Dr. McDougall’s Meal Plan Day 2 (Breakfast and Lunch Only)

So we are on Day 2. Last night, I had a portion controlled dinner including thai curry seitan with grains that was just so yummy and 350 calories so definitely staying on track! I wasn’t sure I could do it with leftover pie in the house but I did ūüôā .Today we started the day off with the Organic Maple Whole Grain Oatmeal. I figured this was a safe bet. Everyone loves simple oatmeal with maple syrup. I, as a New Englander, have that stuff running through my veins after a childhood of nothing but that for breakfast every morning in the winter and my grandmother would put a splash of milk on top to cool it down. Who knew then I was allergic?

That being said. Let’s analyze Day 2!

 

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Breakfast: Organic Maple Whole Grain Oatmeal (GF)

Day 2 started out challenging because I was STARVING by the time I got to work. I had a hot coffee and my oatmeal and put in a splash less boiling water and the oatmeal came out freaking perfect! Fluffy with a chew and awesome. I loved the maple flavor. it didn’t taste fake or artificial like a fake sweetener. I got full less than halfway through and I take into account not only the heat of my office window but the coffee and oatmeal being hot as well. The oatmeals are just so filling I am not sure what this company does but its magical. I was still picking away at it an hour later because I was full but wanted to stay that way all day. Definitely a winner, I think I liked it more than the apple.

 

IMG_1106   IMG_1105

 

Lunch: Curry Almond Brown & Wild Rice Salad

FYI this is not a cold salad. This is a hot bowl of rice unless you choose to refrigerate it later which honestly sounds just as good as when I ate it hot but would take longer at work and well I am hungry by lunch. This meal is super filling and amazingly delicious. I loved the light curry flavor and the surprise sweetness when I would get a piece of dried fruit or crunch an almond. Sooo yummy. I wish I ordered more of these now so I could but some in the fridge as snacks. We are going away this weekend and this would’ve been the perfect food for lunch stops. I can’t eat much at those roadside places and honestly I don’t even want to because who wants a belly ache of burgers and fries on a long drive? Not me. The downside of this meal is only 1 thing. The smell of the curry may linger on your hands if you get some on you. Which I did. Because I am a mess. It gets a little strong later in the day and you have to wash your hands a few times. Otherwise enjoy the curry goodness. This was delicious!

 

IMG_1102   IMG_1103

 

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Overall? A huge win today for the BRUNCH period of my day. I was very surprised and floored by how good this food is and I felt full all day at work. Usually I nibble away at snacks. So happy ūüôā

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Food is Love.

The Hippie Gypsy

So I had a baby. Now I have no time. So I use MANY vegan life hacks (5 recipes included)!

I had a baby a few weeks back. I was very ill before that causing a HUGE lull in my blogging and quite honestly my eating as well. I developed preeclampsia and could barely eat anything or walk, before that I got C-Diff… again no eating mostly doing the opposite of eating. I was the worst pregnant lady ever. If I was glowing it was strictly from swelling and fever. Thank goodness that is over. And let us welcome my vegan baby Solana Bray!

 

Solana

 

That all aside… I am getting back into my kitchen. Cooking when I can. Thinking of new recipes and enjoying my short moments of quiet when they come. The baby is out of the NICU (newborn intensive care unit, she was only 3lbs at birth but look at those cheeks now!) and at home so these moments are rare nowadays and my two stepchildren came to live with us in August. I think it is easy to tell that things have been hectic. So today I wanted to share some of my yummy vegan life hacks that I have been using to get through meal and snack times after work and on the weekends.

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VEGAN HACK RECIPES:

 

Peanut Butter Cookies: Use Betty Crocker Peanut Butter Cookie Mix and then sub out eggs with Egg Replacer. They come out perfect. I also use a silpat instead of cooking them directly on a cookie sheet because they are a little more crumbly. Let them sit for a few minutes before serving or else they fall apart.

 

Cinnamon Rolls: Use Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and don’t separate them at the triangle perforations or buy the dough itself if you can find it. They spread with Earth Balance Buttery Spread and sprinkle with cinnamon, brown sugar, and Penzey’s Vanilla Sugar. Roll up and then cut into 8-10 mini rolls. Bake for about 8-10 minutes until browned. Again, I use a silpat because they get sticky :).

