Healthy, nutritious kiddy food on-the-go couldn’t be easier with an avocado on hand. The versatile fruit is the perfect first food for babies going onto solids and a great source of energy for toddlers.

Few items in the grocery trolley can rival the rich, creamy taste and endless versatility of avocados. They are a unique and delicious addition to your child’s breakfast, snacks, meals and even desserts. These natural wonders are one of the most nutritionally complete fruits on earth. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants, making them great for your little one’s health. They contain more than 14 essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B (B6, niacin and riboflavin), plus C, E, copper and potassium.

Avocados provide the ultimate food in a flash for babies just going onto solids because they can be quickly mashed and served with a spoon straight from the skin.An excellent source of folate, avocados are also perfect for pregnant women. It is recommended folate intake should be increased before conception and in the first three months of pregnancy to reduce the risk of abnormalities in your baby, such as spina bifida.

New Zealand is in the midst of a bumper season of avocados in New Zealand– in fact it’s the biggest ever. This means plenty of avocados at affordable prices. In conjunction with the bumper season, the not-for-profit agency that looks after all avocado growers around the country, New Zealand Avocado Growers’ Association Inc. (NZAGA), is running the Add An Avocado campaign that aims to raise awareness about the goodness and versatility of avocados.

NZAGA has been providing recipes and nutritional information to the public, as well as working in conjunction with other agencies such as the well-respected 5+ A Day Charitable Trust to get the message out there. Research has found that though Kiwis enjoy avocados, they’re sometimes still unsure what to do with them because their grandmothers didn’t have them in the kitchen. For the same reason there are also misconceptions about how to choose avocados, how to tell when they are ripe and how to ripen them.

The best way to tell if an avocado is ready to eat is by its colour. Bright green indicates it is not ripe, olive green means the fruit has 2-3 days to go before it is ready to eat, brown green equals firm ripe and dark brown shows that the avocado is soft ripe. Avocados should be selected according to this colour scheme, rather than by squeezing the fruit in the supermarket, which results in its damage.  To then ripen an avocado at home, simply pop it in a brown paper bag or put it in your fruit bowl where other fruits will give off ethylene gas – a natural ripening agent that will accelerate the process.

5 FACTS YOU MAY NOT HAVE KNOWN ABOUT AVOCADOS:

  • The Guinness Book of World Records lists the avocado as the most nutritionally complete fruit in the world.
  • Avocados can be used in warm dishes.
  • Freshly mashed ripe avocado can be frozen for up to four months.
  • Avocados contain more potassium per serve than bananas.
  • There are over 500 varieties of avocado in the world – Hass is the common commercial variety grown inNew Zealand.

 WHAT’S IN IT FOR MUM AND CHILD?

Powerful skin food for babies and toddler
Vitamin C, E, amino acids and antioxidants found in avocado help to protect your baby’s skin from free-radical damage and dryness.

Great for maintaining a healthy weight in your child
Fibre in avocado keeps our digestive systems in shape, plus if you replace butter with avocado you can reduce your child’s intake of cholesterol, calories, fat, saturated fat and sodium.

Naturally cholesterol free
The good monounsaturated fat in avocado helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

Immunity booster
Iron is important for the formation of red blood cells, while vitamin C helps protect your body with its anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.

Essential for mums-to-be
Avocados are an excellent source of folate, which is important during pregnancy when a good intake is necessary to reduce the risk of neural tube defects.

Perfect energy food for your growing toddler
Niacin and Vitamin B6 help to produce energy and release it from food. This is perfect for active and growing toddlers who require high-energy foods, without increasing their intake of bad foods.

Quick ideas:
1.    Mash up in the shell for your baby or toddler.
2.    Mash up onto toast, wraps or sandwiches.
3.    Create a puree using avocados and other fruit or veges.
4.    Use as a replacement for butter.
5.    Add into little salads.
6.    Create a yummy dip with carrot sticks for dunking.

From 6 months old
Mashed Avocado
De-skin and de-pip your avocado. Place into a bowl and mash until it has a smooth consistency.

8 months old and above
Green Power – Puréed Avocado and Zucchini
1 avocado
1 zucchini, cooked
1 tsp of basil
Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. The mixture will keep for two days in an airtight container.

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