Healthy 4th of July Recipes That Everyone Will Love

By Jess Novak
|
June 30, 2022
Vietnamese-Inspired Grilled Shrimp
Image credit: The Flavours of Kitchen

Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue, going on a picnic, or attending a potluck, these healthy 4th of July recipes are the perfect complement to your fireworks this year. We found a wide range of recipes that cater to a wide range of dietary needs and preferences, including some great vegan options, keto-friendly fare, and gluten-free choices — all featuring whole, fresh ingredients and plenty of seasonal produce.  

1. Mediterranean Chickpea Pasta Salad

chickpea pasta salad

Image credit: Marisa Moore

This Mediterranean pasta salad recipe utilizes protein-packed chickpea pasta for an easy variation on the classic that’s lower in simple carbohydrates and packs considerably more fiber, iron, and potassium. It’s a perfect fit for a 4th of July picnic since it travels really well and maintains its shape in the heat. We prefer to omit the sugar in the dressing (it’s honestly just as good without it) and you can always swap the cheese for dairy-free feta (we love the Violife brand) to easily make this dish vegan. If you don’t feel like going through the hassle of seeding a regular cucumber, just swap for an English cucumber, which is naturally less seedy …although we admit it feels a little less patriotic. 

2. Lamb Burgers with Feta

Lamb Burgers with Feta

Image credit: Kevin is Cooking

Burgers are a classic choice for a 4th of July cookout (and we’ve found some great burger recipes, too) but if you want to take your flavor profile in a more Mediterranean direction, consider these lamb burgers made with feta and a preponderance of fresh herbs, including mint, basil, parsley, and oregano. Lamb is an underutilized protein, in our opinion, and it has twice the amount of folate and vitamin B1, and nearly four times the amount of vitamin K as beef.

3. Greek Yogurt Coleslaw

No Mayo Coleslaw

Image credit: Kara Lydon Nutrition

We’ve written a lot about bright, vinegary coleslaws lately, but sometimes you really want that classic mouthfeel we associate with a rich, mayo-heavy coleslaw. This variation utilizes Greek yogurt for a version that’s just as creamy as a mayo coleslaw, but with much more protein and less fat. This recipe is great as-is, but feel free to throw in a few handfuls of chopped parsley for a little added freshness, too.

4. Smoked Beef Shank 

Smoked Beef Shank

Image credit: Hey Grill Hey

The one-two punch of braising and smoking really serves beef shank, a very tough cut of meat, phenomenally well. This recipe yields a silky, rich, smoky dish and makes a ton of meat, which is perfect if you’re hosting a large get-together. We’d serve with some of the easy summer sides featured here, like the Greek yogurt coleslaw and the corn, zucchini, and tomato dish with goat cheese. 

5. Vietnamese-Inspired Grilled Shrimp

Vietnamese-Inspired Grilled Shrimp

Image credit: The Flavours of Kitchen

This light marinade creates a layered depth of flavor for shrimp, which are always such a perfect addition to a barbecue. However, unlike many other meats, you don’t want to let the shrimp sit too long in the marinade. 30 minutes is about right — too much longer, and the shrimp will get mushy. Also, this recipe calls for 500g of shrimp, which is just about a pound (we get it; nobody wants to do metric conversions to read a recipe). 

6. Cheesy Grilled Eggplant with Tomato Jam

Cheesy Grilled Eggplant with Tomato Jam

Image credit: The Kitchn

A much lighter, summertime version of an eggplant parm, this cheesy grilled eggplant with tomato jam is a great way to make use of fresh tomatoes, one of our favorite gifts of the summer season. It’s also much simpler than you might think. Making a DIY jam sounds intimidating, but this quick jam is actually really easy and it lasts about a week in the fridge. If you’re avoiding white sugar, we recommend using coconut sugar. You can also swap in honey, but in that case, use about half the amount and cook the jam a little longer.

7. Keto Baby Back Ribs

Keto Baby Back Ribs

Image credit: Cassidy’s Craveable Creations

One of our favorite 4th of July recipes, these ribs are absolutely delicious — and don’t come smothered in a super-sugary sauce. These fall-off-the-bone ribs are sure to be a hit at any barbecue, and they’re totally keto-friendly, too. They’re covered in a perfect mix of spices to create an ideal dry rub, then basted with an apple cider vinegar mixture that adds further depth of flavor and moisture to the meat. To finish, you can serve with a sugar-free barbecue sauce (we like this recipe) but honestly, these ribs are also great all on their own.

8. Corn, Zucchini, and Tomatoes with Goat Cheese

Corn, Zucchini, and Tomatoes with Goat Cheese

Image credit: Once Upon a Chef with Jenn Segal

A modern, elegant play on classic creamed corn, this version is also far more nutrient-dense since it also contains antioxidant-rich zucchini and tomatoes and swaps heavy cream for protein-packed, flavorful goat cheese. We’d recommend replacing the sugar with a tiny bit of raw honey — although honestly, you can leave the sweetener out altogether and this recipe still tastes fantastic.

9. Grilled Watermelon with Feta, Jalapeños, and Honey

Grilled watermelon

Image credit: Clean Plates

This grilled watermelon recipe is one of those super quick 4th of July recipes you can break out if you need a last-minute dish to throw together — it takes just ten minutes from start to finish. Plus, it’s really healthy, since watermelon is hydrating and packed with antioxidants. It’s also easy to make a separate, kid-friendly plate when you’re putting this one together: just leave out the more challenging flavors of feta cheese and jalapeños so there’s something for everyone at the barbecue. 

10. Vegan, Gluten-Free Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

Vegan, Gluten-Free Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

Image credit: Elavegan

Let’s be real: “healthy” desserts often end up being dry, flavorless, pale imitations of their less healthful (but more flavorful) counterparts. But these strawberry oatmeal bars have the reverse effect. It’s hard to go wrong when you’ve got an ingredient list this delicious and pure: fresh strawberries, oats, coconut milk, maple syrup… these are ingredients that lead to seriously good flavor. These bars are like those sad, crumbly store-bought jam bars that have been electrified and brought back to life.

Read next: 50 Memorial Day Recipes That Are Healthy *and* Delicious

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