A Fourth of July cookout is the perfect place to honor all the traditional, healthy and delicious food grown in the United States. Whether it's meat, fruit or vegetables, celebrate the "united tastes of America" with these nutritious foods.
The chicken that's being perfectly barbecued on the grill most likely came from one of the five largest chicken producing states in the country, all located in the Southeast: Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Arkansas or Mississippi.
Chicken is a great source of protein and when it's eaten without the skin, it's a lot lower in calories from saturated fat. But if you love your BBQ sauce, beware! Depending on the brand, some barbecue sauces can pack on the extras. Two tablespoons of sauce can add about 60 calories, 349 milligrams (mg) of sodium and be a source of added sugars.
When grilling chicken, it should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165° F. It's also important to use a different plate when serving the cooked chicken and not the same plate that was used to transfer the raw chicken to the grill.
Mustard and Tomatoes
If you'd rather dress your grilled chicken sandwich with ketchup and mustard, you can thank North Dakota for the mustard – it's one of the leading producers of the seeds used to make yellow mustard. It offers a lot of flavor and only nine calories per tablespoon and 166 mg of sodium.
And tomatoes, ketchup's primary ingredient, hail almost entirely from California. Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C, potassium and dietary fiber, and when cooked are higher in lycopene, an antioxidant that helps protect the body fight against free radicals. It's also lower in calories, with just 20 calories per tablespoon and 170 mg of sodium.
Many holiday get-togethers usually feature some kind of potato dish. Potatoes are not only one of the most versatile vegetables, but they are also one of the most commonly eaten vegetables in the United States. Over half of the potatoes grown in the U.S. are from Idaho and Washington state. Potatoes can be very nutritious, depending on how they are prepared, and provide several important nutrients, including dietary fiber, potassium and vitamin C.
When served as a potato salad, especially during the warm, summer months, it's important to keep it safe. Cold foods should be kept cold, so be sure to use a cooler with ice packs to transport them. Any food that is left out longer than 2 hours, should be discarded, but if it's hotter than 90 degrees, it should be tossed out after just one hour.
Corn on the Cobb is a summer favorite for many Americans. Corn is grown throughout the U.S., but Illinois and Iowa produce about one-third of it. Corn is a good source of dietary fiber and a few of the B vitamins. Without butter, one medium ear provides about 100 calories. It's naturally sweet, although its sweetness lessens after picking, so it's best enjoyed right after it's harvested.
Another naturally sweet treat is watermelon. Four states, Florida, Georgia, California, and Texas are responsible for producing the majority of watermelons that are grown in the U.S. Watermelons are available with or without seeds and provide several important nutrients, including vitamins A and C and the mineral potassium. They're also high in water and happen to be a source of lycopene.
For a healthier Independence Day try skipping the baked goods and opt for a slice of watermelon instead! It can be especially refreshing on a hot day. Just remember to keep it cold once the watermelon has been sliced.