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Sides and Sauces

Can't forgo your steak, burgers, and hotdogs? No problem. Serve sides and sauces with your traditional picnic and barbeque fare to prevent culture shock.

Many exotic dips and accompaniments are available in regular stores, from salsas, to curries, to rice and breads. Just make sure you choose products that are low in calories, saturated fat, and sodium. Opt for more nutrient-rich items, such as whole-grain brown rice instead of white rice.

To ensure your selection is a healthy one, you can even make it yourself. Various health-conscious recipes of foreign fare can be accessed on the Internet and in local bookstores.

Appetizing substitutions can also often be made to boost nutritionnutrition and lower less-desired items.

Instead of using salt on a dish, for example, experiment with fresh herbs and spices, suggests Garth Graham, MD, MPH, deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Minority Health, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He recommends items such as cilantro, oregano, serrano peppers, minced garlic, and onions.

Additional ideas for sides and sauces include:

  • Tortillas. Bake this low-fat Hispanic bread, grill it, or heat it up in a microwave or pan. Perdomo suggests wrapping the tortillas around lean meats, fishes, and vegetables.
  • Nan. This bread can be purchased in Indian grocery stores. It is a good source of complex carbohydrates, and can be eaten by itself or dipped in different sauces.
  • Beans. With so many varieties such the pinto, black, red kidney, and lentil, there are many ways to prepare this fiber-filled legume. You can open up a can of beans, or boil the dried versions in water. Perdomo, who is of Latin American origin, likes to add cilantro, onions, and tomatoes to her beans.
  • Salsas. There are different types of salsas, from the pico de gallo to the salsa verde to salsa roja. Although salsas are mostly associated with Latin Americans, Murimi says Kenyans have their own version of it. She likes to mix tomatoes, green pepper, green onions, and onions. For a sweet and sour taste, she adds in mangoes and pineapples.

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