4th of July Desserts to Make Uncle Sam Proud

4th of July Desserts to Make Uncle Sam Proud

Nothing says U.S. independence like quirky town parades, booming fireworks overhead (or in your driveway), patriotism as a valid excuse for daytime boozing, and loads of red-white-and-blue 4th of July desserts.

Now, we get it: you’re already 100% decked out in stars and stripes from your bikini, tank, and shorts to your sandals, tote, and nails. Who has time for decorative dessert?

Hear us out. What’s the fun of 4th of July if it’s not to go excessively overboard on patriotism? Come on now… your neighbor has 5 flags and a celebratory welcome mat. Don’t let her one-up you. Here are 7 creative 4th of July desserts fit to impress dear old Uncle Sam.

The Sweet Taste of Victory: Sweet 4th of July Desserts

4th of July desserts flag cake

We think the best Independence Day desserts should match our clothes: red, white, and blue!

1. American Flag Cake

Wow your guests with this artistic, mouth-watering, fruity & creamy cake.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of white cake mix
  • 8 oz. of cream cheese
  • 9 oz. of whipped topping
  • 3 Tbsp of powdered sugar
  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • 1 pint of raspberries

Instructions:

  • Prepare the cake mix as indicated. Once baked, allow to cool.
  • While cooling, use a mixer to blend the powdered sugar, whipped topping, and cream cheese together.
  • Use this to frost the cake.
  • Decorate the top with blueberries and raspberries to model the American flag.

2. Firework Cookies

Firework shows are a classic 4th of July favorite, so you better add these to the assortment!

Ingredients:

  • A dozen of your favorite sugar cookies, either baked or store-bought
  • Red and blue sugar sprinkles
  • White frosting
  • Several bags of Pop-Rocks candy

Instructions:

  • Bake or open your cookies and frost them.
  • Sprinkle with the sprinkles then the Pop-Rocks.
  • With each bite, there will literally be an explosion of taste!
friends having 4th of july desserts

Irresistible & Healthy 4th of July Desserts

Holiday eating doesn’t have to end with bloating and regret! These healthy 4th of July desserts never sacrifice flavor.

3. Red, White, and Blue Fruit Salad

This fruit salad is super simple to whip up and always a hit.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint of hulled strawberries
  •  1 pint of blueberries
  • 4 bananas
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Instructions:

  • Mix the blueberries and strawberries together.
  • Cover in sugar and lemon juice.
  • Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Slice the banana, mix with the other fruit, and garnish with a bit of whipped cream.

4. Berry Parfaits

In a matter of minutes, this popular dessert will be ready to go.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1 pint hulled strawberries
  • Whipped topping

Instructions: 

  • Use plastic punch cups and layer the fruit between the whipped topping.
  • Alternate blue, white, and red.
  • Top with a dollop of whip and keep it cool for best results.

4th of July Drinks Count, too!

Who says sangria isn’t a dessert? Not us.

5. July 4th Sangria

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups of hulled strawberries
  • 1 sliced star fruit
  • 3/4 cup of blueberries
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 15 maraschino cherries
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate schnapps
  • Club soda

Instructions:

  • Grab a large glass pitcher. (If you don’t have one, you can find them online at Target, Amazon, or Overstock.)
  • Fill with everything but the club soda and allow it to refrigerate overnight.
  • To serve, fill glasses with ice then fill 2/3 of the way with sangria.
  • Top with club soda, stir, and sip!

4th of July Desserts for the Kiddos

Whether you have your own little munchkins or your cousin is bringing over her 3 high-energy kids, you’d better have some treats to keep them happy and entertained!

4th of July Desserts Popsicles

6. Patriotic Pops

This treat may be at the kids table, but don’t be surprised if adults start picking them up, too!

Ingredients:

  • 12 disposable cups, 5 oz. each
  • 12 popsicle sticks
  • 1 cup of whipped cream
  • 1 cup of vanilla yogurt
  • 2 cups each of red cranberry juice and blue soft drink. (TIP: Healthy alternative to a blue soft drink – try using white grape juice with natural food dyes. We like: India Tree Natural Decorating Colors at Amazon.)

