When summer's produce is in abundance we like to create meals that revolve around it, like this one. If you are vegan or vegetarian you can substitute cooked blacked beans or sautéed tempeh for the chicken. I think you'll find the Spicy Avocado Dressing rather addicting! Tom and I like to make a batch of this dressing with the whole jalapeño—seeds and all, but for the children we make it without the seeds.
Did you know that eating a small avocado with a meal containing carotenoids (found in the tomatoes, peppers, and salad greens) helps to absorb these beneficial compounds? Carotenoids, like beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, gamma-carotene, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin all need to be consumed with fat to optimize absorption in the intestines. One also needs to have a functioning small intestine for this to occur (gluten, antibiotics, yeast overgrowth, and environmental toxins can damage the gut and impede absorption of fats and fat-soluble nutrients). Once in the body these carotenoids act as powerful antioxidants mopping up free radicals. Some of these carotenoids can also be converted into vitamin A (all-trans-retinol). We need vitamin A to assist with gene transcription, proper development of an embryo, various reproductive processes, night and color vision, skin health (acne), cellular communication, and proper immune function. Vitamin A is found in liver, meat, and dairy products. In order to convert carotenoids from plants into vitamin A we need to have adequate zinc and proper thyroid function as the T3 thyroid hormone helps in the conversion process. When pregnant and lactating the need for preformed vitamin A increases quite a bit so be sure to consume enough carotenoids from plants and vitamin A from animal sources, or if you are vegan, be sure to consume enough iodine, zinc, and selenium-rich foods for proper thyroid function so you can properly convert carotenoids from plants into Vitamin A.