4th of July Fireworks Off the Beaten Path

The Fourth of July makes you think of watermelon, Uncle Sam, and the glittering sparkle of fireworks. Maybe you traditionally spent the day at a family picnic or on the beach; either way, you were always excited for the sun to set and the fireworks display to begin. Now that you have a family of your own, you get to share the excitement with your kids. This year, why not do something really unique and make this holiday your most memorable?

The Capital Sidelines

While the National Mall in Washington, D. C. swarms with people on Independence Day, you can drive just across the Potomac for a more relaxed celebration. A trail runs along the Potomac all the way to Mount Vernon. Various parking areas along the trail allow you to park and sit by the river to watch the fireworks. Gravelly Point is one of the most popular areas to watch the fireworks, and since it’s close to Reagan National Airport, you’ll see airplanes landing and taking off under the glow of the lights.

Take to The Hills

The fireworks in downtown Austin, Texas, are popular, but the area is swirling with crowds. But just off of Interstate 35 on Woodland Avenue is a church on a hill overlooking the city. Bring a picnic blanket and chairs and sprawl out in the field in front of the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. Although some other people know about the spot, it won’t be crowded. You can also see fireworks bursting in the sky above several other towns from that vantage point.

A Small Town Celebration

Celebrating the Fourth of July in Corbett, Oregon, is like attending a family reunion. A huge celebration in a small town, the Fourth of July Corbett Fun Festival has live music, a fun zone for kids, its very own Elvis impersonator, and some of the best fireworks in the Portland area. Join this friendly community for a spectacular parade and a roaring fireworks display.

Up on The Roof

In Tempe, Arizona, the stadium and other areas downtown get swamped with people celebrating Independence Day. Instead of paying admission fees for the official fireworks, treat the night like a drive-in movie and watch the excitement from a nearby parking garage. One of the secret spots to watch the fireworks is Mesa’s Fiesta Mall. Its parking garage gives onlookers an explosive view of the fireworks that take place at Mesa Community College’s stadium.

The parking structures at Arizona State University are also a popular place to stake out a spot to watch the fireworks. You can see a few different fireworks displays from these parking structures, whether you drive on or simply walk on.

An Island State of Mind

Just a 30-minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle is Bainbridge Island, a rustic, artsy community where you can view both of Seattle’s Fourth of July fireworks shows. If you catch it at the right time, you can even watch the fireworks from the ferry. You’ll see the glittering colors reflect off the tall buildings of Seattle’s skyline, and you can snuggle up under a blanket in the cool night air.

Even though so many people watch fireworks displays on Independence Day, getting off the beaten path ensures you don’t have to wait in long lines of traffic or shuffle with the crowds. You’ll have more room to spread out and more time to enjoy the summer night air. If you’re looking for a unique place to watch the fireworks in your hometown, look for a hill with an open view of the area. If you’re traveling in a new city, do some exploring before the big day, and you might make it an Independence Day to remember.

About the Author

Author Michael Thomson is an insurance consultant and recommends an online auto insurance comparison if you are contemplating a move. For instance, if you live in Florida you can instantly request a Maryland auto insurance quote online.

Four ingredients is all it takes to make these delicious grilled plantains this summer! With just a tidbit of seasoning, these satisfy any sweet tooth without all of the sugar!

Grilled Plantains

Ingredients

2 plantains

1-2 tsp olive oil

Dash of cinnamon

Dash of nutmeg

Preparation

First, peel the plantain just like a banana, and then slice them into 1/4 inch thick pieces.

Once sliced, brush them with light olive oil and sprinkle them with a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg on both sides.

Grill for 3-4 minutes on each side, until they get a little soft and have wonderful grill marks. Since people eat first with their eyes, be sure to put them on a pretty plate and serve to your friends and family! They make a wonderfully sweet side dish or even dessert!

*Recipe and image courtesy of RebeccaScritchfield, RD @ScritchfieldRD on Twitter. For more delicious recipes and ideas for positive lifestyle habits, visit www.theMEmovement.com.*

For guilt-free indulgence this summer, pick up a HALO™ Bar! Offered in 4 decadent flavors that sound way too sinful to actually be healthy for you, these yummy treats were just awarded “Best New Vegan Product” at Expo West Trade Show! Sure to satisfy your sweet tooth, HALO™ Bars come in Rocky Road, S’mores, Nutty Marshmallow, and Honey Graham.

These tasty, certified organic snack bars are a good source of Omega 3 & Omega 6 fatty acids, are low in sugar, and are dairy-free. Plus, they are Vegan! For summer road trips, long hikes, or an afternoon snack attack, the bars pack well and help to tide you over before lunch or dinner, without having to reach for something unhealthy! If your camping trip gets rained out, no worries! Reach for the S’mores flavor! “Mom’s” favorite? The Honey Graham! Filled with organic oats, peanuts and graham crackers, it is like eating comfort food in bar form.