Instructions:

  • Fill a third of each cup with blue drink.
  • Freeze for about 40 minutes. Mix the whipped cream and yogurt together.
  • Remove the cups from the freezer and fill the next third with the white mixture.
  • Place a popsicle stick in each cup, freeze for about 40 minutes then fill the rest of each cup with the red drink.
  • Freeze until solid, tear the cup away and enjoy!

7. Layered Red, White, and Blue 4th of July Drinks

Kids love this cute layered drink!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of cranberry juice
  • 1 cup of Sobe Pina Colada drink
  • 1 cup of Blue Gatorade or white grape juice with natural food dye (see above India Tree brand)

Instructions:

  • The trick here is to layer the drink correctly.
  • Start by filling a glass a third of the way with cranberry juice.
  • Fill with ice until level with the liquid.
  • Slowly pour the next layer, the Sobe Pina Colada, on top.
  • Again, fill with ice.
  • Finally, the G2 Gatorade or alternative blue drink.

If done correctly, you will see red, white, and blue layers the kids will adore!

Need more ideas?

Check out these Pinterest 4th of July Desserts and July 4th Recipes. Happy Independence Day!

6 Healthy Crock-Pot Recipes for the Busy Cook

6 Healthy Crock-Pot Recipes for the Busy Cook

A solid rotation of healthy crock-pot recipes is every busy cook’s best friend. Let’s be honest, wasting gorgeously perfect summer days slaving away in the kitchen is a serious no-no. Who would you rather be … isolated, loner chef or summer’s most social butterfly?

Okay, okay, we might be exaggerating a bit. The point is, a crock-pot is your solution to cooking delish meals while never missing a moment in the sun. We have 6 reasons this handy cooking device is a worthy kitchen sidekick.

Preparing for a classy garden party, but your friends relentlessly insist you join them at the beach? Stop being stubborn already and ditch the apron!

With these healthy crock-pot meals, you can quite literally toss in all ingredients and walk away.

Easy-Peasy, Healthy Crock-Pot Recipes

1. Pulled Pork

Mmmm, pulled pork. You have GOT to try this!

  • Rub about 4 pounds of pork roast with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a little brown sugar. Add chili powder for a kick!
  • Chop 2 onions and place around the roast.
  • Options for cooking liquid:
    • Can of dark beer poured onto the roast will result in a nice traditional flavor.
    • Can of pineapple juice can be substituted for a fruity Hawaiian taste.
    • Cup of apple cider vinegar can be used for a tart taste.
  • Cook everything on low for 6 to 7 hours.
  • Use a fork to shred the meat and remove any bones.
  • Mix in your favorite BBQ sauce and let it cook on low for 1 more hour.
  • Serve your pork on delicious potato rolls. This healthy crock-pot recipe serves 10-12.
Healthy Crock-Pot Tortilla Soup

2. Chicken Tortilla Soup

When you think of chicken soup, you may picture frosty, stormy nights and a cold (perhaps runny) nose. Hear this: chicken soup is not limited to winter meals and sick-day sipping. Add a twist of lime, wedge of avocado, and dollop of sour cream for an instant summer soup hit!

  • Place 2-3 chopped chicken breasts into the crock-pot. Add chopped green chile, a can of beans, corn kernels, chopped tomato, onion, garlic, and a pinch of your favorite spices.
  • Pour 2 cups of chicken broth and 1 cup of water on top. Cook on low for 7-8 hours. 
  • Squeeze at least 2 large limes into the soup and add a handful of cilantro.
  • To serve, pour into a bowl over tortilla chips. Sprinkle some shredded cheese on top.
  • Sliced avocado and a big spoonful of sour cream served as garnish completes the meal. This simple & healthy crock-pot soup serves 4-5 people.
Ribs Healthy Crock-Pot Recipe

3. BBQ Ribs

This recipe is ridiculously easy. Other than utter laziness, you have no excuse to skip it.

  • Rub down the 3-4 pounds of ribs with salt, pepper, garlic powder and a little chili sauce.
  • Place in the crock-pot with about 1/2 cup of dark beer.
  • Cook on low for 8 hours.
  • Cover the ribs in barbecue sauce and bake at 350 degrees for just long enough that the sauce starts to caramelize. This healthy crock-pot meal serves 6-7 people.

