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Tag: cucumbers (Page 1 of 2)

Refreshing Cucumber Mint Soup

Cool off with this refreshing and invigorating cucumber mint soup. Cucumbers, mint, and lime juice are some of the coolest foods around.  When pureed with an avocado, some coconut milk, and spices, you get an amazingly flavorful and healthy chilled soup that has a lovely, creamy texture.

cucumber mint soup with pink vaseWith the outdoor temperature around here soaring this week, a cold soup is a perfect addition to any meal.  And it is so easy to make–just put the ingredients in a blender and blend! Then pour it into a container and let it chill!  This recipe is adapted from my husband’s favorite cookbook, Thrive Energy Cookbook by Brendan Brazier.  It is a plant-based, vegan recipe–great for building up the immune system and recharging the body with lots of wonderful nutrients. If you don’t like coconut milk, you can always substitute Greek yogurt to get the creamy texture without the subtle coconut taste.  I have gotten so I really like the coconut milk taste, and it feels good to have an alternative to dairy sometimes, though I still love my cheese and yogurt.

I made this soup a couple of times this week especially for my husband.  Like I mentioned, he loves the Thrive cookbook, and he loves all these super-healthy, plant-based recipes.  Since he is almost fully recovered from his knee surgery and enjoying doing more running and exercising outside, he is looking for food that will help his body renew and gain energy.  Our kids don’t love this soup, so it is in honor of my husband that I make it (though I like it a lot too).  In the busy hubbub of our days and our life right now, he doesn’t always get the special attention he got when we were first married.  He is my biggest supporter when it comes to me doing this blog, and he is awesome.

cucumber mint soup with pink vase 4Summer is fully, completely here.  We went swimming at a nearby lake last weekend.  Before we left for home, I went into the bathroom there to change out of my wet bathing suit. The changing room had an open-air courtyard and curtains across the individual changing stalls.  The wind came in through the open ceiling and was lightly blowing the curtains, not enough to compromise anyone’s privacy, but enough that the curtains were billowing gently in the breeze, creating a hushed, peaceful atmosphere.  It was such a serene setting, with the sun shining through the leaves in the open-air ceiling, and the curtains quietly flowing with the breeze.  Women from all walks of life were going in and out, and everyone was so peaceful and refreshed after cooling off in the lake.  I never expected to find this lovely setting in a public bathroom at a state park. It was a quiet oasis in the middle of a busy crowd, like time was standing still for a few minutes.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and can find some time for some peace in the middle of it all! Fiesta Friday is a happy space to visit too, and I plan to head over there soon. Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Colleen @ Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck are co-hosting this week.cucumber mint soup in hands 3cucumber mint soup spicescucumber mint soup on traycucumber mint soup in sun 2

Cucumber Mint Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
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  • 3 medium cucumbers, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced
  • a small handful of fresh mint leaves, torn from the stems
  • a small handful of cilantro leaves, torn from the stems
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • a pinch of chili powder
  • fresh mint leaves for garnish


Wash the vegetables and herbs. Peel and coarsely chop the cucumbers.  If they have big seeds, cut out the seedy parts before chopping.  Tear the mint and cilantro from their stems and peel and chop the avocado. Squeeze the lime juice. Place the cucumber, mint, cilantro, avocado and lime juice in a blender.  Add the cumin, sea salt, and pepper.  Puree all the ingredients.  Add the coconut milk and lightly blend to combine.  Add more salt, if desired.  Pour the soup into a container, cover it tightly, and chill for at least an hour.  Serve the soup cold as a side dish or a light lunch. Top with a pinch of chili powder (it looks pretty when swirled) and mint leaves if desired. This tastes great with tortilla chips! Enjoy!


Refreshing Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh is one of the most refreshing salads I have ever tasted.  With lots of mint, cucumber, lemon juice, parsley, and ripe, juicy tomatoes, it not only quenches my thirst and naturally cools me down, but it is also full of nutrients and tastes delicious. The grain in tabbouleh is bulgur wheat, which tastes similar to couscous.  close-up of tabboulehI really like bulgur because it is a hundred percent whole wheat and full of fiber, iron, protein, and vitamin B-6.  Bulgur is also a relatively low glycemic index food, so it causes less fluctuations in blood glucose levels than many other carbohydrates. Plus, it is filling without giving one that stuffed feeling.

mintWith the heat wave we have been experiencing this week, it is the perfect dish to satisfy a body in need of nutrients with a light touch.  It is also a perfect dish to take to potlucks and picnics, since this salad does not wilt easily.

