The good news about July 4th is that it is all about the barbecue. And, depending on what you are barbecuing, it is easy to make barbecues healthy. The challenge, however, are all of the extras…the potato salad…the coleslaw…the desserts…etc. Here are some easy tips to help make this July 4th tasty, delicious and healthy in the process:
- Drop the Mayo: When making your favorite potato salads, coleslaw and pasta salads, opt for vinegar or vinaigrette based dressings in lieu of the traditional Mayo based dressings. If you use extra-virgin olive oil with a high quality vinegar, you will have a tasty salad that is filled with healthy fats.
- Starch Revamp: When purchasing any starch based foods for the barbecue, look for those that are richer in nutrients and whole grain. For instance, buy whole grain or whole wheat buns for your barbecued meats. Opt for whole grain pastas for your pasta salads. And, choose red or purple potatoes for your potato salads (be sure to keep the skin on too!).
- Leaner Meats: Many of us often associate barbecue with hamburgers and hot dogs. This year, get leaner with fish, chicken, turkey burgers and turkey dogs, and even vegetarian burgers. If you can’t forgo red meat, opt for Bison Chopped beef or Bison steak. Bison is much leaner than most red meat.
- Local Farm Fresh: Depending on how large the party is, shop at your local farmers market to buy fresh, in-season produce. Not only will you be supporting your local economy, but local means fresher and tastier!
- Make your own Dips: For the most part, I try to avoid packaged dips. If there is a dip or sauce to be made, I try to make them myself. A couple of my favorites include: Black Bean Salsa, Guacamole and Olive Tapenade. Most dips, if store bought, have a lot of extra preservatives, oils, sugars and yes, up the wazoo to help lengthen shelf life and enhance flavor. If you make a dip yourself, it will be fresh. Further, you will know what goes into the recipe and you can choose lower fat ingredients (such as low-fat sour cream) for even healthier dishes.
- Minimize the Common Chip: Instead of resorting to traditional fatty potato and tortilla chips, look for healthier options, such as Food Should Taste Good Multi Grain chips or whole grain crackers.
- Forget Pre-Made: This year, try making your own barbecue sauce and rubs. You can use higher quality ingredients, such as agave nectar instead of corn syrup, and get creative with your spices to make something unique and flavorful.
- Dessert: This is by far the perfect time to go crazy with the fruit salad. If you want to offer a frozen treat, you can make your own ice-pops. You could make chocolate banana ice pops by blending bananas with pure cocoa powder and skim milk. Or, you could go the berry route by blending berries, bananas, fat-free Greek yogurt and a little skim milk. Once you’ve blended your mixtures until smooth, pour them into Popsicle trays and freeze (don’t forget the Popsicle sticks). They are delicious and the kids will love them.
Whatever you do, enjoy the 4th and get your barbecue on! How do you make your barbecue and July 4th healthier?