Loving the Bite: Powerhouse Lunch and Condiment Swap
How would you describe your afternoons? Energized and productive? Ready for a great ride? Or lethargic and ready for a nap? If the latter, you may want to take a look at your lunch. If it’s typically loaded down with processed foods and refined carbohydrates, you may feel a whole lot better by swapping out your lunch. And in its place, try our Avocado Egg Salad Powerhouse Lunch.
I’ve long been a fan of egg salad. As long as I hard-boiled the eggs ahead of time, it’s a quick and easy lunch. However, I’ve never been impressed by most mayonnaise options. Even the ones that add in some healthy fats like olive oil, or stay true to only basic ingredients, are still at worst horrible soybean-oil-laden-spreads and at best nutrition neutral. But, never fear. I have an easy substitute for mayo. Avocados. And guess what? Avocados are in no way neutral when it comes to health.
Recipe of the Week: Avocado Egg Salad Powerhouse Lunch
- 2 hard-boiled eggs (peeled), 2 oz. cooked chicken (shredded or chopped), 2 oz. tuna, 2 oz. organic firm tofu, or 1/2 cup beans (kidney, black, or garbanzo)
- juice from 1/2 lemon
- 1-2 tsp olive oil
- 1/3 avocado
- 1-2 Tbsp mustard
- salt/pepper to taste
Chop/mash eggs with a fork. Mix in all other ingredients. Serve as a wrap with non-gmo corn tortillas, large lettuce leaves, whole-grain pitas/tortillas, etc.
Lunch is a very important meal. Many times, success with eating a filling, energizing lunch determines one’s success with avoiding junk foods and sugary snacks throughout the afternoon, and motivation to cook a healthful dinner. It may make or break an afternoon workout or ride. As with any meal, I recommend whole foods and minimal processed ones. My lunch formula includes a good source of protein, a whole-food source of carbs, and vegetables. And you’re in luck! Our Avocado Egg Powerhouse Lunch Wrap accompanied by a whole fruit or baked yam and vegetables fit the bill perfectly.
And the best part? You can easily swap avocados for mayo in this and many recipes. While basic mayo may not be the worst thing in the world, it’s still not a source of health-promoting, positive nutrition. Avocados, on the other hand, are. Make the swap for avocados and you’ll get:
- Carotenoids: When I think of carotenoids, I usually think of carrots and other orange or red vegetables. However, avocados are a great source (as is our other green friend, spinach link to http://lovingthebike.com/cycling-nurition/loving-the-bite-green-berry-smoothie). In fact, they contain a spectacular array of carotenoids including beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein, neochrome, neoxanthin, chrysanthemaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and violaxanthin, many of which directly support eye health. It’s this diverse and vast array of carotenoids that researchers believe is responsible for much of an avocado’s anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Carotenoid Absorption: Recent research has shown that absorption of two key carotenoid antioxidants, lycopene and beta-carotene, increases significantly when fresh avocado (or avocado oil) is added to otherwise avocado-free vegetables, such as in a salad. One cup of fresh avocado (150 grams) added to a salad of romaine lettuce, spinach, and carrots increased absorption of carotenoids from this salad between 200-400%.
- Healthy Fats: Like other sources of healthy fats, avocados have been villianized as “fattening” in recent history (most fat storage issues have to do with an over-consumption of carbs, not fats!). While it’s true that they are 85% fat, the fats provide many health benefits. They are heart healthy, anti-inflammatory, and they promote healthy blood sugars.
- Anti-inflammatory Factors: First, the phytosterols that account for a major portion of avocado fats (including beta-sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol), are key supporters of our inflammatory system that helps keep inflammation under control. The anti-inflammatory benefits of these avocado fats are particularly well-documented with problems involving arthritis.
- Fiber: Fiber is one key to overall wellness and discourages most all chronic diseases. One-half cup of avocado provides 3-4 grams of fiber (and only 1 grams of sugar).
- Lower weight and BMI: In broad food intake studies, participants that routinely eat avocados have been determined to be lower in weight and lower in body mass index than non-consumers. Of course, this can be due to a variety of factors (maybe avocado-eater are overall healthier eaters or more active). No matter the reason, let’s eat some avos!
- Cancer prevention: Avocados (specifically avocado extract) have been studied and determined to help prevent the occurrence of cancers in the mouth, skin, breast and prostate gland. These results are likely due to the unusual mix of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients. Since cancer risk factors almost always include excessive inflammation (related to lack of anti-inflammatory nutrients) and oxidative stress (related to lack of antioxidants), it makes perfect sense that avocados reduce risk. But, here is where the avocado story gets especially interesting. In animal and lab studies of healthy cells, avocado works to improve inflammatory and oxidative stress levels. But in cancer cells, avocado works to increase oxidative stress and shift the cancer cells over into a programmed cell death cycle (apoptosis), lessening the cancer cell numbers. Wow.
- Glutathione: Remember our friend glutathione – the super antioxidant that healthy cells produce when they’re given the right nutrients (see link http://lovingthebike.com/nutrition-tips/nutrition-tip-february-5-2011). Avocados happen to be a good source of this wonder-nutrient.
- Vitamin E: Avocados are the best fruit source of vitamin E, an essential vitamin that protects against many diseases and helps maintains overall health. Specifically, it is an antioxidant that supports brain, cardiovascular, and respiratory health.
Leave out the mayo and you’ll leave behind (depending on your brand) hydrogenated oils, fake/chemical flavorings/ingredients, and a load of soybean oil. As you’ve read in my posts before, many condiments are rich in soybean oil, and it’s not for our health. Read more here.
Bonus Recipe: All-Purpose Avocado Mayo:
Mix 1 avocado, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 6 tablespoons olive or avocado oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 2 Tbsp. water (or as needed for desired consistency) until smooth. Use as a sandwich spread or in any recipe that calls for mayonnaise.
Don’t let your afternoons become a black-hole of yawns and lethargy. Especially in the Winter, when we don’t have as much daylight as it is, it’s important to get out as much as possible and take advantage of each day. Ride, train, and stay strong. Head into the evening on a positive note each day. Go to bed satisfied that you’ve done what you can that day. Our Powerhouse Lunch can help.
Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.