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Your Guide to a Healthy 4th of July: Recipes, Tips & More

From prepping healthier recipes to sipping on healthier drinks, make your fourth this year the healthiest and tastiest yet with these Fourth of July menu ideas and tips!

Your Guide to a Healthy 4th of July: Recipes, Tips & More

Fourth of July is just around the corner! 

This often calls for a Fourth of July party gathered with loved ones and, of course, good food and cold drinks during the warm season. 

Make your fourth this year the healthiest and tastiest yet with these healthy recipes, ideas, and tips! 

Healthy 4th of July Tips

From choosing leaner proteins to going for healthier sides, use these 8 tips for healthy 4th July food and drinks.

Tip #1: Choose leaner proteins.

From hot dogs to bratwursts, BBQ cookouts tend to be all about the meat. While these meats are good sources of protein, they are commonly rich in saturated fat and salt.

Grilled chicken, turkey, and pork tenderloin are considered healthier, leaner choices. Grilled fish, including grilled salmon and tilapia, are also rich in protein and healthy fats. Red meat can be enjoyed, too, especially when opting for sirloin, strip steak, and other lean beef cuts.

Also limit fat content in burgers by using lean ground beef, usually about a 90/10 lean to fat ratio, like in this healthy hamburger recipe. Buy skinless poultry or remove the skin before cooking and trim away any visible fat on meat.

Try this recipe: Rather than heating up the oil for fried chicken, fire up the grill! This BBQ grilled chicken recipe is packed with flavor, as well as protein and other nutrients to keep you satisfied. 

Tip #2: Watch out for sauces.

Sauces, especially store-bought varieties, tend to be hidden sources of added sugar. In fact, some sauces can contain more than 10 grams of sugar per two tablespoons!

Preparing a homemade sauce may be the best method for ingredient control, but time may not always allow. This is when the Ingredient list can be extremely beneficial.

Ideally, a BBQ sauce should contain recognizable ingredients, including tomato, vinegar, onion, and garlic. Look for a BBQ sauce that has tomato or vinegar as its first ingredient and avoid sauces with corn syrup or sugar added.

Also, lean on the healthiest list of condiments to keep on hand. 

Tip #3: Prepare a dry rub.

Dry rubs offer flavor without added calories and can be prepared quickly in the comfort of home. They simply are the mixture of ingredients likely already stocked in the pantry, including dried herbs and spices.

Looking for inspiration? These dry rub recipes change the grilling game! Flavor varieties include sage-rubbed for salmon, an espresso rub for steak, and dijon rub for pork.

Tip #4: Be mindful of bun choices.

There are no ifs, ands, and buns about it, buns tend to be a source of empty calories and lack any sort of nutritional value. But, there is an opportunity to make a healthier choice when sandwiching that burger or protein of choice.

One option is to go for a whole grain bun, which offers fiber and other nutrients. But if watching calories and carbs, try an open-faced burger or lettuce wrap.

Tip #5: Go for healthier sides.

Potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans, chips, and dip… Sides are abundant at BBQ cookouts. But watch out, as these sides tend to be laden in calories, sugar, and fat.

So rather than going dishing up a plateful of pasta salad, look to healthier sides. This may include fruit salad, salad greens, dill cucumber salad, corn on the cob, and three-bean salad.

A three bean salad is a great side dish for your next cookout. Beans are rich in protein and fiber to help you keep you full. And a three bean salad is a healthier option compared to baked beans that tend to be laden in added sugar.

Tip #6: Grill up vegetables and fruits.

The grill is not designated to BBQ meat… Grilling vegetables offers yourself and guests a nutritious and delicious option.

Vegetables can help with portion control, too. They tend to be so low in calories and high in fiber and water that they can help fill you up and prevent overeating. 

Grill vegetables for the best flavor by selecting ones that can withstand the heat, including grilled eggplant, asparagus, red onion, and corn. Prep the veggies so they are in equal shape so they cook evenly. Oil and season to liking for an added burst of flavor.

Fruit can also make a healthy, yet satisfying dessert option when grilled. Take, for instance, grilled peaches! Use these steps for a simple and luscious sweet treat:

1. Half peaches and place on the grill, flesh side down and without the pit.

2. Grill approximately 4 to 5 minutes until grill marks are achieved.

3. Top with Greek yogurt, a dash of cinnamon, and a light drizzle of honey as desired.

Tip #7: Stay cautious of liquid calories.

The biggest increase in caloric intake is not only related to food… Liquid calories, especially in the form of alcohol, can add up real fast. These calories are also "empty" because they tend to lack any sort of nutritional value.

Moderation is key when it comes to drinking alcohol, as the calories can start to quickly add up. It is also important to stick to serving sizes. This includes 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.

Alcohol is not the only drink needing to be careful of, though. Even liquid calories from juices, sodas, and other beverages need to be accounted for mixed into alcohol or standing alone.

Rather than drinking sugary drinks, infuse water with berries for a festive red, white, and blue beverage. Squeezing in juice from a lemon, lime, or other citrus fruits can also make a refreshing, flavorful glass of water. (Read on for more healthy 4th of July drink options!)

Tip #8: Stick to proper portion sizes.

