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Creative Kitchen

Unique Ways to Eat Your Favorite Fruits and Vegetables 

Bananas in smoothies and avocados for guacamole are tried and true ideas that will never go out of style, but it can be fun to switch things up. Research suggests the more produce you eat the healthier you will be, so squeeze more fruits and vegetables into your day with these unique ideas for simple recipe swaps.

Try substituting…

Avocado for mayonnaise: This creamy fruit makes an excellent binder in tuna salad, spread on sandwiches or dressing for potato salad. Unlike mayonnaise, which is high in fat and low in micronutrients, avocados are packed with nutrition. Half an avocado packs nearly seven grams of fiber, ten grams of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and 14% of your daily potassium.

Bananas for ice cream: Yes, you can create a delicious, healthy and frosty treat with just one ingredient. Add frozen peeled bananas to a food processor and pulse until creamy, or use a Yonanas® machine to get perfect soft serve every time. Add other frozen fruits, dark chocolate or peanut butter to the mix for delicious and wholesome flavor combinations. Feeling fancy? Our Grilled Tropical Split is a healthful twist on the classic dessert using one-ingredient banana ice cream.

Sweet potato for butter: Cup for cup, mashed sweet potato can replace butter in most baked desserts and is especially tasty if the recipes calls for cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger. Try using sweet potato in muffins and quick breads to reduce the saturated fat content and add a nutritional boost—just one-fourth cup mashed sweet potato provides over 250% of daily vitamin A.

Mushrooms for meat: It’s about time vegetables are getting the spotlight they deserve. More and more restaurants are starting to bring vegetables to the forefront, showcasing plant-based foods like mushrooms as a main dish rather than as a side. “Portobello’s have the look, mouth feel and texture of meat,” explains Chef Mark Allison, Director of Culinary Nutrition at the Dole Nutrition Institute. “I also love cooking with shiitake mushrooms. The deep color is appetizing, the woody fragrance is alluring, and glutamines, compounds naturally found in mushrooms, heighten your sense of taste. This quality of heightened taste, which the Japanese call umami, gives great depth of flavor and a wonderful mouth feel to any dish you make with them.” You’ve likely tried a Portobello burger, but mushrooms can provide a healthful substitute to meat in a variety of recipes such as vegetarian tacos, lasagna, Bolognese sauce or shepherd’s pie.

Chia seeds for eggs: If you need a vegan solution in baking or simply want an alternative to whole eggs, combining one tablespoon ground chia seeds with three tablespoons of water yields a perfect one-to-one egg substitute. Just let the mixture sit for at least five minutes before using it in recipes. Chia seeds contain healthful omega-3 fatty acids that are available once the seed is milled.

Cauliflower for flour in pizza crust: Cauliflower is a powerhouse vegetable packed with vitamins C and K and folate, and has a mild flavor so it is versatile in recipes. Our Cauliflower Pizza Crust swaps flour for cauliflower as the base ingredient for a lighter spin on this traditional comfort food. Serve this nutrient-dense pizza crust with your favorite healthy toppings—we suggest fresh arugula, red bell pepper and a little fresh feta!

Published October 1, 2015

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