5 Healthy Burgers for the Fourth of July

by Carlye Cunniff
( May 26th, 2015 )

Healthy Burger

The summertime is coming, and Fourth of July celebrations are sure to see us basking in the glory of the sunshine. Grilling is a perfect Fourth of July past time, and looking forward to a juicy burger hot off the grill often steals the show. I’m not one to be a party pooper – I know how important standing by the grill and drinking a beer is to some – so I won’t suggest ditching the burger completely. I will, however, suggest subbing your traditional burgers for one of these 5 healthy burgers for the Fourth of July. Options for vegans, vegetarians and meat lovers alike round out this list, but theme is constant - save your calories for all the other treats present on the iconic Fourth of July spread.

Sun Dried Tomato Basil White Bean Burgers from Ari’s Menu. These burgers are perfect for the most sensitive eaters at your soiree.  They are vegan and gluten free, and they don’t taste like cardboard – yay! Form them ahead of time and serve with a pesto sauce to give them an extra gourmet edge.

Bison Burgers with Cabernet Onions and Wisconsin Cheddar. As I’ve mentioned before, bison is an excellent alternative to beef – it’s leaner, tastier and generally more sustainably raised (depending on where you source your bison). These bison burgers will fancify any backyard BBQ.

Boursin Chicken Burgers with Leeks. I have to admit,  this is really just an embellished chicken burger. Grill up a chicken breast, cover a whole wheat bun with Boursin (garlic and herb is my personal favorite) and add some fried leeks. Bacon is a nice touch, but takes away from the health factor.

Portobello Peach Burger. This burger is for adults only, it’s so fancy. Serve this if you’d like to take your Fourth of July party to the next level. You can also just look at the photos and recipes on Green Kitchen Stories.

Smoky Black Bean Beet Burgers. This wouldn’t be a healthy burger post without a beet burger. Protein, veggies, deliciousness, what’s not to love. Give this burger the same traditional treatment as your burgers are used to, the kids at the party might not even know the difference.

What’s your favorite Fourth of July burger? Let us know in the comments below!

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Photo Credit: burger.  Stu Spivack. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. 


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Three Magnets Brewing – Food and Olympia Beer

by Carlye Cunniff
( May 18th, 2015 )


Salmon Salad at Three MagnetsOlympia brewers have a big name to live up to, the iconic Olympia Beer is still a point of pride for Washington State’s Capital city, even though it was bought out in 1984 (it is no longer operative). The challenge of pleasing citizens who pride themselves on beer drinking hasn’t staunched the growth of Three Magnets Brewing, a lively pub and restaurant recently opened in downtown Olympia. The large space serves both families and those over 21, has multiple taps and makes all of the fare in house (including smoking meat and baking bread from spent brewers grain).

As an Olympia native myself, I had to say I was fairly impressed. The space is open, beautifully decorated, and trendy enough to hang in the big city (well, Seattle). We had a meal there after enjoying Olympia’s Parade of the Species on the patio. The huge crowd that poured in after the parade highlighted the desperate need for acoustics, but that’s a nice problem for a new restaurant to have. The place is still figuring out a flow to handle large crowds, order both food and drinks at the bar, then listen for your name while you wait for both.

The food at Three Magnets may be better than the beer, but only because it’s really good. It doesn’t look like anything gourmet, and it’s not meant to. It’s pub food made like you made it at home – with actual ingredients rather than fillers and vats of oil. We had the bison burger, salmon sandwich and salmon salad – and enjoyed all of it. As a parade-time snack, Moonrocks and Toasted Corn. What are Moonrocks you ask? They are cheese curds that have been beer battered and served with jam. They are the most amazing thing I’ve ever eaten.

Bison Burger at Three Magnets

Fortunately for me, I have another watering hole to add to my list when I’m visiting my homeland. If you don’t regularly frequent Olympia, perhaps you have another reason to travel there. Let us know your favorite Olympia spots in the comments below!

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Lemon Spinach Pesto

by Carlye Cunniff
( May 12th, 2015 )

Lemon Spinach Pesto

I often make my own pesto – it comes together really fast, looks impressive and is relatively healthy. I don’t always have loads of basil and pine nuts on hand, so traditional pesto sometimes requires an unnecessary trip to the store. I do always have spinach, even if it’s banished to the far reaches of the fridge. Other things I always have? Almonds, olive oil, parmesan cheese and lemons. Voila, a quick and easy meal is born. I encourage you to get creative with this lemon spinach pesto, then tell us all about what you created in the comments.


1/4 Cup olive oil.

About 2 Cups raw spinach, washed and coarsely chopped.

1/4 Cup Mint, washed and coarsely chopped.

1/4 Cup raw almonds, chopped. (You’ll notice in my photos that I didn’t chop my almonds. This is because I am lazy and was using a blender I don’t really like. I recommend you chop the almonds.)

A handful of pine nuts. (I happened to have a handful of pine nuts, but they are totally unnecessary).

1/2 of a lemon.

1/2 Cup parmesan cheese.


Using a food processor, combine the olive oil and spinach. I prefer a food processor but had to use a blender for the pictures. (It’s a long, sordid tale, I wouldn’t ask if I were you). If you start with the oil, the blades have something to lubricate them, and the spinach can start to break down.

Blending the Almonds

Add the mint, almonds, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Keep on processing.

Squeeze as much juice out of the that lemon as you can, then add a healthy helping of lemon zest. Process again.

Finally, add the parmesan, blend a final time, and enjoy.

Finished lemon spinach pesto.

I added this to lemon chicken ravioli, and it was fantastic. It would also make a great topping for pizza or crostini, or on baked chicken or fish.

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