As we celebrate our Independence on July 4th, many Americans gather together and enjoy a delicious cookout. Being a summer holiday, fresh foods are a must and can help keep your picnic spread healthy. Check out our 4th of July Cookout Spread for ideas on how you can host a healthy, all-American cookout with your friends and family!
Corn on the Cob
As a substitute for bread or potatoes, corn is a great starchy vegetable option to add to the spread. Corn is lower in sugar, fat, and sodium than other starchy veggies, according to Healthline.com. It can be prepared on the grill or boiled on the stove and is both sweet and delicious by itself.
Watermelons are a popular fruit to consume on the 4th of July due to their sweetness and patriotic color. Their water content can also help keep you hydrated on a hot, summer day. Whether you’re biting into plain watermelon slices, or enjoying the fruit mixed with berries, pineapple, and the like, fruit is an essential picnic item for Independence Day. It can also be used as a healthy dessert option, as well!
Burgers – Veggie, Turkey, or Beef
Whether you’re looking for a meatless option, a lower calorie option, or just a good ol’ beef patty, burgers are a popular item for any 4th of July picnic. Topping your burgers with fresh vegetables, such as lettuce, tomatoes, and onions can add nutritional value and flavor. If you’re opting for a bread bun, whole grains are the healthier choice, but a lettuce wrap is also a great alternative.
Pasta salad is a refreshing summer food choice. With the proper recipe, your pasta salad can also be a healthy side option for your picnic! EatingWell.com provides step-by-step instructions to create a healthy pasta salad.
- When choosing pasta, opt for the whole-wheat pasta, which provides more fiber than white pasta.
- Next, make sure to add lots of fruits or veggies to your pasta salad – the fresher, the better. Spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, strawberries, or onions are just a few examples.
- Feel free to add protein options such as chicken, beans, or eggs. For more flavor, EatingWell.com suggests adding items such as cheese, olives, or peppers.
- Lastly, make your own dressing. The dressing you make can end up being lower in calories than store-bought dressing, yet equally delicious. EatingWell suggests a Creamy Buttermilk Dressing or Herb Vinaigrette – check out their recipes HERE.
This popular food is usually served as an appetizer to the meal. Though these eggs can end up being high in fat and calories, substitutions can be made to reduce this amount. For example, according to Thewholesomedish.com, “By reducing the amount of egg yolks used and swapping the mayonnaise for Greek yogurt, you can make skinny deviled eggs.” This recipe can help you reduce your caloric intake, while maintaining your protein intake – and keeping your guests happy!
This all-American side dish is an expected summer food. Coleslaw, made of shredded cabbage, dressing, and seasoning, is refreshing and satisfying. Though frequently made with mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, vinegar, and other seasonings, a healthier recipe from Cookie and Kate, includes cabbage, seeds, and a homemade lemon dressing. Yum!
Grilled veggies are a simple and delicious way to serve vegetables at your 4th of July picnic. You can do kabob style, or serve by type. The grill provides a smoky flavor and crispy consistency to help you crave even the most despised vegetables.
How are you preparing for your 4th of July cookout? Whether you’re doing BBQ chicken, ribs, seafood, or baked beans, make sure to incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables for a healthy and delicious spread to share with the ones you love. The Harrisburg Area YMCA wishes everyone a happy and healthy Independence Day!
–Emily Sanville, Digital Communications Coordinator