Mission: MUFAs, by way of Tuna Stuffed Avocados

 I tend to walk around feeling pretty good about my diet. I might even go so far as to say I can get a little overly confident about how well I feed myself. For the most part, I’m not wrong. I eat whole grains, fruits, and vegetables; I stick to vegetarian or otherwise lean sources of protein the majority of the time; I use olive oil for most of my cooking; I limit my sodium intake; and I scour nutrition labels for any sign of trans fats. But still, every so often, something or someone comes around and knocks me off of my high horse, opening my eyes to a part of my diet that may not be so ideal after all.

Most recently, this happened in the context of my monounsaturated fat intake. I never really paid attention to what “recommendations” were for these so-called MUFA’s – there really aren’t strict recommendations anyway, though apparently it’s thought that you should be getting a minimum of 20g each and every day. Up until just a few weeks ago, I did not even come close. On a good day, I might hit the 20g, but more often than not I was likely only getting half of that at best. After talking to a registered dietitian, she recommended that I really focus on bringing my MUFA intake up, and that’s exactly what I did. You see, even sickeningly-healthy nutrition students have room for improvement! Really, this new goal was a hall pass to overdose on peanut butter, at least for the first few weeks of my attempt. I piled peanut butter onto rice crackers, dipped apples into a bowl, and even once or twice just dug in with a spoon. After a little while, though, I knew that I needed to branch out a little bit – it isn’t that I got sick of peanut butter (not even remotely possible!); I just am a big proponent of a varied diet, and while peanut butter day in and day out is delicious, it’s also a little stagnant.

Olive oil was the next major source that I turned to, adding in a tablespoon here or there between my days of peanut butter indulgences. Each tablespoon of olive oil has a whopping 10g, so that certainly made the 20g minimum much easier to reach.

Now, there’s a third really excellent source of MUFA’s that I enjoy working into my diet: avocados. People started giving them a hard time a little while back because they pack a lot of calories, most of which come from fat. However, I’ve come to appreciate the wonder of a good fat. The fat content of a food, while something that I certainly pay attention to, is not something that scares me anymore (unless it’s all saturated or – I shudder at the thought – trans, of course), because the good fats, the MUFA’s (and PUFA’s!) of the world, are awesome little molecules. Or big molecules, if we’re getting nit-picky. Plus, half of an avocado is only just a smidge over 100 calories, so if you use it as a replacement for cheese on your favorite sandwich or burger, you’re not even really adding calories, just tons of fabulous nutrients. It offers almost 7g MUFAs and just under 5g fiber – and then there are all of the micronutrients, the vitamins and minerals, to consider. 

I’ve loved finding new ways to add avocado to my diet, and this recipe for tuna-stuffed avocado is definitely one of the best yet (although really, none of them have been bad). The avocado really mellows out the tuna, so if you’re one of those people who has a really hard time getting past tuna’s bad rep, I think this might be a nice starter recipe for you. I ate it just a few months ago, but I can imagine how refreshing it would be on a hot, summer day. For now, give it a try when you’re feeling a little bummed about the cold weather, and just pretend it’s nice and warm outside. It was a little too liquidy when I made it, so I definitely recommend draining the tuna and the red peppers (if you’re not roasting your own – which I’d recommend in general, but this time I cheated and used up a leftover jar I snagged from my house). It’s one of the fastest recipes I’ve made, too, so you can have a healthy, delicious meal ready any time of day in just about 5 minutes flat.

Tuna-Stuffed Avocado, adapted from Give Recipe
Yield: 2 servings

The Ingredients
1 avocado
¼ cup canned tuna, rinsed and drained well
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1-2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 large roasted red bell pepper, chopped

The Method
Halve the avocado lengthwise and remove the pit. Scoop out the flesh from both halves and add to a mixing bowl. Add in the lemon juice and olive oil, and mash until it reaches a smooth consistency. Stir in the tuna, herbs, and roasted red bell pepper until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. Divide the mixture between the two avocado shells and garnish with extra parsley, if desired.


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