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What's On Your Plate This Fourth of July?

Posted by Jocelyn Harrison, Nutrition Intern, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion in Food and Nutrition
Feb 21, 2017
Go red, white and blue, all the way to dessert!
Go red, white and blue, all the way to dessert!

Happy Birthday America! It’s the Fourth of July and time to celebrate American life. What do you have planned? A family reunion at the beach? A backyard barbeque with family and friends? A picnic in the park? Or a few friends on your patio? Here are some quick and easy tips to make your family’s Fourth of July meals and snacks healthy and delicious!

Get creative and let MyPlate be your guide.


Go lean. Choose skinless chicken breasts and lean cuts of beef like sirloin or ground beef that’s at least 90% lean. Try a turkey burger, grilled seafood, or a homemade veggie burger. For many, this may be the main event – but leave room for the other food groups! Here‘s a guide for how much protein to consume in a day.


Take advantage of the abundance of fresh summer veggies! You can practically fill your plate with just-picked summer produce. Make kabob skewers or a foil pouch of yellow squash, zucchini, onions, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes sprinkled with your favorite herbs for a tasty and colorful combination. You can brush with a little oil; throw on the grill for a few minutes and “voila,” delicious and nutritious!

Make an “everything” salad. Choose at least 10 of your favorite salad ingredients. Include a leafy green like romaine or spinach and add celery, radishes, carrots, sunflower seeds, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, grated low-fat cheese, scallions.


Make half your grains whole grains. Simple – use whole-grain buns. You can also prepare a simple whole-grain salad using quinoa or whole-wheat pasta.


Think fruit for DESSERT! Nothing says Fourth of July like an ice-cold watermelon or fresh summer peaches. Or, create a patriotic and healthy-licious red, white and blue fruit salad.


Dairy isn’t the only way to get calcium, but it is one of the best ways. Make a tasty dipping sauce from non-fat or low-fat plain yogurt, grated cucumber and mint to serve with carrot and celery sticks. Add low-fat feta cheese to a salad.


Drink water instead of sugary drinks! It’s usually hot this time of year so make sure you have lots of ice cold water on hand.  Add thinly sliced lemons, limes, watermelon or strawberries for a flavorful, refreshing drink the whole family will enjoy.

We want to hear what happens when you get creative and let MyPlate be your guide. Share your July 4th spread with us on Facebook and Twitter – we welcome your tips and pics.

Be safe, have fun!

MyPlate provides plenty of great options to make healthy plates this summer. For recipes and other ideas visit
MyPlate provides plenty of great options to make healthy plates this summer. For recipes and other ideas visit
Category/Topic: Food and Nutrition

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Jul 01, 2014

Do you really need to suggest what we eat for our Holiday Celebration. This is absurd. I think it is my business what I eat and i can make my won choices by the government not making suggestions to me. The next thing I know the government will be telling when and when not to go to the bathroom. Please not the government and especially the Obama administration needs to stay our of my business. oh by the way Jocelyn Harrison, please find something else with your time instead of helping the government by your suggestions to what the US Citizens needs to eat. Get a life !!!!

Peter DiGaudio
Jul 01, 2014

I don't NEED you telling me what to eat. In fact, I will make sure I eat EVERYTHING you tell me not to eat. How do you like that?

Jul 01, 2014

Go home government, you are drunk.

Jul 01, 2014

As long as I am FREE the Goverment will not tell me what I should eat

Jul 01, 2014

Not just greasy burgers, but big, juicy Brats! And potato chips, lots and lots of potato chips! And gonna wash it all down with the real thing, Coca-Cola! Not Diet Coke, but nice, sugary Coke!

Jul 01, 2014

The government is not paying for our food. WE take the risks, but THEY seem to think they are entitled to the rewards.

Besides, who can afford seafood, much less beef?

Jeff Stone
Jul 01, 2014

Why would you choose a National Holiday to push a "health" agenda? Especially one with veggie burgers and fruit flavored water... Health eating is something that comes through education - not indoctrination - and it takes time. The only people likely to follow this are the ones already planning to do something similar.

Jul 01, 2014

You want the American people to eat healthy?? GET RID OF MONSANTO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jul 01, 2014

If you don't want to eat what is suggested on this site, then don't get on the site to look at it. I don't see the government forcing any of this down your throats!

Jul 01, 2014

So what is everyone in the US government eating for the 4th of July? May I suggest cutting back a little on the PORK, save the GREENS, and have a little humble pie for dessert?

Jul 01, 2014

Let's see, I am planning PORK CHOPS, Hamburgers with lots of BACON. SWEET HOMEMADE ICE CREAM, Lots of Fried stuff. Quit telling us what to eat!! What is Potus having for lunch?

