Moussaka and Miraval

Sorry for the long absence, dear bloggies! It was a busy weekend, starting on Thursday, when I became a level 7 vegan. You know those famous recipes that stand out among the many within the vegan (blogging) community? I know you know what I’m talking about – Chickpea Cutlets, Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls, Tofu Ricotta, Smlove Pie. I could go on, but they’re those recipes that almost every vegan has either tried, been meaning to try for as long as their (algae-derived supplement provided) omega-3-powered mind can remember, or have given up on trying because they seem too complicated. Anyways, one of those recipes is the Eggplant-Potato Moussaka with Pine Nut Cream from Veganomicon. I’ve had the page dog-eared ever since I bought the book, but was always too lazy or didn’t have the time to make this decadently rich Mediterranean feast of a meal. But I’m proud to announce that I finally overcame that lameness and kicked some serious moussaka a**!

I made the sauce and pine nut cream and roasted the vegetables the night before, so the day of I only had to assemble it, which was super easy. I thought this would be a fun recipe to do a step-by-step preparation series for:

Tomato sauce and (whole wheat) bread crumb layer over the initial layering of eggplant and potatoes:

And zucchini over that:

After the second and final layer of tomato sauce and bread crumbs, the celebrated pine nut cream:

Spreadage:

Topped with pine nuts!

All golden-browned and luscious right out of the oven:

Sorry I don’t have any gooey inside shots! It was for a dinner party, and I didn’t have the time or light to snap a picture!

Anyways, the moussaka totally lived up to the hype, and my dad even said it might be the best thing I’ve ever made! The subtly cinnamon-spiked tomato sauce was to die for, and the pine nut cream was thick, tangy, rich, and downright cheesy. Who needs noodles when you can make a lasagne-like dish as good as this with only layers of vegetables? This is definitely a “make again.” Hooray for vegan milestones!

Early the next morning, and still in slight food comas from the night before (okay, maybe that was just me?), my mom, sister, and I drove up to Miraval Resort in Tucson, my mom’s favorite spa getaway!

It was my sister and I’s first time there, and I was very excited after hearing my mom rave about it the last time she went. You basically get to live in the lap of luxury for the duration of your stay, and because it’s a pre-paid package deal, eat however much, and do whatever classes and activities you like! I did Morning Yoga, Body Conditioning, Yogilates, the Evening Photography Walk, Swing and a Prayer (a ropes course challenge!), and Dream Yoga, and attended a Cooking Demo, an Introduction to Ayurveda, Tea Here Now (a two-hour class on tea that included an authentic Chinese tea ceremony!), and a class called Changing Your Metabolism. It was such a great experience, and as you can guess, I was absolutely exhausted afterwards (wait, wasn’t this supposed to be a relaxation resort?)

The food was delicious and healthy of course, with calorie counts on everything – you might think that would make eating stressful, but it was more just an affirmation of the lifestyle that Miraval represented. Over the course of two days I enjoyed a huge variety of fresh produce and salads, delicious vegetable juice blends, plenty of baked sweet potato (which I smothered with cinnamon and Miraval’s reduced fat peanut butter that’s made by blending PB with carrots), delicious mango-mint soup, and this (the one thing I got a picture of…), tofu-vegetable stir-fry with sweet plum sauce over brown rice:

I can only hope I’m lucky enough to go again someday! In the meantime, here are some cool pictures I took during my photography walk there:

This was actually a sign for the Agave Center, where yoga was held, but being the food blogger/health nut nerd that I am, I had to get this shot:

I never got a chance to go swimming, but this guy and his happy feet make me wish I had…

Mesquite pods! We have a tree in my front yard actually, and I really want to try grinding my own mesquite flour soon! They smell heavenly, especially when it rains. All sweet ‘n smoky.

The night we got back from Miraval, I wanted a quick and easy yet delicious meal–and a warm, cooked one that would address the vata imbalance I found out I had in my ayurveda class (I’m a vata-pitta by the way, but, given that like increases like in ayurveda, my vata is totally out of control and needs some kapha to tone it down…). Just ignore me if you think I’m crazy! To get to the point, it seemed like something like pumpkin soup would fit the kapha bill, so I decided to try the Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Soup from The Vegan Table:

I could say I followed the recipe except for a couple of changes, but that’s not really true. I changed a lot. I added a Tbs of peanut butter because I’m me. I also added extra cinnamon and cumin, and even put in some curry powder because the strong cardamom flavor was tripping me out. I generally love unique and unexpected sweet/savory combos, but for some reason, the cardamom in this soup was too much for me. And, because I hate to let a meal go by without anything green in it, I added a few cups of baby spinach. I think it’s better with the spinach actually. Without it, the soup’s a little one dimensional. Still, though, this is a good recipe! And it does benefit from a day in the fridge – as most things do, right?

