Tag Archives: avocado

The 411 on Eggs & Cholesterol (feat. Huevos Rancheros)

21 Feb

Egg lovers, rejoice! The US government released their latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans last month and one of the most controversial changes was their decision to remove limits on dietary cholesterol. Historically people have been advised to limit their cholesterol intake to less than 300 milligrams per day in order to reduce the risk for heart disease. Since one large egg contains 186 milligrams of cholesterol, eating anything more than one egg per day was frowned upon.

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Why the new recommendation, you ask? Over the past several years, evidence has emerged to suggest that cholesterol in our diet is not the main dietary cause of high blood cholesterol levels. Saturated and trans fats—most commonly found in fatty meat, full-fat dairy, and packaged and processed foods made with hydrogenated oils—have more of an impact on blood cholesterol levels, and the US government continues to recommend that we limit our intake of saturated fat to less than 10% of our total calories. For the average person, this amounts to no more than 20 to 30 grams of saturated fat per day.

Before you go hog-wild on eggs, there are a few other things that you should know. Studies have shown that eating up to 1 egg per day is not associated with increased heart disease or stroke in the general population; however, people with diabetes have an increased risk for heart disease if they eat 1 egg (or more) per day.  In people without diabetes, one whole egg per day—or 7 per week—is probably not going to do you any harm. Eggs are a good source of protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, riboflavin, and folate—and most of the egg’s nutrition is in the yolk. If you already have high cholesterol, heart disease or diabetes, be cautious about the number of egg yolks you eat and take into account other sources of saturated fat in your diet. Egg whites can be incorporated into scrambled eggs, omelettes, and quiches in place of some of the whole eggs for similar flavour and texture with much less saturated fat and cholesterol.

With all of this talk of eggs, I’ve had a major craving for my favourite brunch dish: huevos rancheros. It’s hard to beat Mexican flavours for breakfast, plus it happens to be a perfect gluten-free brunch dish when family or friends with celiac disease come to visit. I found this recipe following a search for beanless huevos rancheros, since legumes and my tummy don’t always get along. The simple yet spectacular chipotle salsa is top notch with its mild heat and smokiness, but the true star of the dish is the corn tortillas. We have the luxury of living 10 minutes away from a tortilla factory, but you can usually find them at specialty food shops or in the refrigerated or frozen section of your grocery store.

¡Buen Provecho! (the Spanish version of “Bon Appetit”)

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Huevos Rancheros
(adapted from Epicurious.com)

6 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
8 (5-inch) corn tortillas
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice (preferably no-salt-added)
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus additional for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt (I used 1/4 tsp which tasted good, but E thought a bit more salt would be best)
8 large eggs
1 avocado, sliced

  1. Preheat oven to 200°F. For the sauce, purée tomatoes with their juice, onion, cilantro, chipotle, garlic, and salt in a blender until very smooth. Set aside.
  2. To warm the tortillas, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Stack 2 tortillas in skillet and cook 30 seconds, then flip stack over with tongs and cook 30 seconds more. While second tortilla cooks on bottom, turn top tortilla over with tongs, keeping tortillas stacked. Flip stack again and cook in same manner, turning over top tortilla and flipping stack again so that both tortillas are softened and both sides puff slightly, then deflate (do not let them become browned or crisp). Wrap tortillas loosely in foil and keep warm in oven. Cook remaining tortillas in the same manner, adding 1 teaspoon of oil to the skillet for each batch.
  3. Once tortillas have been warmed (and are resting in the oven), add tomato purée carefully to the hot skillet (it may splatter) and simmer, stirring occasionally, until salsa is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
  4. In a separate pan, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a 12-inch heavy non-stick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then crack 4 eggs into skillet and cook 3 to 4 minutes for runny yolks, or to desired doneness. Transfer to a plate and keep warm, covered, then cook remaining 4 eggs in remaining teaspoon of oil in same manner. Season eggs with salt and pepper.
  5. To serve, spoon 1/4 cup salsa onto each plate and top with 2 tortillas, slightly overlapping them. Transfer 2 eggs to tortillas on each plate and top with some of remaining salsa. Divide avocado between 4 plates. Sprinkle with cilantro.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 405 kcal, 24 g fat (4.4 g saturated), 33 g carbohydrate, 6.3 g fibre, 17 g protein, 495 mg sodium.


Black Bean, Corn and Mango Salad

7 Apr

I’ve been on a bit of a Looneyspoons kick lately.  Aside from the healthy ingredients and the humour, part of the attraction lies in the reliability of each recipe.  Rarely have Janet and Greta let me down.  If you’re anything like me, you can understand my disappointment when the sweat and tears that go into making a dish yield only mediocre results.  And by tears, I mean tears… those pesky onions get me every time!