When enjoying all favorite Fourth of July grilling recipes, stick to proper portion sizes. This helps control calorie intake. For instance, a healthy portion of any type of meat is about 3 ounces or the size of a deck of cards.

Red, White & Blue Cocktails

From patriotic cocktails to non-alcoholic options, sip on these Fourth of July drinks. They all are festive and prove nutritious can taste delicious! 

Cheers in color with these red, white, and blue cocktails. Also being diverse in variety, there is a drink option for all to enjoy!

1. Berry Good Champagne

Simple but festive, pop the bubbly and decorate champagne with frozen berries. 

Not only will the berries sport a patriotic theme, but will keep the champagne chilled in the warm summer sun. 

2. America's Mojito

Mojitos are a refreshing summertime drink as is. But for America's birthday, sip on an ice-cold mixed berry mojito.

Also use other berries to your liking, including blueberries and strawberries. 

3. Guilt-Free Frozen Strawberry Margarita

Did you know the average frozen strawberry margarita can contain upwards of 600 calories, or even more, in just one serving? But this guilt-free frozen strawberry margarita weighs in at just 130 calories! 

The margarita also features all-natural ingredients rather than simple syrups and refined sugars. Also, feel free to garnish with fresh blueberries for added color and flavor. 

4. Sparkling Vodka Cranberry 

A vodka cranberry is a simple, yet sophisticated cocktail to sip on in the summer heat.

For a single serving, fill a mason jar with ice cubes. Then, pour 1/2 cup of cranberry juice and 1 ounce of vodka. Top off with ginger ale and add with fresh cranberries.

Prepare in bulk and serve from a large pitcher for guests to enjoy.  

5. Fizzy Blueberry Mint Drink

The fizzy blueberry mint drink is ready for any celebration, including during the Fourth of July. The cooling mint flavor is a perfectly refreshing complement to the sweet blueberry flavors and delightful to the taste buds. 

The festive drink is also prepared with fresh and flavorful ingredients, including blueberries, orange and lime juices, and fresh mint. 

6. Stars, Stripes, and Spritzers

This drink can be made in a large batch to share with loved ones. Oh, and it is simple to prepare with simple ingredients!

To prepare, fill a large pitcher with ice and top with 1 cup of mixed berries. Add a bottle of white wine then top with club soda. 

Pour into flutes then add fresh blueberries and a mint sprig.

7. Blackberry Gin & Tonic

A classic gin and tonic becomes elevated with subtly tart and naturally sweet blackberries. And not to mention, the deep blue color to sport this fourth! 

To make, muddle together 6 blackberries and a lime wedge in a cocktail shaker. Top with ice and add 1.5 ounces of gin and a light dash of simple syrup. Shake vigorously. 

Strain into a serving glass and top off with tonic water. Garnish with fresh blackberries and a mint sprig.

Healthy, Non-Alcoholic Fourth of July Drinks

Kid-friendly and thirst-quenching, these non-alcoholic Fourth of July drinks are a flavorful mix to any menu. 

8. Skinny Starfruit Splash Infused Water

Kick off the Fourth of July with this skinny starfruit splash-infused water! It is the perfect way to stay hydrated, enjoy water, and get more nutrients.

The water is infused with starfruit, strawberries, and blueberries. What’s more, the recipe makes a large pitcher so all can enjoy it! 

9. Red, White, and Blue(berry) Smoothie

Kick off the holiday with a nutritious, festive smoothie. Starting with the first layer, blend together ¼ cup Greek yogurt with frozen strawberries and a light pour of milk if needed. 

For the second layer, swap out strawberries with blueberries. Layer the two berry yogurt mixtures in a cup, garnish with shredded coconut, and enjoy!

10. Apple Pie Smoothie

Apple pie is an iconic dessert in America. And while a warm slice is hard to bargain with, this cool apple pie smoothie is just as delicious! 

Start by coring and chopping a granny smith apple. Add to the blender 1 frozen banana, 3/4 cup milk, 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1/2 unsweetened applesauce, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Add a handful of spinach for added nutrients. 

Blend until smooth then pour into a tall glass. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with extra cinnamon as desired.

11. Bubbly Lemonade

The classic summertime staple takes a fancy twist for the fourth! It is comparable to the berry good champagne described above, just kid-friendly!

Simply add a splash of carbonated water to all-natural lemonade for a fun, bubbly touch. Top with frozen berries. 

12. Watermelon Slush

Being comprised of 91 percent water, this luscious fruit is a valuable hydration source in the summer heat. So, a watermelon slush can be a nutritious, flavorful way to lessen dehydration risk.

Simply mix 1 cup watermelon, the juice from 1 lime, and 2 cups of ice in a blender. Pour into a tall glass and serve. You can also blend in other favorite fruit combos, including lemon juice and strawberries.

13. Patriotic Punch

Fruit punches may seem healthy, though they are often loaded with concentrated sugar. But not this one!

This ultimate sparkling fruit punch features fresh fruits, including strawberries, blueberries, and grapes. The use of maple syrup can also be adjusted to liking. 

Dressing with fresh berries adds an extra patriotic punch for the Fourth of July!