by Taylor Hawkins, ETC blog contributor

Avocados are a great healthy fat for the winter months. Mash them and make guacamole, spread them on toast, or concoct a homemade dressing – the options are endless! The United States is the top producer of this winter fruit with California growing more than 90% of the avocados we eat.

Depending on where they are grown, winter through spring is when the freshest avocados are available. Hass and Fuerte are two common varieties of avocados. Take a look at the table below to see the difference between the two.

Hass

Fuerte

Black skin and pebbly texture

Green skin and smooth texture

Can you spot the difference in the picture below?
Let’s talk nutrition!

Avocados contain a type of healthy fat called monounsaturated fats. Not only that, they are full of folate, potassium, fiber, and vitamins E, C, and B6. Curious what these nutrients can do for our bodies? Check it out!

 

Monounsaturated fats: decrease risk of heart disease by improving blood cholesterol levels

 

Folate: enhances DNA synthesis, supports cell growth and repair, helps prevent neural tube defects

 

Potassium: maintains fluid and electrolyte balance, ensures proper nerve conduction and muscle contraction, influences blood volume and blood pressure

 

Fiber: keeps food moving smoothly and regularly through your body, helps lower risk of developing certain cancers, and keeps you feeling full faster and longer

 

Vitamin E: boosts antioxidant defense, protects cell membranes, and enhances immune function

 

Vitamin C: improves antioxidant defense, enhances immune function, and ensures the production of collagen, carnitine, and the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine

 

Vitamin B6: helps convert food into energy, makes red blood cells, and maintains normal levels of homocysteine in the blood

What to do with avocados

If you are like me, I grew to love avocados through Chipotle’s guacamole. But what else can you do with an avocado? Here are some ways we enjoy eating them!

Toss them on a salad

 

Add them in a smoothie

 

Top off your chili

 

Enjoy a California roll

Spice it up! Cayenne, cilantro, chili powder, chives, and paprika go well with avocados.

I tried my hand at avocado fries (pictured right) and they were delicious! Slice them up, dip in egg, coat with panko, and throw them in the oven! I added hot sauce and dipped them in ranch.

“Not-so-secret” Recipe

Want to impress your friends at your upcoming super bowl party? Make them a batch of this “not-so-secret” Chipotle guacamole!

 

Ingredients

Directions

1.      2 ripe Hass avocados 1.      Remove the pit by cutting the avocado in half
2.      2 tsp. lime juice 2.      Scoop the avocados into a medium-sized bowl
3.      2 tbsp. chopped cilantro 3.      Toss with lime juice
4.      ¼ cup finely chopped red onion 4.      Add salt and mash with a fork until smooth
5.      ½ finely chopped jalapeño with seeds 5.      Fold in remaining ingredients and mix well
6.      ¼ tsp. kosher salt 6.      Do not forget to taste – adjust seasoning if needed – and enjoy!

How do you incorporate avocados into your meals or snacks? Why do you love avocados? We would love to hear how you enjoy this fruit in the comment section below! At the end of the day, we are all doing our best. Don’t give up. Love yourself. And #eatthechocolate.

Taylor currently a distance dietetic intern with Wellness Workdays in Hingham, Massachusetts. Her alma mater is Kent State University in Kent, Ohio where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition & Dietetics and Exercise Physiology. She enjoys yoga, photography, cooking, and reading, and plans to continue her education to receive a Master’s in Health Education and Promotion.  She is passionate about helping others through diet and exercise and would like to specialize in pediatrics, diabetes, or sports nutrition.  Learn more about Taylor at http://taylor-hawkins.weebly.com.