This recipe is a delicious side dish – or a meal on its own! The flavours are beautifully fresh, and something about the combination of ingredients feels very special; the kind of thing to make when you need some luxury in your life. Full of good fats and bold flavours, you’ll only need a little to feel satisfied.
Chilli and metabolism
Can food speed up our metabolic rate and, ultimately, help us lose weight? All food increases our metabolic rate to some extent (the body uses energy to digest and process food, called food’s thermic effect). Research has proven that some ingredients might increase this effect more than others, including chilli peppers (with the active ingredient capsaicin). Some studies have shown that adding 30mg capsaicin (in 10g chilli) to a meal increases energy expenditure by 20 – 60kJ per meal (depending on the chilli’s heat). Other evidence demonstrates very little effect on metabolic rate. Therefore, although chilli may cause some form of metabolic response in the body, it will contribute to only small differences in our daily energy output.
Prawns and cholesterol
Previously condemned as a “high cholesterol food” and bad for heart health; now vindicated, following further studies on the effect of prawns and shrimps on blood cholesterol levels. Except for total cholesterol levels, prawns are low in total fat and saturated fat – the latter being the actual culprit that increases blood LDL or bad cholesterol. Prawns are also high in omega 3 fatty acids that are heart protective. A study done on American men consuming 300g shrimps a day showed that, although shrimp consumption increased LDL cholesterol, it also increased HDL or good cholesterol. It decreased another type of “bad” cholesterol too, called triglycerides, linked to heart disease risk as it may contribute to hardening of the arteries. In a study done in 2015, decreased HDL was linked to reducing inflammation, a major role player in the development of heart disease. Therefore, raised HDL levels are desirable. So, next time, no need to think twice about that extra helping of prawns!
This unique fruit, native to Mexico and Central America, is the only fruit that provides substantial amounts of heart healthy fats to the body. Avos, also known as alligator pears or butter fruit, have numerous health benefits. They contain lutein and zeaxanthin that promote eye health, minimising damage caused by ultraviolet light and protecting against macular degeneration. Avocados are high in vitamin K, an important nutrient in maintaining healthy bones. They’re also a good source of folate, which plays an important role in cancer prevention, the normal development of an unborn baby and reducing the risk of depression. Although the total energy and total fat is high, avocados have also been shown to assist with satiety, blood sugar control and weight management.
Recipe and styling by Claire Ferrandi
Photography by Dylan Swart
Avo mousse with Cajun prawns
- flesh of 2 small avocados
- 3 spring onions, finely sliced
- juice of 2 limes + extra wedges, to squeeze
- 15g fresh coriander
- ½ fresh red chilli
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
- 60ml (4 tbsp) reduced fat cream cheese
- 60ml (4 tbsp) fat free milk
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- olive oil, to drizzle
- 200g small prawns, cleaned
- and shelled
- 5ml (1 tsp) Cajun spice mix
- microherbs, to garnish (optional)
For the avo mousse, add all of the ingredients to a blender and blitz until smooth, then check the seasoning and adjust if needed. Store in the fridge in a bowl with cling film lightly pressed over the top of the mousse. Serve within 2 hours of making.
Just before serving, heat a drizzle olive oil in a frying pan over high heat. Once the pan is very hot, add the prawns, in small batches, and sprinkle with the spice mix, before seasoning to taste. Spread the avo mousse on a platter, dot the prawns around and scatter over microherbs, if desired. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing.