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Healthy Fourth of July Recipes

Moderation is the key to enjoying your favorite summer dishes

Healthy July 4th Recipes: Ribs

You can avoid unhealthy food on Independence Day while still having something tasty to eat. — Dave King/The Food Passionates/Corbis

Whether you're celebrating this Independence Day with a small group of friends or planning a barbecue for a huge crowd, why not offer up a holiday menu that's healthier than the usual fare?

If you're watching your saturated fat and calorie intake, using lean cuts of meat and seafood will still allow you to enjoy the best of classic American barbecue. Fill up the rest of your plate with the fresh fruits and vegetables that are becoming available this time of year.  And be sure to stay hydrated outdoors with thirst-quenching pitchers of ice water flavored with slices of cucumber, oranges or strawberries.

Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter.

Here are some recipes to make this year's July 4th super special:

Orange and Red Onion Salad Velencia by Kathleen Sloan-McIntosh

This easy-to-make salad would be a great addition to any big Fourth of July potluck or small family lunch. It pairs well with spicy main dishes, as the red bell peppers bring a refreshing, crisp quality to the salad, especially when paired with oranges.

Per serving: 119 calories, 5g fat, 2g protein, 4g fiber

Roasted Corn and Pepper Salsa by George Geary

Salsas are a versatile dish, able to be enjoyed with chips, added into a salad, or even used as a dressing for a burger. Add this one to your Fourth of July table for a good source of fiber and summery grilled flavor.

Per serving: 108 calories, 3g fat, 3g protein, 6g fiber

White or Sweet Potato Oven "Fries" by Nava Atlas

It’s no secret that fries are a favorite by kids and adults alike. By baking instead of deep-frying, these fries are a great healthy alternative to the traditional version, cutting back on quite a bit of fat. The sweet potato version is even more nutritious.

Per serving: 205 calories, 7g fat, 2g protein

Spicy Five Pepper T-Bone Steaks by Dave Zino

Craving some good ol’ Fourth of July meat, but watching your diet? You may be surprised to know that T-bone steaks are actually one of the lean cuts of beef. This recipe brings on a bit of heat with red pepper and peppercorns, but feel free to leave the spicy seasoning out if spicy isn’t for you.

Per serving: 335 calories, 11g fat, 26g protein, 3g fiber

Tequila Lime Grilled Shrimp by Diane Rossen Worthington

Add a Southwestern flair to your Fourth of July this year, and your body will thank you for it. Shrimp are known to be high in vitamin B12, B12, antioxidants, zinc, and omega-3 fats, which are great for aiding in weight loss.

Per serving: 192 calories, 6g fat, 31g protein, 0g fiber

Cucumber Mint Gazpacho by Sarma Melngailis

Gazpacho is a simple to prepare, refreshing summer dish. It can be served as a vegetarian alternative or a light lunch, if your Fourth of July festivities are planned for later in the day.

Per serving: 72 calories, 1g fat, 3g protein, 3g fiber

South Texas Skirt Steak Fajitas With Fresh Tomato Salsa by Fred Thompson

The tomatoes in this dish provide a cool burst with savory steak, making it bound to become a summer favorite. This is also a great choice for family gatherings since it’s easy to double or even triple the batch.

Per serving: 423 calories, 16g fat, 29g protein, 3g fiber

Spiced Maple Cocktail Ribs by Sheila Lukins

It’s no secret that sweet and savory are a great combination, and this take on it will have everyone asking for the recipe. Serve alongside grilled summer vegetables for a fulfilling meal.

Per serving: 185 calories, 5g fat, 20g protein, 0g fiber

Baked Peaches With Marzipan and Almonds by Victoria Blashford-Snell and Brigitte Hafner

This is a dessert that you can’t go wrong with — sweet and lower in calories. It’s also easy to make in a pinch, with only 20 minutes of baking time.

Per serving: 266 calories, 10g fat, 4g protein, 4g fiber

Fresh Fruit Crisp by Sharon Crayton

Capture the flavors of summer without all the calories in this sweet dessert. Using fresh fruit in dessert is a great way to satisfy your taste buds and sneak in a few more vitamins and antioxidants into your Fourth of July festivities.

Per serving: 423 calories, 13g fat, 6g protein, 8g fiber

You may also like: Healthy hors d'oeuvres and appetizers.

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