Father’s Day has been celebrated and June is nearing its end. That means it’s time to start planning for the next big holiday: the Fourth of July! Whether you’re gathering with a few close friends or planning a potluck with the neighbors, you can take steps to have a healthy Independence Day party.
Here are a three ways to make sure your patriotic party is a success.
1. Offer a healthy menu
After you’ve invited your guests, it’s time to start thinking about one of the most important parts of the party: the menu. Holiday parties are a great opportunity to indulge in some of your favorite foods. Just remember, moderation is key to maintaining your health goals.
Summer, and the Fourth of July in particular, is a great time to use the grill to prepare your meals. Pair your favorite steaks, burgers, or hot dogs with some healthy sides, such as these veggie kabobs. One recipe on the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s website features a variety of colorful vegetables. The recipe calls for zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers, red onions, tomatoes, mushrooms and sweet corn. See the recipe and nutrition information on the institute’s website. Serve a fruit salad of your favorite fresh fruits as another healthy side dish.
Instead of ending the meal with an ice cream sundae, whip up some smoothies to satisfy your sweet tooth. These three smoothies can help add even more fruit and veggies to your party. If you are craving something with chocolate, try a s’more. You can mix up the traditional s’more by using a chocolate and peanut butter cup instead of just chocolate. Next year, we’d love to host you and your guests around our fire pit in our outdoor courtyard for your Fourth of July celebration.
2. Keep guests safe from illness
Whatever you decide to make for dinner, don’t invite bacteria to your party. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service offers several grilling food safety tips. Follow these guidelines, and others found on their website, to prevent harmful bacteria from multiplying and causing foodborne illness.
- Don’t use the same plates and cooking utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry because the juices from the raw meats can contaminate cooked foods.
- Destroy harmful bacteria by cooking foods to a safe minimum internal temperature. Use a food thermometer to make sure you are hitting these safe temperatures:
- Ground meats: 160F degrees
- Poultry: 165F degrees
- Beef and pork (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145F degrees with a resting period of 3 minutes
- Don’t let food sit out for more than an hour in hot weather (or temperatures 90F degrees and above).
- Refrigerate leftovers quickly.
3. Create a charming and safe atmosphere
Your party won’t be complete without some red, white, and blue decorations. Make sure you are labeling your food, so guests with food allergies or dietary restrictions can make healthy choices. You can use red and blue chalk to write on small chalkboards to serve as your labels. Use colorful napkins, tablecloths, and plates. Make sure you proudly display your flag, or flags, during the celebration.
Plan a fun activity that gets everybody moving during the party. If you have the space, set up a net for volleyball or badminton. Let kids use chalk for games of hopscotch. Encourage your guests to get up and move during the party by playing fun music.
Lastly, always make sure activities involving fireworks or sparklers are supervised by an adult. Provide guests with a bucket of water to place used sparklers in to help avoid the chance of a fire. Fireworks should always be handled with care. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 240 people per day go to the emergency room for firework-related injuries in the month around the Fourth of July. Make sure you to follow all local laws when it comes to buying or using fireworks.
With tasty food, fun activities, and colorful decorations, you can throw a healthy Fourth of July party. Just don’t wait until the last minute to start planning. We hope you have a happy and safe July Fourth.