I just returned from a wedding in Puerto Rico where much of the food was local fried plantains and sauce driven food – it made me think that we have our annual clambake this weekend in the Hamptons, and since that involves lobster and butter and hot dogs, I was trying to think of what other ways we could incorporate healthy cooking into our 4th of July family weekend.
Cooking healthy food for the 4th of July basically translates into reducing the sodium and sugar content, as well as the grams of saturated and trans-fats in your holiday meal. It also means adding vitamins and minerals by serving vegetable and fruit based dishes. Keep your traditional Independence Day recipes by making small changes to the portion size too!
Meat on the Grill
Place chicken and fish on the grill for healthier fare. The healthiest fish include salmon and trout because they contain omega-3 fatty acids which are good for your heart. Choose skinless chicken breasts instead of dark meat. Replace hamburgers with turkey burgers or vegetarian burgers.
Replacing Chips and Soda
Replace the chips and soda in your Fourth of July meal with healthier options. Instead of store bought potato chips grill steak-cut French fries brushed with olive oil to use with dips, alongside fresh cut vegetables such as carrot and celery sticks. Instead of soda, serve fresh brewed lightly sweetened iced tea with fresh lemon. Take out your blender and mix up fresh fruit smoothies with strawberry’s, peaches and other summer fruits.
I am always a fan of “homemade’ baked goods and everything organic from scractch! Bake your own all-natural desserts this Independence Day instead of purchasing commercial baked goods. Use whole grain flour to add fiber and vitamins. Bake with egg substitutes to reduce the cholesterol content. Banana bread, carrot cake, fruit cobblers and oatmeal raisin cookies represent desserts on the healthier side. Instead of ice cream serve sorbet and low-fat frozen yogurt. Throw some fruit kabobs on the grill made with pineapple and plums.
Reduce and it Still Tastes Good
To make healthy adjustments to your favorite recipes, start by simply reducing the portion size. Cut a pie into eight slices instead of six and make smaller hamburgers. Remove the salt from recipes or reduce the amount by half — except in baked goods. For pasta salad and dip recipes that call for mayonnaise and sour cream, use low-fat versions or substitute low-fat yogurt for half the amount called for to preserve the taste of the full-fat version.