Good For You: Red, White and Blue Foods

We spend July 4th at my parents’ lake, and my sister-in-law, Jenny Mathison, red and blue berriesalways makes a beautiful sheet cake frosted with whipped cream and beautifully decorated flag-style with blueberries and raspberries. It’s a sweet indulgence after the boat parade and barbeque. But red, white and blue recipes and foods can be good for you all year round. Check these out:

Patriotic Coleslaw: Shred red and white cabbage, and make a light dressing with 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1/2 tablespoon of honey. Crumble a little bit of blue cheese and some toasted slivered almonds over the top.

Stars and Stripes Kabobs: Let guests create their own masterpiece from a buffet of options like chicken, beef, shrimp, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, onions, mushrooms, small red and blue skinned potatoes, and white and blue corn cob chunks. Prep with your choice of healthy marinade.

Red, White and Blueberry Fruit Salad: Berries are packed with nutrients that can help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and hypertension. Try a mix of fresh cherries (halved and pitted), blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, apples and bananas. Serve as is, or you dress lightly with a drizzle of lime juice, a bit of honey and fresh mint.

Fourth of July Potato Salad: Potatoes get a bad rap, but are a great source of fiber and vitamins if properly prepared. Leave the skins on for this colorful salad with red, blue/purple and white potatoes. Boil two pounds of potatoes and then add a 1/4 cup of white wine vinegar to the potatoes while they are still warm. You can add cherry tomato halves, red pepper, celery and red onions. You can try a lemon vinaigrette dressing using 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint and fresh ground pepper to taste. Or substitute Vegenaise for mayo in your regular potato salad dressing recipe.

Here are a few more whole foods in this color scheme that should be in your kitchen repertoire:

Red kidney beans are nutrition-packed with antioxidants, iron, protein and fiber. They are a great addition to almost any salad. Great northern white beans are another healthy choice. They have a great texture and can be mashed for a dip and added to casseroles and salads as well.

Cauliflower is high in fiber and packs many antioxidants into its white, broccoli-like florets. It’s great served raw, steamed or roasted. You can also make mashed “fauxtatoes” by mashing and blending steamed cauliflower.  You can do this very simply with just a touch of olive oil and sea salt or check out a healthy recipe for creamy mashed cauliflower at EatingWell.com.

Quinoa is a protein-packed whole grain that can be used as a hot breakfast cereal, or substitute for rice or couscous in salads and stir fries.

Jicama is a root vegetable that looks like a rutabaga and is usually found near the onions and potatoes in the produce section. The rough, brown exterior hides a crisp, fresh, white interior. To me the taste is somewhere between a carrot and raw potato. You can add a cup or so of matchstick-sized slices into a salad with avocado, black beans and red peppers or use thinly sliced jicama in place of chips for your favorite salsa, yogurt-based dip or guacamole.

If you are up for ideas that are a bit more decadent, check out Pinterest or search 100 Red, White and Blue Recipes on RecipeGirl.com which has cocktail and dessert ideas, along with breakfasts and main dishes. You can celebrate all day long!

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