This Holiday Season

Be Festive, Be Healthy … and “Be in the Moment”

ChefLynn 1221 

December 2021 Issue
By Chef Lynn Michelle—The East Coast Chef
Photography by Lucy Rosen

The holidays are the perfect time to discover the joy of being in the moment with family and friends—and to also spend time taking care of and nurturing yourself. Most of us get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and are faced with the pressures of jam-packed schedules and last-minute holiday shopping and errands. When your mind and body are in overdrive, it’s easy to miss the magic of the holidays. It’s the magic of the little moments that make the season (and every day) so special. Be mindful about being in the moment and take in the special experiences, connections, sights, sounds, tastes and smells that happen only during this most wonderful time of the year. Take a moment to notice how truly magnificent your Christmas tree is, how spectacular your holiday table looks, how delicious your famous chocolate chip cookies are and just how excited your children or grandchildren are to put a few out for Santa. Finally, make time, take time and savor that time with talks, laughs, hugs and lots of I love yous with your favorite people, which is really what the holidays are all about.

Speaking of savoring, since the holiday is also the season for fabulous food, here are some of my favorite holiday dishes—made healthier with a few simple substitutions. Whether the guests at your holiday table are eating sugar-free, gluten-free, or following a Keto diet, they’ll love these delicious and healthy options.

So this holiday season, don’t miss the magic of the little moments. Be merry, be festive … and be in the moment! It really is the best present you can give yourself, and others, for the holidays.

Cauliflower Potato Salad
Gluten-free | Sugar-free | Vegetarian
Vegan | Keto-Friendly
ChefLynn 1221 Cauliflower
1 large Cauliflower, washed, cut in large bite-size pieces
1 cup Mayonnaise, or Vegannaise
1/4 cup Apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Water
1/3 cup Green pepper, diced
1/4 cup Red pepper, diced
1/4 cup Carrots, shredded
1/2 cup Sweet onion, diced
2 tsps Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Sugar (or ½ tsp Splenda)

Place the pieces of cauliflower in a large pot and cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover and cook on low until the cauliflower is firm; drain and place in an ice bath to cool, drain quickly. Set Aside. In a large bowl, mix mayonnaise (or vegannaise) water, and apple cider vinegar together. Add salt, black pepper, sugar (or Splenda) and mix thoroughly. Add peppers, onions and carrots to the mixture and blend. Season to taste.
Carefully fold in the Cauliflower into the mayonnaise/vegannaise mixture. Season to taste. Do not over mix, as the cauliflower will fall apart. Optional toppings: sliced green onions, chopped bacon, shredded carrots, shredded cheese, sunflower seeds, or toasted pumpkins seeds.

Hot Artichoke & Spinach Dip with Homemade Crostini
Gluten-free | Sugar-free | Vegetarian
Vegan | Keto-Friendly  |  Pictured Top

2 pkgs Chopped Frozen Spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed out
1 large jar Whole artichoke hearts
1 cup Mayonnaise (or Vegannaise)
1 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated (or Vegan cheese)
½ cup Red Onion, chopped
1 cup Sweet Onion, chopped
½ tsp Black pepper
Dash Salt

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a baking dish with Pam. In a large bowl, place drained spinach, artichoke hearts, mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, red and sweet onions, pepper and salt together; mix well. Place mixture into the prepared baking pan and sprinkle with more parmesan cheese. Bake for 25 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Take out of oven and let set for 10 minutes. (Topping with bacon bits is optional.)

Crostini (Use Gluten-free bread for GF)
Long French baguette, sliced
Olive oil
Italian Seasonings

Preheat oven to 375°. Brush olive oil onto each baguette slice and sprinkle with Italian seasonings. Place each seasoned bread slices onto a baking sheet and put in oven. Bake for 10 minutes, or until crostini is golden and crisp.

Smashed Lowcountry Hummus
Gluten-free | Sugar-free | Vegetarian
Vegan | Keto-Friendly
ChefLynn 1221 Hummus
1/4 cup Olive oil 1 Garlic clove, fresh and pressed
½ tsp Salt ½ tsp Black pepper
1 tsp Cumin 2 Tbsps Lemon juice, fresh
¼ cup Water
1 large can Garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

In a large mixing bowl, place garbanzo beans, olive oil, freshly pressed garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, lemon juice and water in the bowl. Using a masher, mash all of the ingredients together, leaving some of the garbanzo beans whole, if desired. Mash until your desired texture. Season to taste. Optional toppings: Pimento cheese, tomatoes, olives, feta, roasted peppers, candied chopped bacon, olive oil, garlic, chopped nuts, basil, cilantro, or sweet onions

Spaghetti Squash Primavera

Gluten-free | Sugar-free | Vegetarian | Vegan | Keto-Friendly

1 large Spaghetti squash 4 cups Arugula, cleaned, drained
¼ cup Olive oil 1/2 cup Sweet onions, diced
1 tsp Salt 1/4 cup Celery, diced
1 tsp Black Pepper 1/2 cup Colored peppers, sliced thin
1/2 tsp Garlic powder 1/4 cup Red onion, diced
2 cups Vegetable stock 1/2 cup Tomatoes, chopped
Kalamata olives, optional Green olives, optional

Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Wash and dry spaghetti squash. Cut lengthwise and remove seeds with a spoon. Cover the inside of squash with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Place each half flat side down on foil pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until tender when poked with a fork. Let cool. While the squash is baking: In a large sauté pan, place olive oil, sweet and red onions, peppers, celery and tomatoes and sauté until translucent. Add vegetable stock. Gently fluff and scrape the spaghetti squash out and place into the sautéed vegetables. Season to taste. Serve over arugula greens and top with olives.

Grandma Gwen’s English Tarts
Vegetarian | Vegan
ChefLynn 1221 Tarts
Tart Dough:
1 tsp Salt
2 cups, plus 2 Tbsps
All-Purpose flour
2/3 cup Cold Shortening (If you prefer, for half of the shortening, substitute cold butter, cut into ½-inch pieces.)
6 to 8 Tbsps ice-cold Water (Keep ice cubes in the water, as well.)

Make Pastry: 
Mix flour and salt in medium bowl. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender or fork, until mixture forms coarse crumbs the size of small peas. Sprinkle with water, 1 Tbsp at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost leaves side of bowl. (Add 1 to 2 teaspoons more water, if necessary.) Chill Pastry: Gather pastry into ball. Divide in half and shape into 2 flattened rounds on lightly floured surface. Wrap rounds in plastic wrap and refrigerate 45 minutes, or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. This allows the shortening to become slightly firm, which helps make the baked pastry flaky. If refrigerated longer, let pastry soften slightly at room temperature before rolling.

Roll Out Crust: 
Using a floured rolling pin, roll one pastry round on a lightly floured surface. Make sure the dough is not too thin or thick to place into muffin tins. Transfer Pastry to Mini-Muffin Tin:  Place the cutout pastry into the mini-muffin pan, pressing firmly against bottom and side and being careful not to stretch pastry, which will cause it to shrink when baked.

Filling the Raw Dough Mini-Muffin Tins:
Choose your favorite(s): Raspberry Preserves, Strawberry Preserves, Blueberry Preserves, Apricot Preserves

Note: Do not use jelly, it’s too watery when it gets hot while baking

Preheat oven to 375°. Place 2 measured teaspoons of fruit preserves into the bottom of each raw dough tart in muffin tin. Bake 15 minutes, or until dough is golden brown. Note: Ovens and Muffin tin metal will change the amount of baking time and oven temp. Top with whipped cream.

ChefLynne HeadshotChef 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.  (843) 422-5280

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