Anna D
Jul 01, 2014

I will be enjoying a big, juicy bacon cheeseburger, which I am certain Michelle, Barry and the kids also will be eating.

Jul 01, 2014

You've got to be kidding me, The federal government trying to tell me what I should eat. You leftist don't realize your getting more intrusive than Mussolini was, this is crazy! Guess what pal on the 4th of July I will eat what ever I feel like and keep doing it until I guess you do what all other fascist regimes do.

Jul 01, 2014

Well written Ms. Harrison! Kudos to you!

Jul 01, 2014

MY STOMACH, MY CHOICE!!!!!!!!! Ridiculous!!!

Jul 01, 2014

I've got a freshly butted beef in my freezer. I think we'll chow down on a couple ribeye steaks or maybe a t-bone. Corn on the cob is in season so we'll slather a couple cobs with real butter. Leaf lettuce will be cut in the garden and I will dress that with fresh sweet cream, vinegar and sugar just like my grandmother did. I will rough chop a couple potatoes and onions and dot the tops with a couple tablespoons of butter, wrap in foil and roast until done. Dessert will be apple pie, the crust will be made with fresh lard. It makes the crusts so flacky. We will top that off with homemade ice cream...whole milk, fresh heavy cream and sugar. We'll probably drink local wine. Oh, and fresh bread with butter and homemade chokecherry jelly. It will be a feast to celebrate our independence and freedom. We'll walk the dog before the fireworks start and then get her into a safe spot. You will not tell me what to put on my plate.

Jul 01, 2014

Butchered ....

Jul 01, 2014

Those are good suggestions. As long as the govt. doesn't step in and tell everyone what they can and can't eat. This administration has gone so far that most people resent the suggestions. Happy Birthday, America, and may we all stay free.

Lynn Petz
Jul 01, 2014

Can't decide between a big, juicy ribeye steak or nummy, thick Angus burgers, smothered in bacon and cheese and some onions sauteed in butter. For salads, spaghetti salad with black olives, green onion, cherry tomatoes, green pepper and drenched in Italian dressing - then a simple apple/banana salad tossed in lots of home-made whipped cream. Lots of chips and dip, salsa and cheese & summer sausage cut up for a variety of crackers. My famous brownies, frosted (I double frosting recipe) with chocolate frosting...three sticks of butter involved in the whole thing, which makes it so rich and delicious! For drinks, I'll toast the USA with a nice rum and Coke, but my husband will be having ice cold beer. Wonder what every one else is bringing?

Jul 01, 2014

Sounds pretty good, actually. But you forgot the homemade ice cream. I won't. And I think the hamburgers need some cheese, avocado, and sauce, perhaps some chili, and you failed to mention the french fries.

Sirloin is fine, but really, a rack of baby backs makes better barbecue. And everyone knows rib steaks are the most tender and juicy.

Very unlikely that I would fill my plate with vegetable salad since that would mean there was no room for potato salad or baked beans,

Happy 4th, food nannies!

Jul 01, 2014

Cigarettes, cigars, booze, red meat, fat greasy buns with butter, greasy pasta, French fries, coffee, eggs that were caged up, veal grown in the dark and anything my little heart desires like popcorn with coconut oil. Have you heard the one about the flying leap at the rolling donut? Go government go! With the donut!

Cynthia Pentino
Jul 02, 2014

Instead of telling people what to eat, why don't you do something actually important..... like making sure all GMO foods are labeled & doing something about the ever rising food costs in this country.

Terry C
Jul 02, 2014

Nice big juicy cow burger with bacon is what's on my plate. Along with ice cream and pie later. Washing it down with ice cold freaking beer!

That is what's on my plate and in my glass for the 4th. Happy 4th of July and the birth of our great Constitution and country!

Pissed off American
Jul 02, 2014

You can't eat healthy anymore...not with all the GMO/Monsanto stuff in everything that has been proven to cause cancerous tumors- YOU eat this mess. I will stay with the organic, local grown and growing my own. As for the government, you haven't a CLUE how to eat healthy. Look at what Michelle Obama is forcing the school kids to eat.........PUKE!!!

Jul 02, 2014

Please tell me our tax dollars did not pay this author to write this.

Jul 07, 2014

I am so glad to see that someone out there still knows how to cook good like we do grease and all. The ones I feel sorry for are the poor kids in school that don't get enough to eat especially athletes that have to practice everyday or go to a game, no one ever got fat off school lunches, not in our county.

Ana Ng
Jul 09, 2014

Really? You sell out our food supply to Monsanto, do your best to make sure we don't know what's in our food, then want to tell us to eat some genetically modified garbage. No thank you.