Summer barbecue season is gearing up, not to mention America’s favorite summer holiday: the Fourth of July. Whether you’re trying to lose a few more pounds or simply trying to stick to your healthy eating routine in spite of the barbecues and parties, there are plenty of healthy alternatives that will allow you to enjoy your party without packing on unhealthy options.
Switch The Protein
When it comes to burgers, there are plenty of options you can throw on the grill. Turkey, veggie, black bean, quinoa … the list goes on! If you’re looking for a healthy burger substitution, consider this (information based on uncooked state):
- An average ground beef burger patty has around 340 calories, 28 grams of fat, and just 18 grams of protein.
- Turkey burgers clock in around 200 calories, 13 grams of fat and 27 grams of protein.
- Quinoa burgers have around 100 calories per patty and contain about 12 grams of protein. Quinoa burgers also often contain vegetables for an extra nutritional punch: fiber, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C, for example.
- Black bean burgers contain around 110 calories and just 4 grams of fat. They also have 10 grams of protein.
Don’t forget the bun! A traditional white bread bun contains little nutritional value and plenty of simple carbs that will raise your blood sugar fast and cause it to crash shortly thereafter. While a lettuce wrap is a great way to decrease your calorie content, iceberg lettuce doesn’t actually have as many vitamins and minerals as other alternatives. Try using portobello mushrooms for a great vitamin D punch.
Bring On The Sides
There are plenty of side dishes to choose from when you attend a July 4th celebration and many of them aren’t all that good for you. Chips, baked beans filled with sugar and bacon, and high-calorie desserts? Pass! Fortunately, there are also plenty of great alternatives that will allow you to get a better nutritional value out of your meal.
Fruit Salad: What can be more satisfying than fresh, juicy, sweet fruit on a hot summer’s day? Fruit salad injects vitamins A, C and plenty of fiber into your diet, so feel free to enjoy a reasonable serving with the rest of your meal.
Popcorn: Not just for dark movie theaters, but perfect when you simply want a salty snack – opt for popcorn instead of chips. Popcorn is high in fiber and low in calories. This also makes it an excellent choice for munching late in the evening when you’re still craving a snack, but just make sure not to load it up with butter!
Vegetable Skewers: You’re tossing everything else on the grill. Why not add some vegetable skewers to the mix? High in fiber and important vitamins, vegetables are a great way to fill your plate without overdoing it on the calories. Not only that, your vegetable skewers will pick up that great grilled flavor, allowing you to get even more enjoyment out of your meal.
Don’t Forget Your Sweet Tooth
Let’s face it: the Fourth of July wouldn’t be complete without a great dessert. Thankfully, you can enjoy healthy alternatives instead of having to avoid the dessert table completely.
Sorbet: If you’re craving a sweet, frozen treat, make your own sorbet out of frozen berries or other fruits in a food processor instead. It’s low-calorie, allows you to enjoy the same health benefits as a bowl of fruit, and won’t leave you feeling deprived!
Grilled Fruit: Yes, your fruit can go on the grill too! Placing fruit on the grill caramelizes its natural sugars, leaving you with a warm, sweet treat that you’ll be sure to enjoy.
Black Bean Brownies: When you just want a traditional sweet treat, you can still be healthy with it! Black bean brownies are higher in protein and can be made with natural sweeteners, leaving you with a lower calorie count that also offers a good dose of fiber.
Fourth of July celebrations don’t have to be an excuse for throwing your healthy eating routine out the window. In fact, you may quickly discover that some of these healthy alternatives become family favorites that you’re eager to throw out for the barbecue year after year.