Festive Healthified BBQ favorites + a Patriotic Sangria Recipe. Happy Independence Day!

Did the 4th spring up on anyone else out of no where? June up and went and all the sudden July flew in. July 4th can be a long day so let’s be ready for it. We have the staple points of 4th of July: early parade around 10AM, either town festivities like pie eating contests or a family/friend BBQ at 1PM, cook outs and pool parties till 6PM, then you have a few hours to get ready for your local fireworks!  We will all need a ‘pick me up’ to keep us going through all the activities, sun and the commotion that comes along with our Independence Day. Let’s mix the 4th up with some new recipes that will keep you moving all the way through till you can finally sit down and watch some fireworks. Leave the hot dogs and hamburgers at home and WOW your friends and family with a few fresh and healthy recipes that won’t leave them sleeping through the firework finale!

Creamy Dill Potato Salad
vegan, makes 8 cups
1 lb mini potatoes, halved/quartered
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2-3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 Tbsp vegan mayo, Vegenaise (if not vegan make sure to use an organic mayonnaise)
2 Tbsp spicy Dijon mustard
3/4 cup sweet onion OR scallions, chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh dill, chopped (stems and fronds)
1/4 tsp cayenne fresh black pepper and sea salt to taste

*feel free to add in healthy additions for a flavor boost – like more fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, chives), nutritional yeast, or smoked paprika

1. Prep all your ingredients. Scrub your potatoes well. Halve and quarter them. Smaller potato bits will cook faster.
2. Bring salted water to a boil and drop your potatoes. Cook until tender – do not over cook or you will end up with more of a “mashed” potato salad. I like to rinse my cooked potatoes in ice water to halt cooking.
3. There are two options now. You can chill your cooked potatoes first – then fold your ingredients directly into the potatoes and serve or chill. This prevents the vegan mayo and other creamy ingredients from ‘melting’ into the hot potatoes. The other option is to simply toss all the ingredients into the warm potatoes – and then chill until ready to serve. Doing this will allow the flavors to marinade nicely – but it may also wilt the “thickness” of your creamy potato salad sauce. The last option is to fold all the ingredients into the potatoes and serve warm. This is also delicious! 4. Chill your salad until ready to be served – or serve warm. Garnish with fresh dill sprigs and a drizzle of good olive oil and fresh black pepper over top

Black Bean Fiesta Burgers (Black Bean Freedom Burgers)
vegan, makes 5 burgers

5 whole wheat burger buns
1 1/2 cups black beans, drained/canned (unsalted)
3 Tbsp fine bread crumbs
3/4 cup baked/mashed sweet potato
3 Tbsp chopped cilantro – including stems
1/3 cup diced white onion
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chopped garlic
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 jalapeno, diced/de-seeded
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast – or use more bread crumbs a few dashes of chipotle powder or cayenne for extra heat

Special Spicy Sauce: 1/2 cup vegan mayo +  2 tsp garlic hot sauce
5 round onion slices and 5 round tomato slices
optional: lime-juice spritzed avocado slices (not shown in burger photos – but recommended!)

1. First off prepare the Fiesta Slaw according to the directions. (recipe) – Chill in fridge until ready to add to burgers.
2. Whip up your “special spicy sauce” – set aside in fridge as well.
3. Next up, prepare the burgers. Pulse all the ingredients in a food processor. You can also mash well by hand – but a fp is a tad faster. Next, hand-form burger patties with the mixture and place them on a lightly greased baking sheet. I like to roll my burgers in a touch of bread crumbs so that they have nice crisp edges.
4. Bake your burgers at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool for a few minutes before assembling burgers. The last 5 minutes of cooking – add your burger buns to the oven to warm/toast them.
5. Assemble those burgers! Warm bun, spread of special sauce, tomato, onion, optional avocado, burger, fiesta slaw and finally another slather of the special spicy sauce on the top bun.

Time to cool refresh and cool down!

Blueberry Kale Pops 

1 c. frozen blueberries
1 c. baby kale leaves
2 c. organic purple grape juice

1. In a food processor or high-powered blender (I use Vitamix),  blend all ingredients until perfectly liquefied.
2. Pour into ice pops molds or ice cube molds (
3. Freeze until solid.

….now what’s a party without some festive and fun Sangria?!  Enjoy this delicious recipe:



Patriotic Sangria

2 bottles dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc is good)
1.5 TBS orange zest 5-7 drops organic orange oil
1/2 cup organic distilled vodka (berry flavor optional)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 1/2 cup simple syrup (see tips below) or agave (basil simple syrup works wonderfully in this recipe as well)
1 cup blueberries
1 1/2 cups hulled and sliced strawberries
1 cup raspberries
1 1/2 cups pineapple chunks

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a large punch bowl or pitcher and stir well. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Serve well-chilled with a good scoop of fruit floating in each drink, or serve over ice.

*To make 1/2 cup simple syrup, boil 1/2 cup water and add 1/2 cup granulated organic cane sugar. Turn heat to simmer and stir until dissolved. Turn off the heat and let cool. (For basil: just add 4-5 leaves basil leaves when you add cane sugar, drain and discard leaves once cool)
*Make more simple syrup if you like on the sweeter side
*Use fresh fruit for this recipe.
*To make star-shaped pineapple pieces, cut long & wide pieces of pineapple off the side of the fresh fruit. use a star cutter to cut shapes.


food for game day! the healthy way.