 

Cheese Quesadilla: Grab some tostadas from the Mexican section of your grocery. I prefer Maizada. Top with crumbled Daiya Jalapeno Havarti. Microwave for about 30-45 seconds and top with another tostada and microwave 10 more seconds. Enjoy!

 

Taco Salad: I eat this for lunch almost everyday lately. Chop up 1 head of iceberg lettuce. Add shredded carrots. Toss with Catalina dressing. Then mix in cooked Beyond Meat Feisty Crumbles (I make 2 packages) and crushed Fritos. It will be your favorite lunch, I promise. My step kids adore it as a quick dinner as well!

 

Chocolate Chip Pancakes: 4 cups Bisquick, 3 1/2 cups Silk soy creamer, 1/2 tablespooon of Penzey’s almond extract, 1 cup of Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips. Mix and cook on a skillet sprayed with Pam Canola Oil Spray. These are amazing. As a quick trick sprinkle some Penzey’s Vanilla Sugar on the raw side before you flip it and they are amazing! What a treat! Makes enough for 4-6 hungry people.

 

And there is always this very easily veganized “cronut” recipe to indulge in if these weren’t enough to make your holiday happier!

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Happy Holidays! Much Love! Food is Love!

 

Enjoy!

The Hippie Gypsy.

Lemon Blueberry Breakfast Bundt Cake

I use two cookbooks when making cakes in most cases either Chef Chloe’s cookbook “Chloe’s Kitchen” or the “Joy of Vegan Baking”. The Joy of Vegan Baking has an excellent Lemon Blueberry Loaf Cake Recipe if I remember correctly. For the purposes of this cake we are doctoring up Chef Chloe’s vanilla cake recipe (www.chefchloe.com) and making it a lemon blueberry cake for brunch in honor of my Mother’s birthday this past week.

My family is big on brunch. We do Easter brunch every year and for most informal birthday or family get togethers. We are great at doing brunch and I have been to so many hotel brunches¬†all over the world I feel spoiled by them during my Sunday indulgences. I think that brunch is so much fun for everyone because it encourages good eating through small portions and copious amounts of veggie and fruit options even when they are not always attached to vegan items. There are fruit cups, quiches, and omelettes¬†filled with veggie fillings so I am all about it! However, the pastries and baked goods are always filled¬†with eggs and dairy so I am going to change that today with this travel friendly recipe to bring to your next family soiree. I promise everyone will love it. I have made it for a potluck at work a few years ago and recently for a family get together after the funeral of my grandmother and as the only vegan I always suffer the “this tastes different” criticism. But not with this cake. Even my Dad was found picking at it long after brunch was over!

lemon blueberry cake altered image

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Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup of fresh blueberries (plus 1 cup for garnish)
  • 1 jar lemon marmalade (for garnish)
  • 1 tbsp of Lemon Extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (or gluten-free all-purpose flour plus 1 ¬Ĺ teaspoon xanthan gum)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¬ĺ cups soy milk
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • ¬ľ cup white or apple cider vinegar (I use ACV not white)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (I use Penzey’s Mexican Vanilla Extract)

blueberries garnish cake

TIME TO BAKE!

Chef Chloe’s Vanilla Cake Recipe with my additions in bold caps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease three 8 or 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together nondairy milk (I USE ORGANIC SOYMILK) , oil, vinegar, and vanilla (ALSO ADD THE ZEST OF ONE LEMON RIND AND 1TBSP OF LEMON EXTRACT AND 2 TBSP OF LEMON JUICE.)
  3. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined. Do not over mix. (THEN SPRINKLE 1 CUP OF FRESH BLUEBERRIES LIGHTLY WITH FLOUR AND FOLD INTO BATTER. THE FLOUR HELPS THEM FROM SINKING STRAIGHT TO THE BOTTOM OF THE CAKE PAN.)
  4. Fill each prepared (BUNDT) cake pan evenly with batter. Bake for (20-30) minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean with a few crumbs clinging to it. Rotate the cakes halfway through the baking time. Cool the cakes completely before assembly.
  5. I then flip the cake over on a cake pedestle and sprinkle with powdered sugar and garnish with fresh blueberries in the center. I serve this with lemon marmalade that I buy when it is on sale at Christmas Tree Shops since they are famous for having sales on jars of jellies.

lemon blueberry cake 2

Enjoy!

