Photography by Adeline Waugh copyright 2020

Play With Your Food

Vibrant & Pure author Adeline Waugh celebrates healthy ingredients with a burst of color we couldn’t be more ready for.


We swear a little color therapy helps the dog days before Spring fly by (see: our Hummingbird Collection). So we fell hard for Adeline Waugh’s new cookbook, Vibrant & Pure: Healthful Recipes for Bright, Nourishing Meals. The photographer-stylist began overhauling her eating habits a few years ago when she connected her regular acne breakouts to her processed food-heavy diet. She cut out refined sugars, dairy, and gluten and upped her intake of nutrient-dense whole foods, which cleared up her skin and mental fog. Waugh launched @vibrantandpure to document her health journey on Instagram, where her prismatic styling blew up. We asked her for thoughts on healthy versus obsessive eating, how to Instagram your plate and must-try vibrant ingredients (rosewater is one of her faves!) to have on hand—and also asked her to share her most sense-quenching recipes.

Are you drawn to brightly colored foods because they taste better? Are more nutritious? Or just more photogenic?
I’d say all of the above. I love to use a multitude of bright colors to feed my eyes and my body. Colorless foods can of course be delicious, but I think the more variety you have on your plate, the better, health-wise and visually.

How do you define healthy eating?
A way of eating that feels intuitively right for your body, that leaves you feeling nourished and energized, doesn’t make you obsess over everything you put into your mouth and makes you excited about cooking, eating, and food in general. I also think that it’s important to try to strengthen your relationship with your body and inner voice. It sounds crazy, but you’ll start to be super aware of how different foods make you feel, and you’ll naturally gravitate towards what makes you feel good.

What’s an ingredient that you fell for during your health journey that you now can’t live without?
It’s probably a tie between passion fruit and watermelon radishes—neither is super easy to come by, but if you ever discover them, you must scoop them up immediately! Passionfruit has the most ridiculously fragrant and tart flavor, adding just a bit of pulp to any dish will elevate it. Watermelon radishes are probably the most beautiful vegetable in the world, light green on the outside with a bold pop of pink on the inside, plus radishes are extremely good for you.

photography by Adeline Waugh copyright 2020

Some of your ingredients are pretty exotic. How much do you consider the carbon footprint of your meals, or the environmental impact of what you eat?
It’s definitely hugely important to me, especially in the last few years as I’ve become more educated on the subject. I do try to eat seasonally whenever possible; I try to support local farmers and farmers markets, I’ve cut way back on eating meat, adopting an 80 X 20 or even 90 X 10 plant-based lifestyle. Cutting back on meat is probably the easiest and most important thing a person can do for the planet. I also try to keep my grocery shopping as zero waste as possible, opting for bulk bins, sticking to plastic-free fresh produce and bringing my own bags.

You say food styling can “improve a distorted relationship with food.” How so?
I think that for those who are open to trying it, it can create a more fun relationship with food and cooking. I think that if people start focusing on creating a beautiful meal with a bounty of bright fresh ingredients, getting a bit more playful instead of feeling like eating healthy is rigid and a chore, that can certainly improve a negative relationship with food.

"I just think incorporating flowers into your food makes everything a bit more whimsical."

Any tips for styling and photographing our meals? Is standing on a chair in a restaurant okay?

Haha—that would be up to the restaurant. I don’t think I’ve ever stood on a chair. I’ll definitely stand up, though! Don’t be afraid to look a little silly; you definitely can’t worry about what other people think if you’re going to get a good brunch photo. Sit outside or near a light- filled window whenever possible!

You use rosewater as flavoring in a bunch of your recipes. What do you love about it?
I just think incorporating flowers into your food makes everything a bit more whimsical. My husband is Persian and my mother in law uses rosewater in a lot of dishes and desserts and I just find the flavor irresistible. It’s full of antioxidants and vitamins. I buy it from the grocery store; I’m sure you could get it online as well! Just make sure you find a brand that only has the ingredients rose petals and water or “rose water.”

