I don’t know about you, but I like my food to not only taste incredible (of course, that’s a given) but also look beautiful. I am by no means an expert at styling and plating food, but it is something I want to learn a whole lot more about, and certainly something I keep in mind when creating dishes. I think that the care that we put into assembling beautiful plates shows the love that went into the meal, and it also, by extension, colors people’s experience of the offering. It does not matter how simple the meal is. Even if it’s take-out pizza, there’s always a way to make it look prettier and more inviting, if only by topping it with some freshly chopped basil, or by serving it alongside a beautifully seasonal garden salad.
I remember when I attended Bauman College‘s culinary program – much emphasis was put into the energy us students brought into the kitchen, since our teachers believed that whatever emotional state we were in when we prepared the food, would no doubt permeate our dishes. It sounded a little woo woo to me at the time, but I have come to believe that that is indeed true. When my mood is not very positive, nothing I create in the kitchen ever has any taste or looks any good. Alternatively, when I make food with love and positivity, magic can happen. Not always, of course, and on those days I just tell people “look, the ingredients are clean and nutritious, so even if it doesn’t taste or look so great, take one for the team, ok?”…
Going back to plating, take this cucumber avocado soup, for example. It might not look like anything to write home about on its own (though it does taste delicious!), but topped with a (very) simple adornment (a sliced yellow beet, some micro greens and a drizzle of olive oil), it looks a lot more special, doesn’t it? And how easy is that to do? It took less than a minute to plate!
OK, so we have taste and beauty covered, but what about nutrition? Since this blog is all about creating tasty, but also highly nutritious meals, does this one measure up? Listen, with those ingredients, it’s hard to go wrong.
Avocados, as we know, are rich in heart-healthy fats, mostly the monounsaturated kind, which is very good news, and one of the reasons we should include them in our diet very often. And why would we not want to? Creamy and incredibly flavorful, they are an easy food to incorporate in our meals. They taste incredible added to salads or soups, or smashed on a piece of toast with a slice of heirloom tomato, a little sea salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil, my go-to breakfast or lunch on the run.
Cucumbers, well, let’s be honest, they’re mostly water. 95% in fact. This makes them the perfect summer food, helping us stay hydrated, but water is not their only benefit – they also contain plenty of phytonutrients with anti-cancer and detoxifying properties, and help decrease inflammation. Just remember that cucumbers are on the Dirty Dozen list of the most contaminated produce, so try to buy them organic whenever possible.
Basil is rich in many vitamins (A, C and K) and, like most fresh herbs, is also a toxin scavenger, helping to detoxify the body and reduce inflammation. This is why adding fresh herbs to every meal is not just about flavor (though it certainly serves that purpose), but also about health.
Microgreens are the small sprouted seeds of common produce (such as arugula, chia, basil, broccoli, beets, etc.) that have been harvested right after germination instead of allowing them to grow to mature size. They are perfect to add to salads, smoothies, or soups, and even main dishes to increase their nutritional pow. Unlike sprouts, which are grown in water and darkness for a couple of days until they grow roots, microgreens are simply baby versions of the plants, and are grown in soil and in the sunshine before being harvested, about 1-4 weeks after being planted. Because of the differences in how they are grown, microgreens are not only more flavorful than sprouts, but also more nutritious and often safer (sprouts can easily harbor bacteria, so they require extremely hygienic growing conditions). Consider buying organic microgreens, which helps ensure that the soil they were grown on is as healthy as possible.
Enjoy this soup and see you next week!
Love and health!
- 3 large cucumbers, ends chopped off, peeled
- 1 avocado
- 1/4 small red onion, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/2 cup basil
- 4 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup water
- black pepper
- sprouts, for garnish (optional)
- thinly sliced yellow beets, or radishes, for garnish (optional)
- drizzled olive oil, for garnish (optional)
- Slice the cucumbers in half length-wise and remove the seeds with a spoon. Discard the seeds (or compost). Roughly chop the cucumbers.
- Slice the avocado in half. Remove the pit, and scoop out the flesh. Roughly chop.
- Add the cucumbers, avocado, onion, garlic, basil, lime juice, sea salt, water and black pepper, to taste, to a high speed blender. Blend on high until smooth, about 1-2 minutes (for a thinner soup, add a little more water).
- Refrigerate until chilled, at least two hours.
- Serve topped with garnish of choice.