Finally, my breakfast after the longest run of my life on Sunday (9.5ish miles): a young coconut!

And not just any young coconut…a frozen young coconut! I had it in the freezer because I wasn’t sure if it could go bad since I’d never had one before. I took it out to thaw before my run and assumed it would have melted, but I cracked it open to find a coconut ice ball! It sucked because I had to wait awhile to eat it, but once it softened a little, I just broke it up and it turned into a delicious and refreshing coconut slushie. It’s like nature’s icee! The true vitamin water if you will. Full of electrolytes, vitamins, and nutrients, I think I’ve finally found my perfect post-run recharge meal! Screw Vitamin Water. This is vitamin water.

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18 responses to “Moussaka and Miraval

  1. Melisser; the Urban Housewife

    It's funny, I made that moussaka & wasn't in love, but then I had it at a cafe in London & it was awesome! Miraval Resort is gorgeous!

  2. Your moussaka=Awesome! And that resort looks gorgeous and interesting, but I think I'd be exhausted as well! I really want to find out what my dosha(s) is/are, but I'm not sure where to go! All of the self-tests and quizzes point me to pitta, but I'm always worried I did something wrong.Wonderful post!

  3. I haven't made that moussaka yet but like you it's on my to do list! it looks awesome.

  4. Your trip sounds so nice! You took some beautiful pictures there. I am glad you enjoyed yourself. I would have been exhausted too with all the activities you did.Your moussaka looks good. I actually haven't tried that recipe yet. I don't like eggplant much, but maybe it'd still be good if I just used zucchini. Hmm.

  5. The Voracious Vegan

    Wow, this was a great post! You have such a wonderful tone when you write, really funny and sweet at the same time. Your blog is such a pleasure to read because of it.First of all, that moussaka is amazing! The way you describe it had my mouth watering. Need to get my hands on that recipe for sure!The spa looked so tranquil, I'm sure you had a wonderful time.And YAY for nature's slushee!

  6. I'm with The Voracious Vegan! I LOVE your blog, both for the way you write and for the wonderful food!We have three aubergines (eggplants) in the vegetable rack, threatening to become wrinkly, and zillions of courgettes (zucchini) from the allotment. Now I know what's for dinner tomorrow!That retreat you went to sounds out of this world! I'd LOVE to be able to do something like that!

  7. Congrats on Level 7! I still have yet to make those pumpkin cinnamon rolls, but someday, it will happen. I love the moussaka, but I remember it being a pain in the ass. Probably because I waited to roast the eggplant and everything until I came from the gym at night. I was starving and it took way too long. Prepping is important. That's the lesson I learned.Your photos are just gorgeous, by the way…every one of them!

  8. Frozen young coconuts are awesome! I make a nice ice cream that I posted in my blog with just frozen young coconut! Love your blog!

  9. vegan.in.brighton

    Oh my gosh, I love love love that mousakka. It's so delicious, if my partner liked aubergines or courgettes I'd make it more often!

  10. Elizabeth Jarrard

    such beautiful pictures!!and wait, they make reduced fat pb by blending it with CARROTS????? i'm going to have to try that!!!! oh and your description of a level 7 vegan is hilarious and spot on. still need to make it that far!

  11. mmmm, i love coconut water! and why is it that you make the most delicious sounding recipes ever?! that moussaka sounds incredible! a cinnamon-spiked tomato sauce? umm, wanna just give me a bowl of it? i'll pretend it's soup and call it a day. (don't pretend you've never wanted a whole bowl of a really good sauce!)

  12. look at you, you go with your bad level vegan self!

  13. Ooh I've been wondering if I should try that Moussaka and now I think I will…Lovely pictures and that coconut looks super tasty!

  14. First, that moussaka is so good – one of my favourites from VCON. Second, I so miss Tucson! One of my very good friends has been an MT at Miraval for years – I'd love me a little massage right now. And congrats on your run – each time I run further it's a celebration!

  15. Your photos are gorgeous! I love the blue sky against the orange soil. Your moussaka looks terrific. I'll admit, I hadn't given much thought to that recipe because it looked really heavy. But cinnamon-spiked tomato sauce? I'm all over it, but I think I'll save it for cooler weather.

  16. That pumpkin soup looks AMAZING and I am really into the alterations you made.I also love young coconut juice — you can buy it frozen here (with a big chunk of coconut in the center) and if you blend it up with some horchata, it's heavenly on a hot day.

  17. That moussaka is on my to-make list too, for sure. I think I'm waiting for a pot luck or something to come along so that I don't eat the whole pan myself.Miraval looks so amazing!

  18. Pingback: The Vegan Table: Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Soup | Whatcha Reading?

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