10 Red, White, and Blue Treats for Independence Day

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iStock

Any holiday means special food, and since the Fourth of July isn't a "candy holiday," we need to make up for it with ice cream, fresh fruit, and other delightful dishes! Here are 10 delicious ways to spice up recipes by giving them the colors of the American flag.

1. LAYERED PATRIOTIC PUNCH

The secret to layering this potent punch is two different colors of Gatorade, keeping the lighter, sugar-free version on top. The heaviest layer of pina colada is on the bottom. Be sure to take a picture, because they will be consumed posthaste. The recipe is at Rolling Out.

2. PATRIOTIC POPS

It looks like a homemade version of Bomb Pops! The red and blue are frozen drinks, and the white is a delicious combination of yogurt and whipped topping. Each is frozen in a small disposable cup. You'll find complete instructions at Spoonful.

3. FOURTH OF JULY STRAWBERRIES

Strawberries are already red and ripe for July 4th, but it's easy to take them all the way into flag territory. These were dipped in melted white chocolate, then in colored sugar. See the instructions at The Sisters Cafe.

4. BACON FLAG PIZZA

What food could be more American than bacon and pizza? Maybe potatoes, but this pizza has them, too, in the form of purple potatoes that cook to a nice blue. Add cheese for the white stripes, and you have a pizza with an American flag on it! See how it's done at Rock UR Party.

5. FLAG FRUIT PIZZA

Oh, the title may say pizza, but this is made with cookie dough and fruit, so slice it up for a sweet treat! On top of the cookie, there's a "pizza sauce" made with cream cheese and whipped topping, then lovingly layered bananas, strawberries, and blueberries to make the flag. Made by Sabby in Suburbia, where you'll find complete instructions.

6. PATRIOTIC ICE CREAM SANDWICHES

Cool off with an ice cream treat in style! You can use ice cream sandwiches from the grocery and roll the edges in red, white, and blue sprinkles, but they're even more impressive made from home-baked chocolate chip cookies. Slip a slab of ice cream between two cookies, add sprinkles, and these will be eaten before they melt. Get instructions at Jimmy Choos on the Treadmill.

7. RED, WHITE, AND BLUE PASTRIES

Using Puff Pastry is a shortcut that saves a lot of time in making these patriotic pastries, which are stuffed with berry jam and topped with cream cheese filling and raspberries and blueberries. Yum! The top opening is a star shape, which leaves you star pastry to make into extra treats. See the whole process illustrated at Recipe Girl.

8. FIRECRACKER CAKELETTES

Why anyone would ever want to ingest Pop Rocks is beyond me, but they weren't a part of my childhood, so what do I know? For these edible firecrackers, you stack red, white, and blue cake rings on top of each other, glued with frosting. Then "load" them with Pop Rocks and add a licorice fuse. Great for a kid's party! Find the complete instructions at She Knows.

9. RED, WHITE, AND BLUE SANGRIA

This fruit-filled wine cooler is made of white wine and berry-flavored vodka, with a few other ingredients for flavor and visual appeal. Add blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and pineapplee cut into star shapes for an impressive refreshment! Recipe Girl has the rest of the recipe.

10. THE TROJAN CAKE

This is what happens when adjacent countries have their patriotic holidays so close together on the calendar. Just like the Trojan Horse, this gift of a Canada Day cake came with a surprise inside. Canadian recipient and redditor TruthGoliath posted the deception. Of course, it was all in fun, and you can make a cake like this with directions from Betty Crocker. The lovely frosting job is not included with the recipe.

10 Rad Gifts for Hikers

Greg Rosenke/Unsplash
Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

The popularity of bird-watching, camping, and hiking has skyrocketed this year. Whether your gift recipients are weekend warriors or seasoned dirtbags, they'll appreciate these tools and gear for getting most out of their hiking experience.

1. Stanley Nesting Two-Cup Cookset; $14

Amazon

Stanley’s compact and lightweight cookset includes a 20-ounce stainless steel pot with a locking handle, a vented lid, and two insulated 10-ounce tumblers. It’s the perfect size for brewing hot coffee, rehydrating soup, or boiling water while out on the trail with a buddy. And as some hardcore backpackers note in their Amazon reviews, your favorite hiker can take the tumblers out and stuff the pot with a camp stove, matches, and other necessities to make good use of space in their pack.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Osprey Sirrus and Stratos 24-Liter Hiking Packs; $140

Amazon

Osprey’s packs are designed with trail-tested details to maximize comfort and ease of use. The Sirrus pack (pictured) is sized for women, while the Stratos fits men’s proportions. Both include an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, exterior mesh and hipbelt pockets, an attachment for carrying trekking poles, and a built-in rain cover.