Serves 12.

lemon blueberry bundt cake

 

WW POINTS: 9pts per serving. (Based on 12 servings)

 

blueberry cake chunk

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XOXOX,

The Hippie Gypsy

My Vegan Easter Dinner Menu

Being Vegan at Easter is a strange situation. Easter is about honoring a man who died for our sins and the celebrations of compassion, faith, rebirth and yet we kill animals¬†to celebrate. Does that mean the ham is supposed to be Jesus and we are just reenacting this whole mess, like at church how we eat the bread and call it the body of Christ? Kinda¬†odd how us humans do things¬†isn’t it? At least the Eucharist is vegan. I think.

Last year we skipped the normal brunch with my family because of some internal issues with the family and my wedding was about to happen. It was a crazy time. This year we are doing a dinner at the parents house. My husband lives for these events because he can feast on meat and cheese (even though he is lactose intolerant) until he passes out in a food coma. I however know that at these events it is a time to cook the night before or analyze menus of possible “brunch” spots for weeks so that¬†I can call and preorder my veganized entr√©e. I preorder now in most cases because certain parts of my family get very irritated with my vegan ordering and the fact I always end up explaining “why” I am vegan. I don’t mind telling the story (because it was a health issue and not some factory farm scary story) but I have learned that it makes a very sensitive issue (food) a more sensitive issue to those that may already be hyper aware of poor eating habits and their own choices that they are silently sensitive of.

So this year is good because I am bringing my own food to my parents and that is the easiest way to guarantee I eat well on a holiday. Although I must note my mother has become quite the vegan friendly chef and is constantly finding new vegan foods and recipes¬†for me. Once I got the green light, I then fell into a confused panic. What do I substitute for the traditional Ham dinner? I could’ve made a killer brunch but a ham dinner? That is hard.

So I inventoried several traditional Easter Dinner “Menus” and picked items that were the most common:

  • Glazed Ham
  • Parker House Rolls
  • Scalloped Potatoes
  • Cooked Asparagus
  • Cooked Carrots
  • Salad

When I took a look at this menu I thought this is easy to veganize except for the ham (and I am not much for Asparagus but whatever), and¬†the ham is always a staple. Which was my original debacle. Some serve Lamb instead but I was hard pressed to find a faux lamb roast on a few days notice either. So I decided I¬†will recreate every item on this menu with a vegan option recipe and I will have to figure out something for that rich sweet and salty ham. I could be simple and just throw in a roast of any sort. A field roast from the refrigerated section or a Gardein Holiday Roast but no, no, no…¬†I am going to master this with an option that will be just as filling and tasty and will harmonize with this spring Easter theme without being too Hippie/Crunchy/Healthy since it is an indulgent feast we are having, no?

Let us start with our cooked veggies.

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Maple Glazed Carrots

Ingredients:

1 package Peeled Baby Carrots

3 tbsp olive oil or an olive oil sprayer

1/4 cup maple syrup whisked with 2-3tbs of water

Kosher Salt

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Preheat Oven at 425degrees. Spray carrots with olive oil or toss in olive oil and place in a roasting pan or in a cake pan if you don’t have one. Sprinkle with salt and then use a basting blush to baste carrots with syrup/water mixture. Once all are basted drizzle any excess over the whole pan of carrots. Roast until brown and soft.

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Braised Asparagus

Ingredients:

1 bunch fresh asparagus

3 tbsp olive oil or olive oil sprayer

kosher salt

ground black pepper

1/8 cup dehydrated minced onions

1/8 cup water

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Preheat oven to 425degrees.

In a pan bring brown onions by heating water and oil and a pinch of salt together on medium low. Once the onions are lightly browned toss in asparagus salt and some ground pepper to taste. Once the asparagus is lightly seared on one side transfer to the oven in an oven safe dish until tender.