Who doesn’t love a spread of delicious snacks to eat during game day… and in this case not just any game day – Super Bowl Sunday game day!?

I certainly do. I also love putting my own healthier spin on staple game day/party snacks and appetizers.

Although, sometimes I am hesitant to use the word “healthy” or “light” on game day in fear of giving the extremely hungry crowd of boyfriends, husbands, brothers and dads any pre-conceived notions. So I will refrain from using the term from here on out.  We know these guys are here to eat. A lot.  And not salads.  These below dishes will definitely be a hit with our toughest critics. We’ll inform them after that they are indeed…healthy.

As for us ladies of course we want tasty, but we usually are more cognizant of what we are throwing into these dips, casseroles and crockpots. Whether it’s sneaking in extra greens and veggies or replacing some of the hydronated, unhealthy fats, you won’t be able to tell with these delicious recipes! I have compiled a few of my favorite versions of tried and true appetizers we all know and love below. 

Creamy Artichoke and Spinach Dipspinach

2 cups chopped kale, finely chopped
2 cups fresh spinach, finely chopped
1 bag of frozen artichoke hearts thawed, finely chopped
1 large red pepper, very finely diced
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 garlic clove minced
¼ tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh black pepper
½ tsp onion powder
1 cup organic sour cream (or ½ cup sour cream and ½ greek yogurt)
3 tbsp organic mayo (healthy fats!)
3 tbs raw parmesan or manchego cheese, plus more for top
1 cup daya vegan cheddar cheese or mozzarella, or your choice of shredded cheese
coconut oil for greasing

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and place into a greased medium sized baking dish (8×8 or 9x 9)
Top with additional cheese if desired
Bake for approximately 30-45 mins covered
Remove from oven, and let sit for at least 5 mins before serving with whole wheat pita or tortilla chips,  or my favorite –  rice chips!

Sweet and Spicy Veggie Chili with Sweet Potatoes

1 medium red onion, chopped???????????????????????????????????????????????????
2 shallots, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
kosher salt and black pepper
1 28-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 15.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1 15.5-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed
1 medium sweet potato (about 8 ounces), peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
Separate plate with sour cream, sliced scallions, sliced radishes, choice of cheese, avocado, and tortilla or pita chips, for serving

In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, cocoa, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Add the tomatoes (and their liquid), beans, sweet potato, and 1 cup water.

Cover and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender and the chili has thickened, on low for 7 to 8 hours  or on high for 4 to 5 hours (this will shorten total recipe time).
Open and add spinach. Stir until wilted and blended.
Taste and add more spice or seasoning as needed.
Serve the chili with the sour cream, scallions, radishes, avocado, daya cheddar cheese and tortilla chips.

Shrimp, Avocado and Mango Parfait with Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing

1 lb shrimp (wild caught is best) cleaned and cooked
1 ½ cup mango salsa or 2 mangoes, small dice
4-5 avocados, medium dice
1 large red bell pepper, small dice (can leave out if it is in salsa)
2 cups shredded romaine
1 can (15 oz) organic black beans, cleaned and rinsed
1.5 cups tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
juice of 1 lime
2 Tbs chopped cilantro
chipotle powder, to taste
sea salt
fresh pepper
1 cup finely shredded Mexican blend cheese, optional

Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing

¾ cup Greek Yogurt
¼ cup light sour cream or organic mayonnaise
½ cup almond milk, unsweetened
½ cup chopped cilantro
juice of 2 limes
½ tsp chipotle powder
1 clove garlic, minced or ½ tsp garlic powder
1 scallion, chopped
¼ tsp cumin
½ tsp sea salt, more to taste
½ tsp fresh ground pepper

Place all ingredients in food processor or blended until well combined. Adjust flavors as needed.

Chop into large chunks. Toss shrimp with a little salt, chipotle chili pepper, and fresh lime juice.

Start by layering the romaine on bottom of a large parfait dish (or large glass bowl).
Divide all ingredients in half except the shrimp.
Layer each ingredient once and drizzle with dressing and fresh cilantro.
Repeat with remaining half and drizzle with dressing (save some for top)
Top with shrimp, remaining dressing, salt, pepper, cilantro and scallions (optional)

This recipe is loaded with protein, lots of vitamins and minerals from all the veggies, fiber, and healthy fats. It is also highly addictive! Enjoy.

This goes very well with Corona Light or an Agave Margarita 🙂  )  Tip for margaritas : kick up your favorite recipe by adding a little chipotle or spicy seasoning to the plate with salt. Mix the salt and spice and dip each rim glass before pouring.

Last but not least- what is a party with out a cocktail? This winter Rosemary Grapefruit Cocktail is light, refreshing and so beautiful.

                                                                         Rosemary- Grapefruit Refresher

GrapefruitandRosemaryCocktail1 cup organic cane sugar (or 1tsp stevia)
1 cup water
3-4 long sprigs of rosemary, plus extra for garnish
6 cups fresh squeezed grapefruit juice (can use store bought but watch out they are much sweeter, so lower the sugar in the simple syrup or dilute with water)
5-6 oz vodka
2 oz Triple Sec


In a small saucepan heat the sugar and water until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the rosemary and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool (I put in the refrigerator to hurry the process, or make ahead)

In a pitcher, mix the rosemary syrup with the grapefruit juice, vodka and Triple Sec.

Serve over ice with a rosemary garnish.


Who are you rooting for?!