The 4th of July is one of America’s most special holidays, where we come together as a nation to remember and celebrate our freedom and independence.
It’s also a time for family fun, pool parties, backyard games, picnics, barbecues and fireworks (of course!).
But what do you do when you want to take part in the festivities, but don’t want to derail your commitment to healthy eating?
Easy! Make your own dishes!
We’ve compiled a list of 12 holiday-themed 4th of July recipes — 3 each for appetizers, entrees, desserts and drinks — that will make your guests’ mouths water while not raining on your healthy-eating parade.
No matter what dish you’re in charge of (even if it’s all of them!), you’ll find something festive to whip up here.
Calories: Adjusted based on popcorn choice
Servings: 16, 1-cup servings
1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
3 to 4 tbsp white sugar
Approximately 1/8 tsp gel food coloring (Wilton or Americolor)
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
Salt to taste
In a 5-qt. pot that has a lid, heat the oil on medium-high heat until hot.
Add the sugar, food coloring, and popcorn kernels. give it a quick stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon and place the lid on the pot. wait until the kernels start to pop and then, using hot pads, shake the pot vigorously, back and forth, until most of the kernels are popped. if you leave it on too long, the sugar will burn.
Remove kettle corn from heat, and pour the popcorn into a large heat-proof bowl. add salt while it's still hot until desired saltiness.
Wash out the pot, dry it well, and repeat the process for the other colors.
Recipe Courtesy: Oh Sweet Basil
1 to ½ Watermelon
1 8-ounce square Feta Cheese
(Note: You’ll also need a large, square-shaped serving platter)
Pour the blueberries into a bowl and place at the top left corner for the stars.
Slice the feta into cubes.
Cut the watermelon into slices and cut off the rinds.
Cut the watermelon into cubes.
Fill a small, square dish with the blueberries.
Place the watermelon and feta into pretty rows starting with the watermelon until you fill the platter!
Serving tip: Use toothpicks so people can grab them easily!
Recipe Courtesy: Wenderly
1 large zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large ripe avocado, cubed
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt
Place zucchini in a microwave-safe dish, cover with a damp paper towel and microwave on High until tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
Drain in a sieve, pressing lightly on the zucchini to extract any liquid.
Transfer the zucchini to a large bowl; add avocado, cilantro, onion, garlic, lime juice, hot sauce and salt and coarsely mash until combined.
Recipe Courtesy: Eating Well
12 miniature buns or dinner rolls
3/4 pound lean ground sirloin
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Olive oil cooking spray
2 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
24 small dill pickle slices
Remove some of the fluffy center from the buns so that they will sit well on top of burgers; set aside.
Combine sirloin with Worcestershire and pepper, and form into 12 (2-inch) flat patties.
Preheat a lightly oiled grill pan over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Cook burgers over moderate heat, turning, and evenly top with cheese, about 2 minutes per side for medium or until cheese is melted. (Use a meat thermometer to check that burgers have reached 160°.) Transfer the burgers to a plate, and grill the buns, cut sides down, 1-2 minutes or until toasted.
Sandwich burgers between buns with about 2 pickles per slider.
Recipe Courtesy: Health Magazine
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, smashed
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 pounds extra-large shrimp, shelled and cleaned, tails on
Nonstick cooking spray
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 5-ounce package baby arugula
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
Combine 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, the smashed garlic cloves, the rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper in a medium bowl. Add the shrimp; toss well. Cover and refrigerate 15 minutes.
Heat a grill to medium-high. Thread shrimp on skewers (if they're wooden, soak in water 30 minutes prior to grilling) and discard marinade. Lightly mist grill with cooking spray. Grill shrimp until just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side.
Combine the minced garlic, sugar, and remaining olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl. Add the arugula, beans, and onion; toss to combine.
Mound the salad on one side of a large platter and arrange the shrimp skewers alongside.
Recipe Courtesy: Fitness Magazine
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (1-pound) salmon fillet, skinned and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
1 tablespoon chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 (1 1/2-ounce) hamburger buns with sesame seeds, toasted
12 (1/4-inch-thick) slices English cucumber
4 leaf lettuce leaves
Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl; cover and chill.
Place salmon in a food processor; pulse until coarsely chopped. Add breadcrumbs and next 6 ingredients (through 1/4 teaspoon black pepper); pulse 4 times or until well blended. Divide salmon mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping each into a 3/4-inch-thick patty.
Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add patties to pan; cook 2 minutes. Carefully turn patties over; cook 2 minutes or until done.
Spread about 1 tablespoon mayonnaise mixture over bottom half of each hamburger bun. Top each serving with 1 salmon patty, 3 cucumber slices, 1 lettuce leaf, and top half of bun.
Spinach salad: Combine 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, 2 teaspoons canola oil, 2 teaspoons water, and 1/4 teaspoon chile paste in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add half of 1 (5-ounce) package baby spinach, 1/2 cup yellow bell pepper strips, and 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion to bowl; toss to coat.
