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Summertime Cooking, The Healthy Way with Elaine Magee, RD

Enjoy the joys of summer -- and stay healthy too!

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I live in California and it can get hot here, too. My family loves making a chicken Caesar salad. I buy the grilled chicken at a deli that we have near the house and then all I do is pretty much toss the salad with some veggies, my sliced chicken breast, and a light Caesar dressing with croutons. It's delicious, easy and cool.

Moderator: I always grill extra burgers. My teens can reheat them in the microwave and have burgers for lunch. What are some ideas for good picnic or barbeque foods that are already light?

Magee:

  • Fruit salad, obviously, is a great picnic addition.
  • Raw veggie platter for nibbling; and I would tell people just to put some light ranch dressing or dip -- just buy the bottle of light ranch and squirt it in a bowl. That way you know your kids are getting fruits and vegetables, too.
  • Barbecued chicken breasts, especially if you remove the skin before you barbecue. People don't realize that half the fat is in the skin. So just take the skin off if you can.
  • A green salad could be light if a light dressing is being used.
  • Watermelon wedges are fun for kids to eat and all good.

Moderator: Do you have any tips for grilling veggies along with meat?

Magee: There's a couple of ways to do it. You can grill large pieces of vegetables on the grill or you can grill veggie kabobs, where you spread chunks of veggies on a skewer. I usually just use a light Italian dressing for this. Brush a little bit on and man, it's surprising how great veggies can taste this way. It can be very colorful, too.

Moderator: Pickled veggies make good side dishes, too.

Magee: The important point being that you are eating a balanced meal with lots of light and nutritious side dishes along with your grilled meat, and of course, dessert.

Moderator: What about desserts? What can you recommend as light desserts for a picnic?

Magee: We could make light chocolate cupcakes. I'm assuming a lot of people are using a cake mix and they need to know that you do not have to add any of the oil called for on the box directions. In other words, if the chocolate cake mix calls for half a cup of oil, all you need to do is add half a cup of something else instead of the oil. For a chocolate cupcake I like using fat-free sour cream as my oil substitute. It always turns out terrific.

Another light dessert is angel food cake served with fresh fruit. If you want, add a dollop on top of light whipped cream or light Cool Whip.

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