Buy them: Amazon, Amazon

3. Yeti Rambler 18-Ounce Bottle; $48

Amazon

Nothing beats ice-cold water after a summer hike or a sip of hot tea during a winter walk. The Yeti Rambler can serve up both: Beverages can stay hot or cold for hours thanks to its insulated construction, and its steel body (in a variety of colors) is basically indestructible. It will add weight to your hiker's pack, though—for a lighter-weight, non-insulated option, the tried-and-true Camelbak Chute water bottle is incredibly sturdy and leakproof.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mappinners Greatest 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch-Off Poster; $30

Amazon

The perfect gift for park baggers in your life (or yourself), this 16-inch-by-20-inch poster features epic hikes like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Once the hike is complete, you can scratch off the gold foil to reveal an illustration of the park.

Buy it: Amazon

5. National Geographic Adventure Edition Road Atlas; $19

Amazon

Hikers can use this brand-new, updated road atlas to plan their next adventure. In addition to comprehensive maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, they'll get National Geographic’s top 100 outdoor destinations, useful details about the most popular national parks, and points on the maps noting off-the-beaten-path places to explore.  

Buy it: Amazon

6. Adventure Medical Kits Hiker First-Aid Kit; $25

Amazon

This handy 67-piece kit is stuffed with all the things you hope your hiker will never need in the wilderness. Not only does it contain supplies for pain, cuts and scrapes, burns, and blisters (every hiker’s nemesis!), the items are organized clearly in the bag to make it easy to find tweezers or an alcohol wipe in an emergency.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiker Hunger Ultralight Trekking Poles; $70

Amazon

Trekking poles will help increase your hiker's balance and stability and reduce strain on their lower body by distributing it to their arms and shoulders. This pair is made of carbon fiber, a super-strong and lightweight material. From the sweat-absorbing cork handles to the selection of pole tips for different terrain, these poles answer every need on the trail. 

Buy it: Amazon

8. Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool; $120

Amazon

What can’t this multitool do? This gadget contains 19 hiking-friendly tools in a 4.5-inch package, including pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, saw, knife, hammer, wire cutter, and even an emergency whistle.

Buy it: Amazon

9. RAVPower Power Bank; $24

Amazon

Don’t let your hiker get caught off the grid with a dead phone. They can charge RAVPower’s compact power bank before they head out on the trail, and then use it to quickly juice up a phone or tablet when the batteries get low. Its 3-inch-by-5-inch profile won’t take up much room in a pack or purse.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Pack of Four Indestructible Field Books; $14

Amazon

Neither rain, nor snow, nor hail will be a match for these waterproof, tearproof 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch notebooks. Your hiker can stick one in their pocket along with a regular pen or pencil to record details of their hike or brainstorm their next viral Tweet.

Buy it: Amazon

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What Really Happens When Food Goes Down the 'Wrong Pipe'?

The dreaded 'wrong pipe' calamity can strike at any time.
The dreaded 'wrong pipe' calamity can strike at any time.
Photo by Adrienn from Pexels

Your average person isn’t expected to be well-versed in the linguistics of human anatomy, which is how we wind up with guns for biceps and noggins for heads. So when swallowing something is followed by throat irritation or coughing, the fleeting bit of discomfort is often described as food “going down the wrong pipe.” But what’s actually happening?

When food is consumed, HuffPost reports, more than 30 muscles activate to facilitate chewing and swallowing. When the food is ready to leave your tongue and head down to your stomach, it’s poised near the ends of two "pipes," the esophagus and the trachea. You want the food to take the esophageal route, which leads to the stomach. Your body knows this, which is why the voice box and epiglottis shift to close off the trachea, the “wrong pipe” of ingestion.

Since we don’t typically hold our breath when we eat, food can occasionally take a wrong turn into the trachea, an unpleasant scenario known as aspiration, which triggers an adrenaline response and provokes coughing and discomfort. Dislodging the food usually eases the sensation, but if it’s enough to become stuck, you have an obstructed airway and can now be officially said to be choking.

The “wrong pipe” can also be a result of eating while tired or otherwise distracted or the result of a mechanical problem owing to illness or injury.

You might also notice that this happens more often with liquids. A sip of water may provoke a coughing attack. That’s because liquids move much more quickly, giving the body less time to react.

In extreme cases, food or liquids headed in the “wrong” direction can wind up in the lungs and cause pneumonia. Fortunately, that’s uncommon, and coughing tends to get the food moving back into the esophagus.

The best way to minimize the chances of getting food stuck is to avoid talking with your mouth full—yes, your parents were right—and thoroughly chew sensible portions.

If you experience repeated bouts of aspiration, it’s possible an underlying swallowing disorder or neurological problem is to blame. An X-ray or other tests can help diagnose the issue.

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