My most recent Looneyspoons endeavour was a black bean, corn, and mango salad.  The addition of the mango was the highlight of this dish– the burst of fruity sweetness was irresistible!  Add in some red from the pepper and grape tomatoes… some green from the onion, avocado, and cilantro… and volia!  An incredibly colourful and downright scrumptious salad.

Black Bean, Corn, and Mango Salad. YUM.


Corn, Black Bean and Mango Fandango
(from the Looneyspoons Collection)

1 can (19 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed   (preferably no-salt-added)
1 can (14 oz) whole kernel corn, drained   (preferably no-salt-added)
1 large mango, peeled and diced
1 cup quartered grape tomatoes
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp each ground cumin and chili powder
1 cup diced avocado (add to the salad just before serving!)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.  Serve immediately or chill before serving.

Janet and Greta say they prefer this salad at room temperature, and as with most dishes containing avocado, it tastes best when eaten the day it’s made.

Makes 4 servings.  Per serving: 236 kcal, 10 g fat, 10 g fibre

Mock-A-Mole (+ Super Easy Homemade Salsa)

8 Aug

Mock-a-mole, as in mock guacamole… not the arcade game “whack-a-mole.”  Confused?  Let me explain.

I had a couple of friends + my sister over for dinner a couple of weeks ago.  I decided to go with a Mexican theme and do tacos since they are so tasty but not something I would make for just one or two people.  As a bonus, most of the work can be done in advance.

Super Easy Homemade Salsa (scroll down to see the recipe)

Guacamole was a must, and this was the perfect opportunity to try a recipe for light guacamole that I had been eying since I purchased “The Best Light Recipe” cookbook last summer.  The cookbook is written by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated, a magazine renowned for its “near obsessive dedication” to finding the best methods in home cooking.  Each recipe reads like an elaborate experiment (perfect for the science nerd in me) with the authors testing and re-testing an array of different ingredients and cooking methods in order to obtain the best product.

The Best Light Recipe cookbook

For this lightened up guacamole (aka Mock-a-mole), 2 out of 3 avocados were replaced with cooked, pureed lima beans.  It sounds odd, but the end result was not much different in taste from traditional guacamole.  The flavour was actually a bit brighter, perhaps due to the addition of a dollop of low-fat mayonnaise for added creaminess.  The downside?  The skin of each lima bean had to be removed by hand (otherwise the puree won’t be as smooth), which was easy but time consuming.

According to the recipe, most traditional guacamoles contain 100 calories and 9 grams of (healthy) fat per 1/4 cup serving while this light Mock-a-mole has 70 calories and 4 grams of fat.  In the end, I’m glad I tried it but I’m not sure the handful of calories saved were worth the effort!


Light Guacamole aka Mock-a-mole   (from The Best Light Recipe)

Note:  I omitted the tomato and cilantro, but only because I had a couple of picky eaters over for dinner

1 medium tomato, cored, seeded, and chopped fine
1 cup frozen lima beans
1 medium ripe avocado
3 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp light mayonnaise
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup minced, fresh cilantro leaves
1 medium jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 tbsp minced red onion
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
ground black pepper

  1. Place the tomato in a small colander set inside a bowl and set aside to drain.
  2. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat.  Add the frozen lima beans and cook until tender and creamy, about 5 minutes.  Drain the beans and rinse under cold water until cool.  Pat the beans dry with paper towels then remove the skins by pinching the beans so the skins slide off.
  3. Halve the avocado, remove the pit, and scoop out a quarter of the flesh. Puree a quarter of the avocado, skinned lima beans, lime juice, mayonnaise, and salt together in a food processor until smooth, 1 to 1.5 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  4. Cube the remaining three quarters of the avocado into 1/2-inch pieces and scrape into a medium bowl.  Add the pureed lima mixture, drained tomato, cilantro, jalapeno, onion, garlic, and cumin; stir gently to combine.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.  The guacamole can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 day if covered with plastic wrap pressed flush against the surface of the dip.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

Makes 2 cups.  Per 1/4 cup serving: 70 kcal, 4 grams fat, 3 g fibre, 210 mg sodium


Super Easy Homemade Salsa   (from Allrecipes.com)

This is a great alternative to store-bought salsa.  It’s incredibly fresh in flavour and a cinch to prepare in the food processor.

1 can (28 oz) stewed tomatoes, drained
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 lime, juiced
1/4 cup canned sliced green chiles (or canned pickled jalapenos)
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
salt, to taste

  1. Reserve several of the canned tomatoes and chop coarsely.
  2. Place remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Blend on low to desired consistency.
  3. Add coarsely chopped tomatoes and stir to combine.