Most Americans will be attending or hosting an July 4th party of some type. And, in most cases, it will involve the BBQ, beer and lots of chips and dips.
With a few tweaks to your menu, you can keep the flavor and fun–but cut extra fat and calories–from your menu. Below are some of our favorite patriotic picks.
The key to serving better-for-you foods is to make it look especially mouth-watering. I always pay attention to the look of the serving trays, platters and bowls and I will buy a lot of little table decorations for my holiday-themed parties. Use these images and ideas as inspiration on how to wow your guests with healthier eats.
Appetizer calories (think creamy side dishes and sour-cream dips) can really pile up, so make sure you have a lot of fiber-rich and calorie-poor options like a veggie tray with a yogurt-based dip or a great grilled veggie tray with a variety of Mediterranean-inspired dips like hummus and tzatziki. Or, you can even get patriotic and make a blueberry, strawberry and jicama salsa to serve with healthier chips.
I’ll prepare grilled vegetables including corn on the cob, summer squash, bell peppers and eggplant are perfect appetizers. All you need to do is put in a plastic bag with a little olive oil and salt and pepper or your favorite seasonings.
For a better chip to go with your lighter dips, use our chip-buying guide.
Build a Better Burger or Dog or Go Alternative
To build a healthier burger, use the leanest ground beef possible (I often buy ground sirloin for my burgers as it’s leader) or use skinless turkey breast or Portabella mushrooms. If you use breast meat, be sure not to overcook and I find that they’re best when you add an egg and chopped onion and other veggies to them to lock in more moisture.
For dogs, refer to our guide for the hottest diggity dogs. In addition to myriad chicken or turkey based dogs, you can also find vegetarian dogs on the market that are extremely low in calories and saturated fat.
I’m having beef, turkey and salmon steaks with a soy-ginger glaze at my party because of all the special requests that my health-conscious friends will enjoy and feel good about.
For something sweet, go for in-season fruit like berries or watermelon. There’s all kinds of healthy desserts you can make when you start to incorporate sweet fruit into treats. Use star-shapped cookie cutters and cut watermelon into stars and put onto skewers with blueberries or make a fruit salad with pineapple cut into star-shapes. Or, put fresh blueberries and strawberries into white paper cones.
It can be as simple as a fruit dessert topped with fresh mint sprigs or a Greek yogurt and fruit layered parfait or a cobbler.
A few simple ideas that are easy but sure to impress your guests include Strawberry cheesecake bites, a towering cake made of fruit or patriotic popsicles.
Best Summertime Sips
If you want to enjoy an alcoholic beverage at a cookout, try a light or ultra-light beer. Some have as few as 55 calories now a bottle. Or, you can have an ounce of distilled spirits with a calorie-free mixer. I’ll have lots of still and sparkling waters available, light and regular beer at my party.
A great idea is to make a fruit-infused mixed drink. I have made this watermelon wine spritzer recipe and love them.