Add this nutrient powerhouse to salsas, salads, soups, and yes, even dessert!

Photo: John David Becker

*Courtesy of Triathlete.com

With its rich, buttery taste and creamy texture, it’s no wonder avocado is so popular in dips, on sandwiches and in salads. Avo contains high amounts of the heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that can lower cholesterol, and it’s also loaded with potassium, a valuable electrolyte for endurance athletes, as well as vitamins B, C and E. The avocado’s high-fiber, low-sugar content makes it the ideal ingredient for health-conscious, flavor-packed cooking.

Soup’s On

This chilled soup will satisfy a snack craving in a second, or make the perfect starter to any meal. Using a blender or food processor, purée until smooth 4 ripe avocados, 1 diced English cucumber, 1 Serrano pepper (seeded and chopped), 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, ¼ cup fresh lime juice, ¼ cup light sour cream, 2 tablespoons (each) freshly chopped cilantro and chives, 1 teaspoon (each) sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. Let chill in the fridge for 2–4 hours before serving.

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Avocado Brownies

Indulge in amazingly moist and dense brownies. Better yet, this recipe doesn’t require any flour or grains. In a food processor, combine 1 avocado, 2 large brown eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 tablespoon water, and transfer to a large bowl. Melt 7 ounces 70% dark chocolate and gently stir into the avocado mixture. Stir in 1 cup unsweetened raw cocoa powder, 1/3 cup maple sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda and ¼ teaspoon salt. Spread mixture evenly into a square cake pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center is removed clean. Cool, cut and store in fridge for several days, or in the freezer for several months.

RELATED: Avocado Chocolate Pudding Recipe

Dress It Up

Make the most creamy, crave-worthy salad dressing.

In a blender, combine 2 medium, ripe avocados with ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons agave, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. The dressing will be thick, so toss well into salads.

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Fruity Salsas

Try adding avocado to any fruit salsa recipe to use as a topper for tacos, grilled fish and chicken. In a bowl, toss 1 medium (ripe but firm) diced avocado, with 1½ cups diced mango, papaya, peach, or pineapple, along with 2 tablespoons finely diced red pepper, 2 teaspoons finely diced and seeded Serrano pepper (optional for spice), 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro, juice and zest of 1 orange, and a dash of salt and pepper.

Jessica Cerra is the owner of Fit Food by Jess, a private chef and catering company in Encinitas, Calif., and the co-founder of Harmony Bar. A former professional XTERRA triathlete, Cerra now races for Twenty16 Women’s Professional Cycling Team.