4. Mac and Cheese

If you don’t love Mac and Cheese, there’s probably something wrong with you. This all-time favorite is virtually painless to prepare.

  • Coat the crock- pot in non-stick spray.
  • Mix 3 cups of milk with 3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese.
  • Add 1 beaten egg. Season everything with salt, pepper and paprika.
  • Pour this over 1 box of macaroni in the crock-pot and add a tad more cheese on top.
  • Cook on low for 4 hours.
Healthy Crock-Pot Oatmeal

5. Healthy Crock Pot Oatmeal Recipe: Loaded Berries

A tangy breakfast treat that is so simple to complete. Try cooking it overnight for a quick breakfast the morning of that camping trip. Delicious and healthy crock pot breakfast recipes can be a pain to find, but this one is a winner every time.

  • Pour 2 cups of steel-cut oatmeal into the crock-pot.
  • Add 6 cups of water and a pinch of salt, as well as a ½ cup of brown sugar.
  • Try a pinch of cinnamon for extra sweetness.
  • Stir well and let cook on low for 8 hours.
  • Before serving, stir in about a ½ cup of whole milk and top with a healthy portion of seasonal berries.

6. Chili

Then there is the beloved chili bowl. This ever-popular crock pot healthy dinner is a picnic food classic!

  • Add 2 pounds of ground beef to 2 cans of tomato sauce in a crock-pot.
  • Chop up a large onion, a bell pepper, and a couple cloves of garlic. Add them to the pot, along with 2 cans of your favorite beans.
  • Pour a ½ cup of water or broth on top. Season everything with a mixture of salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, brown sugar, and cumin.
  • Stir well and let cook on low for at least 8 hours.
  • Serve with a dollop of sour cream and some shredded cheese on top. This will easily serve 8-10 people.

TIP: Find crock-pots at Sears, Walmart, and Macy’s. Some suppliers, such as Amazon, will even deliver fresh ingredients to your doorstep!

Make these healthy crock-pot recipes a summer staple!

We might just make these dishes the only meals we prepare all summer. Berry oatmeal for breakfast, chili at the company picnic, and BBQ ribs for the 4th of July party! Done. This season, these scrumptiously healthy crock-pot meals will ensure you never waste a day indoors. You can find more healthy crock pot recipes and tips at Whole Foods or on these Pinterest recipes.

8 Asparagus Recipes that Taste Oh So Good

8 Asparagus Recipes that Taste Oh So Good

Don’t like asparagus? Think again! These yummy asparagus recipes are both irresistible and 100% worthy of your love.

Did you spend your childhood dinners sneaking asparagus underneath the table to your dog? “Wow, Sarah ate all her asparagus! Good job, sweetie,” your mom would say as the dog finished off the evidence. Don’t worry, we won’t tell your secret, but we will fix your relationship with these nutritious greens with these 8 delicious asparagus recipes.

Why You Should Add Asparagus Recipes to Your Weekly Menu

  • Each serving provides 20 % of the amount of daily Vitamin A required for adults and more than enough of this nutrient for children.
  • It is rich in Vitamin C, Iron, and Calcium.
  • It has Vitamins B6 and K plus trace minerals, and each serving only has about 5 grams of carbohydrates.
  • Every portion also provides 3 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber.
  • Asparagus is low in sodium, fat and calories.
  • It is very inexpensive. Major stores such as WalMart, Target and Kmart sell asparagus and the ingredients needed to prepare the meals below.
Grilled asparagus recipes

8 Easy Asparagus Recipes to Spark Your Veggie Love Affair

These 8 creative and easy asparagus recipes transform a healthy veggie into a gourmet treat! 

1. Flavor asparagus with a natural sweetener. 

Tip: This works best when eating the canned versus fresh or frozen supply of this vegetable.

 Sprinkling it with a little bit of brown sugar or pouring a teaspoon of honey over it diminishes its bitterness. Also try adding one pat of butter and a few dashes of salt.

2. Add melted cheese and/or ham.

Cheese makes just about anything tasty. Children especially love this added burst of flavor, because it mostly masks the original taste. Topping it with ham adds sweetness.

