Tag Archives: almond

Vegan Spanokopita

8 Oct

I love Greek food… and every time I visit my sister we always order from this little Greek restaurant next to her place.  I loooove to order myself a Stuffed Pita Sandwich made with Greek Salad inside.  It’s so delicious I even crave it as soon as I book my flight to FL.

For a while, my sister avoided dairy… and she loves to eat the spanakopita triangles at the Greek restaurant I mentioned above.  So as the big sister, I decided to make her some spanakopitas she could actually enjoy without the side-effects dairy was bringing her for a while.

Here’s my take on cheese-free vegan spanakopitas…


Recipe from KarmaFree Cooking


1 packet of whole wheat phyllo dough – 16 sheets

1 ½ packets frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry

1 container Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese

½ container Tofutti Better than Sour Cream

½ container Tofutti Better than Ricotta

2 yellow lemons – zest and juice

1 sweet onion, chopped finely

½ cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

½ cup fresh basil, chopped

1 tbs Kosher Salt

½ tbs Pepper

About ½ cup Olive Oil, divided

  1. In a large bowl combine the spinach, onions, cream cheese, sour cream and ricotta, parsley, basil and a drizzle of olive oil.  Add the zest of the 2 lemons and follow adding the juice, making sure you avoid getting lemon seeds in the mix.   Season generously with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Combine well and set aside.
  2. To prepare working with phyllo dough I first gather 2 clean kitchen towels and I get them wet and squeeze them dry so now they’re thoroughly damp.  One will be to cover the unused phyllo sheets and the other one to cover the spanakopita pockets after they’re aseembled but before we bake or pack them.
  3. Now that you have your damp cloths or towels, we gather our phyllo dough, olive oil and a teaspoon – the one you eat with, not the one you use to measure recipes.  I work on a large cutting board…  Place one sheet of phyllo dough on the board.  Make sure you cover the unused phyllo sheets with one of the damp towels.  These will maintain them pliable and ready to work with.  If not, they’ll dry out and turn brittle and will be very difficult to work with in this recipe.
  4. Drizzle in a squiggly fashion a teaspoon of olive oil over the phyllo sheet.  Using the teaspoon kinda spread the squiggle trail you made…  Carefully, overlap a second sheet of phyllo right on top of the first one.  Drizzle a very thin stream of olive oil in the same squiggly fashion but on the opposite direction.  For example, the first squiggle you went from left to right.  Now the second one, go top to bottom in front of you.
  5. Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut the phyllo sheet stack you just created into 4 sections or strips.  I cut halfway and then I cut each half in half again.  This doesn’t have to be exact, although you can certainly use a ruler to measure this.
  6. Now, add about a tablespoon of spinach filling and place in the bottom section of one of the phyllo strips, leaving about 1 inch of phyllo below where you place the spinach.  Fold this bottom part of phyllo over the spinach kinda like folding a letter.
  7. Now fold the sides of the phyllo strip inside, kinda like the way you fold in a burrito.  Now, fold the section where the spinach is enclosed onto itself until a small rectangular package is formed.
  8. Place spinach pockets in a baking sheet and cover with damp cloth as you go preparing the rest of the spanakopita pockets.  You should end up with about 32 pockets  over all.  You could also stack up 3 sheets of phyllo to make it even flakier.  Use the same method, you’ll just end up with 20 finished spanakopita pockets overall.

Now… you can either bake them or freeze them.  If you decide to freeze them, just place them in freezer zipper bags in layers separating each layer using parchment paper r even waxed paper.  They will keep in the freezer for a while, and are very convenient.

  1. To bake them…  just turn the oven to 375F and place the spanakopita pockets in a baking sheet that has been sprayed with olive oil spray.  Place them in a single layer and spray once again over the top with a light spray of olive oil spray.  Bake in oven for about 12-15 minutes until they turn golden brown.  Sometimes, I just turn off the oven and leave them there to make sure the filling is nice and cooked when I take them out.

Wait a bit to bite into them because the filling will be H-O-T!!!!

These pockets are a tad larger that the triangles I am used to make.   These are more fitting for a light lunch or even a light dinner.  I bake myself 2-3 of these with a salad.

My sister thought they were delicious and she enjoyed the touch the lemon juice and zest provided.  She did not believe these were dairy-free!!!  The filling turned out creamy and delicious very similar to the original ones we enjoy so much.

Apple Cranberry Crisp

28 Sep

Apples and cranberries… to me these fruits speak of autumn to me.  They remind me of chilly weather and getting cozy inside when the weather is getting cooler outside.

Trying to work with what nature gives us naturally each season, this is my tribute to those fall flavors I love so much.

Apple Cranberry Dessert with Oatmeal Gluten-free topping


3 large Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into chunks

2 large Gala apples, cored and cut into chunks

½ cup dried cranberries

1 cup cranberry sauce – recipe here

¼ cup cornstarch

1 cup brown sugar

The zest and juice of 1 yellow lemon

A pinch of salt

A pinch of vanilla powder


For the topping:

1 ½ cups of gluten-free flour

1 ½ cups of oatmeal

 1 ½ cups of brown sugar

1 ½ cups slivered almonds

1 ½ sticks of butter – cut into very small pieces

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla powder


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375F.
  2. In a large glass baking dish, dump the cut apples and mix in the dried cranberries, cranberry sauce, cornstarch, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and vanilla powder.  Mix well to combine.  Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, almonds, with the pieces of cold butter.  Using your fingers, or a fork, combine the butter with the rest of the ingredients until it becomes like the consistency of wet sand.
  4. Pour the topping over the apples evenly.  Bake in oven for about 30 minutes…  the apples will bubble and the topping will look cooked and somewhat golden.

