July is a peak time for parties and cookouts and although most of us love a relaxing afternoon by the pool, preparing the appetizers, meals and desserts can be a headache! With hectic work schedules, never ending yard work and vacations, it’s hard to party plan and prepare an assortment of food for our guests. This being said, we’ve put together a few simple and quick recipe ideas of healthy foods that all of your friends, family and kids will enjoy!

Protein:

Italian Grilled Chicken

2 pounds chicken, cut in strips

1-cup low-fat Italian salad dressing

Place the chicken in a large container. Pour the dressing over the chicken and allow it to marinade in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours. Cook the chicken on a grill.

Baked beans

½ pound turkey bacon

1 medium onion, chopped

¼ cup sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

¼ cup ketchup

¼ cup barbecue sauce

2 Tablespoons cider vinegar

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon chili pepper

1 16-ounce can yellow beans, rinsed and drained

1 16-ounce can kidney beans, rinse and drained

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large skillet, cook bacon and onion until meat is done and onion is tender. Drain any fat. Combine all remaining ingredients except beans. Add to the meat mixture and mix well. Stir in beans. Place in a greased 2-½ quart casserole dish. Bake covered for 1 hour.

Vegetables:

Corn on the cob

Spinach Salad With strawberries

For a light dressing, try using Raspberry Vinaigrette or Balsamic Vinaigrette

Grilled Vegetable Skewers:

Slice asparagus, mushrooms, peppers and onions into bite size pieces. Place in a medium sized bowl. Add cherry tomatoes and 8 ounces of teriyaki sauce to the bowl of vegetables. Allow vegetables to sit in sauce for about 10 minutes. Thread vegetables onto skewers. Place on grill over medium heat. Grill until vegetables are tender. 

Assorted Tray of Carrots, Celery and cucumbers

Use a Light Ranch Dressing or Hummus for dipping.

Grains:

Whole Wheat Pasta Salad With Tomatoes and Cheese

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

½ cup Italian dressing

½ cup feta cheese (or whatever your favorite cheese may be)

1-pound box of whole-wheat pasta

Combine the tomatoes, dressing and cheese in a smaller container. Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Combine the cooked pasta and tomato mixture and serve.

Whole Grain Pita Chips with Salsa or Avocado

Fruit:

Blueberry and Watermelon Skewers

Sliced Apples (use a little bit of lemon juice to prevent browning)

Sweet Endings:

Pudding & Fruit Parfait

Follow package directions for 2, 4-ounce packages of dry instant vanilla pudding. In individual cups alternate a layer of crushed graham crackers, vanilla pudding, strawberries and blueberries. Repeat. Top with a dollop of whipped cream.

Red & Blue Jell-O – Follow package directions. Use star cookie cutters for Fourth of July Festivities!

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