Between the hot dogs, cake, s’mores, cookies, burgers, fried chicken, pasta salad and beer, it can seem like there’s no way to make an Independence Day menu healthy. Add in the extra challenge of trying to satisfy the pickiest eaters in your family and it can all seem like a lost cause. Don't stress! There are plenty ways to sneak fresh fruits, veggies, lean proteins and whole grains into your holiday menu – and to still make all the food flavorful and fun and colorful so everyone in your family will love it. Have fun and make these recipes together. There’s no room for boredom with a list like this.
1. Balsamic Grilled Vegetables
(Recipe from BodyBuilding.com)
The first rule of 4th of July food prep is to make it colorful. The second rule is to make it fun. The third rule is to make it healthy. This recipe – and the other recipes on this list – does all three. The red, green, and yellow pepper and red onion look bold and vibrant when they’re all sliced up and placed on skewers. This is a great dish to serve as a healthy side and its presentation is fun enough for even kids to enjoy.
2. Flag-Inspired Cheese Plate
(Recipe from TheBetterMom.com)
This is the day to do it up, so don’t just serve a regular cheese plate. Make it super festive by choosing white cheese (think jack, mozzarella, feta) and red and blue fruit (raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, blueberries). Make it look like a flag by putting your blueberries in the upper left corner and sandwiching three rows of red fruit with two rows of white cheese. It’s cute, fun, healthy and delicious.
3. Red, White and Blueberry Cheesecake Yogurt Cupcakes
(Recipe from SkinnyTaste.com)
Greek yogurt, low-fat cream cheese, and reduced-fat vanilla wafers come together for this healthy twist on a traditional cupcake. Berries on top help to give it that festive look. You’ll only find 98 calories in each of these cupcakes, but there’s just as much flavor as in a traditional high-fat, high-sugar cupcake.
4. Watermelon Cake
(Recipe from ApronStringsBlog.com)
Watermelon cake started making the rounds on the internet a few years ago, and now it’s become a summertime classic. It’s simply a cake made out of watermelon. You make it by removing the rind, stacking it together, using Cool Whip for frosting if you’d like, and decorating it with whatever fruits and nuts you desire to give it a fun, patriotic look.
5. Red, White and Blue Parfaits
(Recipe from BHG.com)
Don’t wait for the evening BBQ to get the festivities going. Start the day off right with a red, white and blue breakfast parfait. All you need is red and blue berries, yogurt, and pretty glasses or jars to layer everything. This is a crowd-pleaser that adults and kids alike will love.
6. Patriotic Taco Salad
(Recipe from TasteOfHome.com)
This one will take a little more time to prepare, but your family will love it. Make this recipe healthier by serving it on a bed of salad instead of chips. Think of it as a seven-layer dip but instead of putting all the layers one on top of the other, you’re lining them up to form a flag. This is a fun and delicious treat.
7. Tortellini Kabobs
(Recipe from RealWomenAndHomes.com)
Why serve a basic pasta salad when you can put your pasta salad on kabobs? This one’s really simple: pasta, cheese and tomatoes on skewers. There’s something about it that screams America and summertime.
8. Peach Crumble
(Recipe from MayoClinic.org)
Okay, okay – so not everything you make on the 4th of July needs to be red, white and blue. Sometimes the best way to show your patriotism is to make a simple American classic. This peach crumble is Mayo Clinic-approved, so you can be assured it’s not going to wreck your diet.
9. Cowboy Caviar
(Recipe from CreativeCooler.blogspot.com)
If you’re headed to a barbecue or picnic, you can’t go wrong with a veggie-packed sweet salsa. You can eat it as a salad or use it as a dip for chips, crackers or other veggies. This recipe makes a big batch, so get ready for it to be the hit of the party.
