Valentine's Day Ratatouille on Risotto by Healing Tomato

(c)Healing Tomato
“[Humans] don’t just survive; they discover; they create…  
I mean, just look at what they do with food!” 
– Remy from "Ratatouille"

That is my favorite line from the Disney/Pixar movie, "Ratatouille." That is a quote from Remy the mouse, who was so fascinated with humans that he actually aspired to be one.

Remy may not have succeeded in becoming an actual human. He did, however, have all the traits of humanity. He explored, discovered and even appreciated fine gourmet cooking.

So, in appreciation of this mouse’s aspirations, I present to you his most loved dish – the Ratatouille!

This Ratatouille is made with so much love and served on a day filled with so much love!

Nothing says a very romantic Valentine’s Day like Ratatouille served on a bed of Risotto. This is an all vegetarian and vegan dish that also happens to be gluten-free.

Over the years, I have tried to make the recipe like it was shown in the movie. Finally, I have come up with a version that works in real life and is just as tasty as the movie version.

Whenever I make this recipe, I always get my neighbors knocking on my door to ask me what smells so delicious. Inevitably, I have to share the dish with them when it is done.

It is a good thing that I make so much of it at one time, so I don’t have a problem sharing.

My version of the Ratatouille has one ingredient that the Movie version wouldn’t dream of having. It is sweet vermouth.

You don’t have to use the sweet vermouth if you don’t want to. I like to use it because it cuts down some of the acidity from the tomatoes and also gives the recipe a little sweetness that you need in any Valentine’s Day dish.

If you are worried about tasting that sweet vermouth in the dish, don’t be. Also, you don’t have to worry about getting a blood alcohol level that prevents you from driving.

I burn off most of the sweet vermouth before putting it in the baking dish. What little is left is burnt off in the baking process. What the sweet vermouth leaves behind is its lovely sweetness.

Personally, I think that you should celebrate love every single day that you are on this planet. If you love someone, let them know that you never take them for granted.

However, having one day a year just for each other also sounds very romantic. Couples tend to play hooky on this day and let all the other stuff in their life take a back seat. You only have eyes for each other on this day.

There is nothing more endearing than that profound sentiment.

So, take this day and adorn your significant other. You will feel refreshed and have renewed faith in your relationship.
All this and Ratatouille!

What more could you ask for in life?

Ratatouille (makes about 4 servings)  (DF, GF, SF, V, VG)
(c) Healing Tomato
Total Prep Time = 1 hour

4 Thai eggplants
4 baby eggplants
3 small yellow squash
3 zucchini squash
1 small red or yellow bell pepper
½ red onion for baking, cut from the middle into rings
¼ red onion for sauce
4 cloves garlic, peeled
4 Roma tomatoes
½ can tomato puree
4 tsp sea salt
4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
2 tsp dried or fresh rosemary
2 tsp dried or fresh parsley
2 tsp olive oil
½ cup water
¼ cup sweet vermouth


Preheat oven to 400 F.

Chop eggplants, squash, bell pepper and onions into circular pieces.

Take the quartered red onion and chop it finely.

Puree the fresh tomatoes.

Cut the garlic into thin slices and set aside.


In a medium saucepan, add the oil and allow it to warm a little.

Add the chopped onions to the oil and allow them to caramelize.

Add the freshly pureed tomatoes, then the water.

Allow to thicken to a paste consistency, then add the sweet vermouth. The sweet vermouth will burn off in about 2-3 minutes. While it is burning off, prepare the baking pan.

Add the contents of the canned tomato puree to the baking pan.

Once most of the sweet vermouth has burned off, add the vegetable mixture to the baking pan. Add 2 tsp salt and mix well.

Distribute the garlic evenly throughout the baking pan.

Arrange the vegetables into an alternating pattern for an attractive rainbow presentation.

Sprinkle the remaining salt, herbs and pepper across the vegetables.

Cover with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, based on your oven. Periodically lift the cover and check to be sure the vegetable tops are not burning.

When the skin of the veggies has crinkled and some of the tomato sauce has burnt off, your Ratatouille is ready!



1 pkg Lundberg Gluten Free Risotto
1 tsp olive oil
2 ½ cups water


I like to use the Gluten Free Risotto from Lundberg. It’s hard to find the plain versions. They always have a flavored version. The good news is that the spice pouch is separate, so you don’t have to use it. Just stick with the Risotto.

In a medium saucepan, add the oil and Risotto.

