Having a Healthier Fourth of July Won’t Take All the Fun Away

Try these alternatives to your favorite Fourth of July recipes.

With the Fourth of July just one week away, it’s time to start planning the ultimate barbecue. Before you stake your claim at , Mission Bay Park or your own backyard, this year I offer yet another healthy challenge.

As crazy as it sounds, I want you to make the Fourth of July a day of fun and a day of health. Why? Because July fifth, sixth and seventh are sick of the fourth getting the credit for being the awesome, cool, fun holiday, while they’re stuck cleaning up the guilt-ridden mess.   

Check out these five easy ways to make your barbecue the best tasting on the block—hold the guilt, please.

The Meat!

What barbecue is complete without the good stuff, the meat?  Stick to lean ground beef or lean turkey for your burgers. Remember, just because it’s ground poultry, does not mean it’s leaner than beef, so check the label.

Chop up bell peppers, onion and zucchini into tiny pieces and hide them inside the burger. Adds flavor and nutrition. If you’re into bread, use whole-grain thin buns, 100 calories vs. 200 of the traditional. If you enjoy hot dogs, grab some no-nitrate, all-natural franks and sausages at .

 Want good pulled pork or chicken? Throw some lean breasts or loins in the slow cooker, add just a half bottle of natural barbecue sauce and let cook overnight. Lean and delicious! 

The Sides

Traditionally, macaroni and potato salad tend to be popular. If that’s your thing, fine, but at least use whole wheat pasta and sweet or red potatoes. Both are lower on the glycemic index and will not spike your blood sugar as high. Also, mayo is used a lot – which isn't necessarily a bad thing, although people tend to overuse it. Try using half mayo and half Greek yogurt for a creamier alternative.

If you would like to make this year super healthy, ditch these dishes all together and replace them with grilled veggies, a variety of fruits, hummus, black bean dip and green salad.  

The Drinks

Here we go again. The trainer telling you to throw a couple back. It’s cool. I’ll be in Vegas and you know I’ll be doing the same thing! As usual, stay clear of sweety drinks and replace with low-calorie versions.

To mix with your vodka, try using soda water with cucumber and lime or instead of traditional lemonade, use light lemonade. The Fourth is usually a day for beer—too many beers that is. I normally don’t say this, but since it’s a day-drinking event, stick to lighter beer since they tend to be more refreshing than dark beers during the day. Something else to try is putting half a wheat beer in a glass and filling the rest with light lemonade. Super refreshing and also a way to control your intake if you have to wake up with the roosters the next day.  

The Workout

Before you even get the grill warm and the drinks chilled down, get a killer metabolic workout in. Try this: four rounds of 20 burpees, 20 push-ups, 20 squats, 20 sit-ups and a 20-second plank. Even if your day of health doesn’t go exactly as planned, you’ll feel 10,000 times better knowing you at least burned a few hundred calories, which equals two more cocktails and an extra hot dog! 

OK, so you have one week to plan and shop for your awesome, healthy barbecue. Have fun and let me know how it goes.

Denise Randel June 27, 2011 at 04:06 PM
Great article, but what is a burpee?
Deanne Goodman June 27, 2011 at 04:32 PM
Oh man burpees are hard but will tone you up fast! Jaime demonstrates them in this video about 2 minutes in: http://carlsbad.patch.com/articles/elf-delivers-your-holiday-workout#video-4137431
Kristine Crail June 27, 2011 at 08:05 PM
Funny, as a new mommy, a burpee has totally new definition.
Denise Randel June 28, 2011 at 02:35 AM
Thanks Deanne!


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