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Chopped Tomato Basil Salad

Ingredients:

1/4  Bunch of Fresh Basil

2 tbsp Dehydrated Minced Onions

4 Tomatoes (freshly diced)

1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar

1/2 cup Olive Oil

1tbsp Kosher Salt

1-2 tbsp Granulated Garlic or Minced Frozen Garlic

2 tbsp Agave Nectar

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Toss shredded basil, diced tomatoes, and onions in a medium mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl whisk together all other contents until combined. Then drizzle over the tomatoes until covered and toss. I rebalance the vinegar oil combo each time I make this so please feel free to play with it or just by a simple balsamic dressing and add garlic and agave after! After everything is combined place in fridge to marinate for at least 30minutes. Serve cold.

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Scalloped Potatoes

scalloped potatoes 2

Ingredients:

1 small bag of white, red, or purple potatoes (about 2 lbs)

1/2 Earth Balance Buttery Stick

1 cup Soy or Almond Milk

1 block Daiya Havarti Cheese

1 bag Daiya Mozzarella Cheese

Kosher Salt

Ground Pepper

Thyme

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Preheat the oven to 350degrees.

Gather a casserole or Pyrex dish that is decorative enough that you would serve this in. I use a circular Pyrex dish that looks similar to a pie plate. So you can see the layers.

Next you need a large mixing bowl, potato peeler, knife, chopping board/mat, and mandoline.

First grease the casserole ban using the earth balance and take the rest and place it in a microwave safe container with the milk. This will be microwaved until the butter is melted and then whisked until combined right before you place the contents in the oven.

I half peel the potatoes so then have some skin. You can fully peel if this is your preference. I then slice them on the mandoline at a varied size between paper-thin and the 2nd thinnest setting. Placing the discs of potato in a mixing bowl and sprinkling them with salt from time to time.

Next, begin layering the potato discs into the casserole. I overlap them on the edges and work around the edge and in a circular motion spiraling to the center. When I get to the center I sprinkle the layer very lightly with salt, pepper, and mozzarella cheese and then do another layer spiraling outward with potatoes again. The next payer I alternate the sprinkling to simple the havarti cheese which I pinch small amounts of and sprinkle on and do a layer of thyme. No salt or pepper this time. Then another layer and we alternate back to the salt, pepper, and mozzarella. This goes on until you reach the top layer which gets a little of each sprinkle topping and then the warm milk mixture is poured on top.

Place in the oven for 40-50 minutes. Let sit 2minutes. Serve hot.

scalloped potatoes

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Parker House Rolls

So I rarely suggest a recipe I have not tried or invented myself but my mother seems to be able to buy Parker House Rolls in Charlestown so I never make them (oh and Charlestown is a Boston Neighborhood known for bank robbers where my family lives but they don’t rob banks, see the movie “The Town” with Ben Affleck, it is not the same as Charleston in South Carolina; different accent, different tea). So I looked through the web and found one recipe I found trusty and delicious and that looked like what my mother so successfully procures for the holidays.

Here is Veganize Everything’s blog recipe on Parker House Rolls: http://veganizeeverything.blogspot.com/2012/01/vegan-parker-house-rolls.html

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Now for the ham. This has literally taken days for me to figure out. I am not going to lie, I probably should’ve given out some silly note to just go buy a Field Roast. I also found a Vegan Ham Roll along my journeys so those that love ham feel free to find it online or at your local Natural Foods store. I however was continuing my journey until I stumbled upon this site: http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/2009/11/definitive-vegan-stuffing-post-recipe.html¬†. It made me realize that I could do a lot with¬†a vegan dish I just learned to make: Seitan! Or as my husband likes to joke “that Satan stuff”.

I buy the West Soy Seitan Cubes to make Seitan Marsala. So why not make a smoky, sweet ham version? I think we will. You will need the Seitan cubes, maple syrup, pineapple, and maybe some liquid smoke I imagine.¬† So I looked through some recipes and this is my version of Easter Dinner’s Main course.

