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Gluten-Free Chebakia

Chebakia and Ramadan and synonymous in Morocco. You simply can’t have one without the other. This presents a big problem for us. Chebakia are cookies made of flour, spices, honey, and sesame seeds. It’s the flour that is problematic. It’s safe to say that Moroccan families eat dozens and dozens of these cookies every Ramadan.  They are made (or bought) in huge quantities and are time consuming to make – which makes it very clear to me why they’re a special holiday treat.   Last year I decided I would try to make a gluten-free chebakia to serve with harira during Ramadan.  Traditionally these cookies are a very unique shape.  The dough is rolled flat, cut into rectangles, then sliced 3-4 times in the middle of each piece of dough.  It is then inverted to create a shape that reminds me of a flower. While this can be tricky to master, traditional dough has enough elasticity to make it possible. …

Amanda MouttakiGluten-Free Chebakia
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Strawberry Balsamic Quinoa Salad on #TheSaladBar

Our summer is full of picnics, BBQ’s, and this year iftars. We have spent many of our days on the run and having fun! Last month I participated in #TheSaladBar, a group of bloggers who share their salad recipes each month. This month’s theme was potluck salads. Potluck salads where I grew up were either a) pasta salad b) cold bean salad c) jello “salad”.   (If someone can explain to me why it’s called a jello salad I would really appreciate it).  I totally drew a blank when I tried to think of a potluck salad to share…so I made one up! Strawberries just came in season here last week.  We had snow until mid-May (yuck) and it didn’t get much warmer until June. I had gotten some from the farmer’s market but was sad to find they weren’t very sweet so time for plan B – strawberry dressing! I just cleaned and removed the tops of 2 cups …

Amanda MouttakiStrawberry Balsamic Quinoa Salad on #TheSaladBar
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5 Tips to Help You Have A Healthy Ramadan

Today is the 4th day of Ramadan in the United States and the hottest Ramadan I’ve experienced – and I’m not fasting!  Unfortunately my surgeon would not clear me to fast, preferring me to wait at least a year after having gastric sleeve surgery to attempt fasting.  Truthfully I’m not sure I would be able to do it even if he were to allow me. We begin fasting at 3:15am and the fasting day ends around 9pm. I simply wouldn’t have the space or ability to eat enough food or drink enough water in 6 hours to be safe.  Right now, it takes me all day to eat 800-1000 calories and drink enough liquid not to dehydrate. There have been times when I have not eaten enough and it’s immediately apparent to MarocBaba.  He says the color drains out of me and my eyes start drooping. I can feel it, I get very tired, dizzy, and unresponsive, but I didn’t …

Amanda Mouttaki5 Tips to Help You Have A Healthy Ramadan
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Sesame Ginger Ghriba

For Ramadan this year I decided to re-make several traditional Moroccan pastries. Usually MarocBaba’s mom sends us a big box of Moroccan cookies.  The problem with that is they all have gluten. Between MarocBaba’s celiac disease and my difficulty eating gluten after gastric sleeve surgery we’re pretty much a non-wheat home. The only thing to do is to make all of our favorite sweets gluten-free.  I’ve shared my recipes for vanilla, almond, and preserved lemon ghriba and pistachio rosewater ghriba – they’re our favorites.  These are a little different. Ghriba are traditionally made a lot of different ways.  There are many different variations depending on region of the country, country (they’re made all over the Middle East and North Africa), and family.  That being said, I’ve never seen or heard of the variations I’ve created. With this cookie, I wanted to make something that incorporated ginger.  When I first started making Moroccan food I was very light-handed with ginger – …

Amanda MouttakiSesame Ginger Ghriba

Puppy Chow Rice Krispies for #TheLeftoversClub

When I was growing up my grandma and I spent a lot of time in her kitchen. She always let us make (and eat) gobs of cookie dough when we would come to visit, which was often because she only lived a few blocks away.  We made gnocchi, and pasta, cookies, and any number of other treats. My grandma was a teacher for most of her life, in the same elementary school I went to. But, as soon as I hit kindergarten she retired. This meant when we were sick, we often went to grandma’s house. She was the hands-on grandma.  She taught us how to crochet, and sew, how to cook, and do all kinds of other little domestic things.  We would walk to the grocery store from her house, go to the park, and in the summer go to the lake cottage for the day.  I never thought much about this until I was much older – probably …

Amanda MouttakiPuppy Chow Rice Krispies for #TheLeftoversClub
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Dear Ladies in the Booth Behind Us

Dear Ladies in the Booth Behind Us, I know you are just here with your friend to share an ice cream cone, but I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation you’ve having. I know there’s a lot of information that bombards you all day long, and I’ll be the first to admit that the Fox News channel the restaurant has on doesn’t provide the best “balance” of opinion. But, I still couldn’t help but cringe when I heard your comments. Those people, “over there“, those “Moooozlems” that are “hell-bent on Sharia…” Well, you’ve already got the story wrong. Your friend spoke up and said “Sharia?” to which you respond, “you know they don’t give the women any rights, those poor women.” “That’s why they’re protesting, they hate us, they hate us because they want to be like us.” “They do, they want what we have, but right now it’s all about Sharia. That’s why they want to get rid of …

Amanda MouttakiDear Ladies in the Booth Behind Us