4th of July Healthy Menu Planner

By Sally Cameron on July 02, 2012

Appetizers & Snacks, beans, legumes & grains, Chicken & Turkey, Dessert, Holiday Dishes, the daniel plan

If you are trying to figure out the fireworks of your 4th of July menu and what will make it sparkle for your family and friends –  look no further. Here’s a collection of my favorite easy, healthy recipes and plan-ahead tips that will help you celebrate with a smile.

Parades, Family Time and Great Food

My memories of 4th of July are filled with the goofy parade down main street in Huntington Beach where I grew up (my parents coerced me into going), grilling at my mom and dad’s, and spending lazy summer time with family and friends.

The closer it got to dark, the more I excited I was to hunt down the best fireworks displays. I’m still crazy about watching fireworks. It’s not the 4th without them!

4th of July Menu Planning

To plan your 4th of July menu, first consider how many you’ll be feeding. If it’s a big crowd, you may want to offer several appetizers, main dishes, and side dishes. If it’s a smaller group, maybe one of each will suffice.

If the group is big and you feel overwhelmed, ask for help. If people agree to bring dishes to support the celebration, don’t be afraid to ask if they would mind making a specific dish to fit within your plan. Give them the recipe if needed.

Be sure to think about food allergies and sensitivities and have healthy options available for everyone. And for anyone who is a vegan or vegetarian, have nice big salads, both green and grain, like Quinoa Tabbouleh. And everyone love a good white bean salad.

Save Room for Dessert

For dessert, watermelon wedges are easy, refreshing, and good for all size of groups. If you need help on how to choose and slice a watermelon, read post and see photos here.

If you have an ice cream maker, the Honey Nectarine Sorbet is cool and naturally sweet. The addition of Grand Mariner it totally optional, so leave it out if that’s not your thing.

One crowd-pleasing, make-ahead dessert is lemon almond polenta cake. It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, made with olive oil. You can reduce the sugar by using half powdered stevia. Serve it with fresh berries. You’ll need a springform pan and baking parchment to make it. Pans are available at cooking stores and online.

Best Beverages

To serve your liquid refreshment, use a large beverage jar with a self-serve spout. Fill it with filtered water, ice, and slices of lemon, orange, lime, mint, cucumber, or berries. The colors are beautiful and the fruit provides a nice, healthy, boost of flavor.

For another option, try sparkling watermelon-lime juice or decaf iced tea. Skip the soda and sugary, artificially flavored drinks.

Planning Notes: What to Do Ahead

  • Steam artichokes a day ahead (if serving cold or planning to finish by grilling) and make the dipping sauce.
  • Make the smoked salmon dip 1-2 days ahead. Cut you raw veggies and refrigerate.
  • Make the hummus a day or two ahead and cut up your vegetables. Place in zip bags.
  • Make the sauce for the turkey burgers (if doing burgers).
  • Make the burger patties, place on a plastic covered rimmed baking sheet, cover with more plastic wrap and refrigerate (the morning of the 4th).
  • Cook the green beans and make the dressing. Finish before serving by adding corn, tomatoes and dressing.
  • Hard boil your eggs, peel, halve. Refrigerate the halves unfilled. Make the filing and refrigerate. Fill before serving.
  • Make the potatoes completely and refrigerate a day ahead. Same for the white bean salad. These could easily be done two days ahead.
  • Make the ice cream base a day ahead and refrigerate. Freeze in your ice cream maker on the morning of the 4th and freeze.
  • Slice the watermelon and store a day ahead.

I hope this helps you plan for a wonderful 4th of July celebration with your family and friends. Since much of this menu can be made ahead, it will help to minimize your kitchen time on the 4th. It’s all packable and transportable if you are headed to the beach, park, lake or just a friends house.

Happy 4th of July everyone! Celebrate our nations birthday, enjoy your family and friends, and eat well!

Helpful Links:

Food safety tips for the 4th of July, from the USDA

How to choose and cut a watermelon

  1. Shut Up & Cook - July 3rd, 2012

    I so wish I was spending 4th of July with you..this looks amazing!

  2. Eileen Sepulveda - July 10th, 2012

    Thanks for the great ideas for the 4th…or anyday! Love your site and your wonderful receipes. Blessings

  3. Brenda Larson - July 1st, 2014

    Ok – I’m new to the Daniel Plan – I just completed my 40 day detox Saturday so am on the hunt for good recipes to incorporate into my new health style. I was reading the 4th of July recipes and was surprised to see sweetened condensed milk in the ice cream recipe. Really? We can use that on the Daniel Plan? I thought we were supposed to be pretty much sugar free and that milk is ALL sugar. Please advise. Thank you

  4. Sally - July 1st, 2014

    Brenda, first, good for you on completing the detox and 40 day plan! That is awesome. I am going to quickly be editing that post for DP readers. The team used my link, but the post was written several years ago before the DP. When I saw their link to day I thought “oh no!”. there are recipes on that list that really do not apply. Recipes I don’t even make anymore, yet they are part of my history and my site. If you look later this evening or tomorrow, you will se an edited version of the post. And last note, unfortunately, on sweetened condensed milk, yet it is all sugar! I used to make ice cream that way, pre-DP, but no longer. Please check out my DP category. There are currently 118 recipes there that are pure DP or are DP with a few small edits. Thanks for commenting!

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