Family & Friends
The Food Never Ends
November 2021 Issue
By Chef Lynn Michelle—The East Coast Chef
Photography by Lucy Rosen
Family. Friends. Football. And, of course, food—lots and lots of it! There are a number of reasons why so many people claim Thanksgiving as their favorite holiday—and most of those reasons center on the traditions of spending time with loved ones in living rooms, kitchens and, gathered around the dining room table. Thanksgiving’s emphasis on spending time with family and friends, without presents and the associated stress of holiday shopping, makes this holiday one to enjoy just being together. Equally as important, it’s the perfect time to enjoy some fabulous food, from traditional family favorites to some new “twists” on Thanksgiving classics that are as delicious as they are healthy.
This year, as we return to gather with friends and family after the unprecedented events of 2020, homes throughout the Lowcountry will be filled with the familiar smells and tastes of the season and the abundance of Thanksgiving-themed food. Whether you celebrate the season with a joyous big family dinner, or a smaller “Friendsgiving” to gather with good friends after a long year, it’s easier than you think to indulge in your favorite holiday foods and stay on track in your pledge to eat healthier.
What are some of the easiest things you can do this Thanksgiving to bring healthier eating to the table? Try replacing sour cream with Greek yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese to kick-off a new favorite Thanksgiving dip. Use whole-grain bread in your “secret stuffing” recipe and for your holiday rolls. Replace milk chocolate with healthier dark or semi-sweet chocolate in your beloved holiday desserts. Consider adding in riced cauliflower to your famous mashed potatoes for a healthier, lower carb alternative. In addition, when it comes to planning your Thanksgiving menu this year and including some new healthy—and delicious—twists on old favorites, my vegan/vegetarian/sugar-free/gluten-free Sweet Potato Bruschetta and Minted Quinoa Pilaf, along with my gluten-free Marinated Grilled Pork Chops and vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free/keto-friendly Braised Fennel and Lemon, will take healthy Thanksgiving eating to a new level. Add in my recipe for a delicious healthy White Chocolate and Pear Croissant Crisp for extra thanks and compliments from your grateful guests!
Here’s to a wonderful, tradition-filled day spent with family and friends—and a festive celebration with healthy Thanksgiving dishes that nobody will want to end!
Sweet Potato Bruschetta
Gluten-free | Sugar-free | Vegetarian | Vegan
2 Sweet Potatoes, washed, unpeeled, sliced into ¼ inch rounds, coated lightly with Olive Oil
1/4 cup, Red onion, chopped small
½ cup, Sweet onion, chopped small
1 large Tomato, chopped small (sprinkle with salt and let set, drain seeds and liquid)
1 cup fresh Basil, chopped chiffonade style
¼ tsp fresh Garlic, minced (optional)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place sliced sweet potato rounds onto a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake 15 minutes, until slightly brown, but not mushy. Let cool when done. In a large mixing bowl, add drained/dry tomatoes, red and sweet onions, garlic, salt and pepper and 1 Tbsp olive oil. Blend together and set aside. Using a slotted spoon, place the tomato mixture onto the sweet potato round and top with the chiffonade fresh basil.
Marinated Grilled Pork Chop
Gluten-free | Sugar-free | Keto-Friendly | Pictured Top
Pork Chops, bone in- or out
1/4 cup Olive oil
1 Tbsp Apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Mustard
2 Tbsps Thyme
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp ground Pepper
1 tsp fresh Ginger, minced
1 tsp fresh Garlic, minced
½ tsp Turmeric
In a small bowl, combine olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard, thyme, salt, pepper, ginger, garlic and turmeric and mix together. Season pork chops with salt and pepper and put in a Ziploc bag or a baking pan. Pour olive oil mixture over pork chops, mix slightly and seal Ziploc, or cover baking pan. Place into refrigerator for 3-4 hours. Grill, broil, or pan sear the pork chops until done. While the meat is cooking, put the remaining marinade mixture in a small pan and boil for 15 minutes and then let simmer. Note: NEVER consume raw or uncooked marinade. Serve cooked pork chops with the heated marinade/sauce.
Minted Quinoa Pilaf
Gluten-free | Sugar-free | Vegetarian | Vegan
1/4 cup Olive oil (to season)
Quinoa, cooked (plain or multi color)
1/4 cup Sweet onion, minced
1 clove fresh Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Red onions, minced
3/4 cup fresh Mint leaves, small chiffonade cut
Salt to taste Pepper to taste
In a large mixing bowl, place cooked quinoa, red and sweet onions, garlic, salt and pepper and blend carefully. Once mixed, fold in half of the mint chiffonade. Season to taste. (It may need more olive oil.) Place into a serving dish and garnish with the rest of the mint and colorful sliced fresh peppers, if desired, for flavor and color.
Braised Fennel & Lemon
Gluten-free | Sugar-free | Vegetarian | Vegan | Keto-Friendly
1 Lemon, juiced
1/2 large Sweet onion, large chop
¼ cup, Olive oil
3 Lemons, cut into small wedges, removing seeds
Salt & Pepper, to taste
½ tsp Italian seasoning
2 Fennel bulbs, fresh, outside layer and top trimmed off, slice in 8 wedges with core in
Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, place fennel bulb wedges, chopped sweet onion, lemon wedges, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Blend together and let set for 10 minutes. In an oven-safe baking dish, place the fennel bulb mixture into dish and bake for 25 minutes, or until lemon and fennel are roasted in color. Transfer the roasted lemons and fennel into a nice serving dish and serve hot.
White & Milk Chocolate and Pear Croissant Crisp
1/4 cup fresh Lime juice
4 Croissants, torn into large bite-size pieces
1/2 cup Chocolate chips
1 cup unsweetened Coconut flakes, toasted
4 Eggs, blended
1/2 cup White chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups Coffee creamer, any desired flavor (sugar-free optional)
4 medium-ripe Pears, washed and skin left on, cut into large bite-size pieces
Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease the bottom of a medium-size baking pan or use individual oven-safe ramekins. In a medium bowl, toss cut pears with fresh lime juice. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and coffee creamer together. Add croissant pieces, milk and white chocolate chips and fold together. Place mixture into the desired pans and bake until golden brown on top. Top with toasted coconut and serve warm.
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