Thursday, January 5, 2017

Middle Eastern Eggplant Ratatouie

Rich and flavorful, this chunky low calorie Middle Eastern eggplant ratatouille makes a delicious side for a family dinner or an inviting appetizer for your next get together..

I love recipes from Middle Eastern countries like like Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Morocco,and Israel which are famous for their tasty eggplant dishes. This family recipe is a middle Eastern classic that is like a stew- tender, satisfying and easy to make.

The secret to the recipe is roasting , not frying, the eggplant and veggies. Roasting brings out the vegetable's natural sweetness, saves calories, and is easier on the digestion than frying.

This eggplant recipe is my version of one of my mother in laws authentic recipes that she brought with her from the old country. It is so versatile that we enjoy in a variety of ways:

  • Over Baptismal rice or cauliflower rice, 
  • Paired as a side dish with a bean dish, 
  • As a topping for an omelette ( really good) 
  • Or a cold or hot appetizer with crudites or gluten free crackers. 

The best part is that once you make it, you can keep it in the refrigerator and it use as a condiment to enhance any food.

My mother in law insists on using the long and thin Japanese eggplants for this recipe. Although many similar recipes call for the regular full round Italian type eggplant, we think the Japanese variety is more tender and less bitter than the regular eggplants. They are also easier to cut and have fewer seeds than the larger eggplants.

I was reminded of this family favorite when we recently had dinner in a Syrian restaurant. I had not made this recipe in a long time, so as soon as I saw it on the menu- I knew I wanted to order it. In addition, I ordered Tzaziki, majeedara , falafel and a Greek salad. My husband and I shared the Mezze type dishes and felt like we had a feast! Everything was naturally gluten free and vegetarian just the way I like it!

Author: Judee Algazi ( family recipe) @ Gluten Free A-Z Blog
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes roasting, 15 minutes simmering
Serves: 6 for appetizers


3 large Japanese eggplants/quartered and then quartered again
2 large orange or red pepper, cut into eighths
5 cloves of fresh garlic
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 teaspoon of Trader Joe's " 21 Salute" salt free herbal blend or similar type blend
Himalayan salt to taste
1 can of organic chopped tomatoes ( 15 ounces)
juice of half lime
Optional : red pepper flakes and cumin


Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Toss the chopped eggplant,chopped orange or red peppers, garlic , cherry tomatoes and olive oil  in a large mixing bowl Place the tossed veggies on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.
Bake at 400 degrees until vegetables are roasted and soft.
In a large skillet , add a can of chopped tomatoes-lime, and the grilled vegetables.
Cook for about 20 minutes stirring frequently. Add optional cumin and red pepper flakes if desired
Serve hot, room temperature, or cold ( side dish, spread on GF crackers, top an omelette, appetizer)

Monday, November 21, 2016

Soothe Your Tummy and Your Mood

Cardamom and Anise tea is a great way to soothe your tummy 
and music is a great way to soothe your mood. Today, I'm sharing both!

I know I usually have an easy real food healthy gluten free vegetarian/vegan recipe for you to help nourish your body, save you time in the kitchen, and direct your thoughts to healthier eating,  but today I deviated just a little - 

Today I am sharing a cup of quick and easy 
homemade cup of Ayurvedic Tea ( See recipe at bottom of post)  
and some soothing music I found on a Youtube Video.

I was just browsing around Youtube and found this video: 

After hearing and watching this music performance on Youtube- I wanted to share it because it is so uplifting and relaxing at the same time!!
It's music to soothe your soul.. so beautiful

So grab a cup of herbal tea ( see my favorite recipe below)  or coffee- relax- and listen!!

Two Choices to Listen to Right Now on Youtube: 

Want upbeat, invigorating, and fun- Listen to the first Youtube- Let It Go!

Want something slower and more classical? Listen to the 2nd one- classical music

Let it Go from Frozen!! Upbeat and Inspiring


 This group is called "The Piano Guys"

                                              The Piano Guys have about 20 Video on Youtube , 

                                                They also have a beautiful Christmas Album!

Did you decide to listen to the music? What did you think?
 Have you heard them before?

The Tea

Anise is great for better digestion-
drink a cup after meals!

