Check out these great recipes that let you welcome in summer in style -without completely blowing your healthy eating habits!

Vacations, holiday cookouts and fun in the sun are all great ways to celebrate the dog days of summer. As we remember those that fought for our freedom and celebrate our nation’s birthday, we find ourselves indulging in festive fare as if it’s Christmas in July. Remember folks: the freedom bell is not the free-to- eat-whatever-you-want dinner bell. Keep your summer fare simple and wholesome, so you can sport that bikini all summer long.

These recipes are made with five ingredients or less for a healthy twist on the customary cookout:

Sizzling BBQ Chicken Salad

Invite some friends over (this recipe serves 6) and fire-up the grill.

You’ll need:

–          4 cups organic BBQ sauce
–          10-12 chicken thighs
–          2 (11 oz) packages organic spinach or other mixed greens
–          1 onion, diced
–          2 cups fresh pineapple chunks

Directions: Reserve about ¼ cup BBQ sauce in a bowl, set aside. Marinate the chicken thighs in the remaining sauce for 2 hours in the refrigerator. Remove chicken from the sauce and grill thighs for 6 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Brush each thigh with the reserved sauce. Toss spinach (or mixed greens) with diced onion and pineapple chunks. Divide the salad among six plates and top each with one or two chicken thighs.

*Note: For a more integrated salad, cut up chicken meat after grilling; then mix shredded chicken with reserved BBQ sauce and toss with salad.

Sweet Potato Pseudo Fries

Baked sweet potato “fries” are a nutritious alternative to the yellow, crinkle-cut frozen kind. With a little extra effort, you can serve up a sweet and spicy side.

You’ll need:

–          5 sweet potatoes, washed and sliced lengthwise into “fries” or wedges
–          3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
–          2 tablespoons chili powder (or amount needed for desired level of spiciness)
–          Sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 400˚F. Toss sliced sweet potatoes with olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle on chili powder, salt and pepper, and stir until fries are evenly coated with spice. Spread fries onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes. Cooking times may vary depending on your oven, so keep a close eye on the fries.

*Note: For crispier fries, boil unseasoned potatoes in water until soft (not fully cooked). Drain carefully and mix in oil, chili powder, salt and pepper before baking. You’ll bake these for no more than 20 minutes – just until crispy enough to crunch your teeth into.

“You Butter Nut Tell” Cookies

This is a gluten-free dessert, made with almond butter for a twist on classic peanut butter cookies. They’re so simple and scrumptious that you may not want to share. (This recipe makes about 20 cookies.)

You‘ll need:

–          1 cup creamy almond butter (you can use crunchy, but a creamy variety is easier to work with)
–          1 cup sugar
–          1 large egg, slightly beaten
–          1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions: Preheat oven to 350˚F. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until smooth. Use a melon scoop or your hands to shape the dough into balls or discs. Drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet, spacing about one inch apart. Press a fork in a crisscross pattern on the tops of each cookie. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Let cool and enjoy.

Min-tea Quencher

The refreshing mint flavor may trick your taste buds into thinking you’ve got a mojito in hand. Alcohol or not, this mint-flavored iced tea will serve as a spiri-min-ted cooler on hot summer days.

You’ll need:

–          4 herbal mint tea bags
–          2 cups water
–          Ice cubes
–          Mint sprigs as garnish (optional)

Directions: Place tea bags (paper tags removed and strings tied together) in a 2-quart glass pitcher. Bring water to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour water over the tea bags. Let steep for 15 minutes. When removing tea bags, squeeze out any excess liquid. Pour in ice cubes, then add water to fill pitcher to the top. Pour tea into glasses and top with mint sprigs for garnish. Drink up!

*Note: For a sweet Min-tea Quencher, add desired amount of sugar or sweetener to the tea concentrate, just before adding the ice. Be sure to stir the sugar until it completely dissolves.