There is nothing more all-American than red, white, blue and barbecues. Let us celebrate America and being American with a delicious spread that will impress our family and friends and please our taste buds, all while packing in nutrition. Although science has pointed out that a diet high in plant proteins versus animal proteins is more beneficial to our health, don’t quit your burgers just yet. A barbecue is a great time to splurge, and burgers tend to be a favorite on the grill. Red meat is a great source of protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B12. When including beef in your diet, limit the portion size and eat it less frequently.

For your next barbecue, choose local and/or grass-fed beef. Pasture-raised or grass-fed beef is typically lower in total calories. The fat content is often less than conventionally raised beef, but it’s the fat profile that places grass-fed beef on the nutritional radar. Grass-fed beef boasts higher amounts of heart-healthy omega-3 fats with lower levels of saturated fat, which is the opposite of what’s found in conventionally raised beef.

All-Star Burgers:

For a red, white and blue twist to your burgers, add blue cheese crumbles into your burger mix and combine plain Greek yogurt with blue cheese crumbles to make a savory and delicious spread for your burger bun. This dish packs a flavor punch, and tangy Greek yogurt is a lower-calorie, high-protein condiment that can easily replace mayo or sour cream.

To accompany your burgers, substitute baked beans and potato salad with a fresh, dark leafy green salad topped with fresh fruits and nuts. This creates a much-needed balance in your meal. Salads are easy to prepare and transport. They are also refreshing, colorful and loaded with nutrients such as potassium, vitamins A, C and E, fiber, selenium and folate.

Salute the Troops Salad:

Place your favorite salad greens in a large bowl. Add sliced strawberries, whole fresh blueberries and sliced almonds or toasted pine nuts. Another tasty version of this salad is to add crumbled feta cheese instead of, or in addition to, the nuts. Top this salad with your favorite balsamic vinaigrette.

Nothing rounds out a barbecue more than a tasty beverage and a scrumptious dessert. The late spring and summer months are hot, and nothing is more inviting than a cool beverage and a light, refreshing dessert. Using fresh fruit in both drink and dessert recipes is both visually appealing and a great way to pack in nutrients. You can easily sneak in extra vitamins, minerals, fiber and tons of antioxidants with these two mouthwatering recipes.

Red, White and Blue Sangria:

Pour one bottle of your favorite white wine in a large glass pitcher. Add 1/4 cup triple sec, 1 cup of pineapple or white grape juice, the juice from 1 freshly squeezed lemon (about 1/4 cup), 1 pint of raspberries or 1/2 cup frozen raspberries, 1 medium peeled and diced green apple, 1 medium lemon sliced and a 1/2 cup fresh blueberries. Stir all the ingredients to mix them well and place the sangria in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Prior to serving, add 2 cups of plain or lemon-lime flavored seltzer water. (Recipe adopted from White Sangria Recipe:

Patriotic Parfait:

In a large glass trifle dish or in small clear cups, layer vanilla Greek yogurt, cool whip and/or homemade whipped cream with freshly sliced strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. For a twist, you can also layer white chocolate shavings or cubed pound cake. Berries are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants — not to mention loaded with flavor. This is a must-do desert during the hot summer months and a great way to show off your red, white and blue food.