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This week is filled with July 4th festivities–picnics, barbeques and backyard cookouts.  Whether you’re at the beach, around the campsite or just spending it relaxing at home, delicious food is always a requirement for a successful celebration.  This year, consider taking some of the usual picnic/barbeque fare and putting a healthy twist on it.

 

Let’s start with a typical side–macaroni salad.  The traditional version consists of pasta with a mayonnaise base along with diced celery and onion.  Swap this out with Greek Pasta Salad w/Red Wine Vinaigrette for a healthier and tastier change.  This recipe uses red onions, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, olives and feta cheese for its ingredients.  Instead of heavy mayonnaise, this dressing uses red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice and herbs to flavor this salad.  More taste and less fat/calories!

 

pasta salad

 

Another popular dish at cookouts are Deviled Eggs.  Avocado Stuffed Eggs are a healthier version that won’t leave you missing any of the original recipe’s flavor. The only thing omitted is the fat and calories of the mayonnaise used as the original base.  Instead, this recipe uses avocado for its creamy consistency.

 

eggs

 

What’s a celebration without dessert?  This Fourth of July Dessert keeps it super simple by combining fresh strawberries and blueberries with some low-fat vanilla yogurt and whipped topping in an old fashioned mason jar.  Fresh flavors and patriotic colors–perfect for the holiday!

 

dessert

 

These recipes prove you can enjoy your holiday with flavorful food while still keeping it healthy.  Have a fun and safe July 4th!

 

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When the temperatures rise, it’s important to stay hydrated.  Of course the obvious answer is to drink plenty of liquids, preferably water, but another great way to ensure you keep hydrated during these hot, summer months is by adding plenty of fruit and veggies to your diet.  This is because lots of fruit and vegetables have a high water content, especially some that are in season right now!  For example, leafy greens, melons of all kinds, berries, and stone fruits like peaches and nectarines are great ways to stay hydrated. An added bonus is these fruit and veggies also provide important nutrients that help to keep your body healthy.

 

Who doesn’t like popsicles?  And let’s face it …popsicles scream summertime. This recipe for Strawberry-Cantaloupe Popsicles only uses two ingredients and those ingredients are two, delicious in season fruits.  Seriously, you can beat this treat and it’s a perfect way to cool down while staying hydrated.

 

cantaloupe pops

 

 As I mentioned, salads are a great way to help keep hydrated through your meals.  A popular salad is Cucumber Salad.  This recipe incorporates fresh cucumbers, onion (I like to use red onion), and fresh tomato.  It’s topped with a wine vinegar dressing and you can serve it over a bed of fresh greens to boost the water content of your meal even more.

 

cucumber salad

 

Sweet Georgia Peach Tea makes me think of summer in the South.  I love iced tea (my favorite drink!) and I love fresh peaches, the combination is simply wonderful.  This recipe also addes a sprig of fresh mint and some sliced lemon–talk about refreshing!

 

peach tea

 

These are just a few ideas to keep you hydrated this summer.  Smoothies, fruit ices, and other cold treats will work well too.  The important thing is to drink plenty of water and eat a variety of juicy fruit and veggies that are now available to help keep you cool.

 

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One of my favorite things about summer is the fact that blueberries are in season.  I simply love them!  It’s hard to believe so much flavor can come from such a tiny berry, but an in season blueberry can rival any other sweet treat any day of the week.  Even better is the fact these fruits are nutrition powerhouses.  A serving of blueberries is packed with fiber, provides 25 percent of your daily requirement of Vitamin C and is filled with valuable antioxidants–even more reason to feast on these sweet fruits!  I usually will take a cup of fresh blueberries and snack on them alone with a bit of string cheese, but I’ve got some great ways to use them in recipes.

 

While you might think of blueberries and sweet dishes, they are delicious in salads.  Their sweet flavor goes well with savory flavors as in this Brain Power Salad (Spinach Salad w/Blueberries, Avocado and Salmon).  These fresh ingredients are perfect for the season and it’s topped with a Honey Chia Seed Vinaigrette dressing.

 

blueberry salad

 

A terrific way to enjoy fresh blueberries is in a smoothie.  This Berry Blueberry Smoothie recipe is great because it also includes a cup of spinach and one whole, peeled orange.  It’s made with vanilla yogurt so it’s even perfect for a breakfast drink.  Take a look at the image below–your kids will never even guess it contains spinach (great for those picky eaters!).

 

bluerry smoothie

 

While I’ve never been a huge fan of jams or jellies, I do like blueberry jam.  I found a recipe for Easy Blueberry Jam that you can make in a small batch so you’re not having to put up jars and it doesn’t require a lot of blueberries.  Another great thing about this recipe is that it only takes an hour to make and two ingredients!

 

blueberry jam

 

 Make it a point to visit your local supermarket and grab some blueberries while they are at their peak of flavor over the next couple of months.  Better yet, if you live near a pick-your-own location, make it a family outing and pick some fresh blueberries yourself.  These little blue gems are like nature’s candy

 

right now!

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