Last updated: August 23. 2013 4:47PM - 232 Views

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Thursday in Independence Day. For most of us, that means a day of fireworks, fun and food. It also means a day of temptation.

We know the holidays are a time to splurge, but it doesnít have to mean giving up on all your healthy eating goals. There are some simple ways to make the healthy choice and not put a crimp on the dayís festivities.

The first and simplest tip is just to read the labels on any canned, bottled or bagged foods. Thatís a habit we all need to get into. Even a quick scan will give you a sense of what youíre feeding yourself and your family.

First, understand the calorie count and serving size. Your favorite lemonade may say it has just 80 calories a serving, but if they call six ounces a serving and youíre downing it in your favorite 24-ounce summer mug, youíre drinking the caloric equivalent of a complete, healthy dinner.

Next, understand what the DV is. That stands for the daily value of an ingredient. Rule of thumb: five percent of daily value or less is little, 15 percent or more is a lot. If itís 15 percent of something you need ó say, fiber or vitamin C ó then good for you. If itís 15 percent of your daily sodium or fat, not so good. Look for items with less than that five percent of fat, saturated/trans fats and sodium. Look for 15 percent or more fiber, vitamin A, calcium and iron.

While you are checking labels, consider how much healthier certain choices can be. A half-cup serving of canned baked beans with sauce is much more heavy a load on calories and sodium than simply prepared black beans.

If you are heating up the grill this Fourth of July, keep an eye on the sauce. They're heavy on sugar, calories and sodium.

Better yet, if you really want to control what you and your family are eating, make it yourself. Here is a 16-calorie sauce that cuts the sodium to 94 mg.

Barbecue Sauce

3/4 cup strong brewed coffee

1 cup ketchup

1/4 cup molasses

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 jalapeŮo or serrano chiles, pierced all over with a fork

Hot sauce, to taste

Combine coffee, ketchup, molasses, orange juice, vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard and chiles in a medium heavy saucepan; Bring to a simmer, stirring. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool and discard the chiles. Add hot sauce to taste.

For more recipes, go to www.ActivateAllenCounty.com or check us out on Pinterest.

Health tips courtesy of Activate Allen County will appear in this space every Monday.

Activate Allen County
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