Happy, Healthy Fourth of July!

The fourth of July is quickly approaching, and Americans are getting ready for annual barbecues, picknicks, parades, and pool parties!

It feels as though every holiday revolves around food! Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great way to celebrate with our family and friends. And you’re allowed to splurge without derailing your health goals. Check out these tips for a healthy fourth.

Start off with a balanced breakfast.

To help from overdoing it on the chips and salsa at the afternoon barbecue, start your morning with a balanced breakfast.

Aim to eat some high fiber carbs like fruit, whole-grains, and maybe even some veggies (hey, it can be done!). Pairing these with a protein like eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, turkey sausage will help you stay full even longer. And for an extra filling meal, add in a healthy fat like nuts or nut butter, avocado, or chia seeds

Load up on color.

Take advantage of all the wonderful produce that’s in season this summer! We recommend that at least half of your plate is full of those colorful fruits and veggies. That fiber is really going to help keep you full – plus they’re packed with other great nutrients.

Why not try mixing it up by grilling some of that produce you have? The grill is already out and ready to go. This takes the flavors to a whole new level! Sliced peaches, pineapple, asparagus, and zucchini are my personal favorites to throw on the grill.  Vegetable kebabs and foil packs allow you to quickly make a wide variety of veggies for your guests.

If you prefer to not have your vegetables cooked, try a “make your own salad” station with fresh greens and an assortment of toppings for your guests to choose from like cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, mushrooms, and even some berries.

And who said we can’t replace those desserts with this colorful produce? Try out the Patriotic Parfait recipe at the end of this post. The kids will have a blast customizing their toppings!

Go lean.

If you’re hosting, consider offering some lean protein options for you and your guests. Skinless chicken breast and lean cuts of beef like sirloin are wise choice. If using ground meat, look for varieties that are at least 90% lean.

If you’re really wanting to mix up the menu this year, try out some grilled seafood!

Stay hydrated.

It’s the Midwest, it’s July, and it is hot. Show your body some love by drinking some water in place of those sugary drinks. To jazz it up a little, add fresh cut fruit to unsweetened sparkling water.

Snacking on fresh fruits and vegetables is another way to get some water (plus vitamins and more fiber!).

Make movement fun.

You don’t have to sign up for the early morning 5K if running isn’t your thing. There are plenty of ways to be active!

If you’re going to a picknick, bring along a yard game that get’s everyone moving. If you’re feeling ambitious, organize a backyard relay race for the kids and adults.

Better yet, if your plans involve an afternoon at the pool, swim races are a fun way to get in some movement while also staying cool!

Happy fourth from New Leaf! Be safe, healthy, and have fun!

Patriotic Parfait

Recipe yields 2 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of sliced strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup blueberries

Optional toppings for a fun “make your own parfait bar”

-Sliced almonds, chopped walnuts, nut butter, unsweetened shredded coconut, unsweetened cereal, low sugar granola, cinnamon.

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, combine strawberries, honey, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and chia seeds. Simmer mixture for 10-15 minutes while stirring occasionally. Simmer until mixture has slightly thickened. Allow to cool.
  2. Once cooled, divide strawberry mixture evenly and layer on the bottom of each serving container.
  3. In each container, layer with ¾ cup of plain Greek yogurt and top with ½ cup of blueberries.
  4. Top with additional optional toppings, if desired.

Recipe adapted from SkinnyMs.

Catie Tuveson MS, RD, LD

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