A Happy & Healthier 2021

After a Tough Year and the Flurry of the Holidays, Get Back on Track with These Simple Recipes for Healthy Eating

ChefLynn0121 header 
January 2021
By Chef Lynn Michelle
Photography by TR Love, TR Media World

With 2020 thankfully behind us, and the food frenzy of the holidays now just a memory, it’s time to look ahead to 2021 and happier, healthier times for all of us. Between any bad eating habits picked up while quarantining, to the (to be expected) overindulgence of traditional holiday goodies throughout December, it’s likely that even the healthiest eaters may have found themselves falling off the healthy eating wagon for the past few months. The good news though? January is the perfect time to get back on track. And, the even better news? With a few simple substitutions and easy recipes, the return to healthy eating is easier than you think!

The new year is a great time to look at the foods and ingredients you are eating, getting rid of things you know aren’t good for you, and instead, stocking up on healthier alternatives that can help you live a healthier lifestyle. So while the occasional “splurge” is ok, you will be much more likely to stick to a healthier diet if you stock your refrigerator and pantry with healthier items that can set you up for success, whether you are following a Keto plan, or committed to eating sugar-free and/or gluten-free.

What you may ask are some great things to have readily on hand as we move into the heart of the winter to make healthy meal preparation fast and easy for you and your family? Nutritionists agree you should keep your kitchen stocked with staples like plenty of fruits and vegetables, Greek yogurt, nuts, whole grains, extra virgin olive oil, canned seafood (Did you know that canned tuna or salmon is packed with omega-3 fatty acids that help protect your heart, boost brain power, elevate mood, maintain eyesight and keep joints mobile?), canned beans and, in a throwback to holiday times, pumpkin puree (not only for holiday pies, pumpkin puree is packed with vitamins and nutrients, and can be added to soups, stews, smoothies, oatmeal, pasta sauce and casseroles!)

Let’s start 2021 right by jump-starting a healthy eating routine, setting yourself on a healthy course to work towards a healthier YOU, for the year ahead. Following are some of my favorite (and easy) recipes, where I’ve concentrated on building around healthy ingredients to make them gluten free, sugar free, vegan and/or Keto-friendly. I think you’ll be surprised to see just how simple and delicious it can be to not only eat healthier with some simple substitutions, but to also make 2021 your healthiest year yet.

Hearty Legume Stew
Gluten-free  |  Sugar-free  |  Vegan  |  Vegetarian|  Pictured Above

1 cup Carrots, sliced      
3/4 cup Onion, chopped        
1/2 cup Sweet red pepper, chopped
2 Garlic cloves, minced      
1 Tbsp Olive oil            
2 cans (14-1/2 oz) Vegetable broth
1 can Green pigeon peas      
1 can Lentils, drained        
1 can Black beans, rinsed, drained
4 tsps Ground cumin       
1 can Stewed tomatoes, cut up    
1 can Kidney beans, rinsed, drained
1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper      
2 Tbsps Fresh cilantro, minced    
1 can Black eyed peas, rinsed, drained
1 can Garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, sauté carrots, onion, garlic, and red pepper in oil until crisp/tender. Add broth, peas, beans, tomatoes, cumin and cayenne; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30-35 minutes, or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in cilantro and enjoy.

Sweet Potato Biscuits
Gluten-free  |  Vegan  |  Vegetarian  |  Pictured Above

2 Tbsps Brown sugar        
3/4 cup Almond milk, chilled     
1 cup Sweet potato puree, chilled
1/2 tsp Baking soda       
2 1/2 tsps Baking powder    
2 1/4 cups Flour, gluten-free, if desired
1 tsp Kosher salt           
¼ cup Honey            
Salt & pepper to taste
1 stick Unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes, plus 1 Tbsp melted butter, for brushing, or use Vegan Butter

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk sweet potato puree with the almond milk and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk flour with brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sprinkle cubed butter or vegan butter over the dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender, or two table knives, cut the butter into the flour until mixture resembles very coarse crumbs, with some of the butter about the size of peas. Stir in the sweet potato mixture just until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and roll or pat it into a 1-inch-thick circle. Using a 2-inch round biscuit cutter, stamp out as many biscuits as you can. Gently press the scraps together and stamp out more biscuits. Arrange biscuits on prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush with the melted butter and serve warm.

