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Healthy BBQ Recipes & Tips for the Perfect 4th of July

From choosing leaner proteins to going for healthier sides, make your fourth this year the healthiest and tastiest yet with these Fourth of July menu ideas and tips!

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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 during the warm grilling season.

One of the experts at bistroMD, an industry leader in home diet delivery, is revealing ways to grill-out smart this holiday. This is all without wrecking weight loss goals!

"When it comes time to fire up the grill, there are tips you can try to make your favorite Fourth of July food healthy, but still delicious," says Christy Zagarella, one of the lead dietitians for bistroMD.

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

Healthy Fourth of July BBQ Recipes & Tips

From choosing leaner proteins to going for healthier sides, use these 8 tips for healthy grilled food during the Fourth of July cookout.

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, or usually about a 90/10 lean to fat ratio. Buy skinless poultry or remove the skin before cooking and trim away any visible fat on meat.

Tip #2: Watch out for sauces.

Sauces, whether it be BBQ sauce for ribs or ketchup for French fries, are 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. Also, look for a BBQ sauce that has tomato or vinegar as its first ingredient and avoid sauces with corn syrup or sugar added."

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 grill 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 with a nutritious and delicious option.

These vegetables can help with portion control, too. "Vegetables are so low in calories and high in fiber and water that they can help fill you up," says Christy.

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 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 start 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.

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.

To make those healthier choices during the holidays a little less stressful, a weight loss meal delivery plan from BistroMD can help with that. "Our 7-day meal plan actually gives our clients the freedom to eat a meal of their choice on a designated night, called 'My Night'," says Christy.

"Since our healthy meals are designed to retrain your metabolism to burn fat effectively, this freedom to choose your own meal will not hinder your weight loss. Our clients can actually enjoy holidays, like the Fourth of July, without the worry!"

Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on June 27, 2019. Updated on July 08, 2019.

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