True Independence

We are already halfway through the year, and summer and sovereignty day are here.

On July 4th, 1776, thirteen colonies claimed independence from England, leading to the formation of the United States.  Each year on the fourth of July, Americans celebrate the freedom and independence that this historic event initiated.

I have a whole new appreciation for America and freedom these days. People are starting to gather more, masks are removed, and our smiles are shining from sea to sea. We have had struggles, yet life seems brighter recently.

In our case, the twists and turns of 2020 motivated us to sell our primary home. We now reside in our cozy weekend cottage in Michigan for the warmer midwestern months and a home in Florida during the winter months. We experience a feeling of freedom that we did not imagine one year ago. This is a result of re-examining priories and contemplating what we really value in life. Do we want to live in a big house, or do we want to have true independence and live a life that makes us more fulfilled?

I read this declaration today by an unknown author, and it really resonated with me:

“Starting today I will not depend on, wait on, or hope for luck, the lottery, the company, fate, or the government to help me change my life.  I will take responsibility for my own life. I will set my own course. I will make my own success. I will take action. I will persist. I will find lessons in setbacks. I will look forward not backward. I will turn haters into motivators. I will be empowered by my circumstances not impeded by them. I can achieve what I want and nothing can hold me back. I create my future. This is my Independence Day!”

True freedom is believing that you alone are responsible for your life. It is the basis on which this great country was built. This is true independence.

When it comes to eating healthy, creating a “food freedom” mindset can help you break free of the tyranny of cravings and food addiction. What you eat today you will crave tomorrow, unless it’s fruits and vegetables. These healthy, whole foods generously nourish you, therefore blunting cravings. The recipes I share with you this month are the kind that can really help you to break free from addictive foods and move closer to TRUE independence from dis-ease.

Grilled Watermelon Steaks – recipe and photo Betsy Bruns

This dish takes me back to my many visits to Key West where I enjoyed watermelon-basil mojitos poolside.  It does have the look and texture of ahi tuna, which for this vegan, is a bit strange. Yet the combination of watermelon, balsamic, and basil are juicy and unique. Plus, watermelon is hydrating and a significant source of vitamin C and lycopene, which will boost your immune system and regenerate your skin.


8 watermelon wedges, 1-2 inches thick

2 tablespoons store-bought Balsamic Reduction + more for brushing

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons fresh basil chopped or cut into thin strips

Grill mat for low fat, oil-free cooking, or you can oil the grill

Optional Pairings

Vegan prosciutto or deli slices

Vegan mozzarella or gouda cheese


Brush watermelon slices with Balsamic Reduction Sauce

Preheat grill to medium-high heat, cleaning and oiling grates if not using grill mat

Place watermelon slices directly on the grill grates, not moving each wedge in order to get grill marks and a good caramelization. Grill for approximately 3-4 minutes on each side.

Remove from the grill and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Drizzle with more balsamic reduction and top with fresh basil.

Tater Peppers – Recipe and photo- Betsy Bruns

Did you know that potatoes blunt cravings and are one of the most satisfying foods on the planet? Now you do.


2-4 servings

2 red bell peppers

2 medium golden or yellow potatoes (about 6 ounces each)

½ cup canned cannellini or pinto beans (reserve juice)

1/4 cup or more nutritional yeast

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons onion powder

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees (can be cooked on the grill, on indirect heat)

Cut the tops off of peppers or cut in half. Remove seeds and rind, then rinse. Place upside down on parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes and set aside to let cool.

As peppers are baking, wash, peel (optional — I like skins on), and cut potatoes. Boil or steam until soft. Drain potatoes, then mash and mix in the remaining ingredients with potato masher or in a food processer. Add a splash of reserved bean juice (aquafaba) if more moisture is needed.

Stuff the cooked peppers with mashed taters and return to baking sheet, tops right side up. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until they start to brown.

Optional toppings:

Chives, fresh herbs, salsa, vegan sour cream, vegan mayo, or hummus.