Recipes adapted with permission from Vibrant & Pure (Clarkson Potter)

photography by Adeline Waugh copyright 2020

Pink Chia Pudding

 Serves 1 to 2

The star of this recipe is the cinnamon broiled peach. Feel free to add as many or as few extra toppings as you’d like.
My favorites are peeled and sliced orange, granola, edible flowers, dried mulberries or goji berries, and fresh mint leaves.

1 cup Pink Rosewater Cashew Milk*
3 tablespoons chia seeds
1 ripe peach, sliced
½ teaspoon coconut oil
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt
1 tablespoon toasted pistachios

1. Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl, combine the cashew milk and chia seeds and let sit for 10 minutes, until the chia seeds are gelatinous and the combined mixture is thick enough to resemble a pudding.
3. In a separate small bowl, combine the peach slices, coconut oil, cinnamon, and salt, and toss until coated. Evenly space the peaches on the baking sheet and broil for 10 minutes.
4. Top the chia pudding with the broiled peaches and pistachios to serve.

*Place 1 cup cashews (soaked and drained), 1 tablespoon diced raw beet, 1 teaspoon rosewater, 2 tablespoons honey (preferably raw or Manuka), and 3 cups water in a high-speed blender. Blend on high for at least 30 seconds. Using a nut-milk bag, strain the contents into a medium bowl to separate the liquid from the solids. Pour the milk into an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.

photography by Adeline Waugh copyright 2020

Unicorn Toast

Serves 2

The toast that launched an Instagram phenomenon.
Feel free to dress it up and top with your favorite fruit, hemp seeds, or granola.

2 slices bread of your choice
6 tablespoons cream cheese (I like nondairy)
3 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon beet juice
½ teaspoon rosewater
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon spirulina

Toppings:
Pistachio Coconut Rose Dukkah*
¼ teaspoon bee pollen
¼ teaspoon edible gold flakes

1. In a toaster, toast the bread to your preference.
2. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese and 1 teaspoon of the honey. Add the beet juice and rosewater; mix with a spoon until fully blended and pink in color.
3. In a second small bowl, combine 2 more tablespoons of cream cheese and another teaspoon of honey with the turmeric and cinnamon, and mix with a spoon until fully blended and yellow in color.
4. In a third small bowl, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons cream cheese and 1 teaspoon honey with the spirulina, and mix with a spoon until fully blended and light bluish-green in color.
5. Put a dollop of each color on each piece of toast, then blend them using even knife strokes to make a pattern, then garnish with the Dukkah, bee pollen and gold flakes, if desired.

*Finely chop 2 tablespoons shelled pistachios, 2 tablespoon pumpkin seeds, 2 tablespoons hazelnuts and 3 tablespoons unsweetened shaved coconut. In a small skillet, toast these ingredients along with 1 teaspoon fennel seeds and 2 teaspoons sesame seeds over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, or until a light golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes. In a small bowl, combine the toasted nuts and seeds with 1-2 tablespoons dried and finely chopped edible rose petals and sea salt to taste.

photography by Adeline Waugh copyright 2020

Beet Rosewater Sorbet Smoothie Bowl

Serves 1 to 2

This is a breakfast treat as delicious and decadent in flavor as it is brilliant in color. Make sure you plan ahead as you’ll need to prepare the coconut-milk ice cubes ahead of time.

4 ice cubes made from full-fat coconut milk
1 cup frozen raspberries
½ teaspoon rosewater
1 tablespoon chia seeds
½ cup diced peeled raw beet
2 pitted dates
1 frozen banana (~1 cup sliced)
2 tablespoons water, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon Pistachio Coconut Rose Dukkah (see above)

1. Place the ice cubes, raspberries, rosewater, chia seeds, beet, dates, banana, and water in a blender, and blend on high until smooth and thick. Add up to ½ cup water, a tablespoon or two at a time, to thin as desired.
2. Immediately spoon into bowls and top each with some Pistachio Coconut Rose Dukkah

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