Avocado is far more than just guacamole, club sandwiches and California omelets. This creamy, fatty, filling fruit (technically, it's a berry) is a great source of healthy fat, making it an excellent replacement for other fats.
Why have fat at all? Because research is clear that our bodies need fat to absorb other nutrients, not to mention that fats taste good and leave us satisfied. When I eat healthy fats with my meals, I am far less likely to dive into a sugary-carby treat later.
Avocado is nutrient-dense, which means the per-calorie nutritional game is solid. Avocados are packed with vitamins and minerals and are incredibly rich in fiber. Who would guess, given how lusciously creamy they are? Know that nutrient-dense also means calorie-dense, so downing a large bowl of guacamole at happy hour probably is not wise. I aim for an ounce or two a day, which is about a quarter or a third of a medium avocado.
What do I do with avocado? I use it when I want to swap out cheese, such as adding decadence and creaminess to morning egg whites. Or I use it as a healthy boost for my kids' morning smoothies, adding vitamins and filling fiber and fat to jump-start their day. Avocado also is a great substitute for heavy cream; I blend it up to make salad dressings, silky-rich sauces, even puddings and baked goods.
Today's recipe is a quick creamy pasta sauce that needs no cooking. It's as fast as whizzing up a few ingredients in the blender and letting piping-hot pasta bring all the heat necessary for the pasta sauce flavors to bloom.
Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook "Supermarket Healthy."