Fourth of July Recipes to Light(en) Up Your Summer
July 2021 Issue
By Chef Lynn Michelle—The East Coast Chef
Photography by Lindsay Gifford
July is filled not only with a wonderful mix of colors of the freshest, ripest summer fruits and vegetables, but also with foods bursting with the month’s most famous colors: red, white and blue. Independence Day the perfect time to set out a table full of fun patriotic-themed desserts to go along with the festive decor of July 4th. There are some wonderful and healthy ways to “cook with color” when it comes to incorporating the natural reds, whites and blues of one of the most celebration-filled days of the summer.
Whether you are packing a fun meal for a day spent with family and friends at the beach, or hosting a gathering in your own backyard, there are many ways to add a little sparkle, and a whole lot of color, through food, while still sticking to a sugar-free, gluten-free and/or keto diet. In fact, some of today’s healthiest foods are naturally red, white and blue—giving you a lot to work with when it comes to creating incredibly delicious and healthy dishes to add to your patriotic celebration.
Let’s start with red. Filled with important antioxidants, including vitamin A and vitamin C, red-hued fruits and vegetables have been shown to help fight heart disease and cancer, as well as reduce the risk of macular degeneration. So when thinking about planning a healthy Fourth menu, rake in the health benefits of including sweet red peppers, cranberries, pomegranates, cherries, tomatoes, red-skinned potatoes, strawberries, raspberries and, of course, that 4th of July staple—watermelon! Add in some good-for-you white foods, such as bananas, cauliflower and mushrooms, which often contain the phytochemical allicin that aids in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure and has also been thought to help reduce the risk of stomach cancer and heart disease. Then bring in the blue with favorites like blueberries, plums and eggplant. These flavorful blues contain the phytochemical anthocyanin (also found in red foods), which studies have shown may help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Here are a few of my favorite healthy July 4th recipes, made even healthier through some simple substitutions to make them sugar-free, gluten-free and/or keto-friendly. So bring on the red, white & blue and light up their faces while fireworks light up the skies—all while deliciously lightening up your menu with these healthy options. LET'S EAT!
Butter Bean Casserole
Gluten-free | Sugar-free | Vegetarian | Vegan [Pictured Above]
½ cup Red onion, roughly chopped
1 large pkg Frozen large butter (lima) beans, thawed
12 cloves Roasted garlic, leave whole
2 cups Cheddar or colby vegan cheese, shredded
½ tsp Salt (or to taste)
4 tsps Butter, or Vegan Butter
1 tsp Pepper (or to taste)
3 Tbsps Fresh sage, chiffonade (optional, or other fresh herbs)
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray bottom and side of a baking dish with Pam and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together thawed butter beans, red onion, roasted garlic, salt, pepper, ½ cup of shredded cheese, butter and fresh herbs. Place butter bean mixture into the prepared baking dish and spread the remaining shredded cheese on top. Bake for 25 minutes, or until top is golden brown.
How to Roast Garlic Bulbs: Preheat oven to 400°. Cut across the top of garlic bulb to expose the tips of the garlic cloves. Rub thoroughly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet for 30 minutes, or until the garlic bulbs are roasted through.
Filet of Portobello/Tofu Steak with Firecracker Sauce
Gluten-free | Sugar-free | Vegetarian | Vegan | Keto
3/4 cup Olive Oil, divided 1 tsp Salt 1 tsp Pepper
3 tsps Italian seasoning 2 Tbsp Chili powder 2 tsps Garlic powder, divided
1 tsp Ground cumin ½ tsp Dried oregano 10 drops Tabasco
Large can diced Tomatoes, undrained
6 Portobello Mushrooms, medium size (keep whole with stems taken out)
1 container Firm Tofu, split in half longwise for steaks (if choosing Tofu option)
Marinate portobello mushrooms and/or firm tofu in 1/2 cup olive oil, salt, pepper, Italian seasonings and 1 tsp garlic powder for about an hour. On a hot grill, or lined grill pan, place the marinated mushrooms and/or tofu to grill and mark each side. For Firecracker Sauce: Combine 1/4 cup olive oil, canned tomatoes, ground cumin, 1 tsp garlic powder, oregeno and Tabasco in a sauce pan. Heat over medium heat for about 30 minutes and season to taste. Serve filet over Butter Bean Casserole (above) and top with sauce.
Summer Fresh Corn Chowder
Gluten-free | Sugar-free | Vegetarian | Vegan
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Unsalted butter or Olive oil
1 Medium yellow onion, diced
5 cups Vegetable broth (or Water)
1/4 tsp Dried thyme
1 lb. Yukon gold or baby red potatoes, diced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup Half & half, heavy cream, or vegan sub
Handful Fresh chives, chopped
8 ears Yellow sweet corn, raw, kernels cut off cob
1/4 cup All-purpose flour, or Measure to Measure GF flour
Slice corn kernels off the cob and set aside. In a medium saucepan, add butter or olive oil. Then add diced onions and cook about 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add garlic and flour and cook about 1 minute, stirring often to make a roux. While stirring, pour in broth (or water) and increase heat to medium-high. Add corn, potatoes, thyme salt and pepper. Stir and bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring every so often, for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender. Place half of the soup mixture in a bowl, being careful since it's very hot. Use an immersion blender or blender to puree about half the soup until smooth. Stir the unblended soup back into the pot. Add in half and half (or heavy cream) and half the chives. Stir in and heat through. Serve sprinkled with remaining chives, if desired.
This is my Nanny’s Special Butter Cookie Recipe, an old classic!
Gluten-free | Vegetarian
1 cup Butter, softened
3/4 cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
1 Egg, whisked
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking powder
21/2 cups GF Measure to Measure flour (or all-purpose flour for a non gluten-free)
In a large mixing bowl, blend the butter, sugar, vanilla and egg together until creamy. Add salt, baking powder, GF Flour and mix well. Roll small parts of the batter onto plastic film to roll out a log. Wrap and place on a cookie sheet. Repeat this until all of the batter is in small 2-inch round logs. Place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for 2 hours. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375°. Open the chilled roll of cookie dough and slice into ½-inch slices. Dip the sliced cookie into your choice of colored sprinkles, chocolate sprinkles, colored sugar, cinnamon sugar, or just be creative to find more options. Place decorated sugar cookie on ungreased pan and bake for 8 minutes, or just before the edges turn brown. The secret is not allowing any browning of edges!
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