It’s that time of year again when the grills come out and beers start chilling. There are hot dogs composed of unknown “meats”, mayonnaise -laden potato salad, and chips galore. July 4th does not have to be notoriously unhealthy. Here are my quick fix tips to help you to celebrate without leaving you bloated, loaded, and guilt-ridden.
- Do not arrive to the party hungry. Have a protein-rich, satisfying snack an hour or two before you plan to arrive at your July 4th festivities. Eat a handful of nuts, a hard-boiled egg, or a few olives. If your hunger is in check, you are able to consciously survey the food offerings and make wise and thoughtful decisions.
- Go bun-less. Wrap your burger in lettuce, or collard greens and fill it with some veggies. Opt for mustard instead of sugary ketchup or mayo.
- Avoid the mayo-laden potato salad and cole slaw - opt for vinegar and mustard- based sides…also a good way to avoid possible food poisoning (hot sun and mayo are a bacteria’s playground).
- Eat slowly and mindfully. It is easy to overindulge and get caught up in the festivities of a celebratory party. To prevent overdoing it, fill a small plate mainly with vegetables, salad, a healthy starch like grilled corn, a fiber-rich grain salad, or mayo-less potato salad, and a small piece of lean protein. Choose skinless chicken breast, a lean turkey, chicken, or beef burger, fish, flank steak, or tofu. Eat slowly. If you still do not feel satisfied after twenty minutes, load up on more veggies.
- Skip the sweetened bevs- avoid sugar-filled ice tea and lemonade. Sugar sweetened beverages can tack on at least 100 extra calories per cup.
- Work out in the AM. If you know that you are likely to indulge, get in a good work out on the day of your 4th festivities. Take a bike ride, go on a long fast-paced walk, run on the beach. Do something active to break a sweat, get your heart rate up, and burn some calories!
- Hydrate! Always have water, sparkling or flat, near-by. Stick to one alcoholic drink max if you are a woman and two drinks max for men.
- Focus on your family, friends, the setting, and the fireworks and be less preoccupied by the food.
- If you cannot live without a bite or three of your all time favorite dessert, have a small indulgence. Focus on fresh fruit for your after dinner sweet tooth satiation.
- Get right back on track on the 5th! Do not let one day or weekend derail your clean eating or summer body success.
For a veg-head friendly option on the 4th of July, consider my grilled portabello, red onion, and peach burger with peppery arugula and avocado. An in-door grill pan was used for this recipe, but this should work well on an outdoor grill too. The meaty and earthy portabellos get a quick marinade of mustard, balsamic, garlic, and thyme and are brightened up with sweet and juicy peaches, red onion, peppery arugula, and creamy avocado. The perfect addition to spice things up at your BBQ. You can also go bun-less and chop up the mushroom, peaches, and onion and wrap in collard greens.
Balsamic Marinated Portobello Mushroom Burger with Grilled Onion, Peaches, and Arugula
- 3 whole grain burger buns or collard green leaves (I used Hot Bead Kitchen’s whole wheat burger buns or consider sprouted burger buns)
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp dried or fresh thyme
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 portabello mushrooms, cleaned and stemmed
- 1 red onion, sliced into thick rings
- 2 peaches, sliced into ½ inch rounds
- 1 cup arugula, washed
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 1 whole avocado
- salt and black pepper to taste
Whisk together the garlic, mustard, thyme, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil in a bowl. Coat the mushrooms with the marinade and let sit for 5 minutes. Over medium high heat, warm up a cast iron grill pan. Grill the mushrooms, two minutes a side, rotating 45 degrees on each side to obtain crosshatch marks, if desired. Once cooked, transfer the mushrooms to a plate. Repeat the grilling with the red onions, peaches, and burger buns.
In a bowl, toss the arugula with lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and a grind of black pepper.
To assemble, mash a tbsp of avocado on the bottom half of your grilled burger bun or collard green leaves. Layer one portabello mushroom with onions, peaches, and a handful of arugula. Enjoy!
Have a happy and a healthy 4th, vegheads!
this post was originally published july 1, 2014