It’s August , and I’ve just prepared my three inaugural recipes for this website. I have been developing recipes for years, including over 100 recipes which are featured in my new book, Gluten Free Goes Gourmet. However, I wanted these first three recipes to somewhat set the tone. They needed to be light, attractive and, needless to say, absolutely delicious. It’s been such a hot summer in New YorkState – what better way to beat the heat than a refreshing and hydrating lemonade. Lemons are naturally full of anti-oxidants, high in vitamin C and very cleansing to the system. Unlike the frozen canned variety you buy in your supermarket’s freezer, which are brimming with sugar, I also wanted my lemonade to use a low glycemic sweetener. So, out came my juicer and my bottle of agave. And then after a few tests, my bottle of agave was returned to the pantry.
You see, although agave is a great choice as a sweetener, its dark color meant that the lemonade turned a brownish, off putting color. Let’s face it, amidst the heat and humidity, we need to keep our sense of excitement about being in the kitchen intact. Brown lemonade wasn’t going to cut it. So I quickly reached for my bag of raw organic cane sugar. That did the trick.
Keeping yourself hydrated couldn’t be easier than this bursting with pucker power lemonade.
Summer heat can also threaten to rob you of the excitement that generally greets you as you step into your kitchen but also of the energy required to make meals, let alone the creativity to think up meal ideas. To ease that sense of lethargy, try my chicken salad, brimming with cool, leafy greens and packed with protein. The combination of lean protein from the grilled chicken and the nutrients from the greens ensures that our blood sugar levels remain constant and at their peak. It’s also wonderfully easy to put together and to eat, both inside or as an al fresco treat.
And, although we may rail against the heat and humidity, nothing really makes us happier than the sun shining in the sky and the amazing abundance of fruit and vegetables that our country has to offer during these all too fleeting summer months. It’s no less exciting to spy the first few stalks of rhubarb in the spring than it is to admire the rosy blush of local peaches two months later. The slightly fuzzy skin, the fragrant juices than envelope us as we take our first bite- nothing quite compares.
Peaches, like all stone fruit, are good for you and a good source of fiber. They require little if any embellishment. For my crisp, I added merely a splash of lemon juice for some zing and a small amount of agave to help highlight and intensify the natural sweetness of the peaches. I’m also happy to report that the crisp is nostalgia at its best. For a long time, I could only dream of making a gluten-free crisp or cobbler with the proper taste and texture. In fact, I sometimes wondered whether it would only be a memory for me. I tried so many different combinations, and although they looked good, they always tasted grainy. Finally, one day, I combined almond flour – which I knew to be light in texture and taste – with some brown rice flour as well as some starch. The winning combination at last had been developed. The last piece of evidence came, when a good friend of mine tasted it, took a deep satisfied sigh and then requested to take some home for her daughter. Although this crisp is wonderful on its own, a scoop of vanilla ice cream certainly emblazons its summery appeal.
Cool and refreshing with a fraction of the sugar.
6 cups water
½ cup raw organic cane sugar
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. In a large pitcher, stir together the water and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in the lemon juice.
2. Refrigerate until completely chilled.
Makes about 6 servings.
This chicken salad is simplicity itself. The lemon juice that I included in the marinade penetrates the chicken quickly, breaking down the chicken’s fibers (somewhat cooking it as is true of a ceviche) and imbuing it with tremendous flavor. Hence, there’s no need for a long marinating time. I told you it was easy.
2 lb Chicken cutlets (6 large slices), pounded thin and cut lengthwise in half
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp salt
8 cups chopped, washed romaine lettuce (2-8oz bags)
4 cups grape tomatoes, halved (2 pints)
4 Kirby’s (small cucumbers) peeled, finely sliced and halved
4 red radishes, finely sliced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp raw organic cane sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1. In a bowl, stir together the marinade ingredients. Add the cutlets, turning until well coated.
2. Pre heat a grill pan set over high heat for 5 minutes.
3. Remove the chicken from the marinade; discard any leftover marinade. Place the chicken on the grill; cook for 2 to 4 minutes or until the chicken turns white. Turn the chicken over; cook for an additional 2 to 4 minutes or until cooked through.
4. Transfer chicken to a clean cutting board. Cut each cutlet into 1/2 inch slices.
5. Salad: Place all of the vegetables in a large serving bowl.
6. Dressing: In a separate small bowl, mix together all of the dressing ingredients.
7. Pour the dressing over the vegetables, tossing gently until well coated. Top with grilled chicken slices. Serve immediately.
Makes 6 servings.
Note: For those who enjoy avocados and their health benefits as much as I do, I also created a creamy avocado dressing just for this salad. Halve and pit two avocados; place in a bowl. With a fork, mash the avocados until almost smooth. Stir in 1 tbsp mayonnaise, 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 tsp onion powder and ½ tsp salt. Toss with the vegetables before adding the chicken.
Light, scrumptious and good for you. Don’t be surprised if your family and guests ask for seconds or even thirds.
10 peaches, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp agave or raw organic cane sugar
¼ cup raw organic cane sugar
2 tbsp non-trans fat margarine (1/4 stick)
¼ cup almond flour
¼ cup brown rice flour
¼ cup potato starch
Vanilla ice cream
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Crisp Topping: In a bowl, mix together the sugar, margarine, brown and rice flours and starch until crumbly. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the peaches, lemon juice and agave until well coated.
4. Transfer the peach mixture into 10 – 4 oz ramekins, filling 90% full. Sprinkle each ramekin evenly with the crisp topping.
5. Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Let the ramekins cool slightly.
6. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Makes 10 servings.
Variation: Place the peach mixture in a 9”x13”baking dish. Sprinkle with the crisp topping. Bake for 30 minutes. To serve, use a large spoon to scoop out portions onto dessert plates. Top with a scoop of ice cream.