The 4th of July is right around the corner and that means it’s BBQ time! I like BBQs as much as the next gal, but I also find myself craving something light and refreshing to balance out all the salt and savory.

As I pondered recipes, I remembered the small mountain of fresh tomatoes, squash, zucchini, and berries that I got from my gardening friends recently. Why not find a use for these tasty plants for the holiday weekend?

The recipes this month utilize all kinds of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Eating seasonally provides more nutrition, better flavor, and lower cost- Win, win, win!

Coconut Chia Popsicles

It’s hard to beat popsicles on a hot day, but I could do without all the syrupy mess. This recipe puts a healthy spin on popsicles using coconut milk, chia seeds, and fresh fruit. The coconut milk is a good alternative for folks that don’t tolerate dairy products and it’s very low in carbohydrates. Plus, the healthy fats make the finished product super creamy and rich. The chia seeds add protein, fiber, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Adding your own honey helps you adjust the amount of carbs you can tolerate. If you’re an athlete and need extra energy, you can add more honey to your popsicle mixture. If you’re diabetic or following a Keto diet, you can skip the honey to keep the carbs low. These can be made in advance so you save some time on the 4th!

Summer Tomato Salad

This a super easy way to use all those fresh summertime tomatoes. Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that can help improve heart health and fight against certain cancers. This recipe also uses shallots, a type of onion with a more mild flavor. Shallots contain hard to get trace minerals that can help balance blood sugar and aid in the formation of bone and cartilage. The cooling mixture can be served as a side or as a dip with crispy bread. If you don’t tolerate gluten, gluten free crackers are a good alternative.

Squash and Blueberry Salad

I love sauteed squash and zucchini, but I’ve recently found that they’re just as delicious raw. Squash and zucchini are high in vitamin B6, which support the central nervous system and may help improve mood. Blueberries are also the star in this recipe. Not only do they taste great, but they contain a type of flavonoid that may lessen cognitive decline. Plus, berries have a good reputation for supporting heart health, controlling blood sugar, and fighting cancer. What really puts this recipe over the top is the dressing. The perfect blend of sweet and acidic brings out the flavors of the squash and zucchini. Plus, homemade dressings are a better alternative to store bought. Any extra dressing can be refrigerated and used on a spinach salad.

Coconut Chia Popsicles

Adapted from: https://theviewfromgreatisland.com/chia-coconut-pudding-popsicles/
Yield: 5-6 popsicles

Ingredients

  • 1 can 14-15 oz full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • Fresh or frozen berries (or fruit of your choice)
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla or almond extract (optional)

Instructions
1. Pour the coconut milk into a small bowl and stir with a whisk to break up any chunks.
2. Stir in chia seeds, honey, and vanilla extract and let sit for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add a little bit of coconut mixture to the bottom of each popsicle mold. Drop in a few pieces or chunks of fruit. Continue layering coconut mixture and fruit until molds are full.

Tip: Tap the mold firmly against the countertop to encourage the ingredients to settle into all the nooks and crannies.

4. Add popsicle sticks to the molds.
5. Put in the freezer and leave for several hours, or until completely frozen.
6. To remove the popsicles, fill a sink with hot water and submerge the molds up to, but not over, the rim for about 15 seconds to loosen popsicles. Enjoy!

Note: If you don’t have popsicle mold, freeze the mixture in ice cube trays!

Not feeling frosty? You can skip the freezing step and serving as a chis seed pudding with fresh berries.

Summer Tomato Salad

Ingredients

  • 5-6 cups tomatoes, any variety, halved or cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8-10 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Instructions
1. Add the tomato chunks, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper to a bowl and stir to combine. Let sit for about 10 minutes.
2. After 10 minutes, drizzle with olive oil, basil, and salt/pepper to taste

Note: To get basil “ribbons”, stack the basil leaves and roll them up like a cigar. Use a sharp knife to cut tiny sections crosswise. Unroll and separate with fingers.

3. Serve with crispy bread slices or gluten free crackers.

Squash and Blueberry Salad

Ingredients
•    3 cups yellow squash and/or zucchini, large dice
•    3/4 cup queso fresco or halloumi cheese, medium dice
•    3/4 cup blueberries
•    Roughly 1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped

Dressing
•    1/2 cup blueberries
•    1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
•    1 1/2 Tbsp honey
•    1 Tbsp lemon
•    1/4 cup olive oil
•    Salt and pepper

Instructions 
1. Combine the diced squash, blueberries, and queso fresco in a bowl. Set aside.
2. In a blender, combine the blueberries, balsamic, honey, lemon, and a dash of salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Slowly pour in olive oil while blender is on low to emulsify the oil. Add more salt, pepper, honey, or balsamic to taste.
3. Drizzle the dressing over the squash mixture and garnish with basil leaves.