10. 4th of July Bark
(Recipe from CheersYallBlog.com)
Yogurt bark is one of the simplest and most delicious things you’ll ever make – and it’s good for you to boot. Sub in Greek yogurt if you prefer it over regular yogurt. You need two ingredients: yogurt and berries. (Grab one bag of frozen mixed berries to make things easy on yourself.) Spread the yogurt over a cookie sheet, drop the berries in, let the mixture freeze for a few hours, and that’s it!
11. Fruit Pizza
(Recipe from FoodHero.org)
This in an easy recipe to make with your kids. Whole grain English muffins, reduced-fat cream cheese and fruit come together to make a sweet treat that won’t cause a sugar crash. Let the kids place their toppings however they’d like. This works as a breakfast, snack or dessert.
12. DIY Veggie Burgers
(Recipe from MrKate.com)
Let everyone else bring meat to the barbecue. When they get a good look at your homemade veggie burgers, they may want to switch lines and try yours instead. These burgers are vegan, gluten-free, and absolutely packed with veggies, beans, lentils and rice. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more flavorful patty, so prepare for everyone to ooh and ah.
13. Silly Star Pasta Salad
(Recipe from B-InspiredMama.com)
Take pasta salad to the next level by busting out the star cookie cutters and using them to cut cute stars into your meat and cheese. Not only is this a fun recipe for kids to eat, it’s also a fun recipe for them to help prepare. Who doesn’t like to use cookie cutters to turn food into shapes?
14. Patriotic Quinoa Salad
(Recipe from ItsYummi.com)
When else do you have such a fun excuse to make your food as vibrant and colorful as possible? This is one of those dishes that has it all: it’s a nutritional powerhouse, it’s tasty, and it’s pretty on the table thanks to the blue, red and orange of the blueberries, strawberries and oranges.
15. 4th of July Snack Mix
(Recipe from GloriousTreats.com)
This one is completely customizable depending on what you want, so feel free to mix and match the ingredients any way you’d like. Choose the cereals, nuts and candies that you and your kids like best. Whether you’re eating outside while watching the fireworks or cozying up with a movie on the couch, this will make the perfect snack to share with your family.
16. Fresh Tarragon New Potato Salad
(Recipe from InPursuitOfMore.com)
Ditch the potato salads sopping in mayonnaise and make a fresher, healthier version instead. Instead of losing your vegetables in a sea of creamy dressing, promote them with a splash of shallot vinaigrette. This is a pretty, colorful dish – it’s a great one to prepare right after a trip to the farmers’ market.
17. Fabulously Healthy Edamame, Spinach and Garlic Hummus
(Recipe from SkinnyKitchen.com)
If you feel like leaving the red, white and blue to everyone else, take an unexpected turn and show up with this bright green homemade hummus. This is a delicious, healthy dip that’s packed with fiber, calcium, vitamins, beta-carotene and lots of yummy flavor. It makes a great dip for pita chips, crackers or crudités.
18. Frozen Banana Popsicles
(Recipe from SkinnyTaste.com)
On a hot day, there are few things as refreshing as a chocolate-covered frozen banana. Throw in some red, white and blue sprinkles, and you’re ready to celebrate the holiday in style. Get the kids to help with this one – it can be a lot of fun to make.
19. Homemade Potato Chips and Avocado Ranch Dip
(Recipe from FoodFormyFamily.com)
Sure, you can go out and buy a bag of chips and some pre-made dip. Make your own, though, and you’ll create a snack that’s simultaneously healthier and more decadent. Say no to excess oil, grease, salt and additives. Say yes to crispy, homemade chips with a luscious, rich dip that will have everyone in your family coming back for seconds.
20. Independence Day Cookies
(Recipe from AllRecipes.com)
I’m ending this list of super healthy recipes with a full-fat, full-sugar cookie recipe because this is America and you have the freedom to indulge a little on a holiday. White chocolate chips, blueberries and cranberries will help you stick to the festive theme. If you’re the type of person who can’t look at a recipe like this without cringing, try swapping some of the white flour for whole wheat flour, the shortening for avocado, and the sugar for applesauce.