This works best when cooking fresh or frozen asparagus.

3. Splash asparagus with a few drops of lemon juice and add butter.

 This tangy hint of citrus makes it tasty but not too sweet. The butter richens the taste and leaves you full.

 This simple preparation makes an ideal side dish to serve with almost any meat entree. We love how it complements salmon and chicken dishes that call for lemon flavoring.

4. Serve it grilled with smoked salmon and a tangy mustard sauce.

 The charbroiled vegetable taste combines well with the smoked fish flavor.

 The mustard sauce, which contains Dijon, vinegar, lemon juice, tofu and other ingredients, produces an excellent flavor synthesis. Seafood eaters should make this a staple in their meal plans!

5. Roast it with garlic, parmesan cheese and lemon juice.

 When prepared this way, asparagus blends well with chicken, fish or pork. You have plenty of options for using it in meals that do not break the calorie bank, and these dishes always satisfy the palate.

asparagus recipes with bacon

6. Bacon wrapped asparagus. Yes, bacon.

 This simple side dish would serve as a brilliant addition to any outdoor patio party.

 Yet, its use needn’t be limited to when you grill outside. This versatile way to prepare asparagus is consistently delightful and provides enough fat for satiety.

7. Use it in a stir fry.

Saute it alone or with onions and add pork, chicken or beef. Our favorite tasty toppers: lime, peanuts, green peppers, and pea pods.

When you prepare this dish, we recommend you add vinegar, lemon, garlic, ginger, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce or other flavoring. Use olive oil when frying your veggie and meat mixture.

8. Put it raw in a butter lettuce salad.

 This adds a new twist to a popular spring mix recipe. Ingredients include: lemon zest, dry mustard, pistachios, mozzarella balls, garlic, black pepper and sea salt.

 Personalize it by using your imagination to play around with different greens, vegetables, proteins, and grains.

How to Cook Asparagus? 

Fear not! Most of these asparagus recipes take about 15 to 30 minutes. Some take as little as 10 minutes!

A Budding New Friendship

 See, we knew you’d have a change of heart. It’s about time to give these new asparagus recipes a try.

3 Easy Paleo Pancake Recipes to Earn You Serious Bragging Rights

3 Easy Paleo Pancake Recipes to Earn You Serious Bragging Rights

We’re bringing you 3 easy paleo pancake recipes so outrageously delicious, it almost seems wrong that they’re healthy. 

No doubt about it, breakfast is our very favorite meal. It always seems to trigger those quintessential childhood memories: waking up on a crisp morning to the inviting smell of French toast. Our mouths are watering at the thought of it! Breakfast sets the foundation for your day. Done right, it fills you with ample energy and nourishment. Done wrong, it could leave you unsatisfied or with a blood sugar spike that’s destined for a crash.

Problems with the Typical Modern Day Breakfast and How to Change it

Unfortunately, many breakfasts today are full of empty calories from highly allergenic foods, such as grains and dairy. Filling up on cereals, bagels, and milk wreaks havoc on our bodies and leaves us malnourished:

  • A diet with high gluten content can lead to brain fog (difficulty focusing) and leave us with serious bellyaches.
  • An article by USA Today stated that: “less than 40% of people in the world retain the ability to digest lactose after childhood.

Yikes! Not how you want to prep your mind and body for the day ahead.

paleo pancakes blueberries bananas
Paleo pancakes with blueberries

Enter: The Paleo Diet

The Paleo Diet is based on the idea that, for optimal health, we should be eating diets similar to those of our prehistoric ancestors. The onset of Homo Sapiens dates roughly to 300,000 years ago. Agriculture only began 10,000 years ago. The big picture: the introduction of agriculture disrupted the natural, healthy human diet and brought with it a myriad of diseases. People following the Paleo Diet today eat meat, fruits, veggies, and nuts/seeds and nix all grains and dairy. Fans of the diet have reported clearer skinweight lossmental sharpness, and increased energy.

For a true Paleo primer, check out Robb Wolf’s “The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet available on Amazon.

