5 mouthwatering healthy recipes for Your Memorial Day cookout

May 24, 2022

Riverside Healthy Cooking
A family enjoying a backyard cookout on Memorial Day

With Memorial Day on the horizon, summer is just around the corner. Like most Americans, you may be headed into the warmer months with lofty health goals and a full social calendar. But, eating away from home, especially at social gatherings, is a common barrier to eating healthy. The good news is that there are plenty of nutritious and delicious recipes to enjoy while working toward your goals this season. 

"Summer is a great time to upgrade your diet with fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. Fresh produce offers nutrients, flavor and filling fiber to your dish," says Bethany Edge, Registered Dietitian, Riverside Wellness and Fitness Center.

Cut the calories, not the flavor

Foods that are low in calorie density, a measure of calories compared to weight, fill you up without weighing you down. Most fruits and vegetables are low in energy density. Consider a bowl full of cucumbers versus a bowl full of corn chips – the cucumbers have far fewer calories and take up more space than the chips. The result? You'll feel full faster with the cucumbers and eat fewer calories. 

Make sure you have plenty of low calorie foods at your next gathering by bringing a plate of veggies for dipping and snacking. Or, for a flavorful side dish, check out this colorful Shirazi salad that pairs vine-ripened tomatoes with baby cucumbers, fresh herbs and a light vinegarette dressing. 

"Fresh herbs are an easy way to add nutrients and flavor to your summer dish. Cilantro, mint and parsley can transform your dip or side dish," says Bethany.

Get creative with nature's original superfood – beans

Beans are a staple in every single Blue Zone around the world. Blue Zones are longevity hot spots where people remain healthy and active into their 80s, 90s and beyond. And with their high fiber, vitamin and mineral content, it's no surprise beans are on the table for most meals. 

Be the star of the cookout with this delicious cowboy caviar. This dip is a twist on salsa and incorporates black beans, black-eyed peas, cilantro, peppers and onions. You can't go wrong with this hearty dish, but don't skimp on the scoops. Bell pepper strips, whole grain crackers or pita chips are great options that won't break as your scoop. 

If you prefer smooth and creamy dips, this lemon and herb white bean dip is sure to be a crowd pleaser. And if you've got leftovers, it doubles as a sandwich spread or salad topper. 

Beans can also take center stage on the grill with these easy black bean burgers. Don't forget your favorite burger toppings – lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles. 

Swap out the mayo

The time has come to retire mayo as a summer cookout staple. Mayo-based dishes like pasta salad and potato salad are high in saturated fat and calories that can add up fast. 

"Cut back the saturated fat by choosing vinegar-based dressings for cold dishes like coleslaw and potato salad," says Bethany. 

This cookout season, try a five-star, fresh, vinaigrette-based coleslaw with all the summer flavors you crave. It's so good; you'll be wondering why you didn't make the switch sooner. 

Add fruit to dessert

There's no need to skip the sweet treats to be healthy. Ripe summer fruits make good-for-you desserts a breeze. This mango lime tart is the perfect summer dish to round out your meal without sabotaging your goals. 

Embrace health goals this Memorial day

Memorial Day is almost here, so get cooking! There is always something to celebrate. Instead of using holidays as an excuse for not eating healthy, use them to lighten up a family favorite or try something new. However you decide to enjoy the day, keep in mind, that you don't have to be perfect to make progress. Enjoy!

If you need nutritional guidance to reduce cholesterol, control high blood pressure, manage diabetes or lose weight, Ask your provider for a referral to a Riverside registered dietitian to support healthy eating and lifestyle changes. 

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