Smoky, Sweet Easter Seitan Dinner

Ingredients:

Olive Oil

Kosher Salt

Ground Black Pepper

1 Package West Soy Seitan Cubes

1 can crushed pineapple (optional)

1 tbsp Maple Syrup

1tsp liquid smoke

In a deeper frying pan place olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Toss in Seitan Cubes once the skillet is warm. Next sprinkle the seitan with salt and pepper to taste. Toss the seitan in oil with a spatula until lightly browned avoiding splashing the oil, then add liquid smoke and maple syrup. Allow to reduce slightly and carmelize, stirring constantly to avoid sticking. Then toss in crushed pineapple right before serving for a ham and pineapple vibe if you feel so inclined.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Cherry Brownie Cupcakes

So during the Superbowl (that I was not impressed at all with, Go Pats!). I decided to experiment on my two favorite people who will eat just about anything. My lovely husband and my very good asian male friend. Both will eat vegan food without any fuss. My husband because he will eat anything, and in bulk. My friend because he grew up in a Chinese family where “vegan” isn’t a foreign or scary but very normal and part of the culture. That being said I decided I would make a chocolate cherry cupcake that was half homemade. Basically an adaptation of the boxed variety. I also figured this could be a great treat for potlucks, birthdays, and the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday!

So I got to work looking for a good boxed brownie mix that was vegan. I found Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie mix¬†which is really just brownie mix with chocolate chips and that seemed perfect. The reason I say that is because a.) the chocolate chips in the mix were vegan and B.) generally if chocolate cake/brownie mixes do not have chips in them I will add them to add a light flavor mask over any vegetables I toss in and their potential after taste. That being said… enter pumpkin. I know you can add a can of pumpkin to cake mix in lieu of oil/water/eggs but brownies I always hear “add black beans and puree them”. This has never sat well with me as I am part mexican and think refried¬†beans don’t go with my dessert they only touch chocolate in mole, so I went back to my trusty canned pumpkin. Also let me note that you should NEVER add the egg replacer powder with your oil/water to brownie mixes the batter will separate during baking and you will be left with a rubbery batter covered in an oil slick. Oh and my husband will still eat it FYI.

So I added pumpkin to my brownie mix and then stirred forever. Once combined I placed batter equally in 12 paper cups in a cupcake pan. I then microwaved bagged frozen cherries from Whole Foods and placed one squished down in the center of each cupcake. They will be a little runny but that is totally ok. Then I covered half the cherries with a little more batter and half I left exposed. This was just to see what was a better method. Both came out fine so it is really up to you! I liked the batter topped a little better because it seemed like a hidden treasure but the exposed cherry is aesthetically more pleasing unfrosted. I then baked it according to the pan brownie suggestions on the box.
 

brownie batter

Mini Recipe:

Ingredients: Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix, (1) Can pumpkin, Whole Foods Frozen whole cherries, Betty Crocker Vanilla Frosting, Sliced Raw Almonds, Vegan Chocolate Chips (12chips).

Instructions: Add canned pumpkin to mix. Stir. Place in cupcake papers inside cupcake pan. Add defrosted cherries to center. Bake at 325degrees for about 40minutes. Take out. Let cool. Add frosting a sprinkle of almonds and one chocolate chip!

 

brownie cupcake

 

The end result. They came out so yummy! They are better cooled however. Gives the cherry juice a chance to settle into the cake.

They were lighter than a fudgy brownie but more dense than a box made cupcake. I thought they were perfect. I added a dollop of vanilla frosting (Betty Crocker from the aerosol decorator can) and then sprinkled with raw sliced almonds and one vegan semisweet chocolate chip. However for Valentine’s Day I am thinking red sparkly sprinkles and a heart-shaped dollop or maybe a blue frosting heart? Any suggestions?

Well anyway the almonds are the perfect addition. I am actually thinking I may add a shake of almond extract to the batter next time to increase that sweet cherry flavor. I will tell you all how it “pans” out ūüėČ … pun intended!

Happy Valentine’s Day folks! Enjoy the chocolatey love with your sweet!

