Happy 4th of July!
Not only do we celebrate our country's independence on this day, but for so many, we spend it enjoying the company of family and friends in the height of beautiful (hopefully!) summer weather! This weekend is so often filled with a pool party, cookout, or other festive gathering... fun right?!
But...does the thought of all the food in front of you at large cookouts or the lack of supposed "healthy" foods you think you SHOULD be eating stress you out?
Do you struggle with an all-or-nothing mindset (where you HAVE to either eat completely "good" or entirely relaxed and eat anything and everything you want but feel out of control)?
If you're no stranger to my blog posts, you've heard me say that there's no such thing as "perfect nutrition"; instead there's a middle-ground - where you can incorporate BOTH nutrient dense and fun foods into your fueling plan.
Striving to find that middle-ground is going to help you enjoy all the barbecues and events you go to this summer! Any food can be fuel for your body!
I mean, look around! I bet you can find plenty of foods to build your plate with!
Protein can be found in hamburgers, hotdogs, grilled chicken, steaks, shrimp, veggie burgers, and more!
Foods like pasta salad, potato salad, buns, & cornbread are great starches!
And those grilled veggies, corn on the cob, fresh salads, amazing fresh fruit (watermelon season is here 🍉), they are SO COLORFUL and still filled with nutrients!
At a barbecue (if you choose), you easily use your athlete's plate as a guide:
And relax a bit! Enjoy those chips or a cookie (or two) if you want them! There are plenty of foods that we eat every day that are more than just "fuel".
It's important to remember that nutrition (like gymnastics) is all about balance.
Remember to enjoy the time outside in beautiful weather with friends and family instead of stressing about food! Years from now, you'll want to remember the memories with others and not what you did or didn't eat on one specific day.
Need some delicious ideas to bring to your 4th of July party?
Here are some festive and summer-y recipes that everyone will enjoy!
Patriotic Fruit Kebobs
These fruit kebobs are a simple, delicious, and festive treat to bring to any 4th of July gathering! And gymnasts, these kebobs offer vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates that are all necessary in your fueling plan!
1 pint strawberries
1 pint blueberries
1 -2 cups mini marshmallows
Wash and dry berries.
Cut strawberries into pieces about the same size as the mini marshmallows and blueberries.
Thread fruit and marshmallows onto skewers in a pretty red, white, and blue pattern.
Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to eat! These can be made a day in advance if needed.
Recipe from Around My Family Table!
American Flag Taco Salad
This is such a festive and fun dish that you can bring to any 4th of July celebration. Plus, it includes protein, color, and carbs, fitting right in with your athlete's plate!
1 pound ground beef or vegetarian crumble
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup salsa
1 envelope taco seasoning or 2 tbsp of a DIY Taco Seasoning
4-6 cups tortilla chips
4 cups shredded lettuce
1/2 cup pitted large olives, sliced lengthwise
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2-3 cups cherry tomatoes
In a large skillet, cook beef over a medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Drain off any extra grease. Next, stir in the water, salsa, and taco seasoning. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Place chips in a 13-in. x 9-in. dish. Next spread beef evenly over the top of chips.
Cover beef with a layer of lettuce.
Arrange olive slices together in the upper left corner to form stars. For the stripes, alternate tomatoes and cheese. You can add a couple extra chips to the side of the dish for some extra crunch.
NOTE: If you are making this several hours in advance, skip placing the chips at the bottom of the taco salad and just serve them on the side.
Recipe from Family Fresh Meals!
Grilled Honey Lime Cilantro Chicken
Summer is the perfect season for grilling! Fill your plate with some protein and flavor with this grilled chicken recipe!
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
In a small bowl, combine lime juice, honey, soy sauce, olive oil, garlic, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade.
Pour the remaining sauce over the chicken and let marinade in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight (Cover the bowl or seal the bag that the chicken is marinading in if leaving overnight).
Preheat your grill to medium high heat. Grill each side of the chicken for about 3-4 minutes or until cooked throughout and no longer pink.