Saute’ for 3 minutes on medium heat.

Add water and stir. Set heat to medium high and cover.

Bring to a boil. Uncover, stir constantly and reduce heat.

Cook on low until tender.

Bringing the dish together:

Place the Risotto evenly on a serving dish.

Top the Risotto with the Ratatouille. Make a line of vegetables on the Risotto.

Add some of the tomato marinade on top of the Ratatouille and serve.

I don’t think there is anything as romantic as eating from the same plate on Valentine’s Day. If you prefer individual plates, perform the same ritual for the same plate.

Connect with the incredible Rini Desarin at her blog, Healing Tomato.

All text and images in this post are (c) Healing Tomato All rights reserved.


8 Gluten Free Vegan Brunch Recipes & Lifestyle Tips

Whether you’re cooking gluten free vegan brunch recipes at home or dining out, gluten free is the way to be in 2014 and beyond. It’s a major restaurant and grocery trend, catering to 90% more non-celiac consumers than those with celiac disease. This has led to restaurant certification standards, bloggers reviewing menu and grocery items and dining experiences, and grocery shoppers going to multiple stores then turning to online resources for products that are locally unavailable.

Restaurant Trends
The National Restaurant Association (US) predicts in their 2014 Culinary Forecast that Gluten Free Cuisine will be #5 in the Top 10 Restaurant Trends. Wheat free noodles, made of quinoa, rice and/or buckwheat, will be #8. Restaurant consultant group Baum +Whiteman LLC places the gluten free mainstreaming trend at #8 in their 2014 forecast, along with other healthier diets like vegan, vegetarian and Paleo.

Restaurant Reviews
Food journalist Frances Spiegel observes, “It's becoming easier and easier to live gluten free. The main problem comes in restaurants where, on more than one occasion, I've been told ‘we don't use much sugar!’” Offering suitable menu items goes far beyond simply using the right ingredients. For instance, blogger Kim Rice notes that California Pizza Kitchen restaurants use rice flour to work ALL their pizza dough, so that the airborne particulates do not cross-contaminate when they settle on the surface of other foods prepared in the kitchen.

Restaurant Practices and Certification
Other restaurant techniques include: designating kitchen space, cookware and serving dishes for gluten free items; cooking French fries in designated fryers with clean oil and baking GF pizzas on top oven racks. The most noticeable practice is a triple checking system, including kitchen, wait and management staff. The next time you dine out, look for the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (GIG) certification on the menu and elsewhere. Their site also reports product pullbacks, unauthorized use of certification and certification termination. In addition, the group is currently studying the gluten content of ground spices using global samples and multiple testing methods. To find chain restaurants with gluten free menus and practices, click here.

Grocery Trends
According to the Gluten Free Agency, while 40 million consumers are buying GF products, only 10% of them actually have celiac disease. Many shoppers buy GF groceries due to non-celiac gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy, autism, ADHD, multiple sclerosis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Still others buy gluten free groceries in an effort to eat healthier.

Brunch Recipes
This menu covers everything you’ll need from start to finish: drinks, fruit, bread, potatoes, vegetable “egg” dish and “sausages.” The drinks are all alcohol-free. Visit my Recipe Index for more gluten free vegan brunch recipes.

Wishing you a healthy, serene and prosperous 2014,
Belinda <3

Photo credit Dude Patrick

Homemade Ginger Ale (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (Amy/Simply Sugar & Gluten Free)

Diner Style Shredded Hash Browns (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (Megan/The Gluten Free Vegan)

Photo credit Maggie Hoffman

Vegan Zucchini Frittata (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (Susan/FatFree Vegan)

Photo credit zoyachubby

 Comment Poll:
Why do you buy gluten free groceries?
GF Health concern
Weight loss
General health


Dairy Free Vegan New Year Recipes

Photo credit bvalium

Celebrate the arrival of 2014 with delicious dairy free vegan New Year recipes, shared with family and friends. I’ve done the web surfing for you. Greet your guests with Vegan Bailey’s Irish Cream or virgin Rich Blood Cocktails for designated drivers. Soup up the party with Winter Stew Shots then spice up the night with Chile Pea Wontons and Tofurky Stuffing Bites. Guarantee prosperity with a main course of Black Eyed Pea & Collard Green Chili. At last, sweeten the deal with Raw Vegan Cheesecake and Vanilla Bean Almond Butter Fudge. If you need more marvelous dairy free vegan New Year recipes, be sure to visit our Recipe Index.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, prosperous and serene 2014,
Belinda :-)

 Photo credit dyobmit

Winter Stew Shots (DF, SF, K, V, VG) (Carolyn Scott-Hamilton/Healthy Voyager)

Chile Pea Wontons (DF, SF, K, V, VG) (Ashley Adams/About.com)

Photo credit VeganHeathen

Photo credit jamieanne

Vanilla Bean Almond Butter Fudge (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (Dreena Burton/Plant Powered Kitchen)

Do you celebrate with cocktails or mocktails? Which drinks are your favorites?


