My Aunt’s Taco Salad – Veganized with @BeyondMeat

I love love love my Aunt Linda’s Taco Salad. Everytime we would have a family event at my Dad’s parents home in southern Massachusetts she would seem to bring this very simple Taco Salad with her despite the fact she is a trained chef. You would think a trained chef would bring something more severe and fancy but nope, Taco Salad. Here is something I can tell you though, this is the best Taco Salad in the universe and if you are a trained chef and you want the masses to eat salad, this is the salad you bring! It is salty, sweet, hearty, and healthy all mixed together and thanks to Beyond Meat I can now make it VEGAN! (Insert personal dance party moves here). So grab this for the next potluck, Meatless Monday, or Taco Tuesday. You won’t be sorry.

Bravado aside here is the recipe. Enjoy!

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Aunty Linda’s Veganized Taco Salad

 

Ingredients:

2 bags frozen Beyond Meat Feisty Crumbles

2 tbs Olive Oil

2 heads of Iceberg Lettuce Shredded

2 tomatoes diced

1 snack size bag of Fritos (2-4 servings like you’d get at a convenience store)

Catalina Dressing (I use Kraft)

 

Cooking:

Heat Oil and crumbles in frying pan until cooked. Set aside

 

Finishing Preparation:

Chop and shred lettuce and place 1/2 in a bowl.

Chop tomatoes and place 1/2 in a bowl.

Add 1/2 of the crumbles to that bowl and mix. Then add remaining crumbles, lettuce, tomatoes, and toss until well combined.

Add Catalina dressing until covered like a Caesar salad.

Crush Fritos and add at the last minute and toss.

Serve immediately.

 

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Happy New Year. Food is Love.

The Hippie Gypsy.

Purple Potato French Fries

I buy purple potatoes frequently. (1) Because they are delicious, (2) because they are healthier, and (3) because they are more fun than regular white or red potatoes. When I was watching a cooking show the other day with my husband, one of the cooks used purple potatoes and they explained the health benefits and now my husband feels savvy in why I use them too. When I made these purple potato french fries he says to me “You know these are healthier than those starchy white potatoes.” I stated that yes I knew that and then laughed. At least all this crazy veganism is teaching him something too (other than how to avoid veggie based dinners by eating cereal and going to Taco Bell when I am not looking). With that, I want to introduce you to the tastiest french fries I have ever made and probably would never have made had I not been vegan. They are easy and better than Ore-Ida from the frozen bags and better than plain old baked white ones that I made as a kid. Enjoy!

 

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Purple Potato Fries

  • (1) Bag of Organic Purple Potatoes (24oz is about right)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of Olive Oil (1 is usually enough but use a little more so they get crispy and then drain them)
  • 1 tbsp or more Kosher Salt

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Cook!

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees.

Take each round potato and slice off two sides so that they are lying down flat with a flat top.

Then slice into 6 sticks by cutting another horizontal line to make two flat rounds stacked on top of each other and then three slices across to make 6 sticks (3 on each of the 2 layers).

There is no need to peel the potato. You can however place them in a bowl of cold water to soak if you want.

Do this to all potatoes. Toss with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Place on cookie sheet and into preheated oven for at least 20-25minutes. You will see them brown, sizzle and crisp.

Remove when done and place on paper towels to drain.

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I add a touch more salt while they are still damp with oil and then serve!

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They are sweet and nutty and so so so good. You will love them, I promise!

 

Serves 4-6.

WW Points for 4 Servings: 5 pts

WW Points for 6 servings: 3 pts

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Food is Love.

The Hippie Gypsy.

Creamy Broccoli Cheese Soup

When I wasn’t vegan and I was applying to law school I worked at a law firm in Quincy, MA near a Panera Bread. My favorite lunch was always a bowl of their signature Broccoli Cheese Soup and a toasted Asiago bagel and an apple.  The soup was so decadent and the sharp Asiago smothering the bagel made me just fall into a million pieces. I would’ve eaten this over a filet mignon or fancy lobster dinner (mostly because I never liked either but also because it was that good in my mind). So when I was beginning my ideas for this next week of blogging on soups, stews, and chowders I thought that I really must start off with Broccoli Cheese Soup. I have eaten the broccoli cheese soup in Chef Chloe’s cookbook and it is very good and very healthy but I wanted to make a truly decadent creamy creation that reminded me of that soup near the law firm. So with that I present my version.

