We ate at The Cheesecake Factory this weekend and I was very concerned about eating healthy at a place that is known for, heck, actually named after, a dessert that clocks in more than a daily’s worth of calories (my favorite cheesecake, the carrot cake cheesecake has 1,110 calories for one slice.) If the sight and smell of cheesecake when you walk in isn’t enough to deter you, wait until you see their 20-page menu, which is intimidating to say the least. The selection is overwhelming and it is easy to give in to one of the many delicious and calorie-filled options. I have to give The Cheesecake Factory credit though, they do actually have several items on their menu called Weight Management Salads, although I wasn’t all that impressed with the selection. So, I did something that I wasn’t even sure was permissible…..I custom ordered an item that was not listed on the menu. My husband said, “Only you could look through a 20-page menu and not find one thing that you liked.” True. But, as I said in my previous post on Healthy Tips for Dining Out, to make healthy eating a successful lifestyle change, you can’t shy away from asking for exactly what you want for at a restaurant.
I knew that I needed to try avocado as part of the 150 of the Healthiest Foods in 150 Days Challenge, so I custom ordered a salad with grilled chicken and avocado with no dressing (I brought my own.) It was delicious, high in protein and healthy fats.
I have to tell you the truth, for years I was scared to eat avocado. No, not because of the bumpy alligator green skin. I was scared because I dieted in the ’90s when we were told “to lose fat, don’t eat fat,” while we scarfed down fat-free Snackwell’s cookies and wondered why the pounds didn’t shed off. For years I have been cautious about eating any fat because I still have that fat-free, high-carb mindset of the ’90s. I’m not so naive as to think that we have it all figured out. I’m sure we will look back and scoff at some of the “diet wisdom” of 2010 and say “Oh, that was so tens!” But, research does show that avocado is a wonderful addition to our diet.
This fruit (can you believe that avocados are fruit and not a vegetable?) is high in fat, but it is the good monounsaturated fat, which actually lowers cholesterol. Monounsaturated fat has also been shown to reduce the risk of cancer and diabetes. Avocados also contain lutein, a natural antioxidant that helps your eyes and skin stay healthy.
Avocados are also a great source of fiber (11-17 grams!) and contain folate, vitamin A, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin.
The most common recipe using avocado is guacamole. Trader Joes sells a great guacamole kit to make killer fresh guacamole (see my post on Trader Joes.) Avocado is also great sliced on salad, topped on a sandwich or diced on top of a chicken enchilada dish.
Avocado is also a great moisturizer, making an excellent facial mask, especially in this dry winter weather.
Simply mash the meat of the avocado into a creamy texture. Massage into the face and neck . Leave on for 15 minutes and gently rinse off.
Do you have any avocado recipes? Please share!