As with all fruits and vegetables, wash avocados before cutting. Check out our tips for how to choose and use California Avocados

Cooking for one often gets labeled as boring, difficult or overwhelming. But I am here to convince you otherwise. I’ve been my own roommate for almost 10 years, so I’ve gathered a few bites of wisdom to share with you so you can be a confident cook for one.

First, why even bother to cook for one when there are a plethora of takeout, delivery and restaurant options? Those are all great some-of-the-time options, but there are a multitude of reasons why cooking for one is a fabulous idea, and here are three of my favorites, as well as tips to make it quicker, easier, more nutritious and delicious. Plus, I’m always looking for extra time to enjoy the California sunshine, and cooking at home helps me to do that.

THREE BENEFITS OF COOKING FOR ONE 


COOKING IS AN EXCELLENT SELF-CARE PRACTICE

In my opinion, cooking is the ultimate form of caring for your body since you are slowing down and taking the time to nourish it. As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I know how important caring for our bodies is to help us feel good from the inside out. Allow yourself to take some time to do something just for you and “savor” the moment.

Make cooking at home enjoyable by trying new recipes, listening to your favorite music and seasoning your meals exactly how you like them. Cooking at home makes it easy to provide your body with wholesome options like whole grains, vegetables and fruits and adequate protein. One of my favorite additions when I’m cooking is tasty California Avocados because they are heart-healthy fruits that are naturally sodium-, cholesterol- and trans fat-free.

PREPARING FOOD AT HOME IS KIND TO YOUR WALLET 

No matter what your financial situation is, it’s always nice to save a little money on your food budget, right? Well, cooking from home can help. My tip: Make a list and stick to it! It’s easier to go over budget ― dollars and nutrition ― when you stray from your list.

Fill your cart with foods that are higher in nutritional value. For example, look for California Avocados because they’re nutrient-dense meaning they provide substantial amounts of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients with relatively few calories. Additionally, try to buy produce that is in season since shopping seasonally is good for multiple reasons. First and foremost, flavor! 

Freshly picked, in-season produce is at its peak in flavor and nutrition. Look for California on the label when shopping for California Avocados — available spring — summer. 

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In-season fresh fruit and vegetables are also full of antioxidants and phytonutrients. Antioxidants — such as vitamins C, E and lutein — help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Avocados contain 4% of the DV for vitamin C and 136 micrograms of lutein per serving. Plus, California Avocados contain 6% DV vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps keep the immune system strong. 

EASIER TO ENJOY MORE NUTRITIOUS FOODS

Cooking at home makes it easier to enjoy more nutritious foods, including greater fruit and vegetable intake, and is associated with better diet quality. When you select the ingredients that you want to put in your body, you can make the best decision to treat your body well with the food you eat. I personally enjoy California Avocados as healthy nourishment for my body. If you are like me and you like to enjoy a snack between meals or sometimes while cooking, try mashing 1/3 of an avocado and adding your favorite seasonings — I like a little chili powder and garlic — and dipping whole grain crackers and whatever fresh veggies are in season. Replacing high calorie snacks with nutrient-dense foods, like heart-healthy avocados, is a nutritious way to eat healthier. 

THREE WAYS TO MAKE COOKING FOR ONE MORE ENJOYABLE 


Now that you know why cooking at home is beneficial, here are some ways to help make the cooking experience more enjoyable.

STOCK YOUR KITCHEN WITH THE GOOD STUFF

One of the beauties of flying solo is that you have the flexibility to change and adapt your plans. Keep your kitchen stocked with nutritious staples, so you always have ingredients to make quick and easy meals. You’ll always find whole grains like pasta, lentils and oats, along with canned foods like beans and vegetables in my pantry. That way, all you have to do is stop at the store for fresh, in-season produce and proteins. This also helps prevent food waste which is better for your budget and the planet. Remember to buy foods that add flavor and nutrition to your meals like great-tasting California Avocados that provide “good” fats to your diet. 

DO A LITTLE BIT EXTRA

One common complaint of cooking at home is that it requires a lot of time and effort, but it doesn’t need to be that way. You can save yourself a lot of work by doing a little bit extra when you are preparing other meals. While chopping or cooking, prepare extra to use for future cooking so you have less prep work next time you cook. For example, if you are dicing an onion or chopping vegetables, chop more than you need to use in a day or so. Keep them in individual airtight containers in the fridge or freezer. Cooking rice? Cook extra and keep it in the fridge. It’s great for making pilafs and fried rice.

And don’t forget to select ingredients that do a little bit extra for you as well, such as California Avocados. Avocados act as a “nutrient booster” by helping increase the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, K and E. For example, try topping a sweet potato, which provides high potency vitamin A, more than 600% Daily Value per 130 g or 5” serving, with mashed avocado. 

