A Healthy July 4th? Possible with a Few Easy Changes

June 18, 2014   10 Comments

July 4th is the most American of our holidays. A terrifying time for vegans, we get our grills fired up!

Healthier July 4th

As with many of our holidays, it is a food fest of epic proportions. You know what I am talking about: hamburgers, hot dogs, potato chips, macaroni salad, ice cream, s’mores, soda, and one super healthy food, watermelon.

My children will participate in a parade that serves ice cream, and THEN they will go to a parade where candy is tossed from police cars. I can’t make this stuff up.

My first suggestion for a healthier July 4th is to leave the country. I’m thinking Brazil would be fun right now with the World Cup happening.

If you can’t leave, you can make better choices and have a delicious July 4th.

1. Change up your hamburgers. Do not buy the pre-made burgers that are not so good. Make your own! This way you can control the size of the burger and the quality of the ground beef. Three years ago, I made this hamburger with a hole in it and I put salsa in the hole see: How To Eat Less Red Meat & Still LOVE Your Burger.

If you are ready to make a big change, you can also try a portobello mushroom burger for a meat free experience that many patriots would admire. Add a slice of cheese and you are in serious heaven (sorry vegans).

2. Buy smaller hot dogs. There are a bunch of lower calorie hot dogs in the supermarket that are tasty and will hit that “dog” button. Hebrew National has come out with a 97% Fat Free Frank that is only 1 PointsPlus (40 calories each). I haven’t tried them yet, but I am going to because the dog for me is all about the mustard, ketchup, sauerkraut, and onions.

3. Try baked or reduced fat potato chips. I happen to LOVE Cape Cod Reduced Fat Potato Chips. I can’t tell the difference between these and the real thing. They use less oil and the potato taste is exceptional. If you can’t find these, Baked Lays are an okay option.

4. Serve a lot of salad, watermelon, cherries, grapes, tomatoes, etc. with all the BBQ meats you are inhaling. This is the season of fresh produce for less money so take advantage of it. For example, you don’t have to do ANYTHING to cherry tomatoes to enjoy them.

5. Use fruit for your dessert. Grill some peaches, make my healthier strawberry shortcake, or just serve a bowl of fresh cherries for a lighter dessert than ice cream.

6. Make some mini ice cream sandwiches. Making a dessert with a small portion of ice cream will stop you from inhaling a big bowl. Mash your favorite flavor between two graham crackers or try my pretzel ice cream sandwiches.

Please share your ideas for a healthier Fourth of July BBQ.

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When I go to bbqs I like to bring a big thing of strawberries and a crudités platter. Stock up on those two items then partake in the meat selection. Sometimes I use lettuce on my burger and forgo the bun.

I've been eating nothing but Hebrew National Fat Free beef hot dogs for years. They're fantastic and guilt-free. Catch them on sale and stock up, because they can be a bit pricey.

I am a Weight Watcher member and love the Hebrew National 97% fat free hot dogs. We eat them all the time. Put on an 80 calorie bun and you can have a great dog for 3PP. I will sometimes have one with all the fixings and then if I still haven't had enough will have just a plain dog no bun!

I like the Applegate organic beef hot dogs - - well worth the 3 or 4 pts and I am also ALL about the condiments - - DILL relish, yellow mustard, ketchup & sweet onions! I have also started making mini-skewers of "healthy" fruit or veg, which everyone thinks are "fun" - - think cukes, cherry tomatoes, basil, zucchini, berries, etc. the veggie ones can also take a whirl on the grill. I also make very fruited sangria and do a 1/3 to 2/3 club soda or seltzer with a citrus twist or a berry swizzle. For desserts, mini desserts - - cupcakes, squares, chocolate & strawberry etc.

Snack Girl, stop apologizing to vegans. We grill tons of yummy things and eat them very happily. We grill a lot of fruit and veggies. Plus, Thug Kitchen has a relatively healthy potato salad recipe that is just knock your socks off delicious. If anything, I feel bad for people so married to their hamburgers and hot dogs that they can't try something different on their grill!

What type of ground meat and buns do you use? Trying this tonight! Loved your book!

I feel sorry for vegetarians too because the meat-eaters eat all the veg foods, LOL. I bring veg.baked beans, carrot, broccoli, pasta, pot.salads, etc., fresh air-popped popcorn, hummus, veggie dippers, chopped onions/peppers/kraut for toppings on an org.bun filled with either baked bbq beans or sliced bbq portobello ''ribs''. For 18 yrs I've catered to my daughter's, the carnivores keep ''tasting'' her dishes and before you know it, it's all gone. I love not buying meat, not worrying about cafo's, nitrites, etc., and creating/learning about fiber/nutrient-rich plant foods. I thought I'd miss meat but this year my son and I finally joined her and its been a culinary adventure all the way! We'd been taking baby steps for years towards vegetarianism so the change was gradual; I have to say it was constant awareness that gave us the final push. My 200lb son lost 20lbs in 3months and he has a huge appetite still [he's 6'2'']. Anyhow, just really wanted to say vegetarians, vegans, pescatarians, and flexatarians have loads of great picnic options! :)

FYI, interesting info on processed meats if you wish to explore.

@Suzanne - I use 85% ground beef and I found a bun that was 100 calories. Hope that helps!

I am so glad that you like the book! Please tell all of your friends about it and review it on (no pressure).

Oscar Meyer Select meats like beef hot dogs with NO nitrates or nitrites is what we choose. They use NO artificial colors or flavors also. They also have uncured bacon that is nitrate and nitrite free bacon. Much better choice and delicious!

Hebrew National (Now owned by Conagra) still uses sodium nitrite.

Hebrew National also uses "Sodium Erythorbate is used in Hebrew to accelerate the curing and retain the pink coloring. In Oscar, ascorbic acid does the same."…

Oscar Meyer has heard the voice of consumers who do not want sodium nitrite and nitrates in their food. Both brands offer low fat versions.

Has anyone seen this? My 4th menu just got bumped up big-time in a healthy and gourmet way! Check this burger out:…

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