Lightened-Up Moussaka {Grain-free w/ Vegetarian Option}

After sharing the recipe for my dad’s famous Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Cheese Dip earlier this summer, I realized that I haven’t shared enough Greek recipes here on the site.

Growing up Greek is to grow up loving delicious, traditional, homemade food. I can still remember the smells of my Great Yia Yia’s house, the fragrant stews and sauces, like Fasolakia, simmering that you could smell as you walked up the driveway, fresh herbs drying in the kitchen, the smells of homemade chocolates wafting up the stairs from the basement, where she did her candy-making. It is amazing how I can still tell you exactly what that kitchen smelled like and that was over 20 years ago. When my great grandmother passed away, it was my dad’s parents that moved into the home, carrying on many of the same traditions, Avgolemeno soup, lamb meatballs, pastitsio, spanikopita, dolmades, plus of course, the Greek pastries and all of that good sweet stuff.

Lightened-Up Moussaka {Grain-free w/ Vegetarian Option}

Now that my parents have moved into this home, that was built for my Great Grandparents many years after they moved here from Greece and has been in family since long before I was born, they continue to make many of these amazing traditional foods in the very kitchen that my Yia Yia Faklaris and my Yia Yia Manos once did. My dad makes the best Greek salad dressing around (I will have to share my version of it soon) for the best souvlaki you will ever eat, he can grill up a leg of marinated lamb like it’s no one’s business and he makes a killer rice pudding that will literally have you on the verge of tears, it’s that good. My mom, though she doesn’t have a bit of Greek blood in her veins, she makes incredible pastitsio, amazing Avgolemeno soup and together she and my dad make the best baklava I have ever eaten.

Sadly, going gluten-free nearly 10 years ago now, has meant that I have had to say goodbye to a lot of the traditional foods I grew up on. I have yet to come up with a gluten-free equivalent to phyllo dough, something so integral to so many of my favorite Greek dishes. With that said,  it has taken me nearly 10 years and moving across the country away from my family to come to this – but lately I have been thinking that while I may never have many of those classic Greek dishes as I once knew them, there is no reason I can’t reimagine them. Keeping the classic flavors, but making them gluten-free and trying to generally just lighten them up a bit.

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I am super excited to share with you guys the promo video for RISE, our upcoming Women’s Yoga and Cooking Retreat.

While there is so much we can say about this event, much of which many of you may have already read previously, I do hope that you get a sense for what RISE truly is through this video. I also want to remind you that early-bird pricing for RISE is still being offered, currently, but Monday, September 1st is the final day, so please don’t wait. Early bird pricing can save you as much as $450.

As we get closer to this gathering, as more women register and as we talk with our various sponsors – we are getting more and more excited about joining together with our sisters, for some juicy, heart-opening, real life connection, to celebrate our creative abundance, to dig into our shadows and celebrate the power of being a woman!

RISE // A Wild Spirit Women's Yoga and Cooking Retreat

What is RISE?

RISE is a 4-day Women’s Retreat being held at the Sequoia Retreat Center, in Ben Lomond, Northern California – January 23-26, 2015. The entire retreat is 100% gluten-free and we are also able to accommodate vegans and vegetarians.

We will be offering multiple daily yoga classes, guided meditation sessions, various cooking workshops and demos, writing and vision boarding workshops, bodywork, hiking and lots more.

At it’s roots, Wild Spirit Retreats was born from the idea that in this fast-paced time that we live in, we need to slow down and find a sense of community. We as women crave  gathering together, to connect with one another, supporting each other. We want RISE to be the escape from our busy lives, a gathering to awaken our spirits and the means to finding the space for loving ourselves and our fellow sisters. RISE is a retreat designed to celebrate movement and nourishment . Join us on this peaceful getaway designed to relax, rejuvenate and reconnect with our spirits through play.

 

For more information and to register for RISE, visit the Wild Spirit Retreats website.

 

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Zucchini Noodles with Fig, Arugula and Pancetta

According to Pinterest it’s fall already. I am seeing more pumpkin recipes in my feed than what should be legal, Halloween DIY projects, boots and layers of clothing and more. Let’s slow it down a little, folks. It’s STILL summer, it’s hot out and I still have lots of zucchini and tons of figs that need eating.

Zucchini Noodles with Fig, Arugula and Pancetta

I know fall is just around the corner and it’s my favorite time of year, but I refuse to be bullied into pumpkin. Let’s enjoy what we have, while it’s still here. There is so much amazing produce coming from the farmers markets, our CSA box and my garden, I just cannot even think about squash and all it’s cooler weather friends.

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Chai Spiced Coconut Fig Popsicles

Though the end of summer is just around the corner, I would say it is hard to know that at times here in Southern California. We had some pretty hot days last week and since we don’t have any air conditioning at home and we both work out of the house, I found myself with a serious craving for some tasty, creamy homemade popsicles. And the beach.

I had been craving some of my homemade chai recently, but the idea of hot chai tea was very quickly dismissed, while I found myself sweating in the summer heat. Naturally, the next logical thought was a popsicle version of the tasty hot coconut chai lattes, that I make during the winter months. With the abundance of figs we have coming from our tree, I was dying to find a way to incorporate them into whatever popsicle I made, so the idea was born for these delicious, creamy Chai Spiced Coconut Fig Popsicles.

For lack of sounding like I am bragging, these are THE BEST homemade popsicles I have ever made. They are full of amazing chai flavor and they are so perfectly creamy and rich. The only bad part of all of this amazingness was the day I decided to photograph these, it was well over 90 degrees in our house and the popsicles were melting so fast I couldn’t keep up. I was scrambling, running, yelling and snapping. I was able to snap these two photos and before you know it I had a puddle of creamy goodness on my hands. I tried to pull the few remaining popsicles out and they had melted so quickly in the molds they were disfigured and wonky, the sticks came out of a couple, it was just a hot mess. Literally. The remaining few were more than good enough to eat, but not really pretty enough for photos. A shame really.

I thought about remaking these and photographing them again, but that would just delay me getting this amazing recipe to you, and I couldn’t bear that thought of that. These are far too delicious not to share. So, please excuse the photos, but trust me when I tell you that you need to make these ASAP.

Chai Spiced Coconut Fig Popsicles

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