Fresh and Fruity Summer Gazpacho

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You’re so fruity…

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but that’s JUST the way I like it!

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Thankfully being called fruity isn’t always a bad thing…especially when you’re describing this fabbbb-u-lous summer soup.

 

Now, I know what you’re thinking… “Fruit in SOUP?? That’s crazy talk!” But trust me! This soup isn’t the average cozy, warm, comfort food you’ve come to know. Instead, it’s served fresh and chilled,  just like traditional gazpacho. I promise, this little gem of a recipe is so gosh darn TASTY you’ll be slurping it up well past Labor Day.

 

The inspiration for my Fresh and Fruity Summer Gazpacho all began when I went out for an impromptu dinner with the boyfriend. After days of hot, humid, and sticky weather the last thing I wanted to do was go out and eat a heavy meal. I did have a hankering for a nice glass (or two!) of wine however. So, needless to say, I managed to I scrounge up some motivation to get out of the house :)

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Off we went to Christopher’s, a casual neighborhood bar and restaurant walking distance from our apartment. I adore this little place because they pride themselves on using all-natural ingredients and have plenty of vegan/vegetarian-friendly options to choose from–even though they’re known for their burgers. Oh, and they serve a great malbec to boot ;)

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The boyfriend ordered his usual burger along with a side of sweet potato fries while I decided on two appetizer specials as my main meal– a roasted red pepper and artichoke hummus platter served up with celery, carrots, and pita wedges (it came with pita chips, but our waitress graciously allowed me to sub the chips for an un-fried alternative) along with a side of chilled fruit. The chilled fruit was actually an orange and watermelon based soup, served with yogurt and mint (again, my lovely waitress allowed me to keep it vegan and omit the yogurt…thank you patient waitress!). As soon as I tasted the chilled fruit… I was hooked. It was cool and smooth without being overly sweet–just perfect for this hot and humid summer night.

 

Immediately, I knew I had to rush home and whip up my own version. We even made a pit stop at the grocery store along the way just so I could pick up all the ingredients :) .

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Fresh and Fruity Summer Gazpacho

(Perfect as a light appetizer, snack, or dessert!)

 

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Ingredients:

  • 4 heaping cups of watermelon, chopped
  • Juice of 1-2 oranges (roughly 1/2 cup)
  • 2 peaches, chopped
  • 8-10 large strawberries, chopped
  • large handful of fresh mint, chopped (NOTE: you could also try a smaller amount of basil instead of mint to tone down the sweetness and a litle savory zing to your soup!)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (optional)

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Directions:

  • Blend watermelon in a high speed blender or food processor until liquified (I blended mine in my Nutribullet, 2 cups at a time). Then transfer to a medium bowl.
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  • Add 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice, the chopped fruit and mint to the same bowl. Whisk together.
  • Stir in 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice (optional).
  • Portion out the soup into 2-4 bowls (depending upon how hungry you are!).
  • Garnish with a mint sprig and/or orange slice, watermelon cube, strawberry etc…
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And VOILA! You have a totally chill summer treat :)

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NOTE: Feel free to get creative with your fruit! Toss in some blueberries for color, or blend half watermelon and half cantaloup for a smoother, and slightly creamier tasting soup :)

 

The best part of all? This simple soup is super healthy!

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C’mon now…you didn’t really think I was going to give you a yummy recipe without explaining all the fabulous health benefits it has to offer did you?? :)

 

Heath Benefits of Watermelon

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Photo Credit: http://www.whataboutwatermelon.com

 

  • Fat-free! (need I say more?)
  • Low-calorie (due to it’s high water content–roughly 92%– one cup has just 48 calories!)
  • High in vitamin C (reduces the risk of heart disease, asthma, colon cancer, arthritis symptoms, boosts immunity, heals wounds, prevents cell damage, helps prevent aging, protects against free radicals and promotes healthy teeth and gums. Watermelon has 21% of the daily value of vitamin C).
  • High in vitamin A and  beta-carotene (like vitamin C, beta-carotene reduces the risk of heart disease, asthma, colon cancer, arthritis symptoms while vitamin A promotes eye-health).
  • High in lycopene (watermelon has the highest concentration of lycopene found in any fruit or vegetable…even more than tomatoes! Lycopene is a cancer-preventing antioxidant that fights off colon, prostate, breast, lung, and endometrial cancers. Lycopene also protects the body from oxygen damage, protects the DNA in white blood cells, and protects the heart).
  • Source of vitamin B6 (which converts protein to energy and aids in brain function).
  • High in potassium (which regulates the body’s electrolyte and acid/base balance, helps nerve and muscle function, reduces the risk of high blood pressure).
  • Contains citrulline and arginine (together, these essential amino acids improve cardiovascular function, maintain arteries, improve bloodflow, reduce muscle fatigue, repair damaged muscle/bone, reduce healing time for injuries, serve as a precursor for synthesis of nitric oxide, remove ammonia from the body, improve insulin resistance, and help decrease blood pressure).
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Health Benefits of Strawberries