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Creamy Vegan Broccoli Cheese Soup

Ingredients:

6 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup flour

1/2 tsp granulated garlic

1 tbsp vegetable bouillon paste (I use Penzey’s)

1 1/3 cup Daiya Mozzarella Shreds

(1) White Onion

(2) Heads of Broccoli

(6) Small or Baby Carrots

1 qt of Soy Creamer

1/2 cup soy milk

1 cup of water

1/4 cup Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese

1/4 cup Tofutti Sour Supreme Sour Cream

Salt

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Prepare the Base:

  • Put (2) tablespoons of oil in a pan with salt and (1) onion chopped into rings.
  • Sweat the onion on medium heat until very soft and light golden brown. They will naturally start to separate as they heat up, so continue stirring.
  • Take 1/2 of the onions out and place in an extra large sauce pan. Add broccoli and 1 tbsp oil and place on medium heat,
  • Toss oil, onions, and broccoli and sprinkle with salt. Leave on medium heat.
  • Take remaining onions in the frying pan and add 3 tablespoons oil and flour. Stir until it forms a paste.

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Cooking down the soup:

  • Pour creamer into large sauce pot with broccoli and onion mixture.
  • Bring to a simmer.
  • Add all remaining ingredients and oil/onion paste except for carrots.
  • Stir until broccoli is soft and well combined. The sauce should be thick now and form a film on top if not constantly stirred.
  • Take an immersion blender and place in pot allowing the blender to chop and puree the broccoli. You can reserve a few small pieces if you want it a little chunkier.
  • Then shred the carrots with a peeler or making matchsticks with a sharp knife and add a few minutes before serving. These should be cooked but slightly crisp.
  • Serve hot and Enjoy!

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Serves (7). 1 cup servings. WW Points 11.

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XOXOX,

The Hippie Gypsy

Meatless Monday Meal Menus and Recipes

At my office there are quite a few folks trying to do Meatless Mondays for environmental and health reasons. We have a fabulous Wellness Committee that I am honored to be a part of that organizes everything from 15minute chair massages to bootcamps to a Wellness Day once a year where everything that helps us be healthy comes together. This year there was healthy food, healthy activities, mindfulness activities, ecofriendly ideas for the year, carpooling incentives, etc. It’s amazing! I am very blessed to be here. I held the Meatless Mondays booth feeding the masses vegan and vegetarian foods and giving them the ecofriendly reasons to try Meatless Mondays as well as health benefits and of course the history behind it all. It was fun. But now is the hard part. Months have passed and my coworkers and others around the world participating in Meatless Mondays have to scour the fridge, the internet, and the grocery for menu ideas for the family when Monday comes around. So here are some collections of my recipes formed into “menus” to help my coworkers and fellow Meatless Monday participants out. Enjoy!

(1) Homestyle Comfort Meal

(2) Fresh and Quick

(3) Guy’s Night

(4) Ladies Night

(5) Kids Night

(6) Holiday Meal

XOXOX,

The Hippie Gypsy

Holy Guacamole!

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I decided to eat avocados but I know it wasn’t when I lived in Southern California where they grow and I would’ve had the best opportunity at this particular produce. I am funny sometimes in that way. I always find a way to randomly miss a great opportunity like when I got parasite in Guatemala the day before I was supposed to zipline through a rainforest a life long bucket list item. Instead I was in the parking lot getting sick next to a van. But I digress. Back to the avocado, I was always turned off by the green black pimply shell and the bring mushy green insides of this so-called fruit. I knew it was fairly fatty but everyone seemed to love it as some sort of super food. So I categorized it with all those other superfoods like Wheatgrass and Seaweed and Blue Green Algae all of which (at that point) I was not buying into. They seemed alien and gross and I preferred Cheetos and Frozen Pizza. I remember trying guacamole once because my friend CiCi demanded it was amazing at a local mexican food chain one night. I thought it was soupy bland and boring. Then sometime in the past year I started putting avocado on my sandwiches to bulk them up a little after having warmed up to the smoothness of them against spicy roasted peppers at a peruvian sandwich shop near Downtown Crossing in Boston before I went vegan. I decided it was time to try guacamole but on my own terms. I would have to make it myself. I scoured the internet and saw about a thousand different recipes and gave up on them all. What flavors would I want? What would make it fresh? My mom says cilantro tastes like soap and avocados like dirt so how can I offset those flavors that she thinks she tastes so she won’t gag at the next dinner party? So I spent the day in the grocery store and then in the kitchen mixing the flavors together until I got what I wanted. I didn’t want mushy, I needed some acidity, I needed salt. So here is what I produced. It is both mom and husband approved and everyone that has tried it said the same thing “I usually don’t like guacamole from the store but I love this it’s so fresh tasting!” Mission accomplished.

