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Not into meat? You can still grill on the Fourth!

Being vegetarian may mean you have to answer the same questions over and over again ("No, I can't eat that. Sorry, that's a meat broth" etc.). But that doesn't mean you need to eat the same party dishes over and over again. If you're preparing for Fourth of July celebrations and are looking for some meatless meals to share with your pals, we've got some yummy options for you to choose from. For starters, lets take a look at some appetizers. 

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No-Meat Appetizers To Start Off Independence Day

1. Cranberry Tortellini Salad

Combine cooked and chilled cheese (or no cheese if you wish to go vegan) tortellini with baby spinach, pecans, cranberries and feta cheese. 
For balsamic dressing, mix together 5 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, 6 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper.

2. Kale Chips

Simply chop kale in medium-sized pieces, coat with olive oil, (note: add pepper, garlic salt or cayenne pepper for an extra kick), and cook in oven at 350°F for 8 minutes. After 5 minutes, sprinkle Parmesan cheese.

3. Roasted Butternut Squash

Peel and slice butternut squash into U-shaped pieces. Coat in olive oil and cayenne pepper. Lay flat on a baking sheet and roast at 400°F for 20-30 minutes. Flip or shake baking sheet after 15 minutes.

4. Spinach and Ricotta Rolls

Using pre-prepared biscuit dough, coat each biscuit with ricotta cheese and shredded spinach. Roll, lay on baking sheet and cook according to dough's directions.

5. Fruit Salsa

Combine 2 cups of freshly cut fruit (mango, pineapple, strawberries, orange, etc.) with 1/4 cup of red onion, a chopped jalapeño, the juice of 1 lime, a handful of chopped cilantro, and a sprinkle of sugar, salt and pepper.

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Meatless Meals for July Fourth

1. Sweet Potato Burgers

Bake sweet potatoes (1 potato can make up to 5 burgers), peel, and mash into a mixing bowl. Add in drained white beans (2 cans for every potato), add a dash of Cajun seasoning, 1/4 cup wheat flour.
Form patties and coat with panko crumbs. Cook the patties in a pan with sunflower oil over high heat. Cook until both sides are browned. Serve on a bun with avocado and lettuce.

2. Baked Kale and Roasted Red Pepper

This is a simple meal - mix kale and sliced roasted red peppers into a pan, spray with grape seed oil, and stick into an oven at 350°F for 10-15 minutes (or baked to the point you want). Want a little more somethin' somethin' for the dish? Sprinkle feta cheese on top or give the veggie mix a kick with your favorite spices. 

3. Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

First, roast your tomatoes for 15-20 minutes. While the tomatoes are roasting, scrape the inside out of the mushroom caps and clean them. Combine 3 tablespoons of oil, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic and shallots. Drizzle the mixture over the caps and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pre-heat your oven to broil and broil the mushrooms for roughly 5 minutes. Add a spoonful of chopped and roasted tomatoes to the caps and sprinkle with goat cheese. Top with chives and bake for 10-12 minutes.

4. Balsamic Butter Penne Pasta

Cook pasta as directed. Meanwhile, simmer 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar in a saucepan until 3 tablespoons remain. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar  and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper and remove from heat. Drain the pasta and mix with 1/4 pound of butter. Add in the balsamic mixture. Top with Parmesan cheese. Add roasted asparagus for some extra flavor.

5. Couscous and Kale Stuffed Red Peppers

Preheat oven to 375°F. Boil water and add 1 bunch of kale to the water for 1 minute. Remove the kale from the pot and place 1 cup of basil in the boiling water for another minute. Squeeze the water out of the kale and basil  and place the kale and basil in a food processor with 6 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and blend until smooth. Combine this mixture with 1 cup of couscous (prepared according to directions on the package) and add diced kalamata olives. Remove top and inside of red peppers and stuff with the mixture. Sprinkle with more Parmesan cheese and bake for 10-15 minutes. 

Enjoy! 

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