Lifestyle expert Mahin Arastu has insight on what puts people at ease. In her past life, she was a neuroscientist who worked on understanding human behaviors before embarking on launching her lifestyle firm Substantial Living. Arastu’s understanding on how the brain works is put to daily use as she works with a variety of clients to create unfettered, authentic engagements across a variety of disciplines from travel to home. So we grabbed Mahin and asked her to put together her version of a relaxed and easy weekend get together. Mahin’s interpretation of low-key draws up on her mantra of simplicity with a leaning towards her Bay Area upbringing.
Arastu emphasizes relaxation during her time off and her approach to weekend entertaining reflects that ethos. She pulled together 4 ingredients – raw, simple with no preservatives. It’s a meal that honors nature, health and those she is sharing it with.
Double Gloucester Cheddar
Substantial Living Mixed Pickled Vegetable Achar
For Mahin, the joy of entertaining is the people, so she always plans a meal that most things are assembled rather than cooked. “It’s the people and the interaction that the food fosters that is important,” she says. This is why she for this meal she chose her go to entertaining appetizer, Chipotle Avocado Crostini – it’s simple, quick and always delicious!
- fresh bread (french boule is a great option)
- fresh avocado slices
- extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt or fleur de sel
- chipotle chili flakes
- Slice the bread on the diagonal into slices. Lightly coat each slice with olive oil and toast in a 450 degree oven until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool on baking rack.
- Drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil on toasted crostini and lay long slices of avocado across each slice. Once all crostini are assembled, drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with salt and chili flakes.
- Style with edible flower petals and enjoy!
Aside from an uncomplicated menu, Mahin tries to follow these 5 tips when entertaining. Think of them as her mantra to a stress free and fun filled evening.
6 Tips For Easy Weekend Entertaining
- Be GENUINE. Don’t try to impress your guests doing things you would not normally do, just to be a “good host”. Feel joy that someone is coming into your home,and that you get to share a huge part of your life with them.
- ASK DIETARY PREFERENCES. Save yourself and your guests the headache and ask about restrictions and preferences before setting the menu. This shows respect and thoughtfulness. It always makes me feel so nice when people ask me what I eat and don’t, and try to be mindful of that. It requires some work, but all good things in life do.
- SIMPLICITY is BEAUTY. Less is always more. If you are not comfortable cooking a lot, just make the things you really enjoy eating-even if it’s simple mac and cheese. I find my inspiration from nature-which is uncomplicated and pure.
- CLEAN Your Kitchen. Before your guests come clean up your mess. You could be a Michelin-rated chef, but if you have a messy kitchen, it ruins the experience for the guest. No one wants to look into a kitchen that looks like a disaster zone.
- SERVE with ENTHUSIASM. If you are not excited about your food or your guests, who else will be? Excitement and passion are contagious. Find something you love about the process-the medicinal properties of the spices, a cool historical fact about the food or dishes, or anything, and share the love.
- MUSIC. Completes the circle of senses. I love streaming old school jazz like Billie Holiday or international flavors such as Cesaria Evora in the background.
Weekend entertaining doesn’t need t be difficult. Focus on energies on the people you invited, follow Mahin’s simple tips and your next party will be smooth sailing!
Photography Credit: Substantial Living