You Are What You Eat: Red, white and blue foods for the Fourth of July

By Katy Wilken

It’s almost Independence Day, and that means we’ll see a lot of red, white and blue foods in grocery stores. An online search for “Fourth of July recipes” comes back with loads of them, including blue pasta, red and blue deviled eggs and seemingly endless uses for blue frosting.

I used to say, “Don’t eat blue food!” because many are manufactured with an abundance of salt, fat, sugar, artificial colors and flavorings. But there are healthy red and blue foods.

I am thinking of blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. All are high in antioxidants, folic acid and vitamin C, as well as low in calories, high in natural fiber and packed with flavor, not salt and fat. This Independence Day, celebrate with low sodium, fresh recipes:

Fourth of July Blueberry Pie
To make homemade crusts that are low in sodium, use your regular recipe but leave out the salt. Pillsbury ready-to-use pie crusts are also relatively low in sodium – about 260 milligrams for one-eighth of a double-crust pie. (A good rule of thumb is that no single serving of food should contain more than 400 milligrams of sodium.) Make this pie the day before your party.
5-6 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
¾ cup sugar
½ cup tapioca starch or Minute tapioca
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Zest of one lemon
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 box ready-made Pillsbury pie crusts

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix blueberries, sugar, tapioca, lemon and cinnamon. Pour into 9-inch pie shell. Use a cookie cutter to cut stars out of the top crust. Place crust on top of filled pie shell, and arrange cutout stars around the edge of the pie. Cover the edge with foil to avoid burning. Place a baking sheet below the pie, as it will probably bubble out and drip. Bake for 35-45 minutes. Let set for several hours.
Red, White and Blueberry Ice Pops
2 cups raspberries and blueberries
2 cups coconut water per cup of fruit
1-2 tablespoons of sugar (optional)

Drop fruit into molds or paper cups. Taste your coconut water—if it isn’t sweet enough, add sugar. Fill molds or paper cups with coconut water, leaving about a half inch at the top. Insert wooden sticks, plastic spoons or mold bases. Freeze for at least 4 hours.
Tip: Add fruit when you make ice cubes; then use them in iced tea or lemonade.
Red, White and Blueberry Salad
Salad greens
½ cucumber
½ green pepper
½ cup strawberries or raspberries or both
½ cup blueberries
½ cup goat cheese, crumbled or cut in small pieces
½ cup chopped hazelnuts or blanched almonds

In large salad bowl, tear greens. Chop cucumber and green pepper. Toss with lettuce. Sprinkle salad with berries, goat cheese and nuts. Serve with raspberry or blueberry vinegar and oil.
Watermelon Stars and Blueberry Salad
1 watermelon
1 cup blueberries
1 cup diced jicama
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup lime juice
Grated zest from 1-2 limes

Slice watermelon in ½-inch-thick rounds. Use a cookie cutter to make stars and put in large salad bowl. (Save the leftover pieces of watermelon for another salad, watermelon iced tea, strawberry watermelon smoothies or watermelon sorbet.) Add blueberries, jicama, lime juice, zest and honey. Toss, chill and serve.
The information in this column is meant for people who want to keep their kidneys healthy and blood pressure down by following a low-sodium diet. In most cases, except for dialysis patients, a diet high in potassium is thought to help lower high blood pressure. These recipes are not intended for people on dialysis without the supervision of a registered dietitian.  

[Katy G. Wilkens is a registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. A recipient of the Susan Knapp Excellence in Education Award from the National Kidney Foundation Council on Renal Nutrition, she has a Master of Science degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Washington. See more of her recipes at www.nwkidney.org.]

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