|How to Plan the Perfect Low-Carb Fourth-of-July Celebration|
(Photo by Jeffrey Kontur)
All it takes is a little bit of thought and preparation.
With that in mind, you don’t want to wait until next Tuesday morning to start figuring out how to stay on plan. If you do, you’ll end up with a plain bun-free burger or hotdog, a boring lettuce salad, a handful of pork rinds, and maybe a few strawberries for color. Eating that way when everyone else around you is chowing down on potato salad, baked beans, corn-on-the-cob, and colorful cupcakes can quickly escalate into tossing your low-carb diet aside.
Although one free day won’t damage your new way of eating for very long, a better alternative is to take a few moments and give the food you plan to serve or eat that day a little more thought. Whether you’re the party chef, hostess, or welcomed guest, here’s how to plan the perfect Fourth-of-July Celebration.
Decorate with Patriotic Colors – Set Up Red, White, and Blue Tables
|Decorate for Fourth-of-July Using Red, White, and Blue|
(Photo by Rubbermaid Products)
Take advantage of colorful plastic cups, plates, silverware, and napkins. Don’t just opt for a boring white, although a white vinyl tablecloth can look quite striking as a background to a stack of blue or red plates and cups. Spend a little bit of time browsing the offerings of your local thrift store or dollar store for red and blue flowers, greenery, and knickknacks with a patriotic theme. Make the time you spend on decorating fun.
That doesn’t mean that food isn’t important. It obviously is. But when you spend an appropriate amount of time covering your tables with red-and-white-checkered tablecloths, rolling single-serving sets of silverware inside blue napkins, or arranging the food on the table to keep the Patriotic colors well-balanced, you give your subconscious mind something fun to do, rather than eat.
Low-Carb Barbecue Main Dishes for the Fourth-of-July
The nice thing about picnics and barbecues is that the main part of your meal is practically taken care of for you. No one expects the main dish to be ultra-fancy. The Fourth-of-July traditional features are simple:
- hot dogs
- pork or beef ribs
- shish kabobs
The most difficult part of the festivities is the barbecue sauce or the marinades that the meat might have been soaked in. Standard barbecue sauces are loaded with sugar, and therefore very high in carbohydrates for the amount of sauce you get. Many marinades also contain a load of sugar. If you’re going to a holiday barbecue, one option is to call ahead and ask what the host or hostess plans to do regarding marinades and sauces. If that isn’t an option, simply bring your own meat and sauce to throw on a corner of the grill.
Easy Low-Carb Barbecue Sauce
1 cup sugar-free catsup (Hunt’s low-sugar catsup is made with Splenda)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spices
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 tablespoon spicy mustard
1 teaspoon molasses
1/3 cup sugar substitute
1/4 cup sugar-free maple syrup
2 tablespoons Brandy (optional)
Place all of the ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you don’t have all of those spices, the pumpkin pie spice and a little extra cinnamon are the two that give this sauce it’s unique flavor.
Low-Carb Main Dish Picnic Ideas
Picnics aren’t that difficult either because cold roasted chicken or grilled chicken breast that has been grilled ahead of time, and then paired with a nice, low-carb dipping sauce, make nice celebratory main dishes. If you aren’t sensitive to wheat, you can also use a low-carb flour and make some fried chicken. Chicken strips or nuggets breaded with crushed pork rinds and parmesan cheese and dipped in a sauce of mayo and mustard or the above barbecue sauce also makes a tasty dish for a picnic. Even room temperature leftover barbecued ribs or pork chops are good.
Take advantage of lettuce wraps, lunch meat filled with cream cheese or dill pickles and then rolled, or even cold meat balls tossed in barbecue sauce. Anything that tastes good cold will make a good main dish for a low-carb picnic. We live near a Sprouts market. They sell assorted turkey parts. We love to braise the legs or thighs in water to cover with lots of garlic powder and some salt. These are fantastic served cold or at room temperature.
Side Dishes for Your Fourth-of-July Celebration
It’s the side dishes where you can really get creative. Once again, think about foods and ingredients that play to your red, white, and blue theme.
Spark Up Your Lettuce Salad: Don’t just serve a simple lettuce salad with chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and green onions. Take advantage of summer blueberries, sliced strawberries, hard-cooked eggs, and crumbled feta or blue cheese to really bring out your holiday theme. And don't forget to whip one one of your favorite low-carb salad dressings.
Meat and Cheese Appetizers: Make appetizers using cubes of pepper-jack cheese, ham cubes, and black olives. Spear them together with toothpicks that hold a U.S. flag.
Cauliflower Salad: You can also whip up a cauliflower salad. It’s made just like potato salad with onions, pickles, olives, and mayonnaise, but with the addition of blueberries and chunks of red bell peppers for a nice Patriotic presentation. For an added twist, throw in a few bacon crumbles, some minced jalapeno, and a handful of tiny baby cooked shrimp.
Deviled Eggs: For those who are still on Atkins Induction, use minced red sweet peppers in the filling, along with the traditional lemon juice and mayo, but add a little bit of blue food coloring to really perk them up.
Everything doesn’t have to be red, white, and blue of course, especially if you’re still on Induction or haven’t returned berries to your diet yet. Just make sure that your sides go the extra-mile with little touches that say they are not your every day, typical faire.
