Avocados: avo-mazing for their many uses

Avocados have a lot of calories. (Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Avocados have a lot of calories. (Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Avocados contain many calories. (Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Staff Writers

While avocados are known mostly for their use in guacamole, there is more to the “superfood” than meets the eye. Also known as “alligator pear” and “butter pear,” the avocado is a member of the berry family and is considered a fruit. California produces 90% of the avocados in the United States; San Diego County is known as the Avocado Capital of the U.S. The California avocado growing season peaks in the summer but lasts from around February to September.
The most common avocado is the Hass avocado, but over 80 other varieties exist. This  includes the Zutano, Mexicola, Queen, Pinkerton, Fuerte and Sir Prize, all notable for their rich and unique flavors.
Avocados have numerous health benefits; they are high in essential vitamins and minerals including fiber, potassium and vitamins B6, C and K. They are low in sodium and high in monounsaturated fats (“good” fat!) and protein. They can also lower risk for heart diseases by maintaining a healthy range of cholesterol levels.
With avocado trending as the latest health food, many people are finding various uses to incorporate this fruit into their everyday lives. “Avocado toast” has become a popular breakfast item, but there are also other unique ways to put avocados to practical use.
Chocolate mousse
Avocados can be the perfect dairy-free substitute to create a healthy spin on traditional chocolate mousse. They have a thick, creamy consistency that can easily replicate the silky texture of heavy-whipped cream. Simply combine a couple of ripe avocados, sugar and liquid of choice into a food processor and blend until the mixture is smooth throughout.
For a healthy alternative to french fries, you can try making avocado fries to satisfy that craving and also consume some protein and fiber! A fryer is not needed; just cut the avocado into strips, dip in egg, roll in breadcrumbs and bake at 400°F until they are golden-brown and crispy.
It might seem strange to put an avocado in a milkshake or smoothie, but its mild flavor and unique texture thickens the consistency of a smoothie without adding a strong, overwhelming flavor. Throw in a couple slices the next time you make a breakfast smoothie or a green smoothie for a great start to your day.
In addition to being a tasty addition to spreads/dips, sandwiches and salads, avocados can be used as a facial scrub or a hair mask.
Skin Care

Avocados possess several anti-aging qualities that make it an ideal product for skin care. Its high oleic content effectively moisturizes dry skin and replenishes damaged skin with antioxidants and vitamins. Eye creams can often cost a pretty penny for a just small amount of product, ranging from anywhere between $25 to even $80 for a 0.5 oz container. To make a homemade eye cream for just a fraction of the price, combine a quarter of an avocado with a few drops of almond oil and mix the two ingredients well. Avocado facial masks are another way to revitalize skin. There are countless variations for these facial masks, but the basic recipe calls for a combination of avocado, honey and milk of choice.

Hair Care
The vitamins and oils in avocados can also help quench dry, brittle hair. Simply combine avocado, olive oil, and a spoonful of lemon juice into a mash and apply the mixture to damaged locks. Run your fingers through different strands to apply the hair mask evenly and leave the mixture in for about fifteen to twenty minutes. To wash out the mask, shampoo more than once if necessary and condition the hair as normal.
If you do end up trying any of the recipes mentioned above, don’t dispose of the pit! The pits of avocados can produce an ink that can be used for writing or a natural food dye. Avocados are definitely worth the purchase, as their versatility allows you to use them to the fullest.