My favorite home brewed herbal tea recipe- 
For a step by step tutorial: 

My friend Vicki introduced me to this simple but delicious herbal tea.
 It's made from two ingredients: Anise seeds and cardamom pods
Vicki serves it with a little raw honey- You can make the tea 7 minutes
I posted the recipe years ago, so here is the link if you missed it- 

You can purchase cardamom pods ( organic) online; Cardamom pods

                                                               Anise Seed Tin

Are you an herbal tea drinker? Do you make your own, buy teabags? Which one is your favorite??

Just so you know: I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click on a link and then buy something from Amazon, I will be compensated a very tiny amount but at no additional cost to you. I appreciate the support as it helps me defray the costs of running a blog. 

My Best Thanksgiving sides ( GF)

I was recently served this delicious vegetarian ( and of course gluten free) casserole at my friend Melissa's house that knocked my socks off! As soon as I saw it, it screamed Thanksgiving. As soon as I tasted it, I was in love and knew it would be part of my vegetarian/vegan Thanksgiving Dinner plan for 2016!

Not only was the presentation sensational, but all 8 adults at the dinner party raved about it. Thanksgiving was on my mind because I had been trying to plan my menu.

Maybe it was the scattered toasted sunflower seeds neatly arranged across the top, the creamy texture of the spinach and rice on the inside, or the brown crusty edges stuck to the four corners. Regardless, I know I couldn't help myself from taking a second helping and eventually asking for the recipe!

I was delighted to see how easy it was to make, and I couldn't wait to share it with you on my blog.

Melissa is an amazing cook and a thoughtful gracious host. To accommodate my vegetarian and gluten free eating needs, she made a variety of delicious naturally vegetarian/gluten free sides that perfectly enhanced her main chicken entree ( that everyone else ate)  .

 I'm sharing the eggplant and red pepper "ratatouille that Melissa Made-" It was the absolutely the best I have ever tasted- even my mother in law who used to live in France and has been making ratatouille for most of her adult life commented about how much she enjoyed it!

There was more- a quinoa and mushroom dish that could easily serve as a healthy vegan and gluten free Thanksgiving stuffing

And a delicious delicious thick vegan split pea soup that I only caught the leftovers for a photo!

In addition,  my 2016 Thanksgiving menu will include my vegan and my silky gluten free blender pumpkin pie, simple chocolate covered strawberries, and some easy cranberry apple chutney.
There are links to all the recipes below.

My grandkids made these!

I call it my dream feast because I'll actually be celebrating Thanksgiving at my son and daughter in law's home,  and I will only be bringing the pumpkin pie and another vegan/gluten free dessert- probably my eggnog baked donuts .

My 2016 Thanksgiving Vegetarian/ Gluten Free Menu 
click for the recipe

 Ratatouille  ** amazing recipe

Gluten Free and vegan Pumpkin Pie 

Cranberry Apple Chutney or 

Quick Homemade Cranberry Sauce

The Casserole: Spinach, rice, and toasted sunflower seed casserole ** see recipe below

Spinach, rice, and toasted sunflower seed casserole Recipe

2 cups of cooked brown rice
1 Tablespoon of olive oil for sautéing
2 eggs ( or egg replacer) 
3/4  cup of non dairy milk ( almond or coconut milk)
2  cups of chopped onions
2 cups of chopped fresh spinach
3 cloves of chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
a shake of cayenne powder to taste
salt and cracked pepper 
1/2 cup of sunflower seeds to use on top

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Spray a large skillet with olive oil or use the 1 T oil. Sautee the onions for 3-4 minutes, add the garlic and chopped spinach and continue to sautee until spinach is wilted. 
Remove from heat and mix with the cooked rice. 
In another large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, add the non dairy milk and the seasoning. Add the rice and vegetable mixture and mix well. 
Pour into a greased rectangular casserole dish and bake 35-40 minutes uncovered. Top with the sunflower seeds.

Wishing everyone a wonderful healthy and happy Thanksgiving.

My Notes: 

1. The Ratatouille- Melissa's Ratatouille was taken from a recipe on Tori Avey's blog. I provided a link for this not to be missed recipe which is actually is Tori's mother in law's Sephardic recipe- Great tutorial- which is very very similar to my Sephardic mother in law's recipe.

2. The casserole
Melissa modified this recipe from the Internet. 
The recipe was originally made popular from a recipe in the Moosewood Cookbook, but has been published and modified by many bloggers. 
 Melissa says she has seen many substitutions for the spinach- including: broccoli slaw mix, collard greens, kale, etc. I posted the version that Melissa made.