Pour the reserved marinade over the cooked chicken for more flavor, let rest for 5-10 minutes, then serve and enjoy!
Recipe from The Recipe Critic!
Grilled Coconut Lime Shrimp and Summer Veggies in Foil
What's summer without grilling?! This shrimp and veggie recipe is simple to make and only requires one cooking step for everything! Plus, this meal has lots of protein and color that gymnasts need!
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 cup fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 aluminum foil sheets large enough to wrap around the food
2 cups corn kernels (you can also use frozen corn kernels)
1 zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds and halved
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon fajitas seasoning
chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, for garnish
In a blender, combine onions, garlic, coconut, lime zest, lime juice, cilantro, olive oil and soy sauce; blend until smooth.
Place marinade and shrimp in a resealable bag and toss to coat.
Set aside for 5 minutes.
Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat.
For each foil pack, prepare two sheets of aluminum foil; place the sheets one on top of the other for durability and lightly spray with cooking spray.
Divide up the veggies and shrimp evenly and place into the center of each foil packet.
Season with salt, pepper, and fajitas seasoning.
Fold the sides of the foil over the shrimp, covering completely; seal the packets closed.
Transfer the foil packets to the grill, cover and grill for 6 minutes; turn over the packets and continue to grill for 7 minutes, or until shrimp are opaque.
Carefully open the foil packets and stir the contents.
Sprinkle with cilantro or parsley and serve.
Original Recipe here!
Southwest Quinoa Salad
Switch up the usual pasta salad and try out this recipe for a quinoa-based salad. This recipe is full of flavor and contains protein, color, and carbs, helping gymnasts fuel while also enjoying themselves at the 4th of July party!
1 cup quinoa cooked according to package directions (cooked in either water or chicken stock to add a little more flavor)
14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
14 oz can corn, drained
1/2 of a large red bell pepper
4 green onions, diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Juice from 2 limes
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Cook 1 cup quinoa according to package directions.
When the quinoa is done cooking, fluff it with a fork, transfer it to a large bowl, and allow it to cool completely (about 15 minutes).
In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, ground cumin, black pepper, and salt.
When the quinoa has cooled, add in black beans, corn, red bell pepper, chopped green onions, and cilantro.
Stir in dressing and toss to coat.
Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Leftovers the next day are even better!
Recipe from Center Cut Cook!
Cheesecake Dip with Strawberries
Enjoy this sweet treat to cool off from the summer heat (while adding a bit of color to your plate)!
1 (8 ounces) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 pints fresh strawberries
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
In a bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sour cream, confectioners' sugar, milk, almond extract, and vanilla extract; mix until smooth.
To serve, add the cheesecake dip to one bowl and fill another bowl with the graham cracker crumbs. Serve with whole strawberries for dipping. To eat, dip the strawberries into the cheesecake mixture and then into the crumbs.
Recipe from Inspired by Charm!
Homemade Fruit Popsicles
Make your own version of this popular summer dessert! Super simple to make and customize, refreshing in the summer heat, and includes some vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and protein that gymnasts need!
3/4 cup yogurt (Greek or regular)
2.5 cups fruit
4-6 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon juice
Add all ingredients to a blender in the order listed.
Blend for 50-70 seconds or until the mixture is smooth.
Evenly distribute the mixture into the six wells of a popsicle mold.
Secure the lids and sticks on top of the mold and place it in the freezer.
Freeze for 8 hours or overnight.
Remove the molds, run each one under hot water for 30 seconds and then release the popsicle.
Enjoy immediately! To freeze for later, once the popsicles are removed from the molds place them on a baking sheet to flash freeze them for 30 minutes.
Place them in an airtight, freezer-friendly container or Ziploc bag until you are ready to enjoy them!
Recipe from Joyful Food Sunshine! Check out the full recipe post for exact measurements of fruit combinations and an alternative to popsicle molds if needed!
No matter which recipes you whip up and what's on your plate this holiday weekend, remember to enjoy time with friends and/or family and enjoy the summer weather instead of stressing over one day of eating! You can enjoy all of your barbecue favorites while also still fueling yourself!