Please every palate at your at-home Fourth of July cookout with these nutritious and patriotic menu items. These suggestions take advantage of all that summer has to offer. It is a great time to try in-season produce in new unexpected ways, such as grilled eggplant instead of traditional white bread burger buns, sweet mini bell pepper bites instead of crostini or berries instead of fall apples in dessert crumbles. In this article, I’ll break down how to make your summer appetizers, entrees, desserts and beverages more nutritious with this healthy 4th of July menu you can try at home. 

Healthy Summer Appetizers

Let the bounty of in-season summer vegetables be the star of your bite-sized summer appetizers. Stock up on fresh corn, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber, eggplant and sweet bell peppers. Besides classic grilled corn on the cob, try it incorporated into a homemade summer salsa. Spiralize zucchini into veggie noodles for a lightened up spin on spaghetti and meatballs. Enjoy crunchy hydrating cucumber “chips” instead of potato chips with dip.

A vibrant plant-based summer appetizer made with in-season summer ingredients

Summery Mini Bell Pepper Bites

 

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  • Serves: 8
  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Total time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. mini bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise with seeds and membranes removed
  • 1/2 cup fresh corn, cooked
  • 2 tbsp yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup black beans, cooked
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh minced cilantro to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together corn, black beans, tomatoes, onion, garlic, lime, chili powder, cumin and salt and pepper to taste until combined.
  3. Place bell pepper halves on a lined baking sheet and stuff with mixture. Sprinkle cheese on top along with minced cilantro.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until tender and cheese has melted.

A hydrating summer salad made with in season watermelon and cucumber

Minty Watermelon and Cucumber Salad

 

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  • Serves: 8
  • Prep time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 3 cups cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 6 cups watermelon, cubed
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Toss together salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. In another large mixing bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Healthy Summer Entrée

Focus on pairing produce with lean protein for your healthy summer 4th of July menu entrees. Upgrade classic favorites like hotdogs and burgers with nutrient-dense swaps that increase the nutrition without comprising flavor or nostalgia.

A gluten-free, nutrient-dense take on classic Fourth of July hot dogs

Sweet Potato Bun Hot Dogs

 

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  • Serves: 8
  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 8 medium sweet potatoes
  • 8 uncured grass-fed beef hot dogs or sausages
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Toppings bar:

  • Shredded cheese
  • Ketchup
  • Relish
  • Mustard
  • Diced onion
  • Jalapeno

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
  2. Wash your sweet potatoes and poke holes into each using a fork.
  3. Place sweet potatoes on a lined baking sheet, brush with oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 45 minutes or until tender. Allow to cool then slice in half to create your “buns”.
  4. While sweet potatoes are baking, cook your hotdogs or sausages according to package instructions on the grill and serve in sweet potato buns.
  5. Assemble your toppings station.

Lighten up your burgers with a veggie twist

Eggplant Bun Turkey Sliders

 

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  • Serves: 4
  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

Burgers:

  • 1 lb. lean ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Buns:

  • 2 large eggplants, cut into 16 rounds
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil

Burger toppings:

  • 1 medium tomato, sliced
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 8 pieces of butter lettuce
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together ground turkey, egg, yellow onion, oregano, salt and pepper until combined.
  2. Divide mixture into 8 equal-sized mini burger patties and set aside.
  3. Brush eggplant rounds with oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Preheat grill to medium-high heat and cook burger patties on both sides for about 2-3 minutes or until cooked to desired doneness. Remove from grill and set aside.
  5. Grill eggplant buns for 2-3 minutes on each side or until tender and slightly crisp.
  6. Brush red onion with avocado oil and grill on both sides for 2-3 minutes or until cooked and slightly crisp.
  7. Assemble eggplant buns on four serving plates and top with burgers and remaining topping ingredients. Serve immediately.

Healthy Summer Dessert

This healthy and delicious dessert will add a refreshing and tasty touch to your 4th of July menu. Allow in-season summer fruits to take center stage in your patriotic desserts. Berries are an in-season standout, and nature happened to make them in a patriotic palette of red, white and blue. Stock up on fresh strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries to use in your summery desserts.

Beat the heat with patriotic pops

Patriotic Pops

 

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  • Serves: 8
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Wait time: 3-4 hours

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 32 oz. coconut water (no added sugar)
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, chopped

Directions:

  1. Divide berries into 8 popsicle molds and pour coconut water over the berries to fill each mold. Insert popsicle sticks, cover and chill for 3-4 hours or until set.

An effortless oven to table dessert that screams summer

Gluten-Free Berry Crumble

 

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  • Serves: 8
  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

Fruit:

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup strawberries, chopped
  • 1 cup blackberries

Crumble topping:

  • 1 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In large mixing bowl, toss together your fruit with lemon juice and transfer to a 15” cast iron skillet.
  3. In another mixing bowl, toss together your crumble ingredients until combined. Use your hands to crumble on top.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the fruit is bubbly and topping is golden brown. Allow to cool before serving.

Summer beverages

Take advantage of super hydrating in-season watermelon for your patriotic summer beverages. Watermelon is over 90% water and is a good source of filling fiber, vitamin and minerals.

Cheers with sparkling patriotic spritzers.

Patriotic Spritzers

 

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  • Serves: 6-8
  • Prep time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 liter chilled berry-flavored sparkling water
  • A bottle of chilled sparkling wine
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup watermelon cut into stars

Directions:

  1. Add berries and watermelon to a large pitcher and top with sparkling wine and sparkling water. Gently mix to combine.

A super-hydrating kid-friendly summer beverage

Virgin Watermelon Slushy

 

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  • Serves: 6
  • Prep time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups frozen seedless watermelon
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint
  • 1 cup sparkling water

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Divide into 6 glasses and serve immediately.

And there you have it: a complete and healthy 4th of July Menu filled with summer appetizers, entreés, desserts and even refreshing natural beverages! Best of all, these suggestions take advantage of plentiful in-season produce, meaning your ingredients will be easy to find and affordable. Let us know which recipes are your favorites OR if you have your own favorite healthy 4th of July menu ideas.

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