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07/04/14

Seeing stars: Your Fourth of July can be equal parts exuberant and health conscious

Celebrating our independence and enjoying friends, family and food is the epitome of the 4th of July, which the masses will revel in today with everything from barbeque to bombastic fireworks to close out the day's festivities.
Food plays a huge role in the holiday, and most of that centers on grilling, prepping side dishes and finding something sweet in the form of desserts or fruit that caters to all of your varying guests. The 4th of July menu is fairly simple to piece together with the hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill along with fruits that signal summer like watermelon or strawberries.
As for side dishes, the best bets are potato or macaroni salad or even throwing in baked potatoes but grilling them face down next to your burgers and grill items. Infusing vegetables in that menu isn't always the easiest, but once again the grill comes to the rescue.
Take a fresh vegetable like zucchini or squash and slice it thinly. Let it marinade in a little salt, pepper with a shot of lemon and a little oil and then pack it some aluminum foil and grill it with the rest of your treats.
Veggies also can make a much needed appearance if you decide to get a little creative with your main course. Grilling chicken isn't anything new, nor is the idea of making skewers that include chicken, peppers and onions, which melds together a tremendous amount of flavor and caters to the segment of your party people that are health conscious and might not want a hamburger or hot dog but the thought of bland chicken isn't overly appealing.

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The aforementioned potato or macaroni salads, in addition to coleslaw, certainly fall into the category of 4th of July favorites, but the inclusion of fatty mayo makes at least some of your guests a little hesitant to dive in head first. Including a little low fat mayo or the brand that uses olive oil as its main ingredient makes for a better option. Cole slaw is one of those sides that often is made with mayo but you can save yourself feelings of guilt and being bloated by subbing out the mayo for oil and vinegar. What sounds odd when it comes to coleslaw has slowly morphed into the norm.
Your 4th of July shouldn't have any restrictions, and you should feel free to do with the holiday whatever you please. It's a chance to enjoy a day off work, spend time with your family and remember just how important your freedom is to you.
The menu plays a part in all of that planning, so why not make a slew of foods that don't sacrifice taste in favor of being healthier alternatives.

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