Holidays like the 4th of July are a wonderful opportunity to connect with friends and family around the barbecue. It’s also the easiest time to get off track from your healthy eating and to make some major food mistakes. Don’t let that be you! You’ve worked so hard on your nutrition, don’t let this one day of fun send you spiraling off track.
I’ve put together the following menu options to keep your holiday BBQ healthy and delicious. Enjoy!
Appetizer: It’s fun to have something out for folks to snack on while the meat is on the grill. Avoid salty bags of fried chips and heavy, dairy-based dips. Try one of these delicious appetizers:
- Make a Meatball Platter by arranging the meatballs on a patriotic plate and then sprinkle in some small, sweet red peppers. It looks stunning and your guests will be snacking on high quality protein, rather than something filled with carbs. Choose from this Baked Meatball Recipe or this Olive-Stuffed Meatball Recipe.
- Try this recipe for Proscuitto and Marinated Mint Melon Ball Skewers. The sweet marinated melon balls pair delightfully with the savory proscuitto. And it looks really nice too!
- Most appetizer dips are made with cream or mayonnaise, making it very calorie dense. This year serve some Baba-Anoush Dip instead. It’s made with roasted eggplant, making it wholesome and filled with fiber!
Main Dish: It’s pretty easy to make your main dish healthy. Just stay away from really processed meats, like hot dogs and pre-made hamburger patties. Choose lean, organically raised meat, and use your own refined sugar-free marinades. Here are some of my favorites:
- Try these Teriyaki Chicken Skewers with Pineapple and Maple Glazed Bacon. The teriyaki marinade recipe works great to replace store-bought teriyaki sauce on any of your favorite meats.
- Instead of using pre-made hamburger patties, which often contain gluten, filler and other chemicals, form your own patties using lean, ground turkey and nitrate-free bacon. This recipe for Fully Loaded-Lettuce Wrapped-Turkey Bacon Burgers will satisfy even the biggest appetite! Use the lettuce wrapping technique for all your favorite burger recipes. By discarding the bun you’re eliminating harmful gluten and calorie-dense carbs from your diet. Little changes like this really add up to make a huge difference in the way that you look and feel.
- When it comes to barbecued fish, being from the Northwest, I always choose wild caught salmon. This recipe for Agave Teriyaki Salmon has been in my family for over 10 years! It’s so good we keep making it again and again.
Side Salad: Most BBQ meal side salads are less-than-healthy. Between the creamy dressings, the starchy potatoes and the whipped cream (?!?!) you’re better off skipping most of the classics. Here are a few modern, eat-to-stay-healthy side salads that compliment a BBQ meal beautifully. Also you’ll be surprised at how delicious these healthier salads are! There really is no need for those creamy dressings…the fresh ingredients stand better on their own.
- I won’t blame you if you’re skeptical about using zucchini as noodles, so you’ve gotta just trust me on this one. This recipe for Spicy Green Pasta goes wonderfully with BBQ, and even junk-food-lovers have been known to fall in love with it! Make it as spicy as you’d like by adding more roasted jalepenos. Yum!
- If you’re not into spicy, then try this recipe for Real Healthy Pasta Salad. It’s like a traditional pasta salad, except instead of gluten-filled noodles you use strips of zucchini. Don’t worry, making zucchini noodles is not complicated or time consuming. Simply run a vegetable peeler along the zucchini, turning it into long flat strands.
- Mangoes are without a doubt my favorite food. Ripe, organic, in-season mangoes. I’m actually drooling just at the thought. Good thing I have about 20 right now in my RHR kitchen 🙂 This Herb Chicken, Arugula and Mango Salad is perfect this time of year since mangoes are so sweet right now. It does call for some goat cheese, which tastes amazing if you’re OK with a little bit of dairy. If not, no worries just leave the goat cheese out.
Bread: As a culture we are so accustomed to having a basket of bread on the table, especially at a gathering. I don’t do gluten-and-grain filled breads anymore, so it’s nice to have low-carb, gluten-free alternatives to the traditional bread basket. The healthiest way to go is to have a bowl filled with large lettuce leaves. Wrap your meat in the leaves! Or make one of the following healthier breads:
- These Fluffy Egg White Biscuits use whipped egg whites to create a fluffy, light gluten-free bread experience. It’s refreshing since many times gluten-free biscuits end up pretty hard and dense. This is also a great way to get some more flax into your diet.
- Here’s an easy recipe for Faux Cornbread that’s perfect to serve at a BBQ. Wondering why you should make faux cornbread rather than the real thing? Click the link to find out! (Hint: corn is a grain…)
- This is my favorite bread product to serve alongside any meal. These Real Healthy Bran Muffins are moist, delicately sweet and truly delicious. I love using a mini-muffin pan, since it forces portion control. Make extra of these and you’ve also got breakfast covered for the next week!
Dessert: No, I wasn’t going to skip dessert. Not a chance! What I am going to skip are the refined-sugar-filled desserts that most BBQ parties have loads of. Fresh, seasonal fruit is naturally the most healthy (and seriously delicious!) dessert you could serve. But if you, like me, want to make a little something special then make one (or all 3) of the following:
- Cookies are always a hit at a party. They look nice arranged on a platter and it’s easy for guests to grab and munch. Instead of using refined sugar and wheat flour, try this recipe for Buttery Pecan Caveman Cookies.
- It’s the 4th of July, so get patriotic with this Red White & Blue Parfait. The whipped cream is made from canned coconut milk — you won’t believe how tasty it is…all without the refined sugar or dairy.
- Here’s a simple, elegant dessert that has the wow factor. These Chocolate Drizzled Strawberry Skewers are extremely easy to make, and look amazing. Be sure to chill these in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.
There you have it: an entire menu to make your 4th of July healthy and delicious!
Enjoy and Happy Cooking 🙂