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Eat Well and Feel Your Best on July 4th

Natalie
Stein
June 25, 2024
Eat Well and Feel Your Best on July 4th
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In this article:

  • July 4th celebrations often involve parades, people, and food. Popular foods on Independence Day are often high in calories, fat, and starch.
  • You can choose healthier options while still enjoying foods and flavors that are traditional on this day.
  • Chicken, fish, meatless burgers and hot dogs, and vegetables are nutritious options for the grill.
  • Crisp vegetables, popcorn, and watermelon are more good choices.
  • Lark can help you manage weight with or without GLP-1s as you log food, get tips for eating healthier, and make small changes that can turn into healthy habits.

If you’re celebrating Independence Day or spending time with friends and family, you can keep the occasion healthy. Instead of chips, hot dogs, and other high-calorie, low-nutrient fare, try some more nutritious and more interesting options. You may even find them tastier and more satisfying than traditional choices.

Here are some of the most popular choices for Independence Day celebrations, and what you can choose instead to keep on track while enjoying yourself and your loved ones.

Chips

Chips have 150 calories per ounce. A small pile of chips can have 300-400 calories of fat and starch.

Here are some healthier options to munch on.

  • Raw vegetables like snap peas, baby carrots, cucumber slices, mini bell peppers, and grape tomatoes. They have 20-50 calories per cup and are high in fiber and other nutrients.
  • Popcorn is a whole grain with 30 calories per cup. Pop kernels in the microwave using a silicon popper, or use the stove or a countertop popper to make air-popped popcorn. Add seasonings like sea salt, pepper, spice blends, or grated shredded parmesan cheese.
  • Baked kale chips or other baked vegetables like sliced radish or daikon or strips of carrots or bell peppers are easy to make with a spritz of olive oil and your choice of seasonings.

Hot Dogs and Brats

Brats and hot dogs may be popular and easy, but they each have about half a day’s worth of artery-clogging saturated fat. They’re also high in calories and total fat. Meatless hot dogs and sausages are just as easy and are a healthier option.

For a satisfying option, try a meatless hot dog or sausage or an uncured, all-natural chicken or turkey sausage. Put it in a hollowed-out, grilled zucchini half, and add your favorite healthy toppings like grilled onions and mushrooms, cheddar cheese, mustard, or sauerkraut.

Burgers and Steaks

Beef patties and steaks don’t have cancer-causing nitrates like sausages do, but they’re far from the healthiest options. Lean cuts are better choices, but red meat isn’t the best for heart health. Instead, choose something that’s just as satisfying and full of flavor, but more nutritious and lower in calories and fat.

Here are some options.

  • Veggie burger patties, lean ground turkey
  • Skinless chicken breast and legs
  • Salmon or shrimp
  • Cauliflower steaks
  • Portobello mushroom caps
  • Eggplant slices
  • Halloumi cheese

Corn

Fresh corn on the cob is sweet and juicy. Do your tastebuds, heart, and waistline a favor by highlighting corn’s natural qualities instead of using butter to hide them.

Remove the corn husks from the cobs and, if you like, break the cobs in half. Brush them with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Grill them on the grill or in foil for softer corn. Serve as it is or with chopped herbs like parsley, chives, or cilantro.

Baked Beans

Baked beans can feel essential at any cookout, but a half-cup serving can have more added sugars than a fun-sized candy bar. Slash added sugars while adding flavor to your beans by using fruit instead of white or brown sugar. You can also skip the bacon or ham to avoid saturated fat and nitrates.

To make your own baked beans, use a chopped apple or pear and some crushed pineapple or pineapple juice. Add more flavor from apple cider vinegar, tomato sauce or paste, Dijon mustard, paprika, cinnamon, and a tiny bit of cloves. Use low-sodium canned or cooked navy or pinto beans.

Dips, Spreads, and Other Condiments

Barbecue sauce, ranch dip, creamy honey mustard sauce, and mayonnaise-based dressings and dips are commonly high in calories. Lower-calorie options can be just as creamy and flavorful.

Here are some ideas for marinades you can use when grilling.

  • Mint, parsley, balsamic vinegar, and garlic
  • Pineapple juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, rice wine vinegar
  • Cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno peppers, cumin, black pepper, and garlic
  • Dill, cumin, chives, Greek yogurt, and lemon juice

Here are some tips to consider for dips and spreads instead of choosing fatty mayo-based options.

  • Light mayonnaise has less than half the calories as regular mayo
  • Avocado and hummus can add creaminess to salads and spreads, and they have about one-third the calories as mayo
  • Dijon mustard, yellow mustard, and brown mustard add flavor and texture
  • Ketchup and honey mustard have about half the added sugar per tablespoon as barbecue or teriyaki sauce

Watermelon

Watermelon may be one of the most perfect Independence Day foods. It’s inexpensive and delicious, and it takes only minutes to cut up enough for a crowd. It has only 50 calories per cup, or 130 calories per pound.

You can serve it in cubes or wedges without any further preparation. Here are some other ways to enjoy your watermelon.

  • In salsa with pineapple, cilantro, diced onion, and lime juice
  • In a salad with balsamic vinegar, mint leaves and feta
  • In iced tea
  • Pureed and frozen with popsicle sticks
  • Grilled with olive oil and sea salt
  • Pureed in gazpacho with tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, and avocado

How Lark Can Help

Weight loss and weight management are easier when you have the foods you need, so it’s important to know how to select the best options. Lark offers additional tools and support. Your Lark coach is available 24/7 for nutrition and physical activity coaching and tracking. Lark can

help you make healthy choices and establish habits that fit into your lifestyle so you can lose weight and keep it off with or without GLP-1 medications.

Click here to see if you may be eligible to join Lark today!

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