I usually turn off the oven and leave it inside until we’re ready to eat… to me, it’s best served warm with a side glass of milk or vanilla ice cream.


But where will I get my protein?

30 Sep


Don’t be fooled by people who discourage your vegetarian lifestyle claiming you’ll be protein-deficient…

Check out all the sources of protein available from non-animal sources.  Learn them…  for your own benefit and to answer those skeptics you’ll find along the way.

Other sources of protein are:

  • Nuts and Seedsalmonds, peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, quinoa, chia, etc.
  • The milks of such nuts and seeds – like almond milk and sesame seed horchata
  • Other beans besides lentils and black beans – red kidney beans, pinto beans, pink beans, white beans, chickpeas, cannellini beans, fava beans,  green beans, etc.
  • Brown rice – and when combined with beans, it is a complete form of protein.
  • Whole grain pastas – I am guessing the spaghetti in the chart above means whole wheat, but let’s make that note here then.  Regular semolina pasta is not rich in protein, but the whole wheat or whole grain kind is.
  • Spirulina – Spirulina is an algae found in certain lakes.  And in dry form it’s 60% protein…  I have taken it in tablets.

And… excess protein is harmful to our health regardless if it’s animal or vegetable protein.  So be mindful not to exceed the necessary daily requirement.  If we sin, it’s usually because we exceed the necessary protein intake.  By knowing which foods provide which amounts of protein we can plan accordingly and try to avoid the excess.

So, don’t worry about your protein intake…  there’s plenty of protein going around and in the vegetable world there’s way more variety than what people really think.

Indian Edible Sweet Souvenirs

29 Apr

Over the years, I have tried to never accustom anyone in my family to expect a gift whenever I travel. It may sound kinda harsh, but with the amount of travel I do, if I accustom people to expect a gift from me, it would be a burden to my schedule and my budget. I do try to bring things to share with people so they can enjoy a little bit of my travels too… Say for example, it’s kind of awkward to travel in India for 3 weeks and arrive at my sister’s home empty-handed.

As soon as we arrived in India, we were gifted a backpack filled with Indian goodies: a sari for the girls and a dhoti for the guys, a towel that looks like a very nice kitchen towel and these… Gajjak Til Papad. The best way I can describe it is this is the Indian version of a sesame seed brittle. Super duper thin sheet of sugar with sesame seeds, pistachios and flavored with cardamom. We ate one box along the trip… this was our in-room snack, we brought one box for my sister and I have an extra one with me in Puerto Rico. It’s in the fridge for the sugar to be hard and crispy like we ate them in India and not softy and chewy.

Gajjak Til  Papad

For years, my mom and I have enjoyed 2 of India’s most popular desserts – galub jamun and rasgulla. We lovingly call them “the Indian balls”. Galub Jamun is a ball made of wheat flour and Rasgulla is a ball made from an Indian cheese similar to paneer called chhena. Both are served warm in syrup and they’re delicious!!!! For years, we’ve seen these desserts packed for travel in cans and this was the first time we brought some home. You can find them in any sweet shop and especially at gift shops at the airports.


Rasgulla Collage

In Allahabad we were treated to Dry Petha… which is a dry, sugared pumpkin. I am guessing it’s some sort of zucchini or squash because it’s white in color. I have not been able to identify the “pumpkin” this sweet is made of. They’re a nice ending to a meal… sweet and light and perfect to bring a few to your room for a snack!! ;) You can also find these packed in boxes ready to travel home with you.

Dry Petha Collage

And in Delhi we were taken to a sweet shop called Bikanervala… here we bought our to-go cans of rasgullas and galub jamun. But we also discovered something else that was completely new to me – Mawas. I am not even sure if this is their correct name. I believe it’s a halva made from dried fruits or nuts. Or as we would say in the west, like a turrón or dry nougat. We just saw the little packages in the store, asked to try one and ended up buying 3 kinds – Mango, Badam which is Almond and Pista which is pistachio. Now I know 3 more words in hindi, yay!!!!

Turrones Collage

Over the last few weeks, these sweets have been a terrific way to remember thru our taste buds some of the wonderful experiences we had in India. I can’t wait to make some Indian sweets of my own!!!!

Do you bring back edible souvenirs from your travels?? Tell me all about them…

Mixed Green Salad… great way to return to the land of the eaters

11 Mar

After a week without eating solid foods, you certainly want to maintain your system as clean as possible. We are encouraged to eat only fruits and salads after we finish our spiritual retreats.

This was the salad I made right after we came back to the “land of the eaters”… it was improvised by what was freshest at the market on New Year’s Day, but it turned out to be so delicious, that we prepared it exactly the same for a few days after because I got so enamored of the flavors.

This is my way to get you enamored with salads too… hope it works!!!!

Salad - After Retiro


2 large handfuls of Baby Arugula
1 large handful of Baby Spinach
1 handful of Alfalfa sprouts
1 Tomato, sliced
¼ cup sliced Almonds
¼ cup dried Cranberries
Lemon Vinaigrette – Lime juice, Extra Virgin Olive oil, Salt and Pepper
  1. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large salad bowl. Squirt the juice of ½ a lemon, drizzle some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss all the ingredients with your hands to combine well.
  2. Eat immediately… as the lettuces will wilt if you let this salad sit for too long.

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