Making sure everyone feels special and can eat healthy, yummy food

Salad from Deck Garden copy.jpg

With each retreat comes the creative challenge of cooking for various dietary restrictions: allergies and sensitivities, health conscious (such as low salt and low sugar), religious beliefs, vegetarian, vegan etc.

I try as hard as I can to make sure everyone feels as if they are able to eat a version of everything (for instance, I take out a portion of the bread salad before the peppers are added - for someone allergic to the pepper family, and another portion before the bread is added - to substitute with GF bread for the person with gluten intolerance). I know how hard it is to go out to eat and watch everyone else eat delicious food while, because of my severe dairy allergy, I’m told ‘you can’t eat this and you can’t eat that’. And how thankful I am when the chef says ‘no problem, I can make the same thing without butter’. As a host I believe it is my job to make each person feel special and eat delicious food without anxiety.

Ratatouille is a great ‘meaty’ alternative for the gluten-free vegans in the crowd [and a lovely way to use up all my zucchini!]. My adaptation of this French Provencal veggie stew is based on what I usually have growing in my garden in July.

Ratatouille recipe:

Serves 4-6

1 hour cooking

  • 1 large Onion, chopped

  • 1 large Eggplant, diced into 1/2 - 3/4 inch cubes

  • 2 T crushed Garlic

  • 1 chopped bell pepper

  • 1/2 finely diced Jalapeño (can use mild pepper for less heat)

  • 3 cups Zucchini diced into 1/2 cubes

  • Handful fresh Oregano, chopped

  • 2 teaspoons Cumin

  • 20 Cherry Tomatoes sliced in half

  • Pinch of Salt

Saute onion medium high heat in 2 T oil for 10 minutes until onions start to brown.

Add eggplant and garlic. Saute for another 15 minutes until eggplant softens.

Add peppers, zucchini, oregano and cumin and saute for 5 minutes, then turn down heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add tomatoes. Simmer 10 minutes then add salt as needed.

Serve hot (but I also like to eat as a cold dip the next day)