Fourth of July means fireworks, parades, and of course, barbecues! Unfortunately, eating an entire day's worth of calories at one Independence Day meal isn't all that unusual. Cheeseburgers with condiments can add up to more than 500 calories. One cup of potato or pasta salad both contain about 358 calories per cup. Beer averages 150 calories per bottle, whereas soda is closer to 200 calories for 16 ounces. And for dessert? Apple pie with 1/2 cup of ice cream will set you back over 400 calories. The good news is, it doesn't have to be this way! You can enjoy a healthy celebration with a few cookout tips and substitutions that will save you hundreds of calories. Don't worry -- I promise that you won't leave the party feeling deprived!
Think of one or two foods you are especially looking forward to having, and then choose healthier options to go along with your must-haves.
Don't go empty-handed.
Ask the host if you can bring anything. Then opt to bring a large salad or raw vegetable tray, homemade broccoli slaw (avoid the mayo), nonfat Greek yogurt and mixed berry parfaits, or chicken, pineapple, and red pepper skewers for the grill.
Stick to calorie-free beverages.
Water is idea, but there may also be unsweetened iced tea and calorie-free flavored sparkling-water available. If you want to indulge in alcohol, try to keep it to just one drink. It will likely be hot, so make sure that you stay hydrated!
Choose healthier appetizers.
There are bound to be a lot of munchies at your cookout, such as potato chips, dips, pretzels, deviled eggs, and snack mixes. Commit to choosing healthier snacks, such as raw vegetables, instead. Not only will you be saving calories, but you'll also get a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Make a smarter entrée choice.
Choose a hamburger over a cheeseburger or opt for grilled chicken or fish if available. If a whole wheat bun is available, that's a better choice than a refined white bread bun, but you may also want to consider skipping the bun altogether, or only eating half. Aim to fill half of your plate with good-for-you sides, such as grilled vegetables and fruit, salad, mayonnaise-free slaws, and three-bean salad, all of which offer fiber which helps you feel full.
Pick the right condiments.
For salads, a vinaigrette-based dressing is your best choice instead of a cream-based dressing. When choosing condiments for your burger, ketchup and mustard are better than mayonnaise. You can also top your burger with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, onions, grilled vegetables, and even avocado.
Don't overdo dessert.
First of all, if you find you are full by the time dessert rolls around, feel free to skip it! If not, skip the holiday-themed frosted cake in favor of festive strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries for a healthy dose of antioxidants. You can even have them atop a slice of fluffy angel food cake with a dollop of whipped cream! Watermelon is also a great choice, as are fruit-based popsicles.
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