Yes, you can enjoy your big July 4th bash and stay healthy!
By Coco Peate
I love celebrating the 4th of July. The gathering of family and friends, the fireworks – and yes, the food! There are just so many delicious all-American foods that are enjoyed on this day. And of course some of us add our own spin to this American holiday with our favorite dishes that aren't American at all! As a kid (and today!) my father would BBQ on the 4th - but we had Mexican sides, salsa, tortillas, and all sorts of other Mexican goodies - along with our hotdogs and potato salad.
In fact, I love the whole summer because I can catch up with friends and a great deal of our catching up happens over BBQs. However, if you are not careful, all the BBQs can wreak havoc on your health goals. Try following our simple rules to help survive the BBQ season while keeping your health goals on track and still having a great time.
Try some of these suggestions:
- Use small plates: Did you know that research shows that people who use smaller plates eat less, without really noticing it? So grab a plate from the kids table or from the dessert/appetizer area.
- Smart appetizers: Use a fruit platter or a veggie platter with a low-calorie dip. How about a shrimp platter with a low-calorie cocktail sauce?
- Good sides: High carb goodies are plentiful at BBQs, but try picking up a whole grain alternative. Whole grain bread products contain fiber that helps lower bad cholesterol and helps prevent gastrointestinal diseases. Pick vegetables that are deep in color and high in nutrients, like broccoli or green beans. Skip the foods that are high in refined carbs, like potato chips. They are high in fat and low in nutrition.
- Smart drinks: Remember that with wine, the darker the color, the more antioxidants. Also remember that some alcoholic drinks can just be skipped all together. A margarita can have about 600-800 calories, while a glass of wine or beer can have much less. Your guests, especially the younger ones, may really enjoy fruit smoothies.
- Check out your plate: Follow the power plate rule: 1/2 of your plate should be fruits or veggies, 1/4 should be whole grains and 1/4 should be your lean protein. Remember to fill your plate with the healthiest options first too, to help you feel fuller faster and leave less room for dessert and drinks.
- Share: Bring one healthy side or dessert to share, at least you know you will have one good and healthy thing on your plate!
- Don't forget dessert! You don’t have to skip dessert all together, but watch out for your portion. The difference between a small and large piece of cake/pie can be hundreds of calories. Make a dessert that includes lots of fruit, like this delicious, low-calorie and easy to make parfait.
Very Berry Parfait Recipe
Makes 6 servings
What you will need:
- 4 cups of fresh sliced berries: strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. You can try adding mandarins, bananas, pomegranate kernels, kiwi - be creative!
- 4 cups of fat free vanilla pudding cups
- 2 cups of lite whipped toping like fat-free Cool Whip
- 2-3 tablespoons of Amaretto liquor (or anything similar will be ok, we sometimes use Disaronno Amaretto liquor). You may want to make a small batch for the young guests without the liquor and use 1 tablespoon of almond extract instead of the liquor.
- 6 parfait glasses. You can also use wine glasses, small clear glasses or dessert cups.
What to do:
- In one bowl, mix all your berries.
- In a second bowl, make your filling by mixing your liquor, pudding and Cool Whip together.
- Take ½ the filling and add it evenly to your 6 glasses.
- Add your fruit mixture to the glasses, evenly and generously!
- Add a final layer of the filling to each if your glasses.
- Top with a small mint leap, a little shaved chocolate, or extra berry mixture.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve. For a festive 4th of July touch add a little American flag to the top (you can find these at craft stores) - Viola!