When it comes to cooking, I love mixing things up — banishing formulaic recipes for a more free-form cooking style. But, like you, I often look at lone ingredients in my fridge or pantry and wonder what on earth to do with them.

To kick off our 1 Food, 3 Ways  series, we’re extending the summer feeling a little as we transform that bowl of just-ripe fruits sitting on your kitchen counter into three interesting things. Read on for inspiration:

1) Toast up a simple avocado sammy
Sometimes it’s the simplest things, like avocado on toast, that taste best. While your bread is toasting, wash the avocado thoroughly. Then place it on a secure surface and, rotating the fruit, slice it lengthwise down the center. Cradling the avocado in your palm, twist the two halves apart, suggest the experts at Avocado Central, remove the pit with a spoon, peel each half, and slice. Once your toast has popped, spread slices of avocado on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Delish!

2) Whip up some yummy guacamole
I’ve always wondered how restaurants stir up such tasty guacamole, so I asked Alex Garcia, executive chef of Amigos and A.G. Kitchen in New York City, to share his tips on creating a restaurant-worthy dip at home. And while a simple combo of mashed avocados, salt and pepper, and diced onion will do, you’ll get four stars for mixing in diced fresh cilantro, tomatoes, jalapeño, and lime juice, too.

How to do it: Alex suggests you cube the avocado flesh (who knew this leads to the perfect texture?) and set aside. Using some sort of pestle or hand mixer, grind half the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Next, add the other half along with the avocado pieces. Serve. 

Alex’s 5 Tips for a Tasty Guacamole:

1. For maximum flavor, salt the diced tomatoes.
2. Never overmix the guacamole.
3. To keep guac from turning brown, add in an acid, like fresh-squeezed lime juice. Keep it chilled. 
4. Add fun ingredients, like pomegranate seeds and grilled pineapple in one batch, papaya and mint in another. For a fall feel, add diced apples to the mix.
5. Always serve with fresh tortillas   

3) Use avocado to perk up your skin 
If you’d prefer to use a lone avocado to beautify, read on as Janice Cox, author of Natural Beauty at Home, sketches out a face mask recipe she promises will help revive a dull, dry complexion. 

Mix together half a mashed avocado, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves, 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon sour cream or Greek yogurt, and 1 teaspoon honey. Spread the mask on clean skin and find a relaxing spot to sit for 15 to 20 minutes (what’s not to like about that?). Rinse well with tepid water and pat your skin dry. 

Read more stories for the Creative here.