Celebrate the Fourth of July With Healthy Recipes

The Fourth of July is fast approaching. For millions of us, Independence Day has become a traditional summertime celebration shared with family and friends.

Whether you are planning a picnic in the park, a beach party or a backyard BBQ, we all look forward to the festivities and feasting on our summer favorite foods. We can also make this day of celebration a fun and healthy one by making the right food choices.

If you are looking for something new to spice up the menu this year, here are a few healthy recipes everyone can enjoy while awaiting the day’s spectacular fireworks finale.

Artichoke Dip
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Makes: 5 cups
What you need:
2 cups chopped artichoke hearts
* 1 cup green onion sour cream (see recipe below)
* 1 cup vegan or regular mayonnaise
* 1 cup grated rice parmesan cheese or vegan parmesan (½ cup nutritional yeast, ½ cup chopped walnuts, pinch of sea salt -- put in food processor).
* 1 teaspoon minced garlic
* Tabasco sauce, salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Green Onion Sour Cream
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Makes: 1 ¼ cups
What you need: 
* 1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, rinsed and trimmed
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* ½ pound firm silken tofu
* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, or 1 teaspoon dried.
* Salt and freshly ground back pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients and serve at room temperature with fresh cut vegetables.

Vegetable Pasta Salad
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cooking Time: 18 minutes
Serves: 6

What you need:
3 cups penne pasta ¼ cup green Spanish olives, sliced
* 2 cups broccoli florets ½ cup rosemary-balsamic dressing (recipe below)
* 4 plum tomatoes, diced 3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
* 1 cup red bell pepper, diced 2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
* 1 cup yellow bell pepper, diced ½ teaspoon salt
* ¼ cup black olives, sliced ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Prepare pasta salad in the morning.
Cook pasta according to directions and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Drain well and set aside.
Steam broccoli until tender, 5-7 minutes, and rinse under cold water.
In a large bowl, combine the pasta, broccoli, and remaining ingredients.
Toss well and refrigerate until serving. Great with grilled veggie burgers.

Rosemary Balsamic Dressing
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Makes 1 ½ cups
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 egg or 2 tablespoons egg substitute ½ cup sunflower or safflower oil
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced ½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, minced salt, fresh ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients except the oils in a container or a food processor and process 1-2 minutes. With processor running, slowly add the oils until the dressing thickens and is well blended. If necessary, thin the dressing with a small amount of water or additional balsamic vinegar.