Eat - June 22, 2021

4 Kid-Friendly 4th of July Recipes to Make As a Family

Fourth of July calls for fireworks, beach days, pool parties, and food—lots of it. Maybe you’re hosting a family reunion this year, or perhaps you’re headed to someone else’s place and want to bring something homemade. Either way, if you have children around, allow them to get in on the fun by helping you prepare a kid-friendly 4th of July recipe.

Letting kids help in the kitchen can teach them about nutrition and reduce picky eating, experts share. It can also help you bond as a family and aid in development. These five vegan, gluten-free recipes are perfect for any 4th of July party.

Kid-Friendly 4th of July Recipes for Appetizers

Red, White, and Blue Fruit Kabobs 

Serves 6 to 8
Prep Time: 10 minutes

Carrie Forrest, MBA, MPH, loves how easy and fun these fruit kabobs are for kids of any age to make. This recipe is perfect for younger children, who can practice “threading” by putting the fruit on the skewer and sorting fruit by type. It also helps kids learn counting and patterns. 

6 to 8 stainless steel skewers
½ pint fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced
1 small jicama, peeled and cubed (apple chunks work, too)
½ pint fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained 

  1. Grab a wooden or stainless skewer. Pierce a strawberry and push it to the end of the skewer.
  2. Add a jicama cube and two blueberries. Repeat until the skewer is full.
  3. You should have enough fruit to prepare 6 to 8 skewers.
  4. Cover the skewers with plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve. The skewers will stay fresh in the fridge for up to three days.

Star-Sliced Fruit Recipe

Serves 10
Prep time: 30 minutes

This recipe from Dr. Karen Aronian, Ed.D., a New York-based parenting and education expert, gives new meaning to the phrase “star fruit.” It serves as a way to teach kids about sizes and shapes. Preschoolers can help make star shapes with the cookie cutters and place them in the watermelon, while you can teach an older child how to cut with a knife safely.

Rubber bands (If making the basket)
1-2 mini-watermelons (2 if you want to make the basket)
Cookie cutters in star shapes (medium and small)
Star fruit (You can substitute star fruit with honeydew or cantaloupe or add those fruits in, too)

For the basket (optional)

  1. Put a rubber band around the melon horizontally and vertically. To create the handle, measure 2 inches on either side of the rubber band at the top of the watermelon. Mark the spots with a marker. Then, make shallow half-inch cuts in each spot. Do not slice all the way through.
  2. Satisfied with the dimensions? Slice through, and remove the fruit on both sides and underneath the handle. Leave the skin on the handle. 
  3. Scoop out and salvage the large watermelon pieces from the base of the basket for star cookie cutter shapes. 

For the star-sliced fruit

  1. Remove the skin from one mini-watermelon. 
  2. Cut the watermelon into 1-inch slices. Use the cookie cutters to make stars. 
  3. Remove the skin from the honeydew, cantaloupe, and star fruit. Repeat step two using these fruits. 
  4. Load your stars of varying colors back into the basket if you made one or a large bowl if you did not. Chill.
  5. Serve.

Flag-Inspired Dessert Recipes 

Star-Spangled Brownies

Serves 10 to 12
Prep time: 25 Minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes

These vegan, gluten-free frosted brownies from Lemon Blossoms founder and chef Kathy McDaniel are appropriately dressed for a 4th of July party. They call for red, white, and blue sprinkles and will smell so good coming out of the oven, you may be tempted to eat them before the party even starts. Kids as young as 2 or 3 can help put sprinkles on the brownies and mix (and lick) the bowl. Older children can help measure out the ingredients.

For the brownies

2 flax eggs (stir together 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed + 2 1/2 tablespoon of water for each egg)
1/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup creamy almond butter
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

For the frosting

1/2 cup almond milk
1 1/2 cup vegan dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup vegan butter, cut into small pieces, softened
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more if needed

Make the brownies

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. 
  2. Line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on both sides so that you can pull the brownies out of the pan after baking.
  3. Make the flax eggs. Combine 2 tablespoons of flax meal with 5 tablespoons of water at room temperature. Stir, and allow to sit for 20 minutes. 
  4. Whisk together the gluten-free flour, baking powder, and salt in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.
  5. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the almond butter, coconut sugar, maple syrup, melted coconut oil, vanilla extract, and espresso powder until the mixture is well-combined and smooth.
  6. Stir in the flax eggs and the melted chocolate chips, and mix until it’s well combined. Gradually add the cocoa and stir until smooth.
  7. Add the flour mixture, and mix gently. Then, with the help of a spatula, fold in the chocolate chips. 
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top.
  9. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the almond milk until it begins to simmer. Remove from the heat.
  2. Put the chocolate into a mixing bowl, and pour the hot milk over it. Let it sit for a couple of minutes or until the chocolate starts to melt. Add the softened butter and stir to combine.
  3. Using a hand mixer, beat the mixture for about one minute. Add the salt, and gradually add 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar. Beat the mixture again until it’s just combined. 
  4. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove it. Use an electric mixer to beat it for about 40 seconds. If the mixture is too thin, add more powdered sugar one tablespoon at a time. Beat it until it’s fluffy and light in color.
  5. When the brownies are completely cool, gently lift them out of the pan and frost them. Top with sprinkles.

Berry Fluff

Serves 6
Prep time: 20 minutes

This patriotic dessert, also dreamt up by McDaniel, makes for a creamy alternative to ice cream. You can use any berries, such as strawberries, for this recipe, McDaniel says. Let your kids help you pick the berries. Younger children can help with the assembly on the day of the party, separate the berries into different bowls and hand you ingredients. Older kids can help measure and combine the ingredients for the sauce and even let you know when it’s thickened and bubbling on the stove.

 For the blueberry sauce

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons organic raw sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For the raspberry sauce

1 1/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons organic raw sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For the rest

14 ounces coconut cream or full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon organic powdered sugar (you can also use stevia or Monk fruit)
12 small vegan, gluten-free cookies, broken into small pieces (vanilla, chocolate, or lemon flavor)
Fresh berries for garnish (optional)

Make the sauces

  1. For the blueberry sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook the mixture for about 6 to 8 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Remove the sauce from the heat. Cool it to room temperature. 
  2. Repeat step one for raspberry sauce. 

Make the coconut whipped cream

  1. Refrigerate the can of coconut cream or milk for at least 24 hours.
  2. Remove the can from the fridge. Don’t shake or tip it.
  3. Chill your mixing bowl for 15 minutes in the refrigerator or freezer.
  4. Open the coconut cream/milk can. Scoop out the thick layer of coconut cream that should have separated to the top of the can. Place the hardened coconut cream layer in the chilled mixing bowl, and reserve or discard the liquid part. You will only be using the thick part to make vegan coconut whipped cream.
  5. With a mixer, beat the mixture until it’s creamy. It will take about one minute. Add the vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Mix it for an additional minute or until creamy and smooth. Taste and adjust sweetness as needed.


  1. Spread a thin layer of coconut whipped cream into the bottom of an individual serving dish or glass. 
  2. Top it with blueberry sauce and a few pieces of crushed cookies. 
  3. Top it with coconut whipped cream, the raspberry sauce, and another thin layer of coconut whipped cream and crushed cookies. 
  4. Garnish with fresh berries (optional). 
  5. Serve immediately.
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