to help prevent browning. I always end up trying to use the whole avocado at once since I find it hard to keep them fresh once cut.

Baked Avocado Fries
Prep: 10 minutes
Yield: 4 servings (1/2 avocado each)

2 avocados, peeled and sliced
1/2 teaspoon each: paprika + garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Dash of salt and pepper
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons lime juice
1.5 tablespoons ground flax seed
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs **
2 tablespoons garbanzo (chickpea) flour

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet.
2. In a shallow bowl, mix together flour, spices, salt and pepper.
3. In another shallow bowl, mix together water, lime juice, and ground flax.
4. Place breadcrumbs in a final shallow bowl.
5. Dip avocado slices in flour, liquid, and lastly breadcrumbs. Place on baking sheet and cook for 15-20 minutes.

**I used gluten-free Panko. You can use regular fine breadcrumbs, ground almonds, chia seeds, or even flax seeds for other alternatives. 

Optional Cilantro Lime Dip
*Dip recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker
In a blender, combine: 1 ripe avocado, 1/2 cup fresh cilantro (can sub in parsley), 1/4 cup lime juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, dash of salt and pepper, and 1/4 cup water.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Sauteed Zoodles with Fresh Pesto

March is here so that means it is National Nutrition Month! This is one of my favorite times as a Dietitian! For 2017, the theme is "Put your best fork forward," which I love because it makes me think of not only choosing healthy foods, but also, cooking more! I often get client feedback that revolves around not having enough time to cook. My challenge for those of you reading this post is to commit to cooking at least one day/night per week. Once you get that down, increase to two or or even three nights! If the weekdays are too busy for you to cook more involved meals/recipes, try batch cooking on the weekends and freezing for later use. Stock-up on items like canned beans or frozen steamable veggies for when your not in the mood for cooking. To take it a step further, try incorporating new and healthy recipes in your weekly meal rotation.

Try out the zoodles (zucchini noodles) recipe below as a side dish or make it a meal by adding a lean protein and high-fiber carbohydrate (like chickpeas)!

Sauteed Zoodles with Fresh Pesto 
Yield: 4 servings 

4 medium zucchini, ends trimmed
2 cups fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice (can increase to 1 tablespoon if you prefer a more lemony flavor)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
Salt & pepper
**Flavor add-ins for pesto: pine nuts, minced onion, walnuts, or nutritional yeast

1. Using a vegetable peeler or spiralizer, slice zucchini into noodles. Set aside in bowl.
2. Food process: basil, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice.
3. In a large skillet, combine zucchini noodles with pesto and saute over medium heat for 5-7 minutes.
4. Top noodles with tomatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Nutrition: 190 Calories, 17g Fat (12g Monounsaturated Fat & 3g Polyunsaturated Fat), 65mg Sodium, 522mg Potassium, 9g Carbohydrates, 3g Fiber, 3g Sugar, 1g Protein, 44% Vit A, 29% Vit C