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Photo Credit: http://www.chefsexpressions.com

(Check out my original post for Oh So Sassy Strawberry Shortcake here!)
  • Fat-free!
  • Low-calorie (1 1/2 cups charts in at less than 100 calories!)
  • Low-sugar
  • High in vitamin C  (Just 1-cup of strawberries will give you 100% of your daily vitamin C requirement. It is important to obtain your daily vitamin C requirement from food, since humans are one of the only mammals who cannot produce it naturally).
  • Contains a phytochemical known as ellagic acid (which has the ability to suppress cancer cell growth, prevent collagen destruction, fight cholesterol, and prevent inflammation).
  •  Contain lutein and zeaxanthin (these powerful antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals** that have a negative effect on cells).
  • High in antioxidants
  • Contain flavanoids and phytochemicals (these help to reduce harmful blood lipids and oxidative damage—two markers for heart disease and diabetes).
  • High in potassium (just like in watermelon, potassium regulates the body’s electrolyte and acid/base balance, helps nerve/muscle function, and reduces the risk of high blood pressure).
  • High in fiber (fiber improves digestive health, quells hunger, and can also help to fight type-2 diabetes due to its ability to slow the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream).
  • Good source of folate (folate promotes pre-natal health and is important in the early stages of pregnancy as it aids in proper development of the baby’s spinal cord, brain, and skull).
  • Contains folic acid (which may help to prevent serious birth defects like spina bifida).
**I’m sure you’ve heard the terms “free radicals” thrown around by the news and various health sources a lot lately, but you may not know exactly what they are. Free radicals are actually damaged, degenerated cells that in an effort to repair and regenerate themselves, end up damaging and weakening the healthy cells around them. This can lead to cancer. This is why it’s important to fight those free radicals with proper nutrition!**
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Health Benefits of Peaches:

Photo Credit: http://www.tropicalproducts.net

  • Fat-free!
  • Low-calorie (approx. 30 calories in a medium peach).
  • Contains potassium (provides 8% of the daily requirement, or 140 mg).
  • High levels of beta-carotene (which the body turns into vitamin A).
  • High in vitamin C (just like strawberries and watermelon).
  • Good sources of lutein and lycopene (these carotenes and flavonoids–also present in watermelon and strawberries–help prevent macular degeneration, heart disease and cancer).
  • High in fiber (promotes overall colon and digestive health).
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Health Benefits of Oranges:

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Photo Credit: http://www.thedailygreen.com

  • Rich in vitamin C (duh :) ).
  • Contains hesperidin (this flavonoid can help decrease blood pressure).
  • Rich in magnesium (which improves bone health/bone density).
  • Decreases LDL cholesterol (due to high concentration of flavonoids).
  • High in fiber
  • Rich in folate
  • Reduces inflammation (this can help prevent cardiovascular disease).
  • Contains most of the B- vitamin complex (including B-1, B-2, B-3, B-5, B-6 and B-9).
  • Contains calcium, potassium, magnesium
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Health Benefits of Mint:

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Photo Credit: http://www.herbcompanion.com

  • Has antibacterial properties
  • Rich in flavonoids (which protect cells from aging and act as antioxidants).
  • Soothes the stomach/aids in digestion (flavonoids may help relieve gas spasms in the intestines).
  • Source of vitamin A (due to beta-carotene, which is present in mint leaves).
  • Source of vitamin C (one large orange fulfills your daily requirement for the day).
  • Rich in iron, calcium, and magnesium
  • Reduces IBS symptoms (the essential oils help to relax smooth muscles in the sphincter and intestines).
  • Essential oils reduce pain/irritation (menthol is the essential oil responsible for this when applied topically).
  • Increases saliva and bile production (this may help to explain why mint soothes the stomach and suppresses a cough so well).
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Pretty cool huh?

Now, go COOL DOWN with a big ol’ bowl of summer gazpacho!

