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Summertime Cooking, The Healthy Way with Elaine Magee, RD

Enjoy the joys of summer -- and stay healthy too!
By
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature

Picnics, barbeques, backyard get-togethers -- the joys of summer! But how do you enjoy the fun and food and still eat healthy? Do you really have to give up Grandma Barb's potato salad and Grammy Betty's chocolate cupcakes? From lightening up your favorite summertime recipes to cooking for special needs diets such as diabetes or IBS, we got tips from WebMD's own healthy food expert, Elaine Magee.

The opinions expressed herein are the guest's alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Moderator: For me, it isn't a summer picnic without potato salad. Does there exist a good-tasting lightened version of potato salad?

Magee: Oh, yes, absolutely. I've lightened several versions over the years. Basically everybody has their favorite type of potato salad or potato salad recipe, so let me give you some general tips so everyone can lighten their own recipes.

I like to use real mayonnaise, like a 1/4 cup, and blend it with 3/4 cup of fat-free or light sour cream. This way you get a lighter-feeling dressing in your mouth but something that tastes similar to real mayonnaise. You can add flavor to your dressing with pickle relish, pickle relish juice, olives, or Dijon mustard, for example. There's lots of ways. But the base of the mayonnaise is 1/4 mayonnaise and 3/4 sour cream. Every time I've made this mixture before, everybody's loved it.

Moderator: I lighten pasta salad by adding lots of veggies and thinning the little bit of mayo I use with capers and the juice they come packed in. It tastes good -- but the pasta absorbs the dressing. Ideas?

Magee: Let's talk about lightening pasta salads with vinaigrette dressing instead of mayonnaise. With this type of recipe what I like to do is either, number one, buy a light bottled Italian dressing (how easy is that?) like, for example, Lite Done Right Italian or there's a Paul Newman's Italian Light dressing, and this would cut the fat in half. Or if you want to make it at home, you would cut the oil called for in half and substitute in something else like apple juice. Something that's going to add liquid but not oil, like caper juice.

Member question: Is grilling meat healthier than frying as far as fat is concerned? The fat drips through the grill instead of staying in a pan, so it seems like you're going to end up eating less fat. True?

Magee: It depends. I would tell people to start off with a lean cut of meat anyway so that way there really isn't that much fat to lose. I think the answer to your question is yes, in grilling, fat would drip away from the meat if you had a fattier cut of meat with visible fat. But if you have a fattier cut of meat that you're grilling and the fat is dripping down into the flames, some potential cancer or carcinogens make their way back up into the meat through flames and smoke.

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