Decorate your plate

It is said that we eat with our eyes. This time of year, as the gardens begin to explode with colour from plants of all kinds it’s easy to be inspired.

I think the marketing team that came up with the healthy eating slogan “Eat a rainbow” must have done it in early summer. But a beautiful plate of food isn’t just about fresh garden produce.

This week, I want to offer some ideas to convert any meal into a good-looking one.

I’m not talking about recipes to prepare here. Rather, I’m presenting some accents to up your game, kick things up a notch when you present your plate – even if it’s for you, and no one else.

Regardless of what you eat, making it look good can add to your enjoyment of it. And those garnishes can even offer added advantages.

Did you know that parsley is good for freshening your breath? It is highly nutritious, full of vitamins A, K and C, as well as magnesium, calcium, iron and potassium.

Some of the essential oils it contains have antibacterial properties as well. How’s that for a powerful boost on your plate? And you thought it was just there as an afterthought.

Include a sprig you can eat, or chop it and sprinkle it on salads, potatoes, fish or soup and feel yourself getting stronger.

Sage is another herb that has powerful properties. It has been in use since the Middle Ages; it was one of the herbs used to help prevent the plague.

Burning sage releases its essential oils, which can neutralize some airborne bacteria. Its clean scent is often welcome relief in times of sickness or trouble, and it has been proven to help with brain function and memory.

Rubbing sage leaves and adding them over potatoes or chicken add an extra layer of flavour as well as colour to your plate.

Rosemary has been a culinary herb since Ancient Roman times. It too has a powerful essential oil, one which has long been thought to help with memory, and some say even fidelity and clearing of the mind.

More recently, it has been proven useful for reducing nasal congestion and suppressing some allergies.

It makes a lovely garnish with barbecue dishes — you can even use a rosemary branch as a brush to put oil or sauce on your grilled items near the end of cooking.

Thyme is in the same family as sage and rosemary, and I can’t help but mention it, if for no other reason than for the sake of Simon and Garfunkel.

Thyme is a powerful herb with antibacterial properties that make it excellent for helping with sore throats, healing wounds, and aiding digestion. Its essential compounds are beneficial to almost every part of your body; it’s no wonder this herb was given to soldiers in ancient times heading into battle.

Its tender branches make a delicate garnish or chopped it can be added to many dishes. It is a close friend to mushrooms, bringing out a pleasantly sweet aroma and adding to their earthiness in an elegant way.

I love edible flowers as well as herbs on my plates, and I’ve been growing many in my garden. Many of them are very bee-friendly, so you can feel good knowing you’re supporting the outdoor community if you decide to throw some seeds in a pot.

Here are my favourite blossoms to use:

  • Borage flowers – they have a slight cucumber taste if you eat them on their own, and their blue colour is striking on the plate
  • Marigolds – these yellow to orange petals have a more earthy taste, sometimes bitter but not in an unpleasant way. These flowers also help keep the bugs away from neighbouring plants, so they really do earn their keep.
  • Lavender – not only on the plate but around the house this is a lovely plant to enjoy. A sprig is beautiful on a plate, but it’s safe to eat the buds if you want to include them in a dish. You can also strain them out of a sauce or custard and include a sprig for garnish later.

Not all flowers are edible — please don’t guess, as some are toxic. When using edible flowers, only use the petals, as the full flower contains bitter, tough parts.

Also be sure they have not been sprayed with any chemicals. I would recommend growing your own using heirloom seeds or organic plants for best results.

There are spices you can sprinkle to add colour and pizzazz to your meal as well; be creative and use your kitchen palate to its full potential.

Your eyes will thank you; your tummy will thank you, and I do believe your soul will thank you as you soak in all the benefits of this added layer to your eating experience.

Bon Appetit!

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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