Caroline’s Healthy Fourth of July Guide. Fitness, Recipes, and Fireworks for your FOURTH!

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My brother Tim and I in our red, white, and blue workout gear for the Fourth of July!

The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays. It’s all about friends, family and sharing quality time relaxing in the summer sunshine. Holidays always feel their best when they leave your body and mind feeling nourished and refreshed. You can still have a great Fourth without sacrificing your healthy habits and feel confident in your swimsuit. Here are my top fitness, diet, and health tips to keep you feeling your best while celebrating the fourth:

Caroline’s Guide to A Fit and Festive Fourth of July

The Fourth of July is sunny, social, and full of fun opportunities to move. Make an extra effort to sweat on your day off and that extra physical activity will help you balance calories consumed with calories used.  I recommend doing a little workout first thing in the morning, before the events of the day get crazy. A short, effective 10-30 minute sweat session can give your energy levels a boost and help you feel strong in your red, white, and blue swimsuit. To help you a get your holiday off to a great start, I filmed a fun and festive “Fourth of July Total Body Circuit Workout” just for you. This 12 minute routine combines squats, burpees, planks, and sit-ups for a quick high-energy burst of movement. The video targets your prime “swimsuit” muscles: your abs, obliques, and butt to help you feel strong and toned in your summer swimsuit. This workout is designed to build lean muscles, boost your metabolism, increase your strength, improve your performance, improve your energy, and help you get and STAY fit. If you are tight on time go through the video once or repeat the exercise series 2 or 3 times through for a longer workout. Remember consistency is the KEY to success – keep up the GREAT work and you will see results!!

Caroline’s Fat Burning Fourth Of July Circuit Workout. 12 Minute Total Body Routine

You also want to look for ways to make fitness fun and SOCIAL throughout the weekend. Make exercise something to look forward to by planning activities you enjoy to do. You can rally friends for a dodgeball game in a local park or at backyard BBQ; you can cool off by swimming if you are at the beach or a pool; you can even ditch the car and walk or bike ride to see local fireworks. Get creative, social, and active – there are plenty of great ways to enjoy exercise on your holiday.
Just make sure to be mindful of the heat and wear your sunscreen. Stay hydrated and avoid exercising outside at peak temperatures and you will feel your best all the way till the fireworks.

Caroline’s Healthy Fourth of July Nutrition Tips:

  • Sit and Eat a Meal. It can be difficult to keep track of what you are eating throughout the day if you are picking, picking, picking here and there.  Sit down for a meal and then be finished eating for the evening. Focus on a balanced meal with protein, greens, healthy fat, and moderate portions. Put your meal on a plate and sit with your family and friends to enjoy their company. Allowing yourself to have a real meal instead of lurking around the buffet table will help you avoid mindless munching and allow you an enjoyable dining experience.
  • HYDRATE. Begin your day with a few glasses of water and continue drinking throughout the day. The Fourth of July is typically a HOT holiday and keeping yourself well hydrated is the key to feeling your best. Not to mention hunger can often be masked as thirst, so its good to go for a glass of water before the potato chips. Keep a water bottle on hand if you are out at a picnic or park and refill it often. Drinking plenty of water will help you feel your best throughout the fourth of july and avoid heat hangovers on the days that follow.
  • Watch the liquid calories. If you want a regular root beer, grape soda, lemonade or alcoholic drink, have one – just work it into your calorie budget. Each is around 150 calories for 12 soft drinks (including lemonade and teas), 12 ounces of beer and 6 ounces of wine.  Get creative by making healthier drink options like this Fun punch – 1-quart of your favorite juice and 1-quart soda water with lime, lemon and orange twists for a refreshing party-favorite drink. You can read more on cocktail calories in my “Think Before You Drink” Article. Alternate fun drinks with water to stay hydrated and avoid a fifth of july hangover.
  • Grill lean meats: Lowering your fat content can decrease your overall calorie intake and fewer calories equals less barbecue belly. Eating grilled meats, like the ones your friends serve at cookouts, is O.K. as long as you remove excess fat and watch how and what they’re grilled with. Most cookouts offer a variety of meats, so choose the leanest cuts of beef, chicken and pork.
  • Use natural condiments. Instead of using marinades or BBQ sauces loaded with corn syrup, sugar, and preservatives, season your food with simple good-quality ingredients such as olive oil, sea salts, balsamic vinegar, fresh herbs, and spices.
  • Select slimming sides. When it comes to side dishes, go for the greens. Make salads from green leafy veggies like spinach, arugula, or watercress. Cook kale or spinach with garlic and serve hot. Other good grilled veggies include: eggplant, garlic mushrooms, asparagus, and jacket potatoes. Load up on these healthier sides and grilled veggies: you can fill half your plate with veggies to avoid overdoing it on the higher-calorie options. The fiber will help keep you full and the nutrition will keep you feeling good.
  • Substitute! When deciding on recipes for your fourth feast, choose to cook up your favorite dishes with healthier substitutions. For example instead of making dressing for coleslaw or potato salad (or another creamy side salad) with mayonnaise, explore healthier recipes and choose substitutions like nonfat plain yogurt or light vinaigrette to top your dish. Cooking light offers an incredible library of recipes with healthier versions of your favorite comfort foods.
  • Practice portion control. Allow yourself to enjoy the foods you love in balance with how it fits into the bigger picture of your daily diet. You can have the brownie (and enjoy it too!) with portion control. For example, try serving 1/4 pound burgers (made with extra-lean ground sirloin) instead of 1/3 or 1/2 pound patties; choose filet mignon-sized steaks instead of 16-ounce steaks; cut sausages in half lengthwise before grilling; make kebabs from smaller pieces of meat. When eating out at a friends BBQ, use your hands to guide you in serving yourself proper portions of your favorite foods. Your palm is the approximate serving size for a portion of meat, your fist is the size of a portion of grains (rice/pasta salad), and your thumb about the portion of cheese. Click here for my “SMART size portion control guide” to help you make healthier diet decisions this fourth of july.
  • Don’t skip meals to try to “save” calories for later. This will only cause you to overeat and make poor choices due to hunger and low blood sugar. Start your day off right with a metabolism boosting breakfast and choose to eat regularly throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels stable. Eating this way will provide you with great energy levels and help with your self-control at the BBQ.