Three-Bean Salad: Combine a can of drained green beans, yellow wax beans, and black soy beans with some chopped onion and red bell peppers. Toss with your favorite Italian Dressing and chill overnight.
Cole Slaw: Purchased cole slaw from the deli is high in sugar, but you can do the same thing at home by combining a package of ready-mix cole slaw veggies with mayo, Splenda, celery seeds, minced garlic, and lemon juice. This tangerine and walnut cole slaw recipe will also make your salad extra special.
Vegetable Salad: Look over your list of acceptable vegetables and pick out several different kinds. You can use them raw, or lightly steam them. Toss with mayo, Splenda, a dab of spicy mustard, a few bacon crumbles, and some Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning. Italian Dressing or a homemade Ranch would also be nice. If you aren’t sensitive to dairy, blue cheese dressing or chunks of blue cheese would also go well with this. Many low carbers are particularly fond of raw chopped broccoli, cheese chunks, and bacon.
Jalapeno Poppers: These are good cooked on the grill, but if you’re planning a picnic, they are also great served cold! Simply slice open a large jalapeno, remove the pith and seeds, and fill with cream cheese. Close the pepper back up and wrap in bacon secured with a toothpick. Bake or grill, turning often, until bacon is crispy and peppers are cooked through.
Low-Carb Fruit Fluff
For those who can afford a few extra carbohydrates, this low-carb fruit fluff is to diet for! Originally made with pineapple, mandarin oranges, small baby marshmellows, and Cool Whip, I’ve adapted it to be much more low-carb friendly.
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
sugar substitute to taste
2 to 3 cups of assorted berries: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries
16-ounce carton of cottage cheese
sugar-free gelatin, blue or red
Extras: unsweetened coconut, chopped nuts, dried cranberries, etc.
Whip up the heavy cream until nice and thick. Add sugar substitute. The amount you need will depend on how sweet your berries are. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine berries, cottage cheese, and enough sugar-free gelatin to give it all a nice dark color. When you fold in the cream, the color will lighten up quite a bit, so you want the color to be much darker than when you finish. Add any extras you like, then fold in the whipped cream, and chill.
When it comes to low-carb desserts, there’s no shortage of recipes on the web. However, many of these recipes for cakes, cookies, and pies use low-carb products that contain a lot of wheat gluten. If you’re sensitive to gluten, you’ll want to stay away from them. But if you’re not, the holidays are a perfect time to try one of these recipes out. The following are some of my favorite low-carb desserts:
Chocolate-Mayonnaise Pound Cake: This recipe for low-carb chocolate cake is wonderful, but it needs to be made a day ahead. If you eat it the same day, it will be dry, but after it sits overnight, the texture changes and it becomes moist and wonderful. It does use wheat gluten though.
Easy Apple-Blueberry Crisp: If you’re short on time, this recipe for apple crisp makes use of canned sugar-free pie filling.
Strawberry Cheesecake: With or without a nut crust, a low-carb cheesecake topped with sliced strawberries and blueberries makes a great Fourth-of-July low-carb dessert.
Easy Strawberry Pie: If you’re looking for a red, white, and blue dessert, this low-carb strawberry pie will make you look like you spent hours in the kitchen. You can serve it to your non low-carb guests, and they’ll never know the carbs are missing! Or take it along with you to a Fourth-of-July party, but be prepared to share the recipe.
Real Strawberry Popsicles: If you’re hosting your own Fourth-of-July party, whipping up a bunch of real strawberry popsicles will keep the kids happy, as well as the adults. For an added touch, toss in a few blueberries and maybe swirl in a bit of whipped cream for a marbled effect.
Strawberry-Blueberry Shortcake: If you want to get creative, you can make a fantastic strawberry-blueberry shortcake using Atkins’ original Revolution Roll recipe piled into a tube pan and baked into an Angel Food Cake. Revolution rolls themselves would make a nice shortcake base. Just split, fill with berries, and top with Splenda-sweetened whipped cream.
Low-Carb Cupcakes: Dr. Atkins' recipe can also be baked in a muffin pan using cupcake papers and then frosted for delicious low-carb cupcakes! For a marbled effect, simply divide the cupcake batter into two dishes and tint each bowlful red or blue. Carefully spoon the colored batter into your muffin cups and bake.
Easy Low-Carb Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces softened cream cheese
1/2 cup soft butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Splenda to taste
Cream together the cream cheese and butter until nice and fluffy. Add vanilla and Splenda to taste. This is great just as it is, but you could also flavor it with assorted extracts, fold in some unsweetened coconut and chopped nuts, or add some food coloring to match the holiday. You can also tint the coconut and sprinkle it on top, or top with strawberries or blueberries just before serving.
Keep the Holidays Fun!
Last year, we went to a country western concert for the Fourth-of-July, rather than having an eating bash. It was a nice outing, and we had loads of fun! I don’t remember what we ate. I just remember the time we spent with our closest friends. Now, when you’re in the beginning or the midst of a low-carb diet, that can sound a bit contrived, but the aim is to find appropriate ways to put some fun back into your life. Yes, low-carb food can be fun to make and fun to eat, but to truly make a low-carb diet a way of life, you need to be able to have fun without everything being about food.
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