12 Ways to Fiesta on the 4th of July

Fireworks. Burgers. Swimming. Splashing. Family and friends. Break out the red, white and blue, the 4th of July is upon us. With the holiday landing on a Friday this year, many people are taking off the whole week to celebrate.

No matter where or how you are honoring this mid-summer favorite holiday, a party is not a party without plenty of fruity sips, scrumptious sides as well as yummy sweets. To make it easy for you (and me), I have curated a list of some of my favorite drinks, salads and desserts that would be hits at any summer celebration, especially this one.

You'll notice lots of seasonal melons and fruits, cold and lighter options as well as easy to make and make-ahead dishes that are easily transported. But the one thing every single one of these 12 dishes have in common is that they reflect my continuous commitment to bring you seasonal dishes that are packed with flavor and lean towards the healthy side of the spectrum.

Have a safe and delectable 4th of July!

Buen provecho!

Sips

Agua de Melon (June 25, 2010)

It's summer and that means it's time for melons--in drinks, sides, salads and desserts. The market is rolling in watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew as well as the new varieties such as canary, holiday and the quart-sized watermelons.

In Mexico, aguas frescas are a symbolic way to sip away the summer heat. Everyone loves these colorful beverages and you'll love that no one will even miss the soda. Just blend fresh fruit with water and add a bit of honey or stevia. This is a summer thirst quencher you'll want to repeat over and over again.

Limonada (August 12, 2013)

Crisp from the carbonated spring water and tart from the fresh squeezed lime or lemon juice, this homemade lemonade is easy to make. Even the adults will love this classic childhood favorite. Top with a splash of vodka, tequila or rum for a great afternoon adult beverage.

Mango-cucumber wine cooler (July 5, 2011)

If there's a big group getting together, why not whip up a batch of mango-cucumber wine coolers? Refreshing and with just the right amount of fruit, this is something that will get the guests talking.

Cold cucumber soup (August 6, 2011)

Cucumbers are in peak season right now and there are so many kinds to choose from. Salt and pepper, pickling, lemon cucumbers and the traditional slicers. Or try the Armenian or striped Armenian, which are very similar to an English cucumber, but better.

Serve this soup in shooter glasses or small juice glasses such as Mason or Ball jars. Everyone can sip a little something nutritious and delicious before the feast.

Sides

Blue cheese coleslaw (September 13, 2010)

Grilled meats and cole slaw go together like hamburgers and french fries. Give your buffet table a kick with this blue cheese cole slaw. This dish will disappear and they will be begging for more. That is, everyone who adores blue cheese.






Tomato-melon salad (August 1, 2012)

July is all about the melons and 'maters. From watermelon to cantaloupe, honeydew to canary, holiday to orange-flesh watermelons, pair with prosciutto for an appetizer or partner them with juicy heirloom tomatoes for an unforgettable salad that says summer in a fresh, bright and distinctive way.

Basil vinaigrette (June 21, 2013) 

Even if your host or hostess told you not to bring anything, take along a jar of this genuine summer liquid gold. This basil vinaigrette is perfect for ripe tomatoes or with a tossed salad. In addition to being delicious, it is a great way to cut back your overgrown basil plant and encourage new growth. Because you can never have too much basil in the summer. Jar the vinaigrette and gift to friends, neighbors, co-workers and family. They will continue to thank you...and offer you their extra basil when theirs is abundant. Hint, hint.

Green goddess salad dressing (March 23, 2012)

Looking for a salad that has a bit more oomph in it? Something less for the ladies and more for the men? This green goddess salad dressing is the one. Thick and creamy, but it remains light because of the herbs, is what makes this colorful dressing a sensational topping for lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and avocado salad. Or to update the traditional (and usually boring) crudite platter that features ranch dressing and replace it with green goddess. Serve with sticks of carrots, red bell pepper and celery as well as cucumber spears or slices for a healthy snack everyone can enjoy.




Sweets

Brownies (February 10, 2011)

Deep, dark squares (or slices) of chocolate that will melt everyone's heart? Pick this recipe. Whether 6-years-old or 66, one bite of this brownie and they will swoon. Top each cocoa brownie (made with browned butter and walnuts) with a generous scoop of homemade ice cream and you just hit a homerun!

Raw berry crisp (May 2, 2012)

Gluten-free, grain-free, raw, vegan and absolutely delicious. If that interests you, keep reading because you clearly want a sweet treat but not the guilt. Try this berry crisp for a change. The "crisp" is made with nuts, a few dates, a dash of cinnamon and a drizzle of honey. That's it. And it's done. No baking. No bother. Just fresh fruit and nut goodness that everyone will love. Vegan, raw or not.

Raw blueberry tartlets (July 8, 2012)

This oh-so-light but oh-so-yummy dessert is filled with fresh blueberries. What could be more simple and healthy than that? Plus, this raw, vegan recipe is so easy to pull together. In fact, it is a great activity for the kids. You process the ingredients for the crust or "tartlets" in the food processor and let them shape the cups. Then fill with berries and lemon peel...plenty of lemon peel because it just makes the dish!

Peach ice cream (June 18, 2012)

Summer + peaches = ice cream.

So what not make sure the party ends on a super sweet note and bring homemade peach ice cream or go old-school and let the kids crank the ice cream machine.

Either way, I promise everyone will remember this 4th of July. And you'll be the reason why.




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