XOXOX, The Hippie Gypsy

Top 25 Must Have Vegan Grocery and Pantry Items

Inspired by a recent post I read on “The Kind Life” blog regarding Alicia’s top 20 ingredients (http://thekindlife.com/blog/post/alicia-silverstone-20-vegan-essential-kitchen-ingredients) I decided to place my top 25 grocery/pantry needs:

  1. Earth Balance Products: Buttery Sticks or Tub Butters/Margarines and their new cheese puffs!
  2. Organic Soy Milk or Almond: Chocolate, Vanilla, or Plain (I rarely use unsweetened)
  3. Cashews (Raw)
  4. Daiya: The havarti blocks are a god send but all of them are great.
  5. Galaxy Foods Vegan Parmesan (It is the best parm substitute, Parma brand doesn’t taste anything like actual cheese)
  6. Tofutti Products: I love their sour cream, sliced american cheese, and cream cheese. They are a great go to brand even for ice creams.
  7. American Flatbread Company: Vegan Harvest Pizza
  8. Tofurky: Their sliced deli Meats, crumbles like chorizo for tacos, and their grill friendly brats are amazing! You will forget they are fake. The deli meats have a weird odor in the package but on a sandwich it goes away. The chorizo will stain so handle carefully but it tastes just like taco meat.
  9. Miso Mayo: Dill flavor.
  10. Veganaise: It tastes like a cross between mayo and deviled eggs.
  11. Canola and Olive Oils
  12. 365 Brand Vegan Chocolate Chips: Just like Tollhouses but no milk!
  13. Flaxseeds: I buy them in a bulk bag and place them in the freezer.
  14. Nutritional Yeast: You will learn this helps cheesify anything.
  15. Canned Coconut Milk
  16. Whole Foods Vegan Sugar
  17. Beans: black, lentil, navy, garbanzo, and canneloni
  18. Canned Pumpkin or Squash
  19. Whole Wheat Pasta
  20. Farro, Quinoa, or Couscous
  21. Rao’s Tomato Basil Sauce
  22. Herbs/Spices: Kosher Salt, Basil, Thyme, Garlic, and Sage Fresh
  23. Potatoes: All kinds from sweet to purple to russet.
  24. Kale or Greens
  25. Canned and Fresh Tomatoes

 

I shop at my local grocery store for most items but the hard to find things like Daiya and Nutritional Yeast I go to two places: Whole Foods or VeganEssentials.com. Vegan Essentials delivers but requires you to cold ship perishables so check their shipping schedule (right now it is Tuesdays) and the extra cost for the cold packs!

Happy Shopping and Happier Munching!

Adapted Recipe: Jokerz Cheesecake (it’s like a snickers hugged a cheesecake)

When I first began trying to make my own vegan food outside of rice, veggies, and spaghetti with Mushroom Prego. I fell upon searching for recipes in vegan blogs all over the internet. I fell in love with photos but when¬†I would see a recipe I would say what the heck is torula¬†yeast and where would I even buy¬†coconut flour and why are their 27 ingredients? So with that, I have definitely taken my time on choosing and making dishes that are tasty, simple, and have no weird ingredients. What I have found is that sometimes things require adaptations and sometimes I am capable¬†of making them. So when i¬†came across a recipe for a Cheesecake that boasted a Snickers Candy bar feel and flavor, I was in! (PS Snickers aren’t vegan ūüė¶¬† sadly but the Jokerz bar are a good substitute!)

Here is the original recipe: http://havecakewilltravel.com/2009/11/18/cheers-and-cheesecake-cheerscake/

Here are my adaptations:

  1. First I¬† prefer Newman’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Sandwich cookies for the crust. Lately I will use Oreo ones with Peanut Butter Creme if I can’t find Newman’s.
  2. Layer the ingredients into a food processor is fine however I have dumped them all in out of order before (except for the cookies, they go first to powder out without wet ingredients). The only thing that happens when they are out of order is that sometimes the candybar pieces are a little more chunky in the pie. I kinda like this!
  3. The next thing is DO NOT take the pie out of the oven after cooking. It has to settle for that 30minutes in the warm oven. I was skeptical but I am not any longer. It is a requirement!
  4. Last when you top the pie you need a nutella-esque¬†substitute to top it with. I use Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter if I can find it. Chocoreale¬†is not anywhere in my region of the US it seems. If then do not have it I mix almond butter with vegan chocolate chips, heat, mix, and spread! I also like to chop¬†a few types of nuts and top it with hazelnuts, peanuts, and slivered raw almonds. It looks prettier that way!

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!