The 4th of July might as well be national barbeque day. Commemorating Independence Day usually means hot dogs, hamburgers, beers, sun, and time spent with family and friends. While we should all enjoy ourselves this holiday weekend, it is important to consider our health to make sure that we are well enough to continue celebrating all weekend long.

According to a study by the International Food Information Council Foundation, 71% of Americans have reported that the health of their food impacts their decisions about what they buy. More than one third of people shop regularly for “organic,” “natural,” and “local” labeled products.

When shopping for your weekend barbeques, check local farmer market finder sites like the one provided by the USDA to purchase your fresh fruits and veggies GMO-free.

According to the CDC, over 21 % of contaminated foods are eaten at a home setting.

To prevent this, food safety expert Doug Powell and other experts gave USA Today some 4th of July tips.

When grilling meats, it is important to stick a thermometer in to make sure that the insides are cooked thoroughly. Temperature is more important than color when it comes to burgers, steaks, and chicken. Beef burgers should go to 160 degrees in order to kill all germs. Undercooked burgers (even those at medium-rare) are at a risk for E.coli.

Offer veggie or turkey burgers as well for yourself and others who are trying to be health conscious. While beef is high in fat, turkey burgers are leaner, meaning they contain less fat. However, if you are buying premade patties, make sure you read the label. Many brands use dark meat and even the skin in their patties. Making your own turkey burgers is always the better bet. All you need is lean turkey chop meat and spices to season.

Try healthy veggie burgers as another alternative. If buying patties, same advise as above applies. You can make your own by following easy recipes like the one I recommend, the quinoa veggie burger. Mushrooms, pecans, red quinoa, cheddar cheese, and herbs make this a flavor-full meal that only has 280 calories with a bun! You might want to prepare the patties the night before since the total prep and cook time is a little over an hour.

When placing fruits, macaroni salad, potato salad, and other cool foods, make sure you put them over ice or use a cooler. When these types of foods are left out in the heat for a long time, bacteria can begin to grow.

Trying to cut calories? Make a healthy potato salad by using light mayo and swap whole milk for low-fat buttermilk. This recipe has only 150 calories and can be made in 35-minutes!

When I barbeque, I make sure to add in fresh corn on the cob and grill red, yellow, green peppers, and onions on skewers to make sure I get my daily servings of vegetables.

Because raw shellfish can put you at risk for food borne illness, such as the bacteria Vibrio that is found on raw oysters, make sure to cook your seafood. You can throw oysters on the grill, the heat killing bacteria and will open their shells. Put big oysters (that won’t dry out) on a medium-high grill and cover. Two-minutes later the shells will pop open and they are ready to suck down. Put out wedges of lemon, hot sauce, and some warm butter for this appetizer. (Recipe here!)

Of course no barbeque is complete without some booze. Opt for light beers such as Corona light, or make your own light mixed drinks. Try an Italian Summer Sipper that includes: 1 ¼ ounces of Corzo Silver, 3 sprigs fresh basil, 2 strawberries, 4 drops balsamic vinegar, 1 ounce fresh lime juice, 2 ounces of distilled water, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Put strawberries and some basil in a glass. Shake the remaining ingredients and service over the rocks. Go for an easier option with a Skinny Peach Tea. All you will need is 2 ounces of vodka and Honest Peach White Tea.

Try my favorite, a watermelon margarita for only 105 calories!

Do you have a favorite healthy recipe you always bring or prepare at your barbeques? Let me know in the comments!

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