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Healthfully yours,

Ashley Michelle 

 

 

Sources:

Surprising Health Benefits of Watermelon

Worlds Healthiest Foods: Watermelon

Health Benefits of Strawberries

Wikipedia: Strawberries

Best Health Magazine

Why Cancer and Inflammation?

Health Benefits of Peaches

Healthy Foods: Peaches

Livestrong: Health Benefits of Mint

Livestrong: Nutritious Elements of Oranges

Livestrong: Health Benefits of Oranges


Fruity Tutti Fruit Bowl (with Cinnamon Chips!)

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I have a VERY bad habit.

A fruity habit that is.

And I think I mayyy need some help…

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You see, whenever I go into a grocery store, I just CAN’T control myself. As soon as those shiny, rainbow-colored displays of fruit greet me at the door I’m toast. No matter what I do, a simple shopping trip to pick up a few apples and bananas to last me through the week ends up turning into a full-out FRUIT-FEST.

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Wait…does that make me a FRUIT-A-HOLIC??

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Regardless, this weekend in particular was a bit out of control–even for me (It honestly would have made more sense to ask me what kind of fruit I didn’t have in the house than to ask me what kind I did have).  When I woke up this morning, I took one long look at my fruit bowl and knew I needed to do something about this fruit situation before everything spoiled. Either that, or I was going to have to open up my apartment to the public and become a farmer’s market for the day! But something tells me I don’t think my landlord would like that…

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So, what’s a girl to do with all this fruit?

FRUIT SALAD, obviously!

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As soon as the hot summer months come around, I rarely use the stove to cook meals. Instead, I choose to eat fresh, cool, and raw dishes as a way to beat the heat. One of my favorite summertime staples falling under these categories has always been fruit salad. I could honestly eat it for breakfast, as a snack, and even for dessert for the rest of my life and be perfectly satisfied. Not only is fruit salad healthy (Antioxidants! Fiber! Vitamin C!) but it’s easy to toss together and it’s a bright, pretty dish to bring along to summer parties or cookouts.

For this recipe, I decided to take a classic fruit salad and spice it up a bit. When it comes to fruit salad, I like to try to hit all the colors of the rainbow because, well, it’s pretty and girly :) but you certainly don’t have to. This recipe is 100% customizable, so don’t worry if you don’t have all the ingredients–you can totally go all improv and create your own masterpiece!

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There’s only one thing left to do.

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Start choppin’!

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Fruity Tutti Fruit Bowl

Ingredients:

  • 1 apple (fuji apples are my absolute favorite!)
  • 1 whole orange
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 pear (I like d’anjou, but any kind will do)
  • 1 peach
  • 1 kiwi
  • 1/2 cup grapes (sliced)
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 3 teaspoons of all-natural, vegan, jam (I like Trader Joe’s reduced-sugar jams. They make it in blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, apricot. I couldn’t pick so I used half apricot and half strawberry for this recipe :) )
  • Plum Amazins (for sprinkling)–they are a great alternative to raisins, plus, they’re lower in calories!)
  • Sliced almonds (for sprinkling)
  • Cinnamon (for sprinkling)–cinnamon is a great addition to any diet because it helps control blood sugar spikes and is very high in antioxidants. It’s also anti-microbial, has anti-clotting features, boosts brain function, and promotes colon and heart health because it has fiber, manganese, and calcium in it.  I put it on EVERYTHING!)
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Directions:
  • Chop everything up and place the fruit in a large bowl (leave the kiwis, almonds, and plum bits aside for garnish).
  • Mix in the jam and cinnamon (I personally put a TON of cinnamon in this recipe, but I tend to like things over-spiced. Feel free to spice it up or down as much as you’d like).
  • Sprinkle almonds and plum bits on top. Arrange the kiwis around the bowl.
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Don’t forget the Cinnamon Chips!

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Cinnamon Chips:

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole wheat tortillas
  • Cinnamon
  • Stevia or all-natural, organic sugar
  • All-natural cooking spray
Directions:
  • Preheat the oven to 350º
  • Slice the tortillas into triangle shapes
  • Place the tortilla triangles on a baking sheet and lightly spray with all-natural cooking spray.
  • Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon and stevia (or sugar).
  • Bake for 11 minutes.
  • Once cooled, arrange around the fruit bowl for an adorable presentation!
  • Eat the chips on their own, or use the chips to scoop up some of the fruit for my take on a dessert salsa!
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See, sometimes its okay to be fruity! ;)

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Healthfully Yours,
Ashley Michelle
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Sources: