It’s time to celebrate this great land we live in, and what better way to celebrate than to have a backyard barbecue? Family, friends, fireworks and — of course — food is the perfect combination as we celebrate.

Summer, and the Fourth of July, is the perfect time to indulge in the “rainbow” of summer produce. With a variety of antioxidants and healthy nutrients, now is the time to dive into all the colors of the rainbow. Here’s a quick rundown of how colors from fruits and vegetables can affect your health:

  • Green: Protects against cancer and helps maintain good cardiovascular health

    • Best choices: Kiwi, broccoli, spinach and kale

  • Orange and yellow: Healthy for the skin, strengthens the immune system, and helps maintain healthy vision by reducing the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts

    • Best choices: Oranges, apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, squash and bell peppers

  • Purple/blue: Helps with short-term memory loss

    • Best choices: Blueberries, blackberries, prunes and plums

  • Red: Helps lower the risk of prostate and ovarian cancers and cardiovascular disease

    • Best choices: Tomatoes, watermelon, ruby-red grapefruit and guava

  • White/tan/brown: Helps reduce the risk of cancer

    • Best choices: Potatoes, cauliflower, mushrooms and onions

Pack your cooler with crisp, raw veggies, such as cucumbers, carrots, celery, asparagus tips, cherry tomatoes and radishes, or even a big, leafy salad. Don’t forget dip! Hummus, salsa, fat-free bean dip or low-fat yogurt with herbs and spices make the perfect healthy dips to accompany your veggies.

Explore different entrée options, too. Instead of a high-fat brat, try a lower-fat chicken sausage or veggie burger.

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Often the relaxed atmosphere of a backyard barbecue also includes high-calorie or alcoholic beverages. Therefore, think about choosing healthier liquid calories. When drinking beverages during your social gathering, make the majority of your liquids low- or no-calorie beverages. Water and unsweetened tea are great choices.

If you consume alcohol, alternate with water and practice portion recommendations, including 1 alcoholic beverage per day for women and 2 for men (a 5-ounce glass of wine is one alcoholic beverage). Lastly, get up and move! Move away from the food table and focus on socializing rather than eating. Take part in backyard or park activities — badminton, volleyball, swimming, tennis, or simply a walk on a trail.

Grill-Roasted Potatoes and Peppers

1 (1.5-pound) package small potatoes

2 tablespoon garlic-flavored olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

¼ teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper

1½ cups bell pepper strips

½ tablespoon garlic olive oil

Preheat a charcoal or gas grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat.

Microwave potatoes in their package for 5 minutes; cut potatoes in half.

Drizzle potatoes with 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic olive oil; toss. Add rosemary, sea salt and black pepper; toss to coat. Place potatoes in grill basket. Grill 3 minutes.

Toss bell pepper strips with remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Add to basket. Grill 3 to 5 minutes more, or just until peppers are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally.

Recipe source:

Emily McMillan is a registered dietitian for Hy-Vee stores in Rochester. This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.