Simple Swaps For A Healthier You



Family Features photo

Avocado and Apple Chicken Salad


Family Features photo

Spaghetti Squash with Avocado Pesto


Family Features photo

Sliced Avocado and Oranges with Tahini Yogurt Sauce pictured here with microgreens and arugula.

Whether you’re looking to shed a few pounds, lose a significant amount of weight, or just maintain a healthy weight, there are some changes that have to be made. But those changes don’t have to be overwhelming.

Cheryl Forberg, R.D., is the nutritionist for the TV show The Biggest Loser, and co-author of “The Biggest Loser Simple Swaps.”

Forberg says, “A lot of people are afraid that creating a healthier lifestyle will be too hard or too expensive, or that it will require too much time and effort.” But swapping one unhealthy food or habit for a better one is where it can all begin.

Small steps

“You don’t have to change everything at once – it begins with small, manageable steps,” says Forberg.

You might swap a daily glass of fruit juice for a piece of whole fruit, she adds, or swap sandwich spreads for avocados.

“Avocados have many nutrients,” says Forberg.

One fifth of an avocado, about three slices (a typical serving), has only 50 calories and contributes nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds to your diet. With their good fats that support health, avocados serve as a great substitute for foods high in saturated fat.

These mouthwatering recipes are a great way to make one simple swap – and get one step closer – to a healthier you.

For more information and recipes, visit

5 top swaps

Taken from the book, The Biggest Loser Simple Swaps, these 5 swaps are easy changes that will help you start living a healthier lifestyle.

1. Swap white pasta for spaghetti squash: A cup of cooked spaghetti squash has 40 calories and 2 grams of fiber.

2. Swap sandwich spread for avocado: A few thin slices of avocado add rich flavor and creamy texture along with good fats and fewer calories.

3. Swap traditional fat-free yogurt for fat-free Greek-style yogurt: It has the same number of calories as regular yogurt, but has twice the protein and half the carbs.

4. Swap pizza crust for portobello mushrooms: With a hearty texture and rich flavor, the average portobello (3 ounces) has only 27 calories.

5. Swap traditional dressings for flavorful oils: Premade dressings have trans fats. Get more flavor and nutrition with a splash of sesame oil, extra virgin olive oil or walnut oil.

Avocado and Apple Chicken Salad

Yield: 8 servings (about 6 cups)

2 cups cooked skinless chicken or turkey cut in 1-inch pieces (about 12 ounces)

1 cup diced sweet red apple

1/2 cup thinly sliced celery

1/4 cup lightly toasted pecans, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup roughly chopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1-1/2 tablespoons chopped mint (about 10 leaves)

1-1/2 tablespoons chopped jalapeño pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 fully ripened Avocado from Mexico, halved, pitted, peeled and diced

4 cups mixed baby salad greens

In large bowl, combine chicken, apple, celery, pecans, parsley, onion, mint, jalapeño, salt, lemon juice and olive oil; toss gently. Add avocado; toss gently until all ingredients are combined, leaving some diced avocado visible while mashing some. Serve over mixed greens garnished with more avocado, parsley and grapes, if desired.


Sliced Avocado and Oranges with Tahini Yogurt Sauce

Makes 4 servings

1 medium (8 ounces) Avocado from Mexico, peeled and sliced

2 medium (7 ounces) seedless navel oranges, peeled and segmented

4 tablespoons Tahini Yogurt Sauce

1 tablespoon chopped parsley or fresh cilantro for garnish

1 teaspoon lightly toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Arrange avocado slices alternately with orange segments on four salad plates.

Drizzle 1 tablespoon Tahini Yogurt Sauce (recipe follows) over each salad. Garnish with parsley or cilantro and sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Tahini Yogurt Sauce

Makes 1 cup

3/4 cup fat-free plain yogurt (preferably Greek-style)

1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender. Process or blend until smooth. Sauce should be the consistency of thick cream.

Note: If the sauce is too thick to drizzle, you may need to add a teaspoon or two of water. For a heftier appetite, top with a few grilled prawns.

Credit: Cheryl Forberg, R.D. “Positively Ageless” (Rodale, 2008)

Spaghetti Squash with Avocado Pesto

Makes 6 servings

1 medium spaghetti squash (1-1/2 to 2 pounds) washed, halved lengthwise and seeded

1/2 ripe Avocado from Mexico (4 ounces), pitted and diced

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves or Italian parsley

1 tablespoon chopped chives

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/3 cup hot water

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or parsley (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray.

Pierce outside of each half of squash a few times with a fork. Place squash cut side down on baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes, or until very tender when tested with a fork. Cool slightly.

Meanwhile, place avocado, basil or parsley, chives, Parmesan, garlic, salt, black pepper and hot water in blender and process until smooth, turning blender off and on occasionally and adding a tablespoon or two of additional hot water if needed. There will be between 1/2 and 3/4 cup of pesto.

When squash has cooled, use fork to rake the spaghetti-like threads of squash into a serving bowl. Discard skin. Drizzle pesto over squash and garnish with fresh basil or parsley if desired.

Credit: Cheryl Forberg, R.D. “The Biggest Loser: Simple Swaps” (Rodale, 2009)

Source: Avocados From Mexico

Courtesy of Family Features


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