Friday, May 21, 2010

Make This Memorial Day Meal Memorable

With summer on its way and swimming pools about to open, Memorial Day is always a favorite time to gather family and friends. Picnics laden with hot dogs, burgers, coleslaw, potato salad, and brownies come to mind.

This year as you put pencil to paper to start your shopping list for the annual picnic, STOP. Make this Memorial Day memorable by changing up the menu in some new healthier ways. Instead of throwing out the old favorites, take your favorite foods and make them shine with healthier ingredients.

Hot Dogs
Kids love hot dogs and why not? They are easy to hold and fun to eat. However the main problem with hot dogs is that they are loaded with nitrites and are high in sodium. Though it is only one day, in general kids should avoid foods with these additives. Studies show a higher incidence of childhood leukemia in heavy consumers of these products.

Many local grocers now carry nitrite free dogs. You can also dazzle your guests with veggie dogs. Buy a package and see if anyone notices!

If you have already signed up with a local farmer for farm fresh produce deliveries, you might ask if they also carry grass fed beef for burgers. Grass fed beef actually contains omega 3 fatty acids which are good for your heart. These compounds are in the grass and transfer to the meat. Grass feed beef is also lower in fat than corn fed beef.

If you do not have a source for grass fed meats, local stores are now carrying buffalo meat. Ted Turner has always been a visionary and once again he has led the way with bison. Bison (buffalo) is very lean and really delicious. Look for locally raised bison.

Serve whole wheat or whole grain buns with both dogs and burgers. The fiber in whole wheat buns helps bind up the fat in the meat so instead of it being absorbed into your bloodstream and deposited in your arteries, it is removed through your stool.

Coleslaw and Potato Salad
For a healthier version of these two salads, use olive oil vinaigrette instead of the usual mayonnaise. Or if you insist on making Aunt Betty's favorite recipe that calls for mayo, try Kraft Mayonnaise made with olive oil instead of mayo made with safflower, corn, or sunflower oils. These omega 6 fatty acids can cause inflammation in the body whereas olive oil is a monounsaturated fat and is good for your heart, brain function, and hormone production.

Try adding fresh veggies and herbs. How about using red potatoes with fresh green beans, pitted kalamata olives, onions, fresh parsley, and feta cheese with a vinaigrette dressing? Or try adding dried cherries or fresh basil to the coleslaw.

Holiday gatherings need beverages especially on hot Memorial Day weekends. In addition to sodas (or instead of sodas) add bubbly water, fresh sliced lemon and limes, and bottles of POM
pomegranate juice which is extraordinarily high in antioxidants. Cranberry and grape juices are also good choices.

How about a new type of sun tea? White tea, chai tea, and green tea make great ice tea. There are lots of choices of sweeteners to pick from.

Everyone loves brownies. For a lower calorie, but no less delicious brownie, try No Pudge Fudge Brownies. They are quick and easy to make. All you have to do is add some low fat vanilla yogurt.

While all parties require lots of preparation and work, at least when you finally sit down to eat this Memorial Day, your food will not only be delicious and healthy but memorable too.

Watch Moms Like Me Monday at noon on WUSA channel 9 when Peggy Fox talks with me about Memorial Day picnics. See the latest issue of Washington FAMILY Magazine for more tips on Memorial Day picnics.