Fresh Spa Food

There is no denying in my mind, that soup is delicious. From creamy potato leek, to homemade chicken noodle, I love everything about soup. Hot or cold, chunky or smooth, the smell and flavour never fail to satisfy my needs and taste palette. It is a versatile item as it can be an appetizer, starter, snack or main course. There are even dessert soups!

IMG_5274Typically people think of soup as a rich, heavy substance so whenever summertime rolls around, it usually gets removed from our menus. Thankfully, there are variations of chilled soups that can be lighter options. Take for example this chilled cucumber soup, it reminds me of spa food! One of the great aspects of this chilled soup is that it is easy to cook. With a little bit of slicing, chopping, mincing and blending, this cucumber soup takes very little time to prepare as you don’t have to patiently boil a broth. Did you know that greenhouse cucumbers are not pollinated, so they are seedless? This recipe disposes of the seeds so why not pick up this type! When picking out my cucumbers at Longos, there was an Ontario Greenhouse fact sheet where I learned that the best cucumbers typically are bright in colour, fresh in scent, and firm but not too firm! Apparently cucumbers also thrive in cool, dry places so be sure to keep them in a crisper.

IMG_5259While my creation was a source of calcium and vegetables, it lacked protein, fats and carbohydrates and wasn’t substantial enough to be served on it’s own. I created a balanced meal by whipping up an adaptation of Tosca Reno’s “Ladies’ Lunch Quick Shrimp Ceviche Stuffed Avocados” and toasting whole wheat tortilla with garlic butter. In all, the meal was light but kept me full throughout my post-meal swim and evening. When I was fixing these dishes, I couldn’t help but notice that Shrimp is a great source of protein, as 8-10 of those little things pack in 15g and only 65 calories! On the other hand, avocados are great sources of lutein (a carotenoid that promote eye health), insoluble and soluble fibre (slows digestion keeping you feeling fuller), monosaturated fat (blood sugar stabilizer, heart heart, can lower blood pressure), folic (important during pregnancy) and oleic acid (lowers cholesterol). The subtle hints of citrus in both recipes were also sincerely enjoyed.

IMG_5285… But if the health benefits of the meal don’t interest you, I sure hope its flavour does. Enough information already, here are the recipes! ♥ Molly

Chilled Cucumber Soup

Serves 6, 1 cup servings, generously IMG_5271

  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (2 tbsp.)
  • ¾ cup water
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 ¾ cup 2% Greek plain yogurt
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 3 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, chopped (4 cups)
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped
  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and garlic, stirring constantly. Cook until onions are translucent, about 2 minutes. Stir in ¼ cup water, reduce to medium low heat, and cook until onions are soft, about 2 minutes.
  2. Place chopped cucumber and sautéed onion mixture into a food processor. Blend until smooth. Add in remaining ½ cup water, lemon juice, sea salt, and 1 ½ cups Greek yogurt. Process until smooth. Stir in ¼ cup parsley.
  3. Transfer to a container and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until cold.
  4. Serve, garnishing each bowl with remaining ¼ cup yogurt and ¼ cup parsley. You may wish to season with salt or pepper.

IMG_5260Avocado Shrimp Salad

Ingredients and Directions adapted from Tosca Reno’s “Ladies’ Lunch Quick Shrimp Ceviche Stuffed Avocados”, The Eat-Clean Diet

Serves 6, 1 cup servingsIMG_5258

  • 2 avocados
  • 1 lb. cooked shrimp, peeled
  • 1 red pepper, seeded, finely chopped
  • ½ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup cherry tomatoes, halved (Or tomato, chopped)
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice, freshly squeezed (1 lime)
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  1. Remove shrimp tails and discard. Chop each shrimp piece into quarters.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together pepper, salt and both juices. Add in all ingredients, except avocado.
  3. If making “Shrimp Avocado Salad”, peel and cut both avocados into ¼ inch cubes. Refrigerate salad for a half an hour, allowing flavours to combine. Serve with a fresh slice of lime or orange and enjoy.
  4.  If making “Shrimp Salad stuffed Avocado”, slice avocados in half and remove peel. Scoop avocado halves out of their skins. Spoon the shrimp salad into the center of each avocado half, allowing overflow. Refrigerate for half an hour, allowing flavours to combine. Serve and enjoy!

IMG_5286 IMG_5293“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” – Virgina Woolf

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

It’s definitely been a busy week around my house. From Father’s day to graduation ceremonies, small errands and appointments, I feel as though I haven’t had much time to dedicate to myself, let alone this blog! Let’s just say my meals haven’t been all that exciting (or have been eaten too quickly to be captured in a picture) and DIY projects are non-existent.

Much to my delight, yesterday was completely quiet so I managed to get some grocery shopping done with my mom. I needed to purchase ingredients since I had volunteered to cook dinner! I was pleasantly surprised when red peppers were on sale at Longos! The idea of creating stuffed peppers, something I have always admired, instantly popped into my mind!

This recipe is not only simple and affordable but it takes very little time! Prior to yesterday, I had never even tried stuffed peppers as I thought the preparation would be much too tricky. Boy was I wrong! This recipe is an all round win for a busy weeknight dinner and can be easily converted into a main dish with the addition of nuts or cheese! It’s also vegetarian!

IMG_5047IMG_5051

Quinoa Stuffed PeppersIMG_5045

Makes 12, Half Pepper Servings

  • ½ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 6 bell peppers, whole
  • ½ cup parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups baby spinach, shredded
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. olive oil for sautéing
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa cooked according to package in low-sodium soup broth
  • Optional: To make this into a complete meal, try adding ½ cup of slivered almonds and ½ cup crumbled feta.
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and line a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Remove the stem and seeds from the bell peppers, slice in half lengthwise and place aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. While stirring, add onion and cook until transparent (approximately 6 minutes). Add in carrots, chopped peppers and parsley and cook until slightly softened. If using nuts, stir in now. Add in spinach, ginger, cumin and cinnamon cooking until the spinach is barely wilted. IMG_5000IMG_5008IMG_5015
  4. Slowly add the cooked quinoa into the sautéed vegetables, being careful as all the ingredients are extremely hot.
  5. Spoon quinoa mixture evenly into bell pepper halves, filling them to the edge of the pepper. Pack down the mixture ever so slightly. If using, sprinkle the cheese evenly onto the top of the pepper halves.IMG_5024
  6. Place the peppers onto the prepare baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes or until the peppers are tender and juicy and a knife inserted in the filling comes out hot.
  7. Transfer to plates, serve and enjoy!IMG_5052

Note: If you have extra filling feel free to cook it in a casserole dish using the same temperature and time. 

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I hope you enjoyed this recipe as much as my family did. I’d say my first time making stuffed peppers was a success given I had never even eaten stuffed peppers before!! They are a delicious, filling, light warm meal perfect for summertime! I look forward to trying flavour, spice and grain variations in the future. ♥ Molly

Fun Fact: Did you know that Red Bell Peppers contain about ten times as much beta carotene as green or yellow bell peppers? Personally I like red bell peppers the most because they have the sweetest flavour!