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Guacamole

Ingredients:

1-2 capfuls of lemon juice

2 avocados

1 container of Whole Foods PreMade Salsa Fresca (or you can make it:  http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/learn-cook-fresh-salsa)

Kosher Salt

Fresh Ground Pepper

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Time to Prepare!

  1. I make sure that both of my avocados are a little soft to the touch they don’t have to be super squishy but a finger imprint and a dark skin almost black are good signs.
  2. I then slice them in half by placing them upright like a pear and going straight down until I hit the seed and then circling around the seed keeping that straight line of cutting it in half.
  3. I pull the two halves apart and I either scoop out the seed with my avocado tool or if it is in the dishwasher I pull it out with my fingers or I stick a knife in it and pull until it loosens up and falls out.
  4. I then scrape out the contents with my avocado tool or make a slice down the center of the fruit flesh without piercing the skin and then across making little blocks and turn it inside out to pop out the blocks of avocado like ice cubes in a tray.
  5. I take all the cubes and mash them lightly with my avocado tool or a fork but I make sure it stays chunky. Over mashing will cause it to get soupy when you add the lemon juice and salsa.
  6. Then add kosher salt and pepper to taste. I use at least 1-2 teaspoons of salt and a few grinds from a small pepper grinder.
  7. Add the capful or two of lemon juice (I use Real Lemon) and then toss with a fork.
  8. Last add 2-3 heaping spoonfuls of the salsa fresca to the mixture and lightly mix. This adds the exact freshness that the guacamole needs to not be bland. I love that Whole Foods prepares it and has it on ice in the prepared foods section. I would hate to have to cut up all those tomatoes and onions. 
  9. Serve with corn chips or on top of my chili recipe.  

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Weight Watchers Points: 1/4 of bowl is 4 points. 1/8 is 2 points. So eat it up with some fresh chopped veggies or in a veggie soup for a low point dinner or lunch!

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XOXOX,

The Hippie Gypsy

 

Fillo Primavera: Veggie and Cheese Filled Pastries

I love that there are so many types of pastry and dough on the market that are vegan. Mostly because Crisco and Shortening are vegan, not healthy, but vegan none the less. So when I was craving something like a Beef Wellington pastry I thought oooh I bet I could make those with fillo dough, pie dough, Pillsbury Croissant Dough, or even pizza dough! So for my first attempt I didn’t go straight to the Gardein Beef but instead to some veggies and Daiya cheese but please feel free to try these with any type of faux meat, vegetable, cheese, or even fruit! The Farmer’s Markets are brimming with good things lately so I encourage you to experiment with this. Make an eggplant parm fillo or even a butternut squash one with a pinch of cinnamon and brown sugar try a dessert fillo with peaches and earth balance , sugar, ginger, and cardamom. Whatever you can imagine will fit perfectly in this dough!

Fillo Primavera

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Fillo Primavera

Vegan Fillo Dough

  • 1 box Organic Fillo Dough
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 block Daiya Havarti Cheese
  • Kosher Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Dehydrated Onions
  • Olive Oil
  • Optional: 1 Container of Victoria Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo Sauce or Rao’s Marinara Sauce (Victoria Vegan Alfredo Sauces are available at www.veganessentials.com and Rao’s Sauces are available in most grocery stores including Whole Foods)

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Prepare!

