We all know it’s important to eat your fruits and veggies, but let’s be honest: that’s not always the most fun thing to order when you’re out at a restaurant.  Fortunately, there is a great way to cheat this rule and still “get your green” while exploring a delicious and exciting restaurant concoction: guacamole!

I was recently very excited to learn that National Guacamole Day is coming up this Sunday, September 16.  If ever there was a food to celebrate, this could be it.  As far as I’m concerned, guacamole is one of the most delicious creations ever to come from fruit.  It’s creamy, it’s flavorful and it’s not just for Mexican food.  Guacamole is more than just a dip.  It can go on burgers, sandwiches and even pizza.

The creamy-green mixture has come a long way since it was invented by the Aztecs centuries ago.  Said to be a favorite of the Emperor Montezuma, guacamole was originally named āhuacamolli, which literally translates to “avocado sauce.”  Spanish explorers quickly learned to love the mashed avocado dish and added their own ingredients, like onions and cilantro, and changed the name to one they could more easily pronounce – and thus we got “guacamole” as we know it today.

One of the best parts of guacamole – aside from the fact that it is delicious – is its versatility.  Some restaurants mix tomatoes, jalepenos and onions in their guacamole, while others make it fresh at your table.  Salsa, lemon and lime juice, garlic, corn and cayenne pepper are common ingredients, while mango, pineapple, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate and black beans have all made their way into recipes.  One of the best, most surprising guacamole recipes I’ve tasted at a restaurant included pickled jalepenos and capers, with cucumbers to dip instead of chips.

Commonly thought of as an appetizer, guacamole is much more than a dip.  It can serve as a satisfying garnish on dishes from tacos to gazpacho, as a yummy topping on southwest burgers and salads and a topping for taco pizza (haven’t tried one?  Investigate!)

If you’re watching your waistline, skip the tortilla chips and use veggies to dip instead – carrots, cucumbers or red and green peppers are all great partners for guac.  And, although avocados are relatively high in calories and fat for a fruit, they contain a lot of beneficial nutrients (justification, anyone?)  Avocados contain Vitamin K, Folate and Potassium, all important for a healthy diet.

If that’s not enough to convince you to try this tasty treat on your next restaurant visit, take it from the football fans: according to the California Avocado Commission, some 40 million pounds of avocados are estimated to be eaten during Super Bowl festivities, the vast majority of which are used to make guacamole.

So go ahead, use this holiday as an excuse to get out there and enjoy the delicious, creamy, salty goodness of glorious guacamole – we give you full permission.

What are your favorite guacamole ingredients?  Do you like to eat it plain, or use it as a condiment?  Tell us in the comments section below!