Happy (almost) 4th of July, everybody! As we get closer to this summer holiday – and touch even closer to my birthday later in July – I’m reminded that it’s also shorts and t-shirt weather, a.k.a. hardcore dieting time. Much as I love a good holiday dessert nosh, I’ll love fitting into a fabulous dress I’m planning to wear on my birthday even more! With that in mind, what better way to exorcise the dessert demon than by going into gooey, delicious praise of my favorites right here. 99.9% less fat, calories and carbs, with 100% of the fun! When I put out the word getting opinions on everyone’s favorite Independence Day Desserts, they came thru in red, white and blue glory. Read on for readers’ favorites, we’ve got something to tantalize every patriotic taste bud out there. Best part: they’re all easy to create – often for less than twenty-five cents per serving!

First of all, let’s take care of the kids in your crowd. Top votes for them are clearly cupcakes and popsicles! Take the edge off the heat by freezing up some red, white and blue beauties and serve them flower-style in a vase filled with ice cubes. As for the cupcakes, be daring with some red velvet cupcakes topped with white buttercream and 4th of July sprinkles – extra credit if you find toppings in the shape of stars!

For the teenagers, top votes go to milkshakes and sundaes! Get the vanilla ice cream out (keep strawberry or blueberry ice cream in reserve as well) and let the kids get mega creative with some frosty red, white and blue creamy concoctions. Ingredients for this culinary extravaganza are super easy – just make sure you have plenty of whipped cream, berry syrups, berries and toppings on hand. For guaranteed hit reviews, head to the Dollar Store of your choice for some sundae bowls, long sundae spoons, milkshake glasses, and sturdy straws.
Once you have the kids sugared-up properly, dazzle the adults with healthy and guilt-free parfaits! Layer ice-cold fresh strawberries, blueberries and raspberries with yogurt or sugar-free whipped cream. It’s easy to prepare, delicious, and hugely appreciated by those who are looking to save their holiday calories and carbs for the potato salad, some chips and perhaps a hot dog roll or two. For those on your guest list who don’t make a habit of counting carbs, calories or fat grams (a.k.a. the guys), go straight for pie. There are fabulous patriotic-looking varieties awaiting you in the freezer section – cherry, blueberry and strawberry are outstanding bets. For mega-extra credit, make one yourself (ready-made pie crusts wholeheartedly recommended) and create a magnificent “homemade” berry pie (canned filling works for me!) with the kids cutting out star-shaped pieces of dough to decorate the tops and circle the sides.
Above all else, enjoy the day for what it is – a fantastic birthday bash and well-deserved celebration of our Country and our independence. Happy Birthday, America!

Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host & Author of “Brilliant Frugal Living”. “The Kristen Hagopian Show – Living a Luxurious Life, for Less!” airs Thursday and Saturdays on Philadelphia’s WWDB-AM 860-Talk. You can find Kristen online at http://www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

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