August’s Recipe Redux vacation challenge came at the perfect time since I looked at the theme a week before I was going on vacation! I was to think of a vacation memory and create a healthy recipe based on my trip. My vacation spot was to a place I have been going to probably since before I was born. Way up at an altitude of 7,ooo feet, deep in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, just an hour shy of Lake Tahoe on the California side, is one of my favorite places on this earth. It’s so hidden that I think I’ve only met 2 people in my whole life that have actually heard of the place. In fact, I’m very apprehensive of even naming it here because I don’t want other people to know about it. But, since you’re taking the time to read my blog, I’ll let you in on my secret getaway. It’s called Wright’s Lake and it is seriously a little slice of heaven, if heaven is a cabin right on a lake, without any electricity and an outhouse, then that’s where I’d like to go when I leave this earth!
I can get pretty stressed out at my main day job, to the point where sometimes my brain is so overloaded with information that I feel like it might short circuit at any moment. So, going to a vacay spot where my phone would be useless and where electrical outlets for staring at a computer screen don’t exist was just what the Dr ordered! I took this past week to indulge in lots of self care. I finally finished the book I’ve been trying to finish for the past year now (The Power of Habit, which is excellent by the way), meandered across the lake three times a day in my inflatable rowboat, took long walks in the forest and up to the granite rocks, and just had sacred ME time!!
Whenever I go to the lake, I try to relieve my mom of the cooking duties and definitely have my favorites that I ONLY make when I’m at the cabin: special Wright’s Lake Burgers mixed with a kitchen sink of ingredients including red wine, an olive oil and mustard based red skinned potato salad with bacon and chives, grilled shrimp scampi, and lots of turkey and tuna melts. This year I included a pasta dish to the repertoire, adding pesto, grilled chicken, grilled tomatoes, and white beans. It was pretty fantastic and probably deserves it’s own future blog post!
Fifth day into the trip, I was trying to decide which of the recipes I should use for The Recipe Redux. There were about 6 avocados sitting on the kitchen table without a plan. If I didn’t do something with them, they would go bad and it is an absolute travesty to throw away avocados. They are full of the GOOD kind of fats, mostly monounsaturateded, but with some polyunsatured thrown in there as well. These kinds of fats are still preferred over saturated fat and won’t raise your LDL, or bad, cholesterol. The fat in avocado works synergistically with vitamins A, D, E and K in that it helps the body to better absorb them. Lycopene, which may decrease the risk of some cancers and is famously found in tomatoes, will also be better absorbed if paired with a food with fat, like avocado. Nutrient bonus! A half of a medium sized avocado has about 130 nutrient dense calories, hardly any sugar, and contains a bunch of vitamins and minerals including the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin that are vital for eye health as we age. And…..did you know that avocado contains fiber?? How could something so smooth and creamy contain fiber? Well, it does. A half of a medium avocado contains around 5 grams of fiber. Not to shabby.
Back to my experiment. When I announced how I was planning to use up the many avocados that would go bad if I didn’t rescue them, my mom and step dad were clearly skeptical. Glad I didn’t listen to them, because not only were innocent avocados saved, but they were delicious! I’ve decided that you can stuff avocados with anything and it will taste good. Case in point, I tried multiple applications, including grilled avocados stuffed with chopped strawberries and drizzled with chocolate. Weird, but I kept bringing that spoon up to my mouth! While that is not by official Recipe Redux recipe, it’s very easy to make:
1. Lightly oil avocado halves, sprinkle with salt and grill ’em cut side down.
2. Chop up strawberries and melt some chocolate. Dark chocolate would be the healthier choice, but all I could scrounge up was a bar of Hershey’s milk chocolate.
3. After achieving grill marks, fill the avocado cavity with chopped strawberries and drizzle with chocolate.
For my official Recipe Redux recipe, I give you tuna salad stuffed avocados. It’s packed full of nutrients, is very filling and is a great way to use up canned tuna that’s been hanging around in your pantry. To lighten this dish up, I used a vinaigrette style dressing to mix with the tuna instead of using a heavy mayo base. Add in red ripe tomatoes and fresh basil and you’ve got a light tuna salad that contrasts the creaminess of the hot avocado. Counting down the days until next summer when I can go back to the cabin! Grilled avocados will indeed be on next year’s menu!
I'm not a huge fan of mayo based tuna salad, so I like to use vinaigrette style dressings and herbs to flavor the tuna instead. While the recipe calls for tuna packed in water, there are many very high quality and sustainable brands that do not pack their tuna in a liquid. Alternatively, you can use a good quality tuna packed in olive oil. Drain the tuna, but reserve the olive oil for the dressing.
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
- Kosher salt
- One 5 ounce can of light tuna, packed in water, drained
- 1/3 cup chopped ripe cherry tomatoes (about 7 or 8 tomatoes), 1/4" dice
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- 3 medium avocados, cut in half and pits removed
- Heat up BBQ grill.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the mustard, vinegar, garlic, and oil together.
- Add the drained tuna, chopped tomatoes, and basil to the dressing bowl and mix to combine. Taste the salad and add a small pinch of salt only if necessary.
- Brush the avocado halves with oil, about 1/4 teaspoon each and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
- Grill the avocado halves until you see grill marks, about 2-3 minutes on a hot grill. If your grill is not as hot, it may take a few minutes longer. (It took 10 minutes on my mountain BBQ in the wilderness, which wasn't super hot).
- Once avocados are heated through and have grill marks, remove from grill.
- Fill each avocado cavity with 1 heaping Tablespoon of tuna salad.