Meatless Monday: Guacamole Stuffed Tomato Poppers by the Nutrition Twins

Happy Holidays and Meatless Monday! Join me in welcoming Tammy Lakatos Shames and Lyssie Lakatos, The Nutrition Twins®, twin sisters and nationally recognized registered dietitians and personal trainers and authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure. These health-wise women are here to share a snack-happy, party-perfect vegan recipe and amazing nutrition tips from their new book, which debuts in January 2014. Would you believe there's a food fix for puffy eyes??? Be sure to visit their website for details. You're gonna bookmark and share this sumptuous, smart post! :-) - Belinda

Guacamole Stuffed Tomato Poppers

Photo and recipe from The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure

These vegan poppers are the perfect party pleasers and make great appetizers.  They’ll fill you up with their nutrients and fiber so you won’t be ravenous and overdo it on the not-so-healthy party items.   They are so much fun to eat and when you pop one in your mouth a creamy flavorful burst explodes.  It’s hard to believe you get 6 grams of fiber from a serving of these creamy babies; yep, they’ll help to stabilize blood sugar and prevent energy crashes.  And the fat is coming from the “good for you fats” in the avocado. 

Prep: 15 minutes


1 mashed garlic clove
20 cherry tomatoes
1 mashed avocado
1 juice of a lime
1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro (optional)
1 small diced mango


1.      Crush garlic and set aside for 5 minutes to release its healthy boosting effect.
2.      Wash cherry tomatoes and cut tops off. Carefully cut a sliver off the bottom to help them stand up. Be careful not to cut too deep to make an opening on the bottom. Using a melon baller or knife, scoop out the insides until hollow.
3.      In a bowl, mix together mashed avocado, lime juice, garlic and cilantro.
4.      Cut mango into tiny cubes so they will fit nicely in the cherry tomatoes.
5.      Gently stuff tomatoes with guacamole and serve as a healthy appetizer!

Did you know that one serving of mangos provides 100% of your daily vitamin C and 35% of your vitamin A, both important antioxidant nutrients? Vitamin C promotes healthy immune function and collagen formation. Vitamin A is important for vision and bone growth.

Serves: 4 (5 tomatoes per serving) 
Per serving: Calories 186; total fat 8 g; saturated fat 1 g; cholesterol 0 mg; sodium 17 mg; carbohydrates 30 g; dietary fiber 6 g; sugars 11 g; protein 4 g

Percent Daily Value:

Vitamin A: 28%      Vitamin C: 78% 

Iron: 7%                   Calcium: 9%

The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure and Guacamole Stuffed Tomato Poppers
We’d love for you to think of Veggie Cure as your go-to bible to help you get what you want in life when it comes to health, energy, or beauty! We’ve done all the scientific research work for you. We’ve purposefully laid out the book so you can easily zip on over to the chapter which addresses your specific goal. In each chapter you'll find our recommended veggie prescription— a discerning list of the most potent vegetables to give you what you want! Plus we clearly explain why those vegetables work their magic.

Each chapter also highlights several vegetable superstars – alongside delicious recipes which correspond to your veggie prescription. For example, if you frequently feel bloated and want to flush all of that puffiness that your body is holding, you’ll turn to “Beat the Bloat and Clean the Pipes.” When you get there you’ll discover which vegetables help you get rid of those swollen fingers and belly – and why. (Pssssst…. Two of our favorite anti-bloat veggies are fennel and artichoke!)  Next up, we’ll share temptilicious recipes to make with these veggies.   You’ll see options like Fennel Stuffed Potatoes, Golden Gazpacho in Petite Cucumber Cradles, Roasted Fennel, Rockin’ Ratatouille, Tomato Artichoke Pasta Bake, Artichoke Hummus, and Parmesan Baked Artichoke and their complete recipes in the back of the book. Choose a recipe, give it a try, and you’ll be well on your way to a flat stomach and puff-free eyes.

