March (Avocado) Madness

This month, I couldn’t be more excited to highlight my very favorite food: avocados! I could eat them with just about any meal, and what better time to feature this fantastic food than in the green-themed month of March? Did you know that buttery green avocados are actually considered fruit? Rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated (good) fats, avocados are high in fiber and, ounce for ounce, top the charts among all fruits for folate, potassium, vitamin E, and magnesium, making them one of the most nutrient-dense foods.

Though delicious with just about anything, not much pairs better with avocados than Tex-Mex-influenced recipes, and my Taco Dip is no exception. Meaty, creamy and full of flavor, this crowd-favorite appetizer can be whipped up in no time and topped with—you guessed it—avocados to add that savory special something. If preparing and serving in a slow cooker, add cooked meat and the remaining ingredients except tomato and avocado. Mix in tomato and avocado just before serving for a hot and hearty dip.

Looking for a “wow” dinner? Ahi Tuna Tacos with Wasabi Cream and Mango-Avocado Salsa are a sure bet. The dish’s name makes it seem much more complicated than it actually is. Don’t be intimidated by ahi tuna—it is quick to prepare and pairs delightfully with a fruity salsa made with sweet mango, mild avocado and spicy jalapeños. Look for wasabi paste in the Asian section of your supermarket. All it takes are a few chopped fruits and veggies make this salsa, but for extra ease any fruit salsa would be great to contrast the wasabi cream.

Wild Rice, Mango and Avocado Salad is a delectable, gluten-free spring salad. Serve at room temperature or chilled; it’s fantastic either way and packs a nutritious punch to boot. Boasting the same good health effects as olive oil, avocados are also rich in magnesium, which is essential for healthy bones, while the mangos pack a whopping dose of antioxidant-rich vitamins C and A, helping to reduce arthritic inflammation.

Whether you use it in a salad or a condiment, a dip or even a smoothie, in my opinion the avocado is a nutrient-dense, mouth-watering ingredient worthy of celebration this month.

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Ahi Tuna Tacos with Wasabi Cream and Mango-Avocado Salsa

Tuna literally takes only two minutes to cook, and when you combine it with fiery wasabi cream and fresh salsa, you have a marvelous meal with little effort.

1 tsp. olive oil

10 to 12 oz. ahi tuna (1 in. thick)

2 tsp. taco seasoning mix

1/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt

1 tsp. lime juice

1/8 to 1/4 tsp. wasabi, depending on taste

4 (8-in.) flour tortillas

In a nonstick pan, heat olive oil until hot. Season tuna on both sides with taco seasoning, and add to pan. Sear for 1 minute per side or until tuna is cooked on the outside but rare inside. Set aside. For wasabi cream, in a small bowl, combine yogurt, lime juice and wasabi. On a plate, cover tortillas with a damp paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds. Fill tortillas with tuna, and top with wasabi cream and Mango-Avocado Salsa (recipe follows) or salsa of choice. Makes two (2-taco) servings.

Nutritional information per serving (tacos and wasabi cream only): 

Calories 445 | Calories from fat 10% | Fat 5g | Saturated fat 1g  Cholesterol 65mg | Sodium 921mg | Carbohydrates 53g | Dietary fiber 4g | Sugars 4g | Protein 44g | Dietary exchanges: 3 1/2 starch, 5 very lean meat


Mango-Avocado Salsa

1/3 cup chopped avocado

1/2 cup chopped mango

2 Tbsp. chopped red onion

1 tsp. chopped jarred jalapeño

1 Tbsp. lime juice

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Makes 1 cup.

Nutritional information per (14-cup) serving:

Calories 37 | Calories from fat 42% | Fat 2g | Saturated fat 0g  Cholesterol 0mg | Sodium 18mg | Carbohydrates 6g | Dietary fiber 1g | Sugars 3g | Protein 0g | Dietary exchanges: 1/2 fruit, 1/2 fat

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Taco Dip

1 lb. ground sirloin

4 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese

1 cup nonfat sour cream

1/2 cup chopped green onions

1 (1.25-oz.) packet taco seasoning

1 1/2 cups salsa

1 cup chopped tomato

1/2 cup chopped avocado

In a large nonstick skillet, cook meat until done; drain excess grease. Add remaining ingredients except tomato and avocado, cooking until mixture is creamy and cheese is melted. Transfer mixture to serving dish. Top with tomato and avocado. Sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese and black olives if desired. Serve warm with chips. Makes 16 (1/4-cup) servings.

Nutritional information per serving:

Calories 95 | Calories from fat 36% | Fat 4g  Saturated fat 2g | Cholesterol 23mg | Sodium 286mg | Carbohydrates 7g | Dietary fiber 1g  Sugars 2g | Protein 8g | Dietary exchanges: 1/2 other carbohydrate, 1 lean meat

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Wild Rice, Mango and Avocado Salad

1 (6-oz.) box wild rice

1 cup chopped mango

1 cup chopped avocado

1/4 cup chopped green onion

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint

2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

2 Tbsp. lime juice

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. sugar

Dash pepper

Cook rice according to directions. Cool, then transfer to large bowl; add mango, avocado and green onion. For mint vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk together mint, vinegar, lime juice, olive oil, sugar and pepper. Toss rice mixture with vinaigrette. Makes 6 (3/4-cup) servings.

Nutritional information per serving:

Calories 189 | Calories from fat 29% | Fat 6g  Saturated fat 1g | Cholesterol 0mg | Sodium 7mg  Carbohydrates 30g | Dietary fiber 4g | Sugars 6g  Protein 5g | Dietary exchanges: 1 1/2 starch,
1/2 fruit, 1 fat