What to Eat July 4th: Summer BBQ's

By Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team

Laura Fox

The Fourth of July is one of our favorite holidays as it brings family, friends, and neighbors together. And of course, it involves fun food! Below are some sure ways to keep things nutrient dense. Keep In mind , the best choice for you is the food the will both satisfy and satiate you and your family. Be self aware of your portion size with your hunger fullness cues.

With the help of Fox & Friends, we’ve compiled a variety of common entrees, condiments, dips, and desserts you’ll find at a BBQ this summer. We tested the hosts to see if they knew which food was the “healthiest” not necessarily the lowest in calories! Try and guess which option is chock full of nutrition, and we will explain why!

Hotdog Fox

Entrees: Cheeseburger with Chips vs. Hot Dog with chips vs. Turkey Burger with avocado and olives on the side:

Answer: Ground white turkey meat is key here!! Dark meat raises the saturated fat. The avocado and olives contain the heart helping monosaturated fats that we all need in our diet. And yes, the is a whole wheat bun higher in fiber to help eaters feel full.

Also, keep in mind 1 hot dog equals 1.5 oz of protein while a typical burger here in the USA is about 6 oz protein. Therefore 4 hot dogs equal 1 burger. Think about how many hot dogs fill you up.  Beaware the hot dog will contain more salt than the burger.

Condiments: Ketchup Vs. Mustard Vs. BBQ

When comparing condiments–even salad dressings–it is best to look at the ingredients list instead of the nutrition facts. Many ingredient lists still contain corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and or both. Mustard is 100% natural so preferable. The second preference is ketchup. Heinz now makes Organic Ketchup with no HFCS! .

libby's dip Fox

Dips: Onion Dip vs. Guacamole vs. Libby’s Veggie Dip

Our favorite choice here is Libby’s veggie dip. Laura’s boys are picky eaters and she is always looking for ways to incorporate veggies in their diets. We love the taste and texture of this dip and it is so easy to make! Don’t get us wrong, we also love guac too, for its high content of monounsaturated fats from avocados, however if you ate a burger with avocado, switch it up for some Libby veggie dip (we just learned this recipe last week at the Dishing With the Media event).

You can find the recipe for Libby’s Veggie Dip here. (Add link)

 potato salad cole slaw fox

Side Dishes: German Potato Salad Vs. Cole Slaw Vs. Veggie Slaw

Favorite choice is the easy veggie slaw made of raw veggies in white vinegar. Love yourself some fiber and antioxidants! German potato salad (red potatoes, spices, and olive oil) is a great choice but may feel to filling with all of the other holiday foods we consume on this day.

dessert fox

Desserts: Strawberry Shortcake Vs. Frozen Berry Banana Pops Vs. Italian Ice

Rich in antioxidants and naturally low in calories, the frozen berry pops are the healthiest of these choices. While italian ice is also low in calories, it is high in simple sugar but with no vitamins, minerals or antioxidants. Strawberry short cake contains the most calories, and saturated fat but is definitely yummy!!

Consider what foods you love, what your body is craving, and what will fill and satisfy you. The last thing a Mommy RD would recommend is to eat all the low cal foods and then have you go home to secretly eat the foods you deprived. This is also true for your kids. Have a happy and healthy day mentally, physically and spiritually!!

When choosing what to eat this weekend, remember all foods fit.  Food education can help you make food decisions. By understanding why some foods are higher in nutrition you have the opportunity for choice. And remember, the healthiest option isn’t always the lowest in calories, it is the most nutritious. However, if strawberry shortcake is your absolute favorite dessert, or you feel like Elisabeth Hasselback from Fox and Friends, who exclaimed, “I pick the Italian ice! It is my childhood favorite”, we say, go for it!

Have a wonderful 4th of July!


  1. Kris-Etherton, P. M., Pearson, T. A., Wan, Y., Hargrove, R. L., Moriarty, K., Fishell, V., & Etherton, T. D. (1999). High–monounsaturated fatty acid diets lower both plasma cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 70(6), 1009-1015.
  2. German, J. B., & Dillard, C. J. (2004). Saturated fats: what dietary intake?. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 80(3), 550-559.

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