I can’t believe I forgot about this dish all summer until now, since my whole family loves it, and I made it numerous times last summer.  We have some of the ingredients growing in our very own garden right now, including parsley, tomatoes ripening on the vine, and mint growing rampant.  That makes it even better, because the freshness of the vegetables is key to the wonderful flavor.  Luckily, I am now back on track again with the tabbouleh, and there is still time to make more, with the tomatoes still rolling in!  After eating a big bowlful during dinner tonight, my son said that he likes tabbouleh so much, he would rather eat a bowl of it than eat an Oreo (!), and with him, that is saying something.  With that kind of endorsement, I am going to make another batch tomorrow! In fact, I plan to double the recipe so it will last for more than one meal.

veggies and bulgurThe recipe I am sharing below reflects the balance of traditional tabbouleh ingredients we like best in my family.  Feel free to adjust the levels to your personal tastes.  It only takes about a half hour to whip up a batch, though it tastes best after it has chilled at least an hour.

Until the next time, stay cool, and savor what remains of the beautiful summer! The mornings have been so misty and lovely here lately, before the day starts to really heat up.  The insects are humming and there is a golden hue to the light. I hope you have a great Labor Day weekend! I am off to visit Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted today by Effie @ Food Daydreaming and Steffi @ Ginger & Bread.bulgur and veggiestwo bowls of tabboulehclose up tabbouleh

Refreshing Tabbouleh

  • Servings: 4
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  • 1/2 cup of bulgur
  • 1 cup of tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup of cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup of green onions, finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


Wash the bulgur in a bowl, changing the water a few times.  Then cover the bulgur with boiling water.  Set aside and let it sit for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash and finely chop the vegetables and herbs, and place them in a medium bowl.  Add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.  When the bulgur is done, drain it through a fine strainer.  Take the bulgur by handfuls and squeeze the excess water out of it, then add it to the bowl with the salad mixture.  Stir gently to combine.  Cover and refrigerate the tabbouleh for at least one hour.  Serve cold.  Enjoy!


Great Grandma Howlett’s Sour Mustard Pickles and Keeping Meaningful Traditions Alive

DSC_0735A couple of weeks ago, my two children and I spent the afternoon with my mother.  We engaged in one of our favorite August rituals–making sour mustard pickles.  Pickle-making, for me, is steeped in tradition, camaraderie, and memories.  I love the pungent scent of vinegar, the rich yellow of the mustard powder and the deep orange of the turmeric, the sound of multiple generations laughing together, and even the muggy heat of the kitchen in August.  My earliest pickle party memory is from when I was a small child, and I remember our tiny kitchen was filled with my great grandmother, grandmother, mother, her sister and her cousin, and a handful of  kids.  It was hot and crowded in that kitchen, but there was a lot of laughter.  My mother has much earlier memories than mine of making pickles with her grandmother when she was just a child, and it is a cherished tradition she has kept alive with us.

Throughout the years, our pickle parties have evolved to include whichever family members are available and interested.  Some parties have been quite large and lively,  including my mom and dad, my aunt and uncle, my husband and children, and varying degrees of my brothers, their wives, and their children.  My dad started getting involved in the process when his grandchildren were old enough to help, because he loved any chance to spend time with them.  This year, our pickle party was smaller and quieter.  It was the first time we had made pickles without my dad being around, since he passed away in January.  It was important to us to carry on the tradition, so my children and I spent the afternoon in my mom’s kitchen with her, making pickles and feeling the bittersweet emotions of missing my dad, yet knowing he would want us to carry on doing something we have all enjoyed together.

cucumbers in canning jarI have posted the recipe for my great grandmother’s sour mustard pickles below.  This recipe is not difficult, as pickle recipes go, and it results in some crunchy, mouth-watering pickles.  They have a very distinct flavor–as one of my mom’s cousins says, one bite tells you whether you will love them or not!  These pickles are part of every holiday meal for my whole extended family, and when anyone is homesick, they get pickles–either shipped to them, or a quart set aside for them when they come home to visit.  For a few years, we lost the official recipe, and had to rely on memory and trial and error.  Usually the pickles turned out great anyway!  Recently, my mom found the official recipe, printed in one of her many recipe books.  Now I feel like we can share this recipe, and it will be true to how my great grandma made pickles many, many years ago.  Sometimes, the past is better left behind, and sometimes, it is worth honoring.  In this case, we honor it and we are thankful to keep passing it along.

pickling cucumbersmustardpickles in processDSC_0730

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