I have never been a big fan of mayonnaise. Home made or otherwise. In fact, I have also never succeeded in making my own, which I have taken as a sign. Ever since I was a child I would opt to have whatever the dish was minus the mayonnaise (e.g. “Russian salad” without mayonnaise). I am also a little wary of using raw eggs in any recipe. Not only does the word salmonella come to mind, but also, let’s face it, raw egg recipes don’t last long. If you do not consume them immediately, the risk of salmonella or other food poisoning increases.
There is an easy, vegan solution to this, though. My most recent culinary experiment turned out to be yet another hit with my fussy other half. Avocados to the rescue!
The health benefits of avocado (Persea americana)
If you suffer from high cholesterol then traditional egg mayonnaise is probably not something you will want to add to any of your dishes. This is where the avocado comes in. Not only is it full of the healthy fats (Omega 9 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats) that can REDUCE cholesterol rather than increase it, it also acts as a metabolic booster helping to revv up your post-confinement metabolism so that you can more easily lose weight. As if that wasn’t enough, they contain more potassium than bananas and are great post work out.
Here are some more reasons you should be eating them:
1. They are nutrient rich- containing over 20 vitamins and minerals including:
Vitamin K (26% RDA)
Vitamin C (17%RDA)
Vitamin B5 (14%RDA)
Vitamin B6 (13%RDA)
Vitamin E (10%RDA)
As well as small amounts of magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorous, and vitamins A, B1 (Thiamine), B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin).
Avocados are also rich in Lutein (which is good for eye health), and oleic acid.
2. They are a rich source of oleic acid – this is an Omega 9 fatty acid also found in olive oil which helps reduce inflammation, and has anti-cancer properties, among others. It also makes avocado a good food to consume to help fight arthritis.
3. They contain beta-sitosenol- which is the compound that reportedly reduces total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (the bad guy) and triglycerides. At the same time, eating avocado increases your HDL cholesterol (the good guy). So, in terms of cholesterol it is a win win.
4. It helps to absorb fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, K, as well as carotenoids, an antioxidant. This is due to its high fat content. Avocado is considered one of the fattest plants in the plant kingdom but the monounsaturated fats are considered beneficial.
5. Although it has a high calorie content (think along the lines of 1 kcal per 1 gram), it has been suggested that consuming avocados can help reduce weight. There are three main reasons for this:
i. the monounsaturated fats it contains are burned at a higher rate than other types of fats
ii. they are believed to speed up the rate at which fat is burned
iii. the fibre content is very high (out of 9g of fat, 7 of these are fibre!)
The recommendation is to eat no more than ¼ of a medium sized avocado per day to gain the benefits without piling on the calories.
6. Last but not least, ripe avocado is creamy and could almost be mistaken for mayonnaise.
How to incorporate avocados into your diet
There are obviously many ways to incorporate avocados into your diet. From soups (see my Cucumber and Avocado soup in Anna’s Kitchen recipe book), to the ubiquitous Avocado Toast (make it at home and your wallet, not just your heart, will thank you!), to the well known Guacamole. There are plenty of recipes to suit everyone. One of my favourites especially if you have very ripe avocado is Avocado Mayonnaise. There are variants (Avocado Mayonnaise with cayenne, see page 79 of Anna's Kitchen recipe book), this is a milder one.
Avocado Mayonnaise Potato Salad
approx. 100g fresh chicken breast, grilled
3 small chat potatoes, diced and boiled, skin on
a handful of roasted walnuts
2 large red radishes, sliced
fresh coriander (or parsley), finely chopped
¼ of a large fennel
2 small bell peppers, one red, one yellow
For the avocado “mayo”:
½ a ripe avocado
the juice of ½ a lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp whole grain Dijon mustard
1. Wash the potatoes, peppers, radishes, and fennel in a bowl of water and bicarbonate for at least 10 minutes. The nrinse, pat dry and trim. Using a clean bowl of water repeat the process for the coriander leaves.
2. Cube the potatoes, skin on, and boil in a pan of salted water until cooked through, approximately 10-15 minutes. Drain and allow to cool down a little.
3. In a lightly oiled pan, grill the chicken breast. Then cut into small bite sized pieces. Place in a bowl.
4. Chop the red and yellow peppers into thumb sized pieces, slice the radishes, finely chop the fennel and add all of these to the bowl.
5. Add the walnut halves and finely chopped coriander, as well as the potatoes, and mix.
6. Follow the recipe for avocado mayonnaise on page 79 of my recipe book Anna’s Kitchen to prepare the avocado mayonnaise with cayenne, or follow the milder version below with Dijon Mustard
7. Take half an avocado, scoop out the flesh with a tablespoon and roughly cut it into small chunks. Place in a small bowl and use a fork to mash it into the consistency of a puree.
8. Squeeze half a lemon and add it to the avocado to prevent it from browning.
9. In a measuring jug, blend the Dijon mustard with the olive oil, and mix well. Then pour this onto the avocado and lemon. Mix thoroughly adding any extra olive oil if it is too dense.
10. Use a large spoon to mix the potato salad and avocado mayonnaise well. Serve at room temperature.
From my healthy kitchen to yours….Enjoy!