Fourth of July grilling – Keep the smiles coming…

Grill Up Some Fun This Fourth of July Weekend
Fourth of July weekend is a time to celebrate our national heritage. And traditionally we do that with barbecues, fireworks, and time spent in the great outdoors. It’s good clean fun. We want to make sure nothing puts a damper on it. Whether you’re wondering about healthy picnic fare or worried about the kids burning themselves with a sparkler, this issue is meant to ensure you have a happy, healthy Fourth of July worth remembering.
Guilt-Free Grilling

Enjoy your burger It’s almost an American tradition to overeat on holidays and then feel guilty about it later. Honestly, if you eat sensible portions every other day of the year, it’s okay to indulge on the holidays, and to do it guilt-free. But if you’re still looking for ways to make your Fourth of July weekend meals a little healthier, we’ve got some great-tasting ideas to share. Full-flavored and healthy, too.

At the butcher shop, order up some ground sirloin instead of fattier meat. Mix in a couple of tablespoons of salsa per pound of meat along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Work the seasonings and then shape the meat into quarter-pound burger patties. Serve your burgers on whole-wheat buns with fresh sliced tomatoes, leaf lettuce instead of iceberg, and thick slices of onion. Go light on the mayo and add a few pickled jalapenos for extra flavor. Yum!

If you’re cooking steak or pork loin, almost everyone in the world will tell you to pick leaner cuts of meat. Unfortunately, leaner cuts of meat tend to dry out – especially if you’re cooking pork – and they may not taste as good. Instead, choose the cut of meat you actually want to eat, and cut your steaks or chops to a smaller size. Plate up four-to-six ounce servings instead of eight-to-twelve ounce cuts.

Half of the Fourth of July fun is the side dishes. Try grilled sweet corn on the cob or a fresh cucumber and tomato salad lightly dressed with a vinaigrette and tossed with crumbled feta cheese. Grilled Portobello mushrooms brushed with melted butter or olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper taste wonderful. You can cut a zucchini lengthwise and give it the same treatment – even the kids will eat it up. And, of course, a fresh salad made of leaf lettuce and spinach topped with all your favorite veggies is a win, too.

Load up on fresh grilled veggies and a helping of salad and you’ll enjoy a filling, full-flavored meal without going top heavy on the calories. To round off your meal, trying grilling fruit for dessert. Mix a quarter cup of honey with two tablespoons of orange juice and a half-teaspoon of chili powder. Brush the glaze onto slices of pineapple, peaches cut in half, wedges of watermelon, or skewers of strawberries. Then grill the fruit for a few minutes on each side until the sugars begin to caramelize and you get those beautiful grill marks. Allow the fruit to cool before serving.

One word of warning – the high water content in fruit can cause flare-ups when you’re cooking, so be careful. Nothing brings an end to your cookout fun faster than a bad burn. For an alternative to grilling, go with another great Fourth of July tradition that you may not be familiar with unless you are from New England. Poached salmon, boiled potatoes and fresh peas are a Yankee tradition said to have been started at the home of Abigail and John Adams on July 4, 1776.

Avoid Other Fourth of July Pitfalls
After a tasty meal, you’ll probably enjoy some fun in the sun, maybe play in the water a little, and then enjoy some fireworks. Use these tips to make sure everyone stays safe and the smiles keep on coming.

  • Don’t forget the sunscreen. We’re not big fans of sunscreen, but in prolonged sun exposure, they are still the best way to prevent burns. Choose less reactive sunscreens… those that use titanium dioxide are our favorite.
  • Avoid water injuries. It’s a sad fact that every summer, people drown while trying to have fun in the water. Make sure you know the potential dangers of the area you plan to swim in. Is there a current? Are there rocks hidden below the surface? Adult supervision is the best way to protect kids.
  • Our own preference is to leave the fireworks to the professionals. We simply value our fingers, eyes, and hearing too much to fool around with firecrackers and bottle rockets. But home fireworks are legal in many states, so we do want to pass along some commonsense guidelines. Have a place for the audience and a place for the people lighting the fireworks. Make sure kids are supervised. Move to a clear distance after you light any fuses. If it’s dry where you are, make sure you set off fireworks in an area where fire risks are low. A gravel lot works nicely… a field of dry grass, not so much. A charged garden hose with a spray nozell is a good idea, too.

Above all, have a great Fourth of July holiday weekend. Celebrate your freedom, your family, and this great country. And don’t stress out too much about a few extra calories… you’ll go back to eating sensibly when the weekend’s done.