The Fourth of July is this weekend, which means plenty of friends, fun, and backyard BBQs. However, many cookout side dishes are high in calories and low in nutrients.
“With the average cookout plate racking up more than 2,000 calories, many people are looking for healthier options to take to backyard cookouts,” stated Kari Kooi, a registered dietitian at Houston Methodist Hospital, in a press release. “This Fourth of July does not have to be a challenge for those wanting to maintain or lose weight this summer.”
Kooi recommends these four healthy side dishes that help you enjoy the summer festivities but don’t bust your diet.
Smoky Grilled Sweet Potatoes
Grilled sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene, an antioxidant that the body converts into Vitamin A. To prepare, boil the potatoes in water until fork-tender and slice into lengthwise wedges. Coat the potatoes with a light layer of canola oil and grill for two to three minutes on each side. For an extra flavor kick, Kooi recommends adding finely grated lime zest and ground cumin to the canola oil prior to coating the potatoes. Image courtesy of Stephen Depolo.
Because watermelons and cucumbers are mostly made up of water, this salad helps fill you up without filling you out. To prepare, mix small cubes of cucumbers and watermelon with minced mint in a large bowl. Drizzle balsamic vinegar and toss to coat. Image courtesy of citymama.
Creamy Herbed Greek Yogurt Dip
Packed with protein and antioxidant-rich herbs, this creamy, cool dip is a healthy alternative to traditional high-calorie dips like ranch dressing. To prepare, simply mix plain, low-fat Greek yogurt with two teaspoons of lemon juice, chopped dill, chives, and fresh basil. Serve with crisp vegetables or whole wheat pita chips.
Short on time? You can buy packaged dips like this at your local supermarket. They may not be as healthy, but they’ll be better for you than alternatives. Image courtesy of theimpulsivebuy.
Grilled Portobello Mushrooms
If you really want a burger on the Fourth, this is not for you. But if you have vegetarians at your cookout, grilled portobello mushrooms make a great meat alternative because of their meaty-like flavor that research has shown increases satiety. To prepare, marinate the mushrooms in a mixture of olive oil, minced garlic, and balsamic vinegar prior to grilling. Image courtesy of woodleywonderworks.
Editor’s Extra: Fourth of July fruit kebobs
I made these for a cookout last year, and they were a hit! Simply cut the strawberries and bananas into pieces, then make a flag by sliding the fruit onto kebob skewers. Sweet, delicious, healthy, and festive!
Do you have any other waist-friendly Fourth of July sides? Share in the comments!