Why This Simple Meal Has the Power to Change Your Life

berry toast

I moved to LA impulsively after a long stint in Chicago and had deep longing for something new. When I arrived, I began throwing dinner parties out of my desire to create a space for people to connect in an authentic and genuine way. Making food for people and inviting them into my home was profoundly healing and opening for both myself and for my guests.

Food is so powerful in that way. It creates space for genuine connection. It’s universal.

The world of food can be intimidating. Hosting can often create stress and anxiety because of the anticipation of “what should I make!?” Pressure can amount from the expectation to create something magical, and many people often feel ill equipped in the kitchen. Through various dinner parties and events that I hosted, I discovered that toasts are one of the easiest and beautiful things to create.

Here’s the truth about TOAST …

It is such an easy food to be resourceful with. I often keep a loaf of bread in my freezer and then get quite creative with whatever is left in my refrigerator to craft some yummy toasts. There are so many options of bread to play with, regardless of your dietary restrictions. I tend to stock up on a loaf of ciabatta (my personal favorite) and a loaf of gluten free bread so I have options at my fingertips. And with a few ingredients that you most likely have in your kitchen, you can craft something quickly and beautifully.

Hosting is my love language. Often, if a friend stops in, I love having the freedom to offer some form of nourishment and more often than not, it’s in the form of a toast.

My friend Lindsey once told me that when I taught her TOASTS, I also taught her the language of food. She moved to northern California and would call me often for recipe ideas for hosting a group of friends. TOAST! I told her. It’s simplistic and beautiful and YET. When you get creative and begin to think about what you have and how you can use it, you begin to think and imagine differently in life.

Toasts taught Lindsey to play. To be free in the kitchen. To let go of what she didn’t know, and to dive into thinking about food in a new way.

This spring, I wrote my first cookbook called TOAST, and it’s a book of 62 recipes of easy to follow and all together beautiful toasts that encourage you to play in the kitchen. Most recipes can be made in under 15 minutes, and at any time of the day.

There are so many life hacks to learn in the kitchen and making upping my Toast has taught me a few key things about elevating my life.

more toasts

Five quick hacks to elevate your Toast (and your life):

The FOUNDATION: Just like life, if you want a good toast, you need a solid and quality foundation. Start with good bread, a base that will carry the rest of the ingredients in a supportive and quality way. I love to source my bread locally from farmers markets or a nearby bakery. Starting well, whether it’s with Toast or with a project or with a relationship is key to building something great.

Add COLOR: I like to eat beautifully. We’re visual creatures that often eat with our eyes, so when we indulge in something beautiful, it changes the entire experience around biting into something. The more colorful food is generally points to its nutritional value (think fruits and veggies!) With Toast, add color! Add beauty to a solid foundation and you now have the beginnings of a delightful meal.

Think INTUITIVELY: This may be the best way to up your Toast (and life) game. Choose intuition. Think about the way that flavors may taste together, how certain ingredients may complement one another, and how what you already have in your kitchen can be used together. Often with food, we think we need to go and buy all of the ingredients for a recipe. But often, there are things in our kitchens that we already have that can be used in a resourceful and purposed way. Whenever we give ourselves freedom to think differently and creatively, we also give ourselves freedom to grow.

Choose TEXTURE AND ZEST: Isn’t it remarkable how the smallest detail or finishing touch can change an experience of food? One of my favorite go to’s with Toast is lime zest. It’s a small finishing detail that I add on at the end of many Toasts, and it completely elevates the flavor. I also love adding hemp seed to give my toasts a little crunch (and some added nutrition!) The crunch hits the palate in unique way, and adds that extra punch that takes Toast to the next level.

PLAY: Always play. I often meet people who are intimidated to cook because they are scared to fail. By giving yourself permission to play, you give yourself freedom to not take the kitchen too seriously. Creating a Toast can be fun, playful, and childlike. Like a child and a coloring book, get a little messy and color outside of the lines.

Whenever we give ourselves freedom to think differently and creatively, we also give ourselves freedom to grow.

berry toats 2

To learn more about me, my love of food and the art of hosting, visit my YouTube Channel and website!

To support TOAST and to get a copy, check out my kickstarter!

This book has 62 recipes of easy to follow and all together beautiful toasts that encourage you to play in the kitchen. Most recipes can be made in under 15 minutes and at any time of the day. With chapters of Sunrise, Savory and Sweet, you can craft toasts for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Plus, the photographs are so beautiful they’ll make your mouth water. The whole book is photographed by my favorite photographers Paper Antler and their images are stunning.

These recipes use healthy, vibrant ingredients that you likely already have on hand. There is a toast for every person inside, whether you are a vegan, gluten free, a non-dairy eater or a bacon-lover. Plus, there are many tips on substitutions and replacements so you can find creative freedom in whatever you are craving.

Images via Paper Antler

Kara Elise is an experience curator and hostess who works in the food and event space. Her greatest joy is to create spaces and experiences that cultivate community. Kara's expertise in hosting, recipe creation and food styling establish a culture of invitation through holistically designed, welcoming environments.

6 COMMENTS
  • Kara Elise! Loved this article and as one who had the joy in experiencing one of your hosted workshops, I have to exclaim that the toasts were the food stars at every meal!!! Can’t wait for my copy of TOAST, already planning my next family celebration with “toasts” in mind.

    • Kara August 2, 2017

      THANK YOU Margie!!! Hope you’re well and can’t wait for you to have TOAST in your hands!
      xx

  • Hannah August 2, 2017

    Love what you said about food creating a space for genuine connection. I worked in the catering/hospitality industry for 3 years, one of the things we always said was that people eat with their eyes first. I miss having so many fresh ingredients on hand, especially for garnishing. I loved to garnish with berries, fresh herbs, and nuts. I try to do my best to create healthy, yummy dishes at home. But I would love to be able to host dinners locally or plan community gatherings. Loved reading this article and I will have to check out your book!

    • Kara August 2, 2017

      Thank you Hannah! It really is the best vehicle for connection! I hope you get a copy of Toast and LOVE it!! xx

  • I like your little hacks on toast. I have it on the mornings when I don’t get granola or overnight oats, and always toasted slightly burnt. Bread just isn’t the same as toast!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

    • Kara August 2, 2017

      It’s so true! I also love my bread a little more charred 🙂 xx

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