Families at a barbeque

Make This Fourth of July’s Cookout Fun and Healthy

The Fourth of July is a day of celebration. Americans all across the country celebrate America’s independence and freedom with parades, fireworks and get-togethers filled with delicious foods and drinks. This July Fourth, whether you are attending a party or having a cookout of your own, make it a healthy one!

Tips for Staying Healthy During a Holiday Cookout

  • Grandfather with grandsonPay attention to what matters most. Yes, it seems like there are things to eat and drink everywhere you turn, but there’s more to a party than food. Spend time talking with people you care about, get involved in a fun game or good conversation and suddenly, food becomes less of a focal point.
  • Don’t head out with an empty stomach. Eat a good, healthy breakfast or meal before the festivities begin. You’ll be less likely to overindulge if you’ve had a healthy start.
  • Take time in between trips to the food table. If you give yourself a ten-minute break and drink a glass of water, you may find that you don’t want or need seconds or thirds.
  • Make room for your favorites. If you know you can’t resist dessert, then go for it, but try to remove something else from your plate. Maybe get fewer appetizers to make room for the treat.
  • Pay attention to what you’re doing. Alcoholic drinks or other party drinks can be full of extra calories, so make sure you make the best choice for yourself.
  • Load up on healthy foods to avoid overeating. Try to fill your plate with vegetables and fruits to start, and you’ll have less room for everything else. If you’re invited to a party, offer to bring something healthy.
  • Add some movement to the festivities. Instead of watching the kids run around, join them for a round of tag or sparklers. Try to get other adults up for a lawn game of some kind to keep everyone moving. Depending on when you’re celebrating, try to fit in a walk beforehand or at the end of the evening.
  • Don’t beat yourself up. America’s birthday comes around once a year. If you have more than you planned on, it’s no big deal. Get back to a good, healthy plan the next day.

Delicious and Healthy Recipes

VA’s Healthy Teaching Kitchen Program provides a ton of great recipes that are healthy and easy to make.

Check out some fun and festive recipes below to inspire your cookout plans this Fourth of July! 

Myhealthevet’s recipe for red, white and blueberry parfaits is healthy, easy to assemble and perfect for a patriotic party.

Berry Parfait

Blueberries and strawberries

Servings 4

Serving size 1 cup


  • 1 cup of fresh sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup of blueberries
  • ½ cup of chocolate chips or another topping of your choice such as coconut flakes (optional)
  • 1 small package of sugar-free instant pudding (any flavor)
  • 2 cups of skim milk
  • 1 package of graham crackers


  1. Put the graham crackers into a resealable plastic bag and smash them into pieces using a mallet or your hands. Set aside.
  2. Mix the skim milk and pudding mix for about 2-3 minutes until thickened.
  3. Assemble the parfaits into layers using juice glasses, champagne glasses or whatever you have on hand. Layers include graham cracker pieces, 2-3 tablespoons of pudding, strawberries and blueberries. Repeat until you reach the top of your dish and finish with the topping of your choice.
  4. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Healthy Teaching Kitchen Program provides a ton of great recipes that are healthy and easy to make. Their YouTube channel offers step-by-step guidance if you need it or a written recipe if that’s all you need. Check out these fun options to add to this year’s cookout: 

Snacks and Salads

  • Chickpea dip with chickpeas, lemon and garlic blended together to serve with vegetables or pita chips
  • Patriotic quinoa salad over a bed of salad greens with quinoa and red and blueberries

Main dishes


  • Mixed berries with berry cream with fresh berries, vanilla, frozen raspberries, coconut milk and fresh mint
  • Red, white and blue fruit skewers with blueberries, strawberries (or raspberries) and sliced bananas (or you can use small cubes of angel food cake or mini marshmallows) layered in a red, white and blue pattern on a skewer or stick

Enjoy your Fourth of July celebration this year and pledge to make it a healthy one!

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