Ditch the hot dogs, potato salad and apple pie for some much-better-for-you alternatives.

In the U.S., Fourth of July means fireworks, block parties and a patriotic celebration of independence. It also means calorie-packed macaroni salad, carb overload and maybe a few too many blue drinks.

24Life knows it can be hard to stick to your healthy habits during a fun summer celebration, so we’ve put together a few tasty and enticing alternatives to traditional fourth fare for you to try.

1. Swap the Hot Dog for a Veggie Burger

Veggie burgers often don’t hold their own on the grill alongside their meat counterparts. They’re either dry hockey pucks or crumbly messes. However, The Minimalist Baker introduces the middle ground — a veggie burger that is neither dry nor crumbly. And better yet, grillable.

With a base of brown rice, walnuts and black beans, these burgers are full of protein (about 14 grams each). And they’re not lacking in flavor because they’re seasoned with onion, chili powder, cumin and paprika, as well as good ol’ barbecue sauce for some summer flair. Check out the full recipe here.

2. Swap Potato Salad for … Potato Salad

Traditional potato salad is packed with saturated-fat laden mayonnaise. Instead of spooning heaps of it onto your plate, try The Forest Feast’s rendition of Roasted Potato Green Bean Salad.

On a roasting pan, place about 40 mini potatoes and 10 whole cloves of garlic. Drizzle olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then roast at 450 degrees for about 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and toss the contents of the pan, along with two cups of chopped green beans, a bunch of cilantro with a splash of oil and vinegar in a large bowl. Serve hot or cold.

(Excerpted with permission from The Forest Feast.)

3. Load Your Plate up with Melon

Melons are an underrated fruit. We often turn to the mounds of berries or apples stacked in the supermarket, but there are other fruits worth buying. And while melons require a little prep work before eating, it doesn’t mean they should be avoided. Plus, during the summer, a little watermelon juice running down your arm can be funny, especially when you consider all of the health benefits of eating the delicious fruit.

Because melons are mostly water — watermelons consist of 92 percent water — not only are they great for hydration on a hot summer day, but they also fill you up making you less likely to overeat.

Not to mention, watermelon is packed with lycopene, essential for cardiovascular and bone health. And other melons, like cantaloupe and honeydew, all sport anti-inflammatory properties, high amounts of potassium, and are great sources of vitamins A, B6 and C.

4. Swap Macaroni Salad for Lemon Parsley Pesto Pasta Salad

Oh My Veggies has a great recipe for a bow-tie pasta salad full of vegetables, some nuts for protein, and parsley, lemon and garlic for flavor. Check out the full recipe here.

5. Swap Craft Beer for a Refreshing Twist on Lemonade

It’s easy to have a few too many beers when you’re hanging with friends around the picnic table. But there’s a big difference between a light beer, say a 12-ounce can of Michelob Ultra (90 calories) versus a craft brew which has double or triple the calories and double or triple the ABV.

Instead of sipping beer all day, opt for something a little healthier but just as refreshing — try Domestic Life Stylist’s recipe for Summer-Thyme Blueberry Lemonade.

Start with a half cup of clean berries. Crush them just enough that they burst and add them to a sauce pan with a cup of water. Toss in a fist-full of thyme and about one cup of sugar (less if you prefer). Over medium-low heat, simmer until the sugar is dissolved.

In a separate container, juice three to five lemons and remove seeds. Add the blueberry mixture, four additional cups of water and a half teaspoon of vanilla extract. Lisa garnishes these drinks beautifully with sugar-laced rims, lemons and sprigs of thyme.

(Excerpted with permission from Domestic Life Stylist’s blog.)

6. Swap Apple Pie for Cinnamon Baked Apples

Nothing says America like apple pie. But pie is full of butter and sugar. Try Detoxinista’s recipe for cinnamon baked apples, sweetened with pure maple syrup and a little coconut oil.

Combine the following in an oven-safe skillet:

  • 4 cored and chopped Granny Smith apples
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp of coconut oil
  • ½ tsp of vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • ⅛ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp of salt

Stir it for about two minutes until the mixture is sticky. Transfer the skillet to a 350-degree oven and bake for about half an hour, stirring at the 15-minute mark.

(Excerpted with permission from Detoxinista.)

Happy Fourth of July! Have a safe and healthy celebration!