My family hosts a fun and festive outdoor BBQ every Fourth of July. We grow a large fruit and vegetable garden at our home in Davis, so having friends for dinner gives us a great way to share fresh produce with others. Our Fourth menu is full of color, nutrition, and flavor. Here are a few of my Jordan family healthy BBQ recipes just for you. All of these are gluten/ dairy free and full of flavor, and will help you cook up a healthy BBQ that has every guest BEGGIN’  for more.

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Caroline’s Healthy BBQ Recipes: Gluten/Dairy Free Summer Eats. Good food is meant to be SHARED.

Lemony Cabbage-Avocado Slaw

Serves 6

Creamy avocado and bright lemon make great partners in this colorful salad.

Ingredients:
  • 6 cups finely shredded purple and green cabbage
  • 1 small red, orange or yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup shelled hemp seeds
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Method:

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl, until avocado is creamy throughout.

Nutritional Info: Per Serving:110 calories (60 from fat), 7g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 115mg sodium, 10g carbohydrate (5g dietary fiber, 3g sugar), 3g protein
Herb Marinated Chicken Breasts
SERVES 4
This recipe is for those who love barbecue but don’t like sticky fingers. It can be enjoyed with a knife and fork.

Ingredients:

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil, more for brushing grill
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint
  • 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1. Place garlic on a cutting board and sprinkle with salt. Using the side of the knife, continuously apply pressure to garlic and salt until a paste forms.
2. Place garlic-salt paste into a small bowl with oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, mint, oregano, thyme, onion powder and black pepper. Whisk until thoroughly blended.
3. Place mixture and chicken into a re-sealable bag and shake ingredients together until chicken is evenly coated. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours. Remove chicken from refrigerator and let rest at room temperature 30 minutes before grilling.
4. Heat grill to medium-high heat and brush grates with olive oil. Place chicken on grill and cook 4 to 6 minutes per side until cooked through.
Nutritional Info Per Serving: Each chicken breast contains 275 calories, 15g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 68mg cholesterol, 550mg sodium, 4g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 28g protein.
Raw Berry Crisp
Serves 8
Rich nuts and sweet dates make a tasty topping for mixed berries in this no-cook version of berry crisp.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups mixed berries, such as blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and sliced strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup, more or less to taste depending on sweetness of berries
  • 1 cup raw pecans
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Method:
In a (7- x 11-inch) dish, toss berries with maple syrup. Put pecans, walnuts, dates and cinnamon into a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Scatter nut mixture over berries and serve immediately, or chill until ready to serve.

Nutritional Info: Per Serving: 240 calories (140 from fat), 16g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 0mg sodium, 25g carbohydrate (8g dietary fiber, 16g sugar), 5g protein
COCO LIBRE Cocktail Recipe
Here’s my take on a fun, low-calorie, coconut water cocktail for you to try this holiday weekend. Enjoy – and BE SAFE. Moderation is good…. seeing stars and stripes is NOT.

COCO LIBRE

Add rum and lime to highball glass. Fill with coconut water, stir, garnish with lime wedge & Enjoy!

How will YOU be celebrating this Fourth of July? What are your favorite holiday traditions with your loved ones? Share your favorite fourth ideas, recipes, and stories by commenting below – I love hearing how you stay healthy, active, and CELEBRATE yourself! 

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY to you ALL! Till then…. enjoy your fireworks and WEAR SUNSCREEN!

Caroline

Other Things To Check Out This week:

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