By: Heather Mangieri, RDN
How exciting, that after over a year of avoiding friends and family, we can finally have small gatherings and enjoy holidays together. I don’t know about you all, but this fourth of July, I’m looking forward to spending time with friends, family and making some of my favorite Fourth of July foods.
Festive salads are one of the most commonly searched foods to make for the Fourth of July holiday. So, I thought I’d share a few ideas. This collection of cold vegetable salads, protein-packed salads and dessert salads are some of my personal favorites. It also includes some unique ideas from other Pennsylvania dietitians. Each salad was developed with flavor and nutrition in mind. If you’re looking for a festive, flavorful and nutritious salad to make for your fourth of July holiday, give one of these a try.
Veggie salads are great way to add color to your picnic spread, while supplying a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Here’s a round-up of traditional salads with a healthier twist and some unique ideas for your Fourth of July celebration.
Broccoli salad is always a big hit for the holidays, and this recipe takes traditional recipes up a notch! It incorporates Greek yogurt into the dressing, resulting in more flavor, protein, calcium and even some vitamin D, with a lot less sodium and fat.
This recipe puts a twist on a traditional caprese and takes advantage of cherries and tomatoes, two of sports dietitian, Leslie Bonci’s favorite summer produce picks! You get the sweet flavor of cherries, the tang of the tomatoes, the crunch of the spinach, the zestyness and aroma of the basil all rounded out with fresh mozzarella, olive oil and a cherry balsamic vinegar.
I’m loving this unique summer salad shared by dietitian Libby Mills, RDN! You’re going to love the contrast of tart, savory and even spicy flavors this tangy Jicama Rhubarb Slaw provides. It make a delicious summer salad, but it doesn’t stop there. It’s also great nestled into your fish or cauliflower tacos, as a topping for lentil or borsch soup, piled high on your next burger or tucked smartly into the shrimp spring rolls.
If you’re looking for something unique, check out my rainbow vegetable slaw salad. It incorporates carrots, beets, zucchini and strawberries together for a flavorful and nutrition packed side dish, perfect for your next party or picnic.
Lastly, don’t forget about the garden salad! Chop some greens, add loads of colorful vegetables then toss with your favorite salad dressing. For an extra fresh flavor, try this fresh tomato lime & cilantro salad dressing developed by dietitian Melissa Altman-Traub.
Salads don’t have to be a side dish. By incorporating some cheese, animal protein or plant-based protein into the mix, it can be a meal in itself.
I’m loving this salad, shared by Pennsylvania dietitian Jessica DeGore, RDN. It’s packed with protein, but doesn’t require a stove to make it. It also incorporates loads of seasonal fruits and vegetables. If it doesn’t fit your Fourth of July spread, save it for another time.
It’s also a great salad to serve at a bridal or baby showers or any other summer picnic or party.
If you’re trying to eat more plant-based protein, or have vegan or vegetarian guests coming, this basic lentil salad is a great option. It’s bursting with flavor and loaded with plant-based protein and fiber, as well as many other vitamins and minerals. The balance of nutrients makes it a perfect meal on its own, or served as a side salad.
This 3-bean salad is one of my all-time favorites! The combination of beans, corn, tomatoes, and seasonings in this recipe results in more high-quality protein and fiber per serving, while having less sugar and fat than traditional recipes. It makes a great side dish at home, or can easily be packed and eaten on-the-go.
If three beans in one is too much, then try this Italian bean salad, shared by registered dietitian Laura Ali, RDN! It combines fresh vegetables and cannellini beans with in a zesty olive oil dressing for a simple and delicious summer salad. It’s another salad that is hearty enough for a meal on its own or delicious as a side salad for a hot summer night.
If you’ve never tried asparagus in a salad, now is the time! This tri-colored tomato and asparagus salad is super colorful and bursting with flavor. It’s also loaded with fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins and mineral, making it highly nutritious. You even get a serving of protein from the feta cheese!
No celebration is complete without dessert! And, that includes, dessert salads. Check out these fun and festive ideas from fellow Pennsylvania dietitian Judy Matusky, RDN.
Nothing says summer better than a cold, juicy slice of watermelon. Top it with yogurt and blueberries and you have a festive summer dessert.
Juicy watermelon, sweet blueberries, fresh mint and salty feta cheese create a symphony of summer flavors in every bite of this dessert salad. Best of all, it takes about 10 minutes to assemble.
Lastly, be sure to keep your salads at a safe temperature. Many Fourth of July gatherings are celebrated outside, in hot and humid weather. If your salad will be sitting out for an extended period of time, it’s important to keep it cold. That will help to keep it fresh and help keep any ingredients at risk for foodborne bacteria at a safe temperature.
Fill a large, shallow container with ice to set your salad container in. Once everyone is finished eating, put any leftovers the refrigerator. That goes for all foods served at your celebration.
Wishing you all a festive & fun Fourth of July!
Heather Mangieri, MS, RDN, CSSD, has over 21 years of professional experience working in the areas of Healthy Living/Wellness, Sports Nutrition/Adolescent Sports Nutrition, Weight Management & Disordered Eating. Her company, Heather Mangieri Nutrition provides food, fitness and nutrition consulting and communication services for organizations, companies and individual clients. She also works with the media and industry to create and deliver messages on products and brands that she believes support a healthy lifestyle. Heather resides in Pittsburgh with her three children.