By Barbara Ruhs, MS, RDN
An avid avocado eater and guacamole lover, Barb is the Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist for Avocados From Mexico and former sports nutritionist for Harvard University. Her philosophy on food is simple: Enjoy what you eat, prepare food with love, and add avocados to everything!
I’ll let you in on a not-so-secret bit of wisdom I’ve gleaned as a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist: Adopting a healthy lifestyle is so much easier and more enjoyable when you keep meals simple. I love one-pot meals (and one-pan meals!) because they’re easy to assemble on busy weeknights, and they minimize dirty dishes afterward. With few ingredients — including nutrient-dense avocado — you know exactly what’s in your bowl, making it easier to hit your nutritional goals.
These are my three favorite one-pot meals and one-pan recipes that take roughly 30 minutes to prepare.
If you’ve never made gnocchi before, don’t worry — it’s foolproof. Gnocchi is a potato pasta (great if you’re on a gluten-free diet) that’s almost impossible to overcook. You can find it in the pasta aisle at most grocery stores. This recipe looks complicated but it’s not — perfect for impressing a dinner date!
Start by making fresh avocado pesto. If you’re in a hurry, simply combine half a cup of store-bought pesto with a fully ripe avocado in a blender or food processor. Combine with gnocchi and a cup of colorful cherry tomatoes (red, yellow, or orange). Tomatoes and avocado are a match made in nutritionist heaven because the good fats in avocados improves the absorption of Vitamin A and lycopene (a Vitamin A derivative) found in tomatoes.
Place gnocchi and vegetable mixture in a baking dish and bake in the oven at 400°F for 20 minutes, tossing halfway through. Once finished, immediately mix in a handful of your favorite leafy greens, such as spinach or arugula, to add fresh flavor and even more nutritional goodness that will help you meet your veggie intake goals for the day. Allow the greens to wilt. Serve warm.
I like to play a game: How many beans can I fit in one pot of chili? Black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), and cannellini beans … all of these are plant-based proteins and powerhouses of fiber. Throw them all in a slow-cooker along with two large cans of stewed tomatoes, your favorite taco seasoning, and any veggies hanging out in your fridge. (Potatoes, carrots, peppers, and onions are all great choices.) Set your slow-cooker on high for a few of hours. Before serving, carefully slice fresh avocado and drop a few cool, refreshing slices on top.
Salad bowls are an excellent choice for big families because they leave a lot of room for customization. Start by answering three questions:
Beyond this, just add your favorite co-star: avocado! Whether you like it diced or sliced, avocado adds an extra layer of health and takes your salad from “ho-hum” to “wow!” Not to mention the avocado adds good fats and nearly 20 vitamin and minerals to your salad.
Last but not least: dressing. I recommend blending avocado into your favorite lite ranch or Greek yogurt dressing. If you have a few extra minutes, it’s worth it to prepare your own avocado salad dressings, made with honey and lemon, or avocado and cilantro.
Learn more about why I recommend avocados to anyone wanting more goodness on their tables as part of their healthy lifestyle.