GET TO KNOW THE BASICS 

Knowing a few common cooking techniques like roasting, sautéing, pan-frying and poaching is instrumental in helping you enjoy cooking. When you know how to prepare a few different dishes it will help cooking feel less daunting. Crispy roasted tofu or perfectly poached salmon are hard to beat and easy to elevate them a notch by adding California Avocado slices. Not having to stress about how to cook your food will make cooking at home even more delightful. 

I would be remiss if I did not share with you the best way to cut an avocado and get the greatest amount of nutrition. Cut the avocado into quarters as shown in the How to Cut Avocados video, pull the four pieces apart, remove the seed and peel the skin on one quarter. By peeling the avocado, you get the greatest concentration of the beneficial nutrients which are in the dark green area closest to the peel. 

My delicious new recipe for Chicken with Brown Rice, Avocado, Veggie Medley uses fresh, heart-healthy California Avocados and includes the quick & easy method of pan-frying chicken.

The recipe calls for cooked brown rice, so “do a lit bit extra” and cook more rice than you need to use another day. (Rice is one of my favorite budget-friendly, pantry staples). Cooked rice can be stored in the refrigerator in an air-tight container — up to 4 days ahead. You can also freeze cooked rice in an air-tight container for up to 4 weeks. (Be sure to defrost in the fridge before using).

After your time in the kitchen, you’ve earned some “me time” (or in my case some “Meme time”), for some additional self-care, look again to California Avocados for some refreshing DIY beauty tips!

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Now that you realize some of the benefits of cooking for one, take that inspiration when you shop and include a few California Avocados to your shopping list to add deliciousness to your meals and feed your body well!

CHICKEN WITH BROWN RICE, AVOCADO, VEGGIE MEDLEY RECIPE

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This simple one-skillet dinner makes an easy meal for one person, including lemony chicken breast and a brown rice and vegetable medley made extra special with creamy California Avocado. Delicious and nutritious is how I describe this dish with so much of the nutrients your body needs. It is an excellent source of dietary fiber (29% DV), potassium (25% DV), nutrients identified by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as nutrients of public health concern. It also provides high-potency vitamin C (130% DV), an antioxidant that promotes healing, and helps the body absorb iron.

Serves: 1 
Prep time:   15 minutes
Cook time:   20 minutes
Total time:   35 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 1 (5 oz.) boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1/8 tsp. sea salt, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 1/4 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh baby spinach or kale
  • 1/2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh minced basil or parsley
  • 1/4 ripe, Fresh California Avocado, seeded, peeled and cubed

Instructions:

  1. Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken in a single layer, and sprinkle with half the salt. Cook for 7 minutes. 
  2. Flip and cook for another 5-10 minutes, until chicken is done. Sprinkle with half the lemon juice. Remove from skillet and set aside and cover. In the same skillet, add onion and bell pepper. Turn heat to medium. Sauté for 5 minutes, then add spinach or kale. Cook veggies for 5 minutes more or until onions and peppers are lightly browned and soft.
  3. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes; cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Remove skillet from heat. Add rice and remaining salt to vegetables. Stir well.
  5. Stir in basil, avocado and remaining lemon juice. Serve immediately with chicken.

Serving Suggestion: 
Add 1/2 cup chopped, fresh tomatoes to the rice avocado veggie medley.

Beverage Pairing: Sparkling water.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 
Calories 430; Total Fat 13 g (Sat 2 g, Trans 0 g, Poly 2 g, Mono 7 g); Cholesterol 105 mg; Sodium 380 mg; Potassium 1176 mg; Total Carbohydrates 40 g; Dietary Fiber 8 g; Total Sugars 6 g;  Protein 36 g; Vitamin A 206 mcg; Vitamin C 119 mg; Calcium 52 mg; Iron 3 mg; Vitamin D 0 mcg; Folate 140 mcg; Omega 3 Fatty Acid 0.1 g

% Daily Value*: Vitamin A 25%; Vitamin C 130%; Calcium 4%; Iron 15 %; Vitamin D 0%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 Calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
**Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados adjust the quantity accordingly.

Meme Inge, MS, RDN

Meme is a registered dietitian nutritionist helping people let go of extreme health views to live free of diets & shame, be comfortable in their own skin, and celebrate food & life. Meme shares approachable tips and recipes to show how living a healthful lifestyle can be budget friendly, delicious & fun. Focusing on taste, accessibility and positive nutrition, her simple recipes help people feel nourished from the inside out. As a certified intuitive eating counselor and mindful eating trained dietitian, Meme helps people connect to their bodies to enjoy food instead of stressing about fads, food rules or restrictive diets. Learn more on Living Well Kitchen and follow along on Instagram.

Meme is a brand advocate. Their content on the California Avocado Commission website and/or blog is part of their partnership with our organization.

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