Healthy & Festive 4th of July Appetizers & Sides

I love that the 4th is falling on a Wednesday this year! Everyone mentally checked out last Friday, so this entire week feels like one continuous run off from last weekend. My boyfriend, his two sons and I are going to a bbq at one of his coworkers followed by fireworks at the National White Water Center in North Carolina. I’m debating what appetizer or side to bring, so I wanted to share the narrowed down options with you. I tried to keep things relatively healthy, nothing artificial, and mayo-free (because of the scorching temps).

Grilled Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad with Honey Lime Dressing (from Tastebook.com)

Just love the color in this Grilled Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad

Just love the color in this Grilled Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 ears of fresh sweet corn
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Honey Lime Dressing:
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • salt and pepper,
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Dash of cayenne pepper

Directions: Combine the sliced tomatoes, avocado, cilantro and grilled corn and honey lime dressing and mix gently so everything is evenly coated. Be careful not to mash the avocados. Let the salad sit for 10-15 minutes to let flavors mingle. Enjoy.

Simple, Delicious Guacamole (courtesy of Alton Brown) As an aside, I love Alton Brown. His show is so informative. This recipe received over 550 five stars! “Oh guacamole, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…or the chips being dunked into you!”

My love for guacamole is primal

My love for guacamole is primal

Ingredients

  • 3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Directions: In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Drain, and reserve the lime juice, after all of the avocados have been coated. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash. Then, fold in the onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve. To make it healthier, serve with carrot sticks, sliced cucumber rounds or sugar snap peas. I’m not saying don’t plate it up with the salty, fatty, amazing tortilla chips, just bring the veggies as a waist-friendly alternative.

Miso, Sesame and Sweet Potato Dip (from Sunset.com): This looks so good to me and sweet potatoes offer fab health benefits! For an Oriental flare, you can serve with baby bok choy leaves. However, if you think it’s the type of BBQ where those present will say, “what the hell are those leaves next to the orange dip?” then just serve with veggies or traditional chips.

sweet potato, sesame, miso dip

sweet potato, sesame, miso dip

Ingredients

  • 1 pound deep orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (often labeled “yams”), peeled and cut into 1- to 2-in. chunks
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons white (shiro) miso*
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion tops
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Steam sweet potatoes in a large saucepan with a steamer basket and 1 in. water until very tender, about 20 minutes. (If you don’t have a steamer, just simmer chunks in the water, stirring occasionally.) Drain, reserving liquid, and let cool slightly.
  2. Whirl ginger in a food processor to mince. Add sweet potatoes, miso, tahini, soy sauce, and enough reserved sweet potato liquid for a creamy texture, about 3 tbsp.; whirl until smooth.
  3. Transfer dip to a bowl and stir in 1 1/2 tbsp. green onions. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tbsp. onions and the sesame seeds. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with bok choy or cucumber slices.
  4. *Find in the refrigerated foods section.
  5. Make ahead: Up to 2 days, chilled.

Skewer for Patriotism!!! I found a couple of cute ideas to show love for the red, white and blue. These are fun, add sweet without tons of added sugar, and seem tres tres simple.

American Flag Kabobs! I know it shows bananas in the picture, but I thought angel food cake would be a bigger hit and the bananas may get soggy in the sun.

Flag kabobs!

Flag kabobs!

Ingredients:

  • skewers
  • strawberries cut in half
  • 1 angel food cake cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 or 2 pints of  blueberries
4th of July Wands (from weelicious.com)! I thought this was so adorable, especially for the kids. It is a great way to get them to eat more fruit.
4th of July Wands. So clever!

4th of July Wands. So clever!

Ingredients
  • 1 watermelon
  • 2 pints blueberries
  • 20 skewers

Directions

  1. Slice the watermelon into 1/2 inch round slices, and then cut out star shapes using a three-inch star-shaped cookie cutter.
  2. Gently slide the blueberries on wooden skewers* and finally place a watermelon star on the top.
  3. Place the skewers in a tall glass or in decorated floral foam as an eatable centerpiece.
Have a fun and safe holiday! There will be lots of partying all week, so use your Count Me Healthy bracelet to keep you mindful. Slide a bead every time you partake in a snack, sugared drink, alcoholic beverage or appetizer other than your main meal. 5-6 beads for the day is plenty. CC

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