5 Classic American Dishes Made Healthy for 4th of July!

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 1.12.33 PMHolidays almost always provide an excuse to have a feast, right? Unless the occasion calls for fasting, in which case a feast may come later. But for the most part, we celebrate, we commemorate, and we chow.

The 4th of July is no exception. This is a day many Americans spend grilling meat and veggies, squeezing lemons for lemonade, and making blueberry pancakes and apple pie. Because what better way to celebrate independence than to merrily flip hot dogs on the grill, surrounded by friends and family? It’s a bit of a stereotype, perhaps, but we’ll bet many of you have had at least one, if not many, Independence Days that exactly fit that bill.

The unfortunate reality is that many of the “classic American dishes” we enjoy on this and other holidays are not all that healthy, and some are downright vicious to our health. Luckily, there are ways to make some of these beloved recipes more healthy so that you and your family can enjoy an Independence Day feast without worrying about the consequences.

Here are 5 of our favorite recipes:

  1. For Breakfast: Eating pancakes for breakfast is kind of like having dessert in the morning, but it is a holiday, after all. To ease your mind a bit, these delicious blueberry lemon pancakes are made with half white flour and half whole wheat flour, which will at least add some fiber to balance out the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Enjoy with maple syrup, jam, butter, or just one their own!
  2. For Lunch: After that yummy, but heavy, breakfast you may want something light and green to munch on for lunch. Potato or pasta salad is typically the go-to picnic dish, but since we’re already enjoying lots of carbs and starch for breakfast and dinner, opt for something with more fiber. This kale slaw is the perfect choice for a light, refreshing midday meal.
  3. For Dinner: There’s perhaps no dish more classically American than a burger and fries. But this year, instead of wasting the calories on meat, cheese, and a big bun, get creative with this amazing veggie burger recipe. Lentils, mushrooms, and walnuts provide the main substance of the dish, packing lots of protein, fiber, and potassium. Serve these burgers with mustard, whole wheat buns, and sweet potato fries for something classically delicious and blessedly worry-proof.
  4. For Refreshments: It’s summer, it’s hot, you’re thirsty – you’re going to want something delicious and cool to sip throughout the day. Instead of buying juice or soda from the supermarket, make your own fresh-squeezed lemonade! It’s the only way you can control how much and what kind of sugar goes into sweetening your tasty beverage. This recipe calls for 4 cups of sugar, but try using maple syrup, coconut sugar, date sugar, or stevia as alternatives.
  5. For Dessert: Ice cream, ice cream, we all scream for ice cream! Ginger, peaches, and the sweet coolness of a dessert you can savor as fireworks paint the sky above you. Try out this recipe and be prepared to never eat another flavor of ice cream again.

What are your favorite 4th of July recipes? Let us know in the comments section below!