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4th of July Eating that Won’t Cause Fireworks in Your Diet
Wednesday, July 2, 2008 • Posted July 2, 2008

4th of July Eating that Won’t Cause Fireworks in Your Diet

Erin Gregory and Neva Cochran, MS, RD, LD

If you were one of the 74 million people who took part in a barbeque sometime last year, there is a good chance it was on the 4th of July. It’s that time of year again for barbeques, cooking out and picnicking; but this year, be sure your outdoor meals don’t wreak havoc on your waistline. You can still enjoy the traditional 4th of July foods, but just a few simple changes can make the holiday much healthier!

§ Burgers and steaks are favorites when it comes to grilling. Using 95% lean ground meat will significantly decrease fat and calories as compared with fattier ground beef. Serve the burger on a whole-wheat bun for added nutrition. To get the leanest steak, choose top sirloin, top round or T-bone.

§ Skinless chicken breasts, seafood and vegetable kabobs can all be marinated with olive oil and citrus juices and placed on the grill for low fat alternatives.

§ Substitute a mixture of light mayo and fat-free sour cream for real mayonnaise in potato, macaroni and egg salads. Get more vitamins and crunch in your deviled eggs by adding finely chopped celery, red bell pepper and green onion.

§ Dress garden salads with vinaigrettes rather than creamy dressings like ranch or bleu cheese. Balsamic or wine vinegar mixed with olive oil add wonderful flavor while reducing fat and unnecessary calories.

§ For dessert, head straight for the watermelon. This picnic and cookout favorite is the perfect sweet, low calorie ending to a healthy meal. Other choices might be fruit kabobs, fruit salad or angel food cake with light whipped topping and fresh berries.

§ It’s very important to stay hydrated if outside in the summer heat. Using artificial sweetener in iced tea or lemonade can reduce calories in these beverages. Water is always a refreshing choice to go with any meal. Instead of regular sodas, opt for the diet or zero calorie soft drinks. If drinking alcohol, limit the amount since it provides extra calories we often forget.

These ideas will help keep your holiday meal on the path to healthy eating. And one final tip: always watch portion sizes and stop eating once you are full. Have a safe and wonderful 4th of July celebration!

Erin Gregory is a recent graduate of the Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas dietetic internship who completed a community nutrition rotation with Neva Cochran in May.

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