Celebrating Summer and Freedom

american flag

The Fourth of July is a very special day for our country, and it is also a special day for family and friends to get together and observe long-held traditions together. Some traditions like fireworks, parades, and cookouts have been consistently associated with the Fourth of July since the country’s founding in 1776. Here is a look at some of those traditions and some tips on how to celebrate the holiday safely this year.

Fourth of July Traditions

Did you know that the very first parade was celebrated just two years after the Revolutionary War ended and this year will be the 234th year? What started as a “patriotic exercise” in Bristol, Rhode Island has turned into a procession of parades, music, food, and community activities. Another big tradition on the Fourth of July are the Fireworks. Congress authorized the first firework displays in Boston and Philadelphia in 1777. Now, just about every town, big or small, has a parade and firework show and they still fun traditions we share with our families today.

Parades are normally done in the peak heat of the day and when the sun is at its highest. It only takes 20 minutes of sun exposure to burn the skin, don’t get sunburned this year. Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher if you will be out in the sun for an extended amount of time. Apply sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours. You can read more about prevention guidelines and information about sunscreen application on the Skin Cancer Foundation’s website.

Although setting off your own fireworks can be a fun activity to enjoy together if not going to see a large firework display, remember to follow these safety tips from the National Safety Council:

  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks and older children should use them only under close adult supervision
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands
  • Never light them indoors and only use them away from people, houses and flammable material
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person
  • Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
  • Never ignite devices in a container
  • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
  • Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire
  • Never use illegal fireworks

The Spirits

Drinking was always a large part of the Fourth of July Celebrations. On July 4, 1778, George Washington ordered a double ration of rum for his soldiers. It was traditional to drink 13 toasts, one for each state in the union. The drinking of patriotic toasts were carefully thought about and prepared and often published in the local newspaper.

I’ve got some great recipes for drinks that are sure to big hits at your Fourth of July get together this year, and any of the cocktails can be turned into delicious mocktail:

Mojitos Flaquitos



  • lime wedge
  • fresh mint sprigs
  • 1 strawberry
  • 1 1/2 oz white rum
  • 3 1/2 oz club soda
  • 1 teaspoon Palm Sugar Simply Syrup

Simple Syrup

  • 1 teaspoon evaporated palm sugar
  • 1 teaspoon water

Click for Directions and More Information

Pummelo Fruit Martini


  • 1/2 cup pummelo juice (or grapefruit)
  • 1 shot Grand Marnier
  • 1 cup sparkling water
  • fresh mint leaf


  1. Stir juice and Grand Marnier in a high ball glass.
  2. Top off with sparkling mineral water.
  3. Garnish with fresh mint leaf and a twist of pummelo skin

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Watermelon Coconut Granita


  • 4 cups fresh watermelon
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 5 tablespoons maple syrup or honey


  1. Place fruit in a blender and puree until smooth.
  2. Add coconut milk, lime, and sweetener and blend for 10 more seconds. Do not blend too long because the mixture will turn foamy.
  3. Pour mixture into 8×8 inch metal baking dish.
  4. Freeze for 2 hours and scrape mixture with a spoon until the whole dish is “scraped” into frosty granules.
  5. Return to freezer and continue to scrape every 30 minutes for another 2 hours and serve.

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The Food!

This is definitely my favorite tradition of any holiday! America has always done everything to the extreme when it comes to food. Even in the 18th and early 19th centuries, Parades and public readings of the Declaration of Independence were traditionally followed by large town-wide feasts. We’ve even named the Fourth of July National Hot Dog Day, where around 150 million hot dogs will be consumed on the Fourth alone.

I do love food, but I love good nutritious food. Check out these easy meals you can whip up in no time for your Fourth of July party this week:

Steak Chimichurri

I like recipes like this. You throw everything into the food processor or the blender – and hit the switch. You can’t go wrong. It’s so easy it seems like it ought to be illegal.


  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (1/2 medium Meyer lemon)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon jalapeno pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup Italian parsley (fresh)
  • 3/4 cups cilantro (fresh)
  • 1/3 cup mint (fresh)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha hot chili sauce

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Grilled Portabello Caprese Salad

There is nothing better than fresh grilled vegetables, especially when they are seasoned with just the right herbs and spices. In this recipe I use loads of fresh organic basil because the taste and health benefits are endless!



  • 8 portobello mushroom caps, thinly sliced long ways
  • 4 Medium tomatoes
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 4oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced into 4 rounds


  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1 clove garlic mashed
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

Click for Directions and More Information

Grilled Fruit Kabobs with Acai Icelandic Yogurt Dip

Another soon-to-be Summer classic that is bursting with flavor – and SO easy!


  • 8 cubes watermelon (4 oz)
  • 8 cubes honeydew melon (4 oz)
  • 8 cubes cantaloupe (4 oz)
  • 8 Large strawberries (4 oz)
  • 2 tablespoons orange blossom honey
  • 6 oz Siggi’s Icelandic acai berry yogurt (Greek yogurt will work too)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
  • 8 lemongrass sticks (or bamboo skewers)
  • mint leaves (for garnish, do not chop)


  1. Mix the fruit together and cover with the honey and chopped mint; marinate for 20 minutes in the refrigerator.
  2. Assemble the kabobs by alternating the fruit with mint leaves on the lemongrass sticks/skewers.
  3. Grill fruit kabobs over medium heat for 2 minutes on each side.
  4. Serve with Icelandic yogurt (or Greek) in individual bowls for dipping. Garnish yogurt with a mint leaf.

Click for Nutrition Information

Cocoberry Cupcakes

Freedom! Not just freedom to light fireworks and live in a free country, but freedom from fats and calories and freedom to shamelessly run around in your swimsuit!


Reduced Coconut Milk

  • 2 13-14 ounce cans unsweetened light coconut milk, preferably organic) (Available at many supermarkets and at Indian, Southeast Asian, and Latin markets.)


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/3 cup cups organic coconut sugar (available at Wholefoods or Asian Markets)
  • 3 Large eggs
  • Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup reduced coconut milk (see above), room temperature


  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup organic powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons reduced light coconut milk (see above), room temperature
  • Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean or 3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted (for garnish)
  • 1-pint organic blueberries
  • 1-pint organic raspberries

Click for Directions and More Information

There are so many other traditions that I’ve seen families come together and do for the Fourth of July. Some of my favorites are learning about the history of Independence Day together, going to a baseball game or playing baseball as a family, hanging the flag with the family and being thankful for freedom, playing patriotic music, or even catching fireflies at night.

I think my favorite has to be making care packages or writing letters to send to soldiers overseas. I know that this is done a lot during Veterans Day, but during Independence Day it is good practice to be thankful for the freedom we have. What better way to do this but to say thank you to those who are currently serving in the military and fighting for that freedom?

You can send a care package through Support Our Troops. They list out what is needed and guidelines for care packages here. They also have some great ideas for writing cards to troops. You can read more about that here. Operation Gratitude has a lot of ways to support troops. You can write a letter, send a care package, volunteer, or get more information on other programs. Go to their website and see more about their programs here.

I’d love to know what traditions your family has for the Fourth of July. Let me know on Social Media! Have a Happy and Healthy Fourth of July!

“For you have been called to live in freedom. Use your freedom to serve one another in love.” Galatians 5:13





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