Cooking paleo pancakes
Paleo Pancakes Cooking On A Griddle

Caveman Meets Gourmet Chef with these easy Paleo Pancake Recipes 

These 3 indulgent, delectable Paleo pancake recipes will make you fall in love with breakfast all over again. Not only do they taste heavenly, they are quick to prepare and packed with nutrients.

 Coconut Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 2 cups organic pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed
  • ½ tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Directions: In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk wet ingredients. Combine both and stir. Over medium heat, drizzle coconut oil on the skillet. Scoop the batter into pancake-sized shapes. When golden, flip to other side.

TIP: Coconut flour is a delicious, high-fiber baking alternative to grain flours. Our favorite is Bob’s Red Mill Organic Coconut Flour. Find it online at Amazon or Walgreens.

 Nutty Almond Paleo Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups ground almond meal
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ nutmeg
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup applesauce

Directions: Stir dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Whisk wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Combine dry and wet together, stirring until smooth. Grease pan with coconut oil at medium heat.  Pour batter in shapes 2-3 inches across. Cook until golden brown then flip.

TIP: Almond meal and almond flour can be used interchangeably, so use whatever you have.

Chocolate Chip, Banana, Almond Butter Paleo Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 bananas
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 handful of chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

Directions: Mash bananas in a small bowl. Whisk together eggs, vanilla, baking soda, almond butter, salt, and chocolate chips. Add bananas to the mixture. Apply coconut oil to griddle and put on medium-low heat. Pour batter into dollops 3 inches across. Cook for 4 minutes then flip.

TIP:  Use an unrefined coconut oil for more nutrients and flavor. We like Spectrum Organic’s Unrefined Coconut Oil, available at Vitamin Shoppe.

Enjoy! There you have it: caveman-approved gourmet pancake recipes fit for a queen! Eat like a goddess. Thrive like a hunter-gatherer. Prehistoric living never felt this good.

Five Fermented Foods You Can (easily) Make at Home to Save Some Dough

Five Fermented Foods You Can (easily) Make at Home to Save Some Dough

Last time I shared with you all of the benefits of lacto-fermentation, from the health benefits to the sustainability factors. This time I thought I’d share with you five of these fermented foods you can make easily at home for a fraction of the cost of what you would pay in the store.

Whether you’re paying $3/quart of yogurt or $3.99/pint of kombucha, you can know that the homemade version will save you money and be a more sustainable option.

Yogurt

This is one of the most commonly eaten fermented foods in North America. It can also be loaded with sugar and sometimes not even contain the live cultures that you want in yogurt. So making it at home is a great idea.

You can make it super easily in a crock pot. You can make it almost as easy in a cooler. Or, you can make raw yogurt from raw milk using these cultures and keep all of the goodness of your raw milk intact.

Kefir

This close cousin to yogurt is even easier to make as it is a mesophilic culture, meaning it does not require a certain temperature range to culture. It also contains more strains of friendly bacteria so it is a great option for fermented dairy if you are looking to diversify your intake of various cultures. You can find the starter needed to make homemade kefir here.

Sourdough Bread

Sourdough is the old world way of making bread from before commercial yeast was available. You can keep a sourdough starter at home to use as a leaven for your homebaked breads, pancakes, and just about every other baked good you can imagine.

The benefit of sourdough is the long fermentation process, making the flour more nutritious, and the fact that you won’t ever have to buy yeast again. You can find a great book on all things sourdough here and purchase the starter culture for your sourdough here.

Sauerkraut

I have seen jars smaller than a quart of this ubiquitous fermented cabbage in the grocery store for over seven dollars. You can make it at home for a fraction of that price.

My favorite method of making sauerkraut is the open crock method (which can be done simply with a bowl, a plate, and some heavy objects) as I find it results in the best flavor, texture, and cultures.

Kombucha

This fizzy, fermented beverage is becoming very popular and it can be found in all sorts of health food stores. You can also pay up for $4 a pint-sized bottle for it, which makes it extraordinarily out of reach for most people. The good news is, you can make it at home with organic tea and sugar for what I once calculated as $.16/bottle.

Here is my method for making kombucha. You can also do a second ferment on tightly capped bottles using fruit juices. This makes a great replacement to soda pop.

So whether you simply stick with yogurt or branch out with all of these fermented foods, try making them at home for cheap if you can.”