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Sunday Strategist: A Week of Healthy Menus—July 4-8

Every Sunday, we publish a week of Cooking Light dinner plans filled with our favorite recipes—both from current issues and classics. Each meal is designed to be ready and on the table in about an hour so that you have more time to enjoy the food you’ve prepared and the company of those you’ve prepared it for.

If you like having a healthy meal plan but want something customized to your dietary or caloric needs, check out The Cooking Light Diet. It’s a calorie-driven weekly meal plan—breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner—based on your dieting goals and food preferences.

Monday: Buffalo Chicken Drumsticks and Grilled and Dilled Corn on the Cob with Tequila-Watermelon Refresco Tuesday: Fried Chickpea and Arugula Pita Sandwiches with Lime Tzatziki and Edamame Succotash Salad Wednesday: Gazpacho with Lemon-Garlic Shrimp and Goat Cheese Crostini Thursday: Greek-Style Chicken Breasts and Fresh Creamed Corn Friday: Spiced Grilled Chicken Thighs with Creamy Chile-Herb Sauce and Asparagus Ribbons with Lemon and Goat Cheese Happy Hour: Avocado Ice Pops

Monday: If you're going to eat sticky, goopy, drippy foods, the 4th of July is the day to do it. You likely have your menu all figured out by now, but in case you're still looking for a backyard barbecue without a lot of effort, look no more. Our Buffalo Chicken Drumsticks and Grilled and Dilled Corn on the Cob are simple, easy, and so fun for this hot holiday. Hose off in the sprinkler, and then sip on a Tequila-Watermelon Refresco while the party pops on.

Tuesday: With flavors reminiscent of a falafel, Fried Chickpea and Arugula Pita Sandwiches with Lime Tzatziki take less work, are tasty with lots of texture, and an easy weeknight meal to put together after a hectic post-holiday workday. Add another green and bean side to round out your pita meal with our Edamame Succotash Salad.

Wednesday: Soup is delicious any time of the year, but on especially hot days, I prefer my soups cold and tomatoey. Try our Gazpacho with Lemon-Garlic Shrimp if you feel the same way. A rather simple ingredient list comes together beautifully for a simple, company-worthy main. Serve with Goat Cheese Crostini for a little tang and some bread to sop up the remaining drips of gazpacho.

Thursday: Don't give up hope on plain, basic grilled-chicken cutlets. A simple, flavorful topping can be a real showstopper. In this case, fresh herbs, kalamata olives, and feta cheese contribute Mediterranean flavor to grilled Greek-Style Chicken Breasts. That main feels sorta summery, so let's keep those vibes going with our Fresh Creamed Corn.

Friday: We love the contrast of the bright, herbaceous sauce with the smoky grilled chicken thighs in our  Spiced Grilled Chicken Thighs with Creamy Chile-Herb Sauce dish. Keep the rest of the meal with a simple salad--may we suggest our Asparagus Ribbons with Lemon and Goat Cheese?

Happy Hour: These pops will make you rethink your relationship with guacamole. (Maybe avocados were meant to be frozen all along!) So if your first reaction to this recipe was, "Ew!"  I hope you'll try one of these Avocado Ice Pops and learn just how wrong you are. Make and freeze the night before you intend to enjoy so your journey to sweets comes quickly the next day.

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