Recipe Courtesy: Cooking Light
Calories: About 150
1 heaping cup raspberries
1 cup blueberries
1 cup vanilla flavored Greek yogurt
Using a small 4 cup food processor, or blender, puree the raspberries until smooth. Set aside.
Do the same with the blueberries. (If your blueberries are super purple, add a little blue food coloring.)
Put the yogurt and each of the berry purees in small measuring cups with spouts. The goal is to thin them just a bit so they are pourable. Use water for the yogurt and the raspberries, and, depending on the color of your blueberries, you can use water, or yogurt if you need to brighten up your 'blue'. Keep these cups chilling in the refrigerator when you are not using them.
To layer your pops, start by pouring a little of the blueberry in the bottom of each mold. The only tricky part to these popsicles is getting the layers in without too much spillage to mar your stripes. Use my photos as a rough guide for how much blue you want.
Don't get too fussy, it should look rustic!
Put the mold in the freezer and freeze till firm, at least an hour, or more.
Layer a little bit of yogurt into each mold for the next stripe. You will be able to see through the side of the mold to check your progress. At this point, cover the top of the mold with foil, and insert the popsicle sticks. Make sure to get the stick a little bit into the frozen layer so they will stand straight. Put back into the freezer until solid.
Remove the foil at this stage, you won't need it since the stick is in and you need to layer. Next comes your raspberry stripe, and so on until the molds are filled. Make sure to freeze each stripe until solid before adding the next. Don’t worry if the stripes are uneven, but do try to clean up any dribbles as you go. I used a popsicle stick to scrape down the insides of the mold after each stripe.
Once filled and completely frozen solid, you can un-mold your pops. Fill the sink with hot water. Remove the foil, and immerse the mold just up to the lip, being careful not to let any water splash onto the top. Hold it for 30 seconds, remove, and try to pull the pops out. If they don't slide out, immerse again for just a few seconds.
I recommend keeping the popsicles in the mold until you are ready to serve, or, if you are working in batches, wrap each pop quickly in waxed paper or put into a baggie and put back in the freezer. I don't recommend making these more than a day in advance.
Recipe Courtesy: The View From Great Island
Calories: About 150
2 bananas, cut into 1" pieces
24 1" pieces pineapple
12 large strawberries, rinsed, dried, and halved
2 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. peanuts, chopped
Make kebabs: Thread two pieces of banana, pineapple, and strawberry onto skewer.
Repeat process to assemble 23 more skewers.
Place all on parchment-lined baking sheet.
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate in microwave. Do so in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until completely smooth.
Drizzle chocolate over fruit kebabs and top with chopped peanuts.
Freeze until ready to serve.
Recipe Courtesy: Delish
Servings: 1 (Repeat process to add more single-servings!)
Calories: About 180
3 tbsp flour (I used white-whole-wheat. You can use all-purpose, Bob’s gf, or even ww pastry)
1/4 tsp baking powder
Heaping 1/16 tsp salt
1 or 2 tbsp chopped strawberries
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp coconut oil (You can sub a different oil; however the coconut oil gives it a rich flavor and fun texture. You can use applesauce for a fat-free version.)
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp milk of choice (Use less if using liquid sweetener.)
1 tbsp sugar or 1 packet stevia (I omitted, but most people will want some sweetener)
Preheat oven to 330 degrees.
Mix dry, then add wet.
Mix until just combined (don’t overmix), and bake for 17 minutes or so in a cupcake tray or small dish.
(Baking time will vary, depending on the flour and oil/applesauce you use.)
Note: Make 10 or so to bring as a treat to your 4th of July party!
Recipe Courtesy: Chocolate Covered Katie
6 cups cubed seeded watermelon, divided
1/4 cup mint leaves, divided
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, divided
1 English cucumber, peeled, sliced, and divided (about 3 cups)
2 1/2 cups tonic water, chilled
1 1/4 cups gin
Combine half each of watermelon, mint, juice, and cucumber in a blender or food processor; process until smooth.
Line a fine sieve with 4 layers of cheesecloth, allowing cheesecloth to extend over edges; strain watermelon mixture through prepared sieve over a bowl, reserving juice mixture.
Gather the edges of the cheesecloth together. Holding cheesecloth over sieve, squeeze to release the remaining juice mixture.
Repeat the procedure with the remaining watermelon, mint, juice, and cucumber.
Combine 2 1/2 cups juice mixture, tonic water, and gin, stirring well to combine. (Reserve any remaining juice mixture for another use.)
Serve over ice.
Recipe Courtesy: MyRecipes
1 teaspoon sugar
5 sprigs mint
1.5 ounces light rum
Put the sugar in a tall glass, squeeze in the juice of 1/2 a lime, and toss in the squeezed lime shell.
Add mint to the glass and muddle everything together.
Finish by adding the rum and a handful of ice. Fill with chilled soda water and lightly stir.
Recipe Courtesy: PopSugar Fitness
6 cups cold water
6 thin slices English cucumber
5 thin slices orange
Mix all ingredients together in a water pitcher.
Serve and enjoy!
Recipe Courtesy: Chowhound