I love the 4th of July. I love the meaning behind Independence Day and all that it represents to our country, our brave soldiers and their even braver families. I love that it starts to get a little hot this time of year – even though I know in a few short weeks I will be complaining about the heat. And I love the celebrations with family and friends that surround this holiday- whether at a beach, a park or someone’s backyard. And I LOVE the food. And while I do believe in enjoying a few not-so-healthy things in moderation, I do for the most part, eat relatively healthfully, even on holidays. Here are my tips for how you can reduce your calorie and fat consumption and consume more vegetables during your 4th of July celebration this year:
1.) If you are the host of a party, you are in the perfect position to design a menu and choose food items that are packed with nutritional value. However, if you are a guest, which most of us are, you are limited to what your host provides. The solution? Bring a dish! Bringing one healthy dish to the table gives you at the very least, one option for a healthier alternative which is better than none.
2.) Enjoy a burger over a salad versus with a bun. An average hamburger bun contains about 350 calories! Wouldn’t you rather spend those calories on a couple of deviled eggs, a portion of coleslaw or glass of red wine? Here’s how: Line your plate with fresh greens, sliced ripe tomatoes and sliced pickles. Enjoy each burger bite with a forkful of yummy vegetables. Keep a high quality ketchup and mustard on the side for dipping. You will be surprised how enjoyable and satisfying this really is.
3.) Up the nutritional value of your coleslaw. Traditionally, coleslaws are made up of not much more than green cabbage, a bit of carrot, mayonnaise, a touch of vinegar and sugar. Change it up! Make a cole slaw with both green and red cabbages and add a decent portion of shredded carrot to the mix. For the dressing, combine olive oil and rice wine vinegar (or other light-colored vinegar of your choosing) and season it with salt and pepper. Add a pinch of dijon mustard and a sprinkling of feta for extra flavor.
4.) Pick the right protein. Choose a turkey, bison or lamb burger over a beef burger. Choose a chicken or turkey sausage over a bratwurst. For variety, grill some fish kabobs with salmon or shrimp sandwiched between bell peppers, zucchini and onions.
5.) Choose a healthier pasta salad. Toss cooked, whole wheat orzo with chopped fresh bell peppers, red onion, kalamata olives, halved cherry tomatoes and fresh spinach. Make your own vinaigrette and add it to the mix for a delicious and refreshing cold salad.
5.) Enjoy a handful of nuts over a handful of potato chips.
6.) Choose sparkling water or regular water over fruit juices, sodas or other sugary drinks. Muddle some fresh fruit in your glass with your water to up the flavor naturally.
With a few switches and swaps, you too can enjoy a healthier holiday! Focus on enjoying the people around you and your surroundings versus over-indulging in the food. You not only will have a better time, you will feel better too!