  1. Chop all veggies into tiny pieces to accommodate the fillo packages that will go in the muffin pan.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Spray muffin pans lightly with olive oil.
  4. Cut fillo dough into squares twice as large as the muffin tin holes.
  5. Place at least 3 sheets of the fillo dough square into each muffin tin hole.               Fillo Dough
  6. Spray dough with olive oil, sprinkle with Salt, Pepper, and Spices.
  7. Place chopped veggies and crumbled cheese into each fillo muffin.                                                                   Fillo Filling
  8. Add 1-2 tsp of optional sauces at this time like Victoria Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo or Rao’s Marinara.         Fillo Filling 2
  9. Sprinkle tops with more salt, pepper, and spices.
  10. Bring excess dough to a point and twist. Spray with olive oil and a sprinkle of finishing salt.

Cook!

fillo primavera baking

  1. Bake for at least 15minutes or until the dough on top starts to darken and the dough separates from the sides of the muffin tin. It may take longer depending on how dense your cups and what types of ingredients you filled it with.      Fillo Baking Done
  2. Note: Use more fill sheets for juicier fruits and veggies and less for more dense foods like chicken and broccoli.
  3. Serve immediately and enjoy!

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XOXOX,

The Hippie Gypsy

Moroccan Salad with Chopped Apricots and Sliced Raw Almonds

I loved potlucks pre-vegan because I would get to try all kinds of yummy creations at work, church, neighbors homes, wherever.  When I became vegan I looked at these like a kid picked last in kick ball. I felt left out, unwanted, and underrepresented. How can I participate in an event that never accommodates me. There are large crockpots of meatballs and beautiful casseroles and of course someone brings cake and pie. All made with cream, butter, eggs, and meat. It smells good but alas I am out of the game. I pray for the person who brings bread and salad. However is that what I really want? No I want to bring and eat a delicious yummy array of foods and casseroles. So since it is summer dive into this Couscous salad that everyone will like but it gives you those carbs you need to get through an event without bringing Seitan or Tofu or something the carnivore’s may dub “weird” and not scoop a side dish of!

I built this recipe off one I saw at the Wynn Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas at their Buffet (although I think they may have added soy yogurt). As some of you may know, Steve Wynn turned vegan in 2010 and made my travel much easier so I make Las Vegas a travel destination now. Every restaurant at his hotel is required to serve a vegan menu in addition to its standard fare. So please go take a trip to Vegas grab some Couscous salad, hit it big on the slots, and then send me a message and tell me all about it!

Ingredients are simple:

4-6 cups prepared Pearl (Israeli) Couscous

1/2 cup of sliced raw almonds

1/4 cup -1 cup Orange Juice

1 tsp-1 tbsp Salt (for boiling water that couscous is in)

 1 tbsp Curry powder (or more to taste, I use Penzey’s “Balti” Curry Powder)

1 bag diced dried Apricots (get the bright orange ones from the salad section)

Because your event size may vary I am going to be vague in this recipe.

Make your couscous per the instruction so that it is not sticky but dry and loose. Always salt your water with at least 1 tsp if not 1 tbsp of kosher salt. While still hot add the orange juice in small amounts, so it cooks down a bit.

Add the curry to taste. I start with a tablespoon and then go from there while the OJ is still warm in the couscous. I like to add a dash of turmeric to bring a nice yellow hue to the couscous without adding too much flavor, parsley will do this as well by adding a fleck of color.

Next, add almonds and diced apricots when the couscous has cooled. I use about 1/2 cup almonds and a whole package of apricots that I diced or cut into small pieces with meat scissors. This adds the crunch and sweetness you need to balance the dish.

Refrigerate until event. Serve chilled.

PS My mother hates curry so I called this Moroccan Salad and she ate it!

Curried Pumpkin Kale Soup for Beginner Vegans

So I was in Kauai on my honeymoon and stumbled upon Cafe Coco on the main highway just north of Lihue. It is set back a bit but after researching various vegetarian and vegan friendly establishments I was sure that I would be okay here. The Frommers guide had promised me and I took that promise as an oath, mostly because I was tired and hungry. So my reluctant carnivore husband gave up his dinner plans of Luau Style Pork Feasts and entertained my request and in we walked to a small mostly outdoor cafe set far from the road with a family like atmosphere. The owner was there and two staff a waitress and cook, but more importantly a third unofficial staff member was a medium sized, dark-colored cat. The cat had been there longer than the restaurant we were told by the owner and waitress. I thought this was wonderful that the cat was the keeper of this place and it seemed almost romantic to have a cat that was a caretaker of a cafe specializing in vegan and vegetarian options (although it does have limited fish and chicken dishes).

