Summer Barbecue Recipe Makeovers
Make your barbecue menu healthier, from finger foods to dessert.
Memorial Day is so much more than a three-day weekend. Formally, and most
importantly, it's a day to remember all the people who gave their lives
defending our nation. (Interestingly, Memorial Day was proclaimed in the 1800s,
before both world wars were fought.) Informally, though, Memorial Day weekend
kicks off summer – and the barbecue season. And that’s where I come in.
Nothing says summer like barbecues featuring burgers, mayo-drenched salads,
chips and dip, and colorful cakes. But from finger foods to dessert, there are
ways to lighten up barbecue offerings without changing the featured foods and
how much we enjoy them.
Lighter Barbecue Appetizers
There are plenty of light alternatives to potato and tortilla chips.
Experiment until you find a brand you like.
A fresh-style salsa is better for you than a mayo-based dip, of course. But
if you go the creamy dip route, substitute fat-free sour cream for the real
thing, and use a mixture of fat-free sour cream and light mayonnaise in place
of real mayonnaise. It works every time! Keep creamy dips cool by placing the
dip bowl in a slightly bigger bowl that is 2/3 filled with crushed ice.
If an appetizer is fried, nine times out of 10 you can get away with
oven-frying it. This dramatically reduces the amount of oil the food picks up.
For an example, check out the Oven Fried Blue Cheese Olives recipe below.
Also consider super-healthy appetizers like fresh fruit and vegetable
platters. Fresh fruit is plentiful this time of year, so enjoy strawberries,
grapes, or cut-up melon. Vegetable platters are easy to pull together using
baby carrots, sugar snap peas, broccoli and cauliflower florets, zucchini
sticks, and cherry tomatoes.
Experience has taught me that people really do eat them. Put fruits and
vegetables out there on the table, make them look good, and bada-boom,
bada-bing -- they will disappear.
Lighter Barbecue Salads
Macaroni salad, potato salad, coleslaw, green salad ... name your salad, and
it probably involves a jar of mayonnaise. I’ll make this easy for you. If the
recipe calls for a cup of mayo, blend 1/2 cup of light mayonnaise with 1/2 cup
of fat-free sour cream instead, and you’ve just cut the fat by 75%.
If the recipe calls for a bottled salad dressing, find one that is lighter
(with around 6 grams of fat per 2 tablespoon serving) and tastes good, and
you’ll be doing everyone a big favor. If your recipe calls for pasta, switch to
a whole-wheat blend or 100% whole-wheat pasta.
To boost nutrients in your green salad, use a darker green lettuce (like
romaine). And add plenty of colorful vegetables like cherry tomatoes, broccoli
florets, chopped carrots, etc.