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Our guide to winter fruits and vegetables is the source for what's in season now.

   

Season's Pick

Avocados

Buttery, almost nutty, avocados taste like nothing else. This inscrutable-looking fruit—that's right it's a fruit—often gets a bad rap because of its high fat content. The truth is most of the fat in avocados is monounsaturated, which means it fuels the body without raising cholesterol levels. So stop cheating your taste buds, dig in!


More than Guacamole

No doubt about it, guacamole is the signature dish of avocados. But they're also delicious simply mashed and spread on bread with a dash of salt and lemon juice. And they take salads to another level—good in a classic green salad or teamed with yellow tropical fruits like grapefruit or mango. Avocados make a great base for a creamy salad dressing. Pair them with shrimp for a match made in heaven. Last but not least, avocados also do well on the grill, seasoned with a savory spice like cumin.


Smashing in the Vitamin Department

Avocados are full of folate, potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C. They're also rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, just like olive oil, nuts and salmon.


Alligator Pears

Avocados are native to Latin America and the name comes from the Aztec word ahuacatl. They were first grown here in Florida in the 1800's and were called alligator pears, but today the bulk of the crop comes from California. The two most common varieties are Hass and Fuerte. Both have creamy, pale green flesh; the difference is on the outside. Hass avocados have green, pebbly skin that turns purplish-black when ripe, while Fuerte avocados have a thin, green skin that's easy to peel. Hass are available year-round while Fuerte are in season from late fall through spring.


What To Look For

Choose firm avocados without any bruises or mushy spots. Because they ripen best off the tree, most avocados you'll find in the grocery store will be as hard as a rock. It's pretty easy to ripen them on your kitchen counter or you can put them in a paper bag to speed up the process. Remember—they're delicate, so handle them gently.


Keep It Green

Avocados discolor when the flesh is exposed to air. If you're not going to eat them right away, sprinkle the peeled fruit with lemon juice to prevent it from browning. It's also a good idea if you plan to use them in a salad. If you have more fruit than you can eat, try these tips for freezing: Puree the avocados—whole or sliced doesn't work—add three tablespoons of lemon juice for each quart of puree, then freeze in an airtight container leaving half an inch at the top. It will keep for four to five months.

Enjoy avocados with these delicious FoodFit recipes:

Grilled Fish Tacos with Mango and Avocado Salsa
Avocado, Kumquat and Grapefruit Salad with Bibb Lettuce and Watercress
Guacamole
Bill Wavrin, Rancho la Puerta, Baja, Mexico
Grilled Tuna With Corn and Avocado Relish

 

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