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Can You Find Healthier Versions Of Your Favorite 4th Of July Foods?

July 1, 2021

Fact: 4th of July food is not healthy. But you probably already knew that. The good news is there are ways to enjoy healthier versions of your old Independence Day favorites.

A recent survey by The Food Network found what foods the majority of Americans eat on the 4th of July. The foods that top the list may not surprise you, but there are some eyebrow-raisers in there.

So, let’s take a look at the results of the survey, find out which 4th of July foods are everybody’s favorites, and we’ll provide a healthier alternative if you’re looking for some options.

Hotdogs Aren’t Top Dogs

If you’re heading to a 4th of July barbecue, you’re typically going to find hotdogs and hamburgers on the menu. Although everyone likes a good hotdog every now and then, they may be losing their edge.

According to the Food Network survey, 50% of Americans said they would rather have a hamburger on their plate for the main meal, while only 10% said they'd want a hotdog.

What’s even more surprising is that 21% of survey respondents said they were actually sick of seeing hotdogs served on the Fourth of July, and 15% said they'd actually be happy if they never saw a hotdog served on July 4th again.

Wow. If you’re not a hotdog hater and are looking for a slightly healthier option, more and more plant-based companies are developing plant-based hotdogs to satisfy all different cravings. Like meat-based hotdogs, though, plant-based ones are highly processed foods that are high in sodium. But they’ll have fewer calories, less saturated fat, and about the same amount of protein as a traditional hotdog.

And if it’s a hamburger that you have to have, there are many veggie burger recipes out there for you to try. Here are a few more to add some options to your Independence Day menu.

The Supreme Side Dish

In the United States, on the 4th of July, it appears that potato salad still reigns supreme. That’s because 1 in 3 people (in the Food Network survey) said they prefer potato salad as their favorite side. Here is the complete list of side dishes that made the top five:

  1. Potato salad
  2. Potato chips
  3. Corn dish or pasta salad
  4. Grilled vegetables
  5. Green salad  

The great news is that if you agree with the survey and are always looking to pop a little potato salad on your plate at a picnic, it’s already a healthier choice.

Potatoes are loaded with nutrients including fiber, vitamin C and potassium – they’re also free of fat and cholesterol. No matter which recipe you choose, potatoes are often accompanied by good-for-you veggies and herbs like celery, onions, carrots, parsley, dill and basil.

One way to make it even healthier is to cut the amount of mayonnaise you may use in half to cut down calories and fat. You can even use Greek yogurt instead.

Or you could go rogue and try making a good tomato salad instead.

The Dessert That Dominates

The typical after-dinner dessert on the 4th of July is kind of an obvious choice: The Bomb Pop. You know, the red, white and blue popsicle that’s shaped like a rocket? They’re are a great way to cool off at a 4th of July picnic.

But the dessert that dominated The Food Network survey is ice cream. You can go with vanilla and throw on some red and blue sprinkles if you’re feeling festive.

But if you’re looking for a healthier alternative, you can try one of the many great-tasting ice creams with no added sugar. Some are even sugar-free. There are also ice creams that are gluten-free and plant-based.

Light It Up!

Now you can light up your 4th of July with some great menu options at your next backyard barbecue. But knowing which menu items came out on top of the survey will also relieve the stress of trying to figure out what to take.

This may also be the time for you to try something new. If you’ve never had a veggie burger or a hotdog made from tofu, don’t just send the idea off into the sky on a bottle rocket. Your taste buds may be the only thing exploding on the first bite.

And if you’re looking for more healthy eating tips, check out our guide to the new “Dietary Guidelines For Americans.” You’ll find all of the most pertinent information packed into a few pages, to save you time and get you on the road to a healthier you.

U.S. Dietary Guidelines