Savory Tomato Tart
Gluten-free  |  Sugar-free  |  Vegan  |  Vegetarian
ChefLynn0121 tomato
1 Piecrust, gluten-free, if desired
8 Tomatoes, thinly sliced
½ cup, Sweet onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup, Parmesan cheese, grated, or Vegan Parmesan
¾ cup, Fresh basil, chiffonade
¼ cup, Gruyere cheese, grated, or Vegan Mozzarella
½ cup, Mayonnaise or Veganaise
¼ cup, Mild cheddar cheese, shredded, or Vegan Cheddar
½ cup, Sour cream or Tofutti          
Salt & pepper to taste
4 drops Tabasco

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a medium bowl, blend mayonnaise, sour cream, salt, pepper, tabasco and cheeses. Put aside. Place gluten-free piecrust into a pie plate and put into the oven to par-bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Place thinly sliced tomatoes on paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt to allow excess liquid drain. Let sit for 10 minutes. When the pie crust is out of the oven, place some tomatoes slices on the bottom of the crust, slightly overlaying them. Add thin layer of sweet onions and basil; season lightly with pepper. Do this for 3 layers. Top with the blended mayonnaise layer; and top with thinly sliced tomatoes and basil. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden.

Baked Green Bean Bites with a Cumin, Cilantro Sauce
Gluten-free  |  Sugar-free  |  Vegan  |  Vegetarian
ChefLynn0121 bean
½ cup  Almond milk        
2 cups Green beans, cooked and pureed
½ cup, Onions, diced small     
¾ cup, Bread Crumbs, gluten free if desired
½ cup Celery, diced small        
¾ cup Peppers, orange, yellow, red, diced small
Olive oil                
Salt & pepper to taste
Garlic powder to taste
2 Eggs or vegan egg (3 Tbsps Flaxseed meal and 6 Tbsps water, let set)

Cumin Cilantro Cream Sauce:

1 Tbsp Cumin            
1 pint Heavy cream
½ cup Fresh cilantro        
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F, and cover baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix pureed green beans, gluten-free bread crumbs, eggs with seasonings (salt, pepper & garlic powder). Add almond milk; mix and set aside. Sauté onions, celery and peppers in olive oil until translucent. Let cool, careful not to “cook” the eggs with the heat of the pepper mixture, and then add to green bean mixture. Mix well. More almond milk may be added, if needed. Place rounded spoonfuls onto parchment paper. Bake for 12 minutes or until a little golden. While baking, make cream sauce by mixing all ingredients together in a blender or processor. Serve bites immediately with the Cumin Cilantro Cream Sauce.

Lemon Cherry Pound Cake
Gluten-free  |  Vegetarian

For the Cake:ChefLynn0121 cake
1 tsp Salt    
1 tsp Baking powder     
1 can (about 21-oz) Cherry pie filling
1 cup Sugar    
1 tsp Baking soda     
2 cups Flour, Gluten-free if desired
2 Eggs        
1 cup Sour cream    
1 stick Unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp Vanilla    
2 whole Lemons, zested    
1 Tbsp Fresh lemon juice

For the Glaze:

3 Tbsps Milk    
1 cup Powdered sugar    
3 Tbsps Unsalted butter, melted
1 dash Salt    
2 Tbsps Fresh lemon juice

Empty cherry pie filling into a strainer and rinse off syrup. Preheat the oven to 350ºF, and butter and flour a 12-cup bundt pan. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla, until creamy. Add sour cream and lemon zest and beat until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture and blend well. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan and spoon the cherries over the top. Using a spoon or butter knife, swirl the cherries slightly into the batter. Bake 50 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow cake to cool thoroughly before turning it out of the pan. While the cake is cooling, make the glaze by putting milk and melted butter into a bowl. Whisk in the confectioner’s sugar until fully incorporated, then stir in the lemon juice and salt. When the cake has been removed from the pan, drizzle on the glaze.


ChefLynne Headshot
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. Cheflynnmichelle.com  843-422-5480

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