To learn more about the new HALO™ Bars from ProBar, order online, or to glean nutrition facts, visit theprobar.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this review.*

Healthy Options for Your July 4th Celebration

One of the mainstays of our all-American, July 4th celebrations is the picnic or barbecue with family and friends. Like similar holiday celebrations, it might be difficult to stay on track when it comes to eating healthy.
Instead of surrendering to recipes full of extra calories and fat, use these tips to provide healthier options for your Independence Day celebration!

Go With Your Gut
Favorite recipes for your July 4th celebration may be difficult to change, especially as they’ve been passed down through families. However, this is a wonderful opportunity to experiment with old favorites. Instead of following recipes to the letter, focus instead on flavor. If the pasta salad recipe calls for green peppers but these aren’t your favorite, substitute vegetables that you’ll actually enjoy in the final dish. Instead of using full-fat mayonnaise, try for a similar texture and less fat and calories using a nonfat plain yogurt, including Greek-style yogurt, which offers a slightly different but rich flavor.

Don’t forget to add some much-needed green into these festive dishes of red, white and blue for your July 4th Celebration. Jazz up a bowl of spinach leaves or cut green leaf lettuce with slices of strawberries and a handful or two of blueberries, along with a flavorful shredded parmesan or asiago cheese. Pair this patriotic salad with a strawberry vinaigrette that will dazzle your family and friends.

Keep It Lean
Eating meat fresh from the grill is as American as apple pie, especially for your traditional July 4th celebration. Keep the meat choices healthier by choosing to use lean cuts of meat. Instead of pre-made hamburger patties, use ground beef that is 90% or 93% lean. Make your own works of hamburger art by adding spinach, mushrooms, and cheese before forming patties and cooking them up on the grill. Ground turkey is a wonderful alternative to lean ground beef, as well as ground chicken.

This July 4th barbecue doesn’t have to be limited to hamburgers. Grill up chicken pieces, removing the skin before cooking, or lean cuts of beef. Offer your guests a variety of barbecue sauces for dipping, or combine chunks of meat with vegetables or fruit on skewers for additional flavors and textures.

The Spice Advantage
Spices aren’t just about adding salt and pepper. There are many kinds of herbs and spices available that can punch up the flavor of any dish without added fat or calories. Some of these options include:

• Parsley
• Chives
• Dill
• Cilantro
• Rosemary
• Nutmeg
• Cinnamon
• Chili Powder
• Lemon peel

Experiment with using these herbs and spices in your favorite recipes for your July 4th celebration, choosing your favorite flavor combinations. For example, fresh sprigs of cilantro can give a refreshing zing to a pasta salad that contains halved cherry tomatoes, cubes of fresh mozzarella, and spinach.

There are many other useful options that are probably already in the kitchen. Try lemon juice and nonfat condiments like Dijon mustard to add flavor to your favorite dishes. These flavor explosions will provide extra fun for your July 4th celebration with family and friends!

About the Author

Kelly Wilson is a busy mom and freelance writer. Contact Dr. Todd Beck, a dentist in Portland, Oregon for more information about how eating healthy can keep your smile strong and white.

*Image: manostphoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

4th of July Condiments get a “RAW-Some” Makeover

Serve up some healthy alternatives to your favorite condiments this 4th of July – the following 3 recipes from The Juice Lady’s Living Foods Revolution are brimming with nutrition, and can all be made in a flash in the blender!

Healthy Raw Ketchup

Ingredients

1 cup chopped tomato

1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked for 30 minutes, drained, and chopped

1 Tbsp. fresh garlic, minced

10 fresh basil leaves

3 dates, pitted

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. shoyu or 1 tsp. Celtic sea salt

1-2 Tbsp. Bragg’s raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar

Preparation

Blend all ingredients together until it forms a paste. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Image: cjansuebsri / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Cashew Mayonnaise

Ingredients

1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp. Celtic sea salt

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp dill weed

Water, as needed

Preparation

Put all ingredients in blender with water just barely covering the cashews. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Image: Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Creamy Green Dressing

Ingredients

1 tsp. honey or pure maple syrup

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup purified water

1 cup parsley, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/3 cup cashews (not soaked)

1 tsp. Celtic sea salt

Juice of 1/2 small orange

Preparation

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until well combined. Makes about 1 cup.

*Recipes courtesy of Cherie Calbom, author of The Juice Lady’s Living Food Revolution. Top image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net*