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How to host a healthy Fourth of July BBQ

 

Hot dogs, burgers, chips and dip - and don't forget the endless red, white and blue cakes, trifles and popsicles. They taste like America's birthday, but these not-so-healthy indulgences can leave you feeling a tad bloated and unwell by day's end.

While you can certainly treat yourself to some classic Fourth of July flavors, the holiday doesn't have to break the diet entirely. Here's your healthy BBQ inspiration for celebrating America's birthday:

 

Grilled goodies

Good news: You don't have to give up the classic grilled flavors to have a guilt-free Fourth of July celebration. The trick is to keep things on the lighter side, such as opting for a veggie burger over a traditional beef one. Other protein alternatives that are still crowd pleasers include chicken, shrimp and mild fish. Head over to Epicurious for some healthy grilling recipe inspiration.

 

Bunless indulgences

If you're unlikely to give up the burger or hot dog, at least try to scratch the carbs. Make sure there are plenty of salad and veggie options for you - and other guests who are also avoiding the extraneous calories. Along with the classic greens, try these summer salads for a crowd from Food Network, made with bases such as farro or couscous. Corn-on-the-cob is also a classic BBQ staple, and can fill you up more than the empty carbs. You can also chop fresh vegetables - red onion, peppers, broccoli and cauliflower make a good mix - and add them to foil packets to throw on the grill.

 

Patriotic fruits

Seasonal fruit, such as strawberries, blueberries and watermelon, will keep your sweet tooth happy, while their rich red and blue hues mirror the colors of the flag. You can keep it simple by whipping up an easy fruit salad, or arrange berries on skewers or in the shape of an American flag for a more festive dessert.

Here's to happy, healthy and tasty Fourth of July!