From flag cake to burgers and hot dots to firecracker ice pops, Independence Day has its own food traditions. While there’s nothing wrong with indulging every once in a while, it’s easy to make healthier versions of these classic summer foods. If you’ve already seen our list of healthier 4th of July recipes, check out the ten recipes below for inventive, interesting, and healthy takes on this holiday’s traditional eats.
Fresh Tarragon New Potato Salad via In Pursuit of More
Mayo no more! This potato salad swaps the creamy dressing for plenty of fresh herbs, chopped veggies, and a refreshingly tangy dressing featuring apple cider vinegar and lemon juice.
Photo: Shira / In Pursuit of More
Healthy 4th of July Flag Cake via Branch Basics Blog
In many families, it’s not Independence Day without a flag cake. This patriotic classic dessert is made with spelt flour, almond milk, and maple syrup. For lighter frosting, combine reduced-fat cream cheese, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Then get your Betsey Ross on with fresh, ripe berries.
Photo: Allison / Branch Basics Blog
Burgers with Roasted Tomatoes, Pesto, and Mozzarella via Confections of a Foodie Bride
Finally, a sandwich that combines two of the best summer dishes out there — burgers and caprese salad. Grill the meat (use lean beef or turkey to cut down on fat), add a slice of mozz, garnish with roasted tomatoes, and then slip the whole concoction into a whole-wheat bun slathered in pesto.
Photo: Jason and Shawnda / Confections of a Foodie Bride
Raspberry Blackberry Lemonade via Call Me Fudge
This beautiful, patriotic-hued drink uses raspberries and blackberries to make a simple syrup. Combine the sweet syrup with lemon juice and water for a refreshing summery drink.
Photo: Sarah / Call Me Fudge
Asian Slaw via Dinner: A Love Story
Keep dinner guests guessing with this Asian-inspired cabbage salad instead of regular old cole slaw. Bright cabbage, peanuts, carrots, spinach, snap peas, and a ginger-lime dressing make this side dish far from boring.
Photo: Jenny Rosenstrach / Dinner: A Love Story
Banh Mi Hot Dogs via Big Girls Small Kitchen
What happens when you cross a traditional Vietnamese lunch food with a 4th of July classic meal? This banh mi hot dog recipe dresses up regular hot dogs with cilantro, carrots, scallions, and plenty of spicy sriracha hot sauce.
Photo: Cara Eisenpress / Big Girls Small Kitchen
Amagansett Corn Salad via Food52
Named after an area on Long Island’s famed South Shore, this veggie-laden side salad just screams “summer.” Balsamic vinegar and onion balance out sweet corn, cherry tomatoes, and sugar snap peas.
Photo: Sarah Shatz / Food52
Chipotle Lime Chicken Fajita Skewers via Little Leopard Book
This bun-free grill recipe is ideal for Paleo or gluten-free friends. Plain old chicken breast gets a fancy-pants makeover with a lime, chipotle pepper, cilantro, cumin, and garlic marinade.
Photo: Whitney Bond / Little Leopard Book
Grilled Mushroom Sliders via La Kocinera
These are the cutest wee burgers we’ve ever seen! Grill baby bella mushrooms, top with smoked Gouda, add a few (teeny-tiny) garnishes, and serve on a slider bun. Seriously, these are so darn adorable.
Photo: Koci / La Kocinera
Double Berry and Coconut Pops via An Edible Mosaic
The best way to end a 4th of July celebration is with firecrackers — either real or edible. These no-sugar-added, tri-color pops are made with strawberries (red), coconut (white), and blueberries (blue).
Photo: Faith Gorsky / An Edible Mosaic
What are your favorite things to cook and eat on the 4th of July? Did we miss any of the classics? Share your traditions in the comments below or tweet the author @SophBreene.