Healthy Eating During the Mellow Days of Summer
August 2021 Issue
By Chef Lynn Michelle—The East Coast Chef
Photography by Lindsay Gifford
August may often be one of the hottest months of the year, but it can also be one of the healthiest. These mellow days of summer are the perfect time to savor all that Lowcountry living has to offer, with laid-back days and nights spent outdoors enjoying your favorite friends and activities. What’s more, this relaxed end-of-summer month is the perfect time for simple, quick, no-fuss meals that are as good for you as they are good to eat, all while enjoying every minute of the easy, breezy last days of summer.
Summer’s nearing end is also the perfect time to take advantage of leisurely strolling through local farmers’ markets, which are literally brimming with a wide variety of fresh, flavorful late-summer produce, perfect for light, healthy recipes. Some examples of produce that is abundant this month include: tomatoes—particularly ripe and flavorful at this time of year; sweet corn—a staple at almost all barbecues; cherries— perfect for sweet and refreshing desserts; peppers—bring flavor and crunch to summer salads; raspberries—reach peak sweetness in August, as well as late summer favorites such as summer squash, plums, melons and nectarines. In addition, perhaps nothing says savoring the last bit of summer more than biting into a ripe, juicy peach. August peaches, in fact, are not only a delicious and healthy choice eaten right from the market, but can be grilled for a sensational savory summer dessert, as well as used in a number of other healthy recipes, including my special Peaches and Cream Shortcake!
So before the busyness of autumn and back-to-school schedules kick into high gear, kick back and enjoy the mellow days—and the mellow tastes—of summer and some of my favorite healthy recipes, made even healthier by a few simple substitutions, too. Whether you or a family member are following a keto diet, or looking for simple-to-make meals that are gluten-free and/or sugar-free, as well as being light, refreshing and incredibly healthy, these recipes are what summer, and healthy living, are all about.
Caprese Farro Salad
Gluten-free | Sugar-free | Vegetarian | Vegan
4 cups Water
1 pkg Cherry tomatoes, washed and cut in half
1½ tsp Salt
1 cup fresh Basil, washed, dried and chopped
1 tsp Pepper
¾ cup Extra virgin olive oil
Italian Seasoning, optional to taste
12 oz Fresh Mozzarella (or vegan substitute), cut into bite-size pieces
2 cups dried Farro (use Quinoa for Gluten-free) prepare, cook and cool
In a large saucepan, boil 4 cups of water with 1 teaspoon of salt, add the farro and simmer until done. Drain and spread out onto a cookie sheet, place in refrigerator until chilled and set aside In a large mixing bowl, place sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, olive oil, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning, and blend carefully. Add chilled Farro to the tomato mixture and stir. Slowly fold in the fresh basil and season more, if desired. Place back into the refrigerator for flavors to chill together and serve.
Baked Lemon Pepper Fish with Blueberry Ginger Sauce
Gluten-free | Pescatarian
4-7 oz Mild white fish, washed and dried
Lemon pepper seasoning
Old Bay seasoning
Fresh Lemon, sliced into thin slices
Blueberry Ginger Sauce
1 pint Blueberries, washed
¼ cup Pickled ginger
1 cup Water
1 Tbsp Shallots, minced and sautéed slightly in olive oil
½ tsp Pepper
½ tsp Salt
Preheat oven to 375°F. Place fish in a large baking dish. With gloves on, rub olive oil all over the fish. Season the fish lightly on all sides with lemon pepper and Old Bay. Top with slices of lemon. Bake for approximately 12 to 20 minutes, depending on the type and thickness of the fish, until tender and flaky.
Blueberry Ginger Sauce: Sauté shallots in olive oil. In a medium saucepan, add 1 cup water and blueberries and let simmer for 10 minutes. When done, press the blueberries in the water with a masher. Add pickled ginger, sautéed shallots, salt and pepper, let sit. Mash again. Mash together one last time and run the mixture through a fine sieve to remove all of the goodies; it will leave you with a smooth and velvety Blueberry Ginger Sauce. Toss what's left in the sieve away. Season sauce again, if needed. Serve hot over the fish.
Sweet Potato Boats with Roasted Garlic
Gluten-free | Sugar-free | Vegetarian | Vegan | Pictured Top
4 Sweet Potatoes
Salt, to taste Pepper, to taste
Olive Oil Dash Cinnamon
3 Garlic bulbs
Brown Sugar, to taste (or Truvia sugar-free brown sugar)
Preheat Oven to 450°. Wash and wrap whole sweet potatoes in foil. Cut off across the top of the garlic bulb, keeping the entire bulb intact. Rub the garlic bulbs with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the sweet potatoes and garlic bulbs onto a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour or until done. (Note: the garlic may be done in roughly 30 minutes.)
When the sweet potatoes are soft when pricked with a fork, take out of the oven. When cooled slightly, remove foil and cut sweet potatoes in half long ways. Dig up the sweet potato a little bit with a fork. Season with olive oil, salt, pepper, cinnamon and roasted garlic cloves. (Butter and brown sugar are optional!) Serve hot.
Peaches and Cream Shortcake
Gluten-free | Sugar-free | Vegetarian
1 1/4 tsp Baking soda
3 cups Gluten-free flour, sifted
2/3 cup Vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups Buttermilk
1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 cups Sugar (¾ c Splenda for sugar-free)
3 large Eggs
1/3 cup Vegetable shortening, room temperature
3 Tbsps Vanilla extract (use good quality vanilla, and if you want pure white, use clear vanilla extract)
Sift flour, baking soda, salt and sugar (or Splenda) together. Set aside. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with circles of parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together vegetable oil, shortening and vanilla. Beat well at high speed with whisk attachment until light and fluffy. Beat the eggs in one at a time. Fold in the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk. (I always add dry ingredients in three divisions and liquid ingredients in two divisions. It is very important to begin and end the additions with the dry ingredients.) Do not over mix the batter. As soon as there are no lumps in the batter, pour into the two prepared cake pans. Bake at 325°F for 30-35 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.
Fresh Whipped Cream:
2 tsp Vanilla extract
1/4 cup Sugar (or 2 packs Splenda)
1 Quart Heavy whipping cream
In a large mixing bowl, place 1 quart heavy whipping cream into bowl. Add Splenda and vanilla. Whip mixture until soft peaks form. Set aside in refrigerator.
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
2 Tbsps Sugar (or 1 pack Splenda)
10 Peaches, peeled and sliced, tossed in lemon juice for freshness
In a medium mixing bowl, place peaches into the bowl, add sugar (Splenda) and cinnamon and stir. Set aside in refrigerator.
Construct the Cake: Place a little whipped cream in the center of cake plate and place first cake layer on top it. Cover cake layer with whipped cream and slices of peaches. Top with second cake layer and repeat spreading whipped cream and placing peaches on top. There will be leftover peaches, which should be kept refrigerated and served with each slice of cake.
(Chef’s note: I do not cover the sides of this cake with whipped cream. I like to see the cake layers and the peaches in between the layers.)
Chef Lynn Michelle is a personal chef located on Hilton Head Island serving the entire Lowcountry. Whether it’s preparing healthy, gourmet, family-style meals, or expertly creating elaborate dinner parties, Chef Lynn and her team do it all—planning, shopping, cooking and clean up. www.cheflynnmichelle.com (843) 422-5280