Across the country, the Fourth of July celebration always centers on close friends and family and great food. Set yourself up to make healthy choices without sacrificing the fun.

Across the country, the Fourth of July celebration always centers on close friends and family and great food. Set yourself up to make healthy choices with these tips:

Plan for colorful plates: Create a sign-up sheet for your party with categories for dishes from each food group so you have a variety of healthy options. A fresh fruit salad is always a healthy and appetizing dish to bring to a celebration. You can also bring a big salad tossed with shredded carrots, grape tomatoes, and sliced cucumbers. A vegetable tray is an easy staple for parties.

Sip up some flavor: Boost flavor in water or unsweetened iced tea with mint leaves, lemons, or frozen fruit. Make fun ice cubes from 100% juice to make water more exciting. Create a “float” by adding a scoop of low-fat sorbet to seltzer water. Skip sugary drinks like soda, punch, and lemonade.

Keep foods safe: Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold until serving time. Don’t leave food out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. Refrigerate within 1 hour when the temperature is above 90 degrees F.

Master the grill: Invest in a food thermometer and use it. Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F and cook all poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F

Prioritize your plate: Take a quick lap around the food table to see what foods are available before filling your plate. Save calories with smaller helpings. Take time to pay attention to the taste of each bite of food.

Include fruits and veggies: Fill half your plate with vegetables such as beans, broccoli, or mixed greens and fruit like berries or grapes. Summer is an easy and delicious time to enjoy a variety of season produce!

Lemon Rosemary Zucchini

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow bell (sweet) pepper (diced)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary (finely minced)
  • 2 cups zucchini (chopped)
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons lemon juice (to taste)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add yellow bell pepper and rosemary and sauté 2 minutes.

Add zucchini, salt and pepper. Continue to sauté another 4-5 minutes or until zucchini is just tender. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 50 calories, 4 g fat, 5 mg sodium, 4 g carbohydrates, 1 g dietary fiber, 1 g protein.

Recipe from: Purdue Extension

Cami Wells is an Extension Educator for Nebraska Extension in Hall County. Contact her at (308) 385-5088 or at cwells2@unl.edu. Visit the Hall County website at www.hall.unl.edu

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