I’ve been feeding my son Lucas avocados since he started solid foods at 6 months old. It has been a staple in his diet ever since, and I am thankful for the versatility and nutrition each green goblet has. This fruit is packed with fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. I think the only downside to avocados is mastering when they are at the perfect ripeness. We have played the “should I cut it yet?” game and lost several times (nothing is worse than cutting into a brown nest of nastiness)….but that has not steered us away from one of the best foods you can be feeding everyone in your family. Even better…most kids actually like avocados. Maybe it’s the creamy, rich texture and mild flavor that can be combined with almost anything – whatever it is, take advantage of packing in some nutritional greatness when fruits and veggies may take a back seat in your kids’ eating preferences.
MySuperFoods is no stranger to avocados. Sure, we’ve written about them before. But their taste and versatility have us constantly coming back for more. What I love most about avocados is they are easy to find, they don’t have to be organic in order to be a safe and healthy fruit to eat, and they can be prepared and stored rather easily. Their thick skin protects the inner fruit from pesticides. Additionally, avocados have been rated as one of the safest commercial crops in terms of pesticide exposure, so there’s no real need to spend extra money on organic avocados, unless you can afford it (SOURCE: mercola.com). Just know that as soon as avocados get soft, it’s time to eat them, as they are ripe and there is a narrow window for how long they will keep after that point. Try avocadoes in these ways:
- Use as a fat replacement in baking. Simply replace the fat called for (such as oil, butter or shortening) with an equal amount of avocado.
- Mash avocado up to spread on sandwiches or as a dip for pretzels or healthy crackers.
- Cut up or mash avocado pieces and mix into yogurt (this can also be made into a great dip if you use plain yogurt or plain Greek yogurt)
- The ever-popular guacamole: make your own combos of avocado, onion, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, lime, etc.
- Sneak some sliced onto a burger or with chicken instead of processed condiments.
- I used a hand blender to puree avocado to make baby food when Lucas first started solids – this was one of the best first foods he could have had!
- Slice avocados up for a snack at school or camp – the healthy fats will give slow-burning energy that will fill a belly and keep it fuller longer.
- Use avocados in smoothies to give them a rich, creamy texture without having to add dairy. Avocados taste delicious blended with berries and fruits like bananas, pineapple, or mango. The healthy fats in the avocado will help the body burn the sugars in the fruits more slowly, too (and keep you fuller longer!).
Here’s the nutritional breakdown on awesome avocados:
Healthy fats: all kids need healthy fats in their diets in order to grow strong, which is why avocados are perfect, as they contain a little over 7 grams of monounsaturated fat per 1/2-cup serving. These unsaturated fats help the growth and development of the central nervous system and the brain – something we all want for our kids.
Fiber: the ever-essential nutrient I have talked about numerous times in my articles to keep our digestive systems and hearts healthy…and one that we all need (and often lack) is present in avocados. A ½ cup serving contains almost 5 grams of fiber, which almost winds up being 20% of the recommended daily value (DV).
Vitamins: avocados have plenty! Here’s what’s in a ½ cup serving:
– Vitamin K – this fat-soluble vitamin that is important for blood-clotting (which allows for proper healing of cuts, scrapes, and bruising) and promotes bone hardness and strength and overall cell growth in the body is present in about 20 micrograms (this is almost 20% of our recommended daily value and about 75% of the daily value for children aged 1-3!). For reference, children aged 4-13 should consume 55-60 micrograms of vitamin K a day.)
– Folate – this B vitamin helps with metabolism, reproductive health, and healthy development of the body’s cells can be found at a hefty 59 micrograms (which is close to 15% of our recommended daily value).
– Vitamin E – this heart-healthy, immune-boosting, cell-repairing, red blood cell building, skin-hair-and-nails-building vitamin is present at about 1.5 milligrams, which is 5% of the recommended daily value.
– Vitamin B-6 – the vitamin necessary for blood cell metabolism and proper nervous and immune system function can be found at about 0.2 milligrams (almost 10% of the recommended daily value). Vitamin B-6 also helps keep blood sugar ranges in check. Most children should consume around 0.5 and 1.0 mg of vitamin B-6 daily, so eating a ½ cup serving a day helps inch towards this goal.
– Vitamin C – we mostly think of citrus fruits having this children-essential vitamin that supports immunity, development, growth, and bone health, but a ½ cup serving of the fruit contains about 12% of the recommended daily value at 7.3 milligrams.
– Lutein &beta–carotene – support healthy eyesight and immune function.
Minerals: Avocados provide an excellent source of the mineral potassium, which is an electrolyte the body relies on for all organs, cells, and tissues to function normally. Children especially need potassium in their diets for proper growth and muscle growth and development. In a ½ cup serving, you can meet just a little over 10% of your recommended daily value with 354 milligrams.
Quick Winning Kid-Friendly Avocado Recipe – Chocolate Avocado Mousse
I saw a recipe like this a few years ago when developing smoothies and realized it makes a great healthy snack (for kids and adults, alike!)
– 1 ripe avocado mashed with a hand blender or with a fork by hand (use more avocados more, depending on how much you want to make)
– blend in about 1 Tablespoon of cocoa powder (I prefer organic, raw cacao powder)
– blend in a natural sweetener, such as a little stevia or about 1-2 teaspoons of honey
– blend all ingredients well; you can even refrigerate before serving and it makes a delicious and healthy treat
Finally, the California Avocado website for tons of more great recipes to try to help get more of this awesome superfood into your family’s diet!
Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Health and Nutrition Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Health & Nutrition Coaching of Exponential Health and Wellness, LLC: http://www.exponentialhealthandwellness.us