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Food Matters

All about fresh, flavorful food

Fourth of July Picnic Recipes

Cool Cucumber Soup is a refreshing and creamy chilled soup—ideal for a July 4th outdoor meal. The refreshing taste of the cucumber is carried by tofu, which adds substance and stands in for the heavy cream so often called for in similar soups. Whenever I serve this, diners inevitably ask, “Are you sure there isn’t any cream in this soup?”

For an easy portable sandwich, try Avocado Roll Ups. These versatile roll-ups travel well, making them ideal for a summer picnic. Just wrap them in parchment paper and go! Keep both of these dishes well chilled in a cooler until serving!

cucumber soup

Cool Cucumber Soup Recipe


• 2 cucumbers
• 12 ounces soft regular or silken tofu, drained and cubed
• 1⁄2 sweet onion, chopped
• 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1 to 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 teaspoon brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon dried dill weed, or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
• Sea salt Freshly ground pepper


1. Cut 4 thin slices of cucumber and set aside for the garnish. Peel, seed, and chop the remaining cucumbers.

2. Put the chopped cucumbers, tofu, onion, lemon juice, garlic, brown sugar and 1⁄4 teaspoon of the dill weed in a blender and process until creamy. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the remaining dill weed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.

3. About 30 minutes before serving, chill four soup bowls. To serve, ladle the soup into the chilled bowls. Garnish each bowl with a cucumber slice topped with a sprinkling of dill weed. Serve immediately.

roll ups

Avocado Rolls Recipe with Olives


• 2 whole-grain flour tortillas or wraps
• 2 tablespoons store-bought hummus
• 1 tablespoon vegan mayonnaise
• 4 ounces (5 cups, lightly packed) mixed baby greens
• 1 avocado, sliced
• 8 small kalamata or green olives, pitted and chopped
• 2 teaspoons raw or unsalted roasted sunflower seeds


1. Lay the tortillas on a large cutting board. Spread half of the hummus evenly over half of each tortilla. Spread half of the vegan mayonnaise evenly over the other half of each tortilla. Evenly arrange half of the greens, avocado, olives, and sunflower seeds over the lower two-thirds of each wrap.

2. Starting at the bottom edge, roll the tortilla tightly and evenly around the filling. Gently but firmly press the edge to seal the roll. Set the roll seam-side down and cut it diagonally into 5 or 6 pieces. Wrap in parchment paper and go!

Laura Theodore is a 2014 TASTE award-winning television personality, radio host, vegan chef, cookbook author and recording artist. She is author of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics: Vegan Twists on American Family Favorites and Jazzy Vegetarian: Lively Vegan Cuisine Made Easy and Delicious. Laura is the on-camera host, writer and co-producer of the popular cooking show, Jazzy Vegetarian and hosts the weekly podcast radio show, Jazzy Vegetarian Radio.