Some vegetables and "meats" should become fats.
If you're trying to lower fat in your diet, you're more likely to eat a medium potato, which contains no fat, than one-sixth of an avocado with 5 grams of fat.
Or you might leave the avocado off your favorite salad. Or skip guacamole in your best Tex-Mex meal.
But if you happen to like avocados, be creative. Think of them as fats instead of vegetables. Use them in place of other fats.
That generous wedge of avocado has the same amount of fat as one tiny teaspoon of butter, margarine or mayonnaise, or two tablespoons of sour cream.
But besides getting "more," you get "better." Most of the fat in the avocado is monounsaturated, which seems to be better for your heart, and may help prevent cancer too.
Spread a mashed avocado on your sandwich in place of mayo. Leave the avocado on your salad, then dress it with a squeeze of lemon or lime and some freshly ground pepper. Or choose the guacamole instead of the sour cream for your fajitas or to top off your favorite soup.
Nuts create the same sort of challenge.
They're often promoted as a good source of protein. I've never bought that.
However, if you think of peanut butter as a fat, then two teaspoons equal one teaspoon of butter, margarine or mayo.
Once again, you get both more and better, because the fat from peanuts is mostly monounsaturated, and you get a little protein too.
Six almonds, three jumbo cashews, two whole pecans, 18 pistachio nuts and 10 large peanuts all have this same nutritional "edge."
Clearly, these are not pig-out foods, but they can add a decided plus to some otherwise bland food.
You could grind those pecans, mix with a few bread crumbs and non-fat mayo, then spread on fish before broiling or baking.
Coarsely chop, then toast the almonds and add to a salad of sliced apples, chopped figs or dates and crispy mixed greens. Dress with non-fat dressing.
Put the shelled pistachios or peanuts in a low-fat trail mix made of mini whole wheat pretzels, frosted shredded wheat squares, raisins and apricots.
Olives are another vegetable that fit better when used as a fat. Ten small or five large olives contain about 5 grams of fat. How creative can you get with that?
Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center in Baltimore.