The Obama administration is encouraging Americans to eat a healthy Fourth of July holiday meal — one that excludes lots of the things most people look forward to, like ribs, soda and dessert.

Jocelyn Harrison, an intern at the Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, acknowledged in a blog post that July Fourth is a big food holiday for most people.

If it’s too much food, you can always save some for July 5. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

“What do you have planned?” she asked. “A family reunion at the beach? A backyard barbeque with family and friends? A picnic in the park? Or a few friends on your patio?”

But she says Americans should do all they can to make their meals “healthy and delicious!”

For meat, she suggests: “Go lean. Choose skinless chicken breasts and lean cuts of beef like sirloin or ground beef that’s at least 90% lean.”

She mentions turkey burgers, grilled seafood and veggie burgers, but makes no mention of barbequed ribs or any pork products, an affront to a major U.S. industry.

Harrison recommends eating lots of vegetables.

“Make an ‘everything’ salad,” she suggests. “Choose at least 10 of your favorite salad ingredients. Include a leafy green like romaine or spinach and add celery, radishes, carrots, sunflower seeds, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, grated low-fat cheese, scallions.”

If you must put a non-lean meat on a bun, Harrison recommends whole-grain buns. But she is emphatic about the importance of skipping sweets.

“Think fruit for DESSERT!” she exclaims. “Nothing says Fourth of July like an ice-cold watermelon or fresh summer peaches. Or, create a patriotic and healthy-licious red, white and blue fruit salad.”

Oh, and no soda either. Instead, use fruit to flavor your water.

“Drink water instead of sugary drinks!” she suggests. “It’s usually hot this time of year so make sure you have lots of ice cold water on hand. Add thinly sliced lemons, limes, watermelon or strawberries for a flavorful, refreshing drink the whole family will enjoy.”

Other Must-Read Stories