It’s no Fourth of July celebration without fireworks, parties, and food. The National Retail Federation reports that Americans spent around $7.7 billion on food last year to observe Independence Day, with the top food being hot dogs. Although it’s fine to indulge in hot dogs and chips, it’s important to ensure there are also healthy options available on the spread. From grilled sliders to a refreshing dessert, we’ve got you covered with four small plates to serve this holiday:
Grilled Buffalo Chicken Sliders with Jicama Slaw
These buffalo chicken thighs are grilled to perfection and topped with the nourishing crunch of jicama slaw. The key ingredient in the Greek yogurt-based slaw is the shaved sweet white onions that take the flavor of the dressing to the next level.
For the chicken:
- 6 skinless boneless chicken thighs
- ½ cup buffalo sauce
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste (depending on the salt content of the buffalo sauce you may not need to add any)
- 6 small cheddar cheese slices (optional)
- 6 slider buns
- In a bowl, combine the buffalo sauce, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Reserve ~1/4 cup marinade. In a zipped bag or glass container, add chicken thighs and marinade. Rub the marinade into the chicken and allow it to marinate for 2 hours.
- Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
- Place the chicken thighs on the preheated grill and cook for about 6-8 minutes per side or until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F. Brush reserved marinade on the thighs and add cheese if desired.
- Once cooked, remove the chicken thighs from the grill and let them rest for a few minutes. Slice each thigh into smaller pieces suitable for sliders if needed.
- Grill the slider buns if desired.
- To assemble, place chicken thighs on slider buns and top with jicama slaw. Enjoy!
For the jicama slaw:
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- 2 Tbsp. Greek yogurt
- 1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp. grated sweet white onion
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup jicama, peeled and julienned
- 1/2 cup purple cabbage, shredded
- ½ cup shredded bell pepper
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
- In a large bowl, whisk together lime juice, Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper to create the dressing.
- Add jicama, cabbage, bell peppers, and cilantro and combine well. Add slaw to buffalo chicken thigh sliders.
Roasted Tomato Ricotta Crostini
This colorful appetizer is full of flavor and nutrients. The creamy and light ricotta is contrasted with flavor-bursting roasted cherry tomatoes and herbs. This dish comes together in 30 minutes or less and doesn’t require complicated tools or ingredients.
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes
- 4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 French baguette, sliced in diagonal pieces no wider than ½-inch
- ½ cup ricotta
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- In an oven-safe dish, add cherry tomatoes, 2 tablespoons olive oil, dry white wine, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Roast ingredients for about 30 minutes, until cherry tomatoes are bursting and color deepens.
- While tomatoes are roasting, line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Add sliced baguette and brush with olive oil. Bake for 6-9 minutes, or until golden. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
- To serve, spread about 1 tablespoon of ricotta on crostini and top with a large spoonful of the roasted tomato mixture, and garnish with fresh basil.
If you’re in charge of making a side dish for Independence Day, this is an easy and crowd-pleasing pasta salad for all ages. This nutrient-packed salad has crunch, tanginess, and balance from a wide array of veggies, Italian vinaigrette, and parmesan. The best part? It goes well with all things grilled like chicken, steak, and veggies.
Patriotic Watermelon Wedges
Bursting with vibrant colors and juicy sweetness, this dessert is the perfect way to cool down on a hot summer day while enjoying the festivities. Made up of about 92% water, watermelon as a dessert doubles as a source of hydration. Here’s how you put together this nourishing dessert:
- Slice a whole watermelon into 1-inch slices, then wedge the slices like a pizza. Remove the peel and place a popsicle stick into the bottom of each slice.
- Lay watermelon wedges on a serving plate and drizzle with 5% fat vanilla Greek yogurt. Scatter halved blueberries, flat side down on the yogurt drizzle. Top with shredded mint leaves if desired.
- Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow the fruit to chill.
Shanthi Appelö is a registered dietitian and health and wellness spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan based in Detroit. Passionate about the science of nutrition and behavior, Shanthi has experience working in clinical nutrition, public health and teaching in the university setting. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, exploring the outdoors, working on art and spending time with family. For more recipes and health information, visit ahealthiermichigan.org.
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