Add These Foods to Your 4th of July Menu and Beat the Heat!
This 4th of July, bring family and friends together for a full day of fun, including grilling, swimming, camping, fireworks, and of course, hot temperatures. Keep everyone cool and comfortable with our selection of eight recipes to add to your celebration. Here are refreshing Independence Day menu ideas that won't melt under the sun, and they'll help your guests beat the summer heat.
1. Red, White, and Blue Trail Mix: This festive treat couldn't be simpler to make. Toss together a package of red, white, and blue M&Ms, miniature marshmallows, and mini-shredded wheat cereal. Place this dish in the shade so the candies don't melt. If you want some added crunch without losing the color scheme, toss in dried cranberries, sweetened coconut chips, dried blueberries, and some granola. Offer small decorative paper cones or bags to take some along to watch fireworks!
2. Sweet Blueberry & Strawberry Salsa: In addition to your traditional tomato salsa, why not add a fruity salsa — especially if it's red and blue on white tortilla chips? It's a tasty side dish for grilled chicken or other barbecue meats, too. As with most salsas, this one is also easy to make:
- 2 cups fresh blueberries and 2 cups fresh strawberries, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/4 of a red onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Optional, for extra kick: 1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
Toss together all ingredients and gently mix. If you prefer your salsa slightly sweeter, add in a touch of agave or honey to taste. Season with salt and pepper. If you love the idea of fruity salsas, try this Fruit Salsa using apples and kiwis or, if you're not a fan of blueberries, try this Strawberry and Corn Salsa.
3. Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Spring Rolls: As a lighter alternative to barbecue, treat guests to spring rolls filled with fresh lettuce, tomato, and a little flavorful bacon. If you've ever made burritos, you'll be able to work with rice paper spring roll wrappers. The trick? Dip each piece of rice paper in a bowl of warm water for about 5 seconds to soften it up. Lay it on a cutting board, fill it with ingredients that you've cut in lengths to match the bacon, and then tuck and wrap it all together as you would a burrito. Cut the roll in half or in thirds. These stay rolled without the need for foil or toothpicks.
4. Hummus Wrap: Hummus is ideal for hot summer days. It won't spoil, and the wrap makes a sturdy envelope to hold vegetables. The best thing about hummus wraps is that they're speedy to make, especially when you're prepping for a party. Set out tortilla wraps in a row. Spread a layer of hummus (store-bought and homemade are both great) on each tortilla. Fill the tortillas with shredded vegetables like carrots, greens, and cabbage. Sprinkle on some feta cheese crumbles for added taste. Cut in half, thirds, or in fourths for smaller bites.
5. Veggie Salad with Light Balsamic Vinaigrette: Greens and vinaigrette work well in humid, hot weather. Even if the greens wilt, they taste great and the vinaigrettes won't spoil. It's a tasty respite from heavier barbecue offerings, too. Top a simple leafy green salad with sturdier vegetables such as broccoli, cucumbers, red onions, and cherry tomatoes. There are plenty of bottled light balsamic vinaigrettes at Food Lion. If you want to try your own variation, check out this Avocado Fruit Salad dish with Tangerine Vinaigrette.
6. Peachy Sweet Iced Tea: No matter what part of the country you're in celebrating the holiday, you can give your guests the traditional treat of sweet tea — with a fruity twist — that Southerners drink by the pitcher all year round. To make a half-gallon of this summertime staple from scratch, you'll need lots of sugar to taste:
- Boil 3 cups of water.
- Pour the water over 3 regular-size tea bags. Steep for 5 to 10 minutes, and then remove the bags.
- Put 1/2 cup or 3/4 cup of sugar into a pitcher.
- Pour the tea in and stir until the sugar melts.
- Stir in 5 more cups of cold water, and mix well.
- Add peach flavoring the easy way with peach nectar. Add the nectar gradually until you like the taste.
- Refrigerate to chill.
- Slice fresh peaches and add them to the pitcher, or to tall glasses filled with ice, before pouring.
If you love the taste of fruity sweet tea, try other nectars found at your local Food Lion in the fruit juice aisle. You might consider pineapple, apricot, mango, or even strawberry-banana.
7. Fruit Ice Cubes: Celebrate by making ice cubes with red and blue fruits. Fill an ice cube tray with water, drop in a blueberry or bits of strawberry or watermelon, and then freeze. If you have trays with oversized squares, use both a blue and red fruit in one cube. These cubes can jazz up water, sparkling water, lemonade, or sweet tea. Serve a batch of cubes at a time in an ice bucket or small cooler so they don't all melt at once.
8. Firecracker Doughnuts, Cake, or Cookies: Have kids pitch in to make these dynamite desserts. Make or buy plain sugar cookies, plain doughnuts, or a plain white Bundt cake. The doughnuts, cake, or cookies can act as a blank canvas on which you can design an American flag or go wild and draw a firecracker motif. Accomplish this using red, white, and blue candy melts and small squeeze bottles for creating the details. Or, use squeeze bottles of pre-made red and blue icing that you can drizzle up and over the tops of the doughnuts, cake, or cookies. Another option: cover tops of sweets with vanilla icing and add red and blue star sprinkles or drizzle red and blue icing to make designs.
For more 4th of July recipes, from traditional to creative but always mouthwatering, visit our Fresh Ideas blog.