Regardless of your goal –or which chapter you turn to first—this  book takes you by the hand, guiding you step by step to a better, happier, healthier you.

What would you most like to add to your guacamole?
pollcode.com free polls 
Tammy Lakatos Shames and Lyssie Lakatos, The Nutrition Twins®, are twin sisters and nationally recognized registered dietitians and personal trainers and authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure, Fire Up Your Metabolism and The Secret To Skinny. They are media go-to’s and have been featured as experts on major TV shows/ networks and popular press ranging from The Doctors, Good Morning America Health, Fox and Friends and Discovery Health to USA Today, Health Magazine and Voguewww.NutritionTwins.com


Vegetarian Holiday Recipes: Sweet Pepper Poppers Recipe by Stacey Adams

Need vegetarian holiday recipes for snacking and meals? Stacey Adams is back with her own Sweet Pepper Poppers recipe. Their bright colors and cheesy topping are perfect for holiday parties and football snacks! Whether you’re into Deepak Chopra and the ancient Ayurveda healing system or just looking for delicious hot food to warm your bones and celebrate the season, you’ll love these. Happy Holidays! <3 - Belinda

Hi all! This is another cold weather treasure that makes for awesome snacks on a football Sunday or a meal by itself. The ingredients in this recipe are mostly Tri-doshic friendly from an Ayurvedic standpoint. There are some potentially heating aspects of this vegetarian holiday recipe that might aggravate Pitta a bit; however, on a cold, blustery day in December, you can aggravate my Pitta anytime. :) So, here it is!

Sweeeet Pepper Poppers!!!


12 Mini Sweet Peppers
They come in all the gorgeous red, yellow and orange colors of bell peppers, but are small and skinny. Unlike similarly shaped sharps, they are sweet and mellow.

1 cup fresh spinach

1 cup freshly prepared (already cooked) couscous.
Note: 1/4 cup dry couscous makes about 1 cup cooked. If making from a box, save the leftovers for salads. It's delicious! Quinoa can be used, but I like the smaller size of couscous granules for this particular recipe.  

2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup celery, chopped small
1/4 cup carrots shredded and lightly steamed

1/3 lb. crumbled and browned tofu
Or ground and browned turkey - I have some hard-core carnivores here. :)

1/3 cup plain yogurt        
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 small bunch parsley (optional, but sweet)
2 pinches sea salt
2 Tablespoons sunflower or walnut oil
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

ground black pepper corn to taste
I mill it straight onto the top of the finished product before popping in the oven.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice peppers lengthwise and remove seeds.
Note: I like to keep the 2 halves together by not cutting through the other side. Just cut a slit big enough to open the pepper and take out the seeds. :)

Place the peppers on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

Heat the garlic, salt, celery and oil in a pan. Sauté for a couple minutes. Add the spinach to the pan and cook until wilted, but still a lovely green.

Spoon the sautéed mix into the prepared couscous. Add in the steamed carrots, tofu (or turkey), yogurt, turmeric and most of the cheese.
Note: Keep a Tablespoon or two aside to sprinkle on top of the peppers after they come out of the oven for a little "cheese cap". This also serves to hide the veggies on the "inside" of the peppers for the picky, anti-veggie crowd. It’s a Mom trick. ;)

Stir up the couscous mix to evenly distribute everything.

With a teaspoon, spoon the mix into each of your little peppers. Be generous, but try not to overflow the little guys. Sprinkle your ground peppercorn on top.

Pop into the oven for 50 minutes.

Sprinkle remaining cheese on top for last couple minutes of baking, if "cheese caps" are desired.

Upon removal from the oven, garnish the tops by sinking little parsley florets into the tops of the stuffing. Be careful. They will be hot. Place the peppers on a serving tray, and garnish the empty spaces with a few more parsley florets. (It's all about the presentation, donchaknow?)

Report: The entire plate of 12 was gone in 15 minutes, including the plate I used to take the picture. You might want to double or triple this vegetarian holiday recipe. ;)

Happy Holidays and Healthy Eating, everyone. Stay warm! <3 – Stacey

Guest blogger Stacey Adams is a Bodyworker, Healer, Herbal formulator, Perpetual student and Mom. She is also the owner and operator of The Woman of the Woods Health Portal. Connect with Stacey on G+. For more information on the Ayurveda healing system, see her post, What is "Ayurveda" Anyway?

Visit Stacey’s previous guest post, Pan-tastic Potato Supper.