Home Eating Well Give Your Fourth of July Menu a Low-Sugar Makeover

Give Your Fourth of July Menu a Low-Sugar Makeover

The Fourth of July is one of the most beloved holidays of the year. Not only do we get to celebrate America, but we do so in the middle of the summer, surrounded by friends and family. However, for most people, the day also revolves around eating and drinkingand having way more sugar than the 25 grams recommended by the American Heart Association.  Luckily, there are ways to stick to your low-sugar lifestyle on Independence Day without compromising on taste. This year, try these swaps to have a low sugar Fourth that everyone will love. 

For the Meat

On the Fourth of July all eyes are on the grill master. Ribs, chicken and steak all taste great when they're fired up, but they also pack a huge sugar punch. Although meats themselves don't have much sugar, the marinades and sauces that we cover them with are full of the sweet stuff. One tablespoon of barbecue sauce has about 6 grams of sugar, about 20 percent of your recommended daily sugar allowance. Instead of slathering your meats in sweet sauces opt for a dry rub, like the ones in these sugar-free recipes. Dry rubs allow for a more nuanced seasoning, letting the natural tastes of the meat to come through. If you can't give up the barbecue sauce completely, put a bit on your plate for dipping or opt for a homemade barbecue sauce that has less sugar than most store-bought brands. 

For the Sides

No barbecue is complete without side dishes. From macaroni and cheese to potato salad and coleslaw, many of our favorites come slathered in thick sauces that include not only a big dose of fat, but also lots of hidden sugar. Consider coleslaw, for example: a one-cup serving can have 23 grams of sugar! If you need to have the classics, make them at home rather than buying prepared versions from the store. While many commercial recipes rely on sugar to keep things tasting good, home recipes can use fresh herb to flavor the salads. Check out this sugar-free coleslaw recipe that tastes amazing without relying on sugar.  Whether you're hosting the barbecue or attending as a guest, consider bringing fresh fruits and vegetables as a side. After all, summer is when we have access to the best produce, and snacking on watermelon or grilled zucchini is about as healthy as sides can get!

For the Drinks

If you're trying to be mindful of your sugar intake at a barbecue, you're probably thinking a lot about the foods you're eating. However, it's just as important to be aware of what you're drinking. Summer favorites like lemonade and sweet tea are packed with sugar: up to 30 grams in each glass. Alcoholic beverages are just as bad: a glass of sangria, for example, has about 16 grams of sugar. Considering that you're drinking constantly during the hot summer weather, sugar from your beverages can add up very quickly! The best way to cut back on sugar is to have sugar-free drink options for most of the day. These can still be festive! Try filling a pitcher of water and adding lemon, watermelon or cucumber to infuse it with a refreshing kick. Or, add frozen berries to your unsweetened iced tea for a hint of natural sweetness.  You don't have to forego sweetened or alcoholic beverages entirely, but don't make them your default during the cookout. For example, you can mix tequila, lime juice, and seltzer for a low-sugar margarita. Be sure to sip slowly and savor the treat, and when you're drinking for thirst opt for a sugar-free option.  With a little planning, you can have a great time this Fourth of July without derailing your low-sugar lifestyle. 
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