When it was time to order I was delighted to see that most of the meals were accompanied by a Pumpkin Soup and a salad. I ordered the samosas (the first night) and when they came they lost their thunder to my first spoonful of the pumpkin soup. I later told the waitress and owner that I would move here just for her soup and work in her kitchen for free. She laughed and stated she would put me to work if I kept coming. I did keep coming for those 2 weeks however, I never crossed paths with the owner after that. Only her cat and her cookies and the soup.

So it inspired me when I got home to find out how she made this recipe and I set to mimicking it the best I could. Turns out the recipe I created is not very complicated and is a “dump” and mix kind of deal. So please try this recipe even if you think it’s too warm out or you hate curry. It is worth every taste, every drop, it is an experience.

1 CAN Coconut Milk (don’t use the bottled kind its different in terms of fat content and texture)
2 cans Pumpkin (pureed not chunky)
1 tbsp curry powder (I use Balti by Penzey’s Spices)
4 cups vegetable broth (you can use 4 condensed liquid packets with 4 cups water)
1 pinch kosher salt
1 cup apple cider (I use Simply Apple Juice since it is available year round)
1 onion or equivalent dehydrated onion pieces
3 cloves garlic or equivalent granulated powder/pieces
1 bunch kale deveined and finely chopped (I use herb scissors)
1/8 cup olive oil

 Place all items, except kale, over medium in large sauce pan.

 

Chop the Kale with herb scissors or a sharp knife. Then, add kale just after the mixture is heated and steaming.

 
Bring to a boil, then place on simmer, and reduce until thick about 1hr. 

 

Serve hot. Refrigerate leftovers for up to a week in glass bowls (preferably).

Veganized Spinach Artichoke Dip

I missed spinach artichoke dip. The yummy kind you had at the chain restaurants when you went out for a girl’s night and a movie or a date in your early 20’s. It was always gooey fun and my stepkids love it also… so why not veganize it? My first instinct was because it is too hard without the dairy but no no no, it is not! This is an easy dump and go recipe for even the most novice! So beginner vegans enjoy your chips and dip! I have served this to a bunch of my husband’s friends and they never new the sneaky truth. Nor did I tell them. And it will stay that way.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 4 tbsp Garlic
  • 2 tbsp Onion
  • 2-4tbsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 tbsp Basil
  • 1 can Artichoke Hearts (drain & dice)
  • 1 block frozen spinach (thaw)
  • 5oz Block Vegan Mozzarella Cheese (diced) (I use Cross Your Heart)
  • 1/4 cup Tofutti Sour Cream
  • 8 oz. tub Vegan Cream Cheese (Tofutti or Galaxy)
  • 4 tbsp Vegan Parmesean (I only use Galaxy brand for this recipe)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp red pepper flakes (to taste)

TIME TO COOK!

Take 4tbsp olive oil in bottom of saucepan and throw in garlic (i use alot lke 4 tbsp and the frozen kind in the little cartons is the best to use), some onion I use about 2 tbsp of dehydrated onions, kosher salt to taste (at least 2-4tbsp i use more), and basil at least 1 tbsp.

Heat until it starts to get a touch of brown on the garlic and then dump in a drained can of finely diced up artichoke hearts that were in water; mix. Then dump in the following after the mixture is warm:

  • 1 thawed frozen block of spinach,
  • 5oz or a half of a block of mozzarella flavored cross your heart vegan cheese diced into smaller cubes;
  • 1/4 cup tofutti sour cream (its vegan),
  • 1 whole 8oz container of tofutti cream cheese (its vegan); and
  • 4tbsp of vegan parmesean cheese.

Mix until mozzarella melts. I add more salt and basil at the end and a bit of red pepper (2 shakes) and 1 tsp of smoked paprika.

ENJOY!

NOTE: The nutritional is as follows (I did this myself so it may be a little off). For the whole thing (17.75 servings at 2oz a serving or 1/4cup) It is 35.5oz; 1670 calories, 136grams fat; 61.5 cabrs; 11.5grams fiber; Now by serving it is 94 calories, 7.7grams of fat; 3.5 carbs; 0.65 grams fiber; 1.9 protein, and 3 ww points (it can be 5pts for 2 servings so you save by eating in bulk lol). I eat it with corn chips and find one serving works with one serving of 10 round chips. Enjoy!