A red, white and blue holiday menu
Each week, a nutritionist from the University of Maryland Medical Center provides a guest post on nutrition. This week, Elaine Pelc weighs in on Fourth of July barbecues.
Gearing up for some epic Fourth of July barbecues? Planning to incorporate dishes that exemplify that patriotic spirit? Many typical barbecue sides and snacks are full of fat and calories. Popular dishes like macaroni salad, potato salad, dips and chips are the most common forms of fatty comfort foods, but, as any American can attest, the list goes on. Try swapping those high-fat favorites with healthful versions enhanced with a fun holiday theme. In this case, what could be more perfect than a red-white-and-blue color scheme?
Eat the rainbow
In summer, plenty of fresh produce is available in gardens, grocery stores, roadside stands and farmers’ markets. Take advantage while planning your holiday barbecue. Look for bright and deep colors in fresh fruits and veggies, as the different hues and density of color typically come from the varying vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants each food has to offer. When you choose to eat a variety of these foods, you get the benefits from each color of the rainbow. Along with powerful nutrition, fresh produce also provides a good source of fiber, which helps to fill you up on fewer calories and is important for intestinal health.
Red, white and blue
Red is an easy color quota to fill with red bell peppers, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, red grapes, beets, kidney beans, watermelon, apples and tomatoes. Coming up with the white and blue healthy food options may be a bit more challenging. For your white treats, consider cauliflower, jicama, egg whites, garlic, onions, ginger, turnips, shallots, parsnips, mushrooms, white beans, white asparagus, pears, nuts, tofu and fish. For the all-American blues, consider blueberries, eggplant, blackberries and blue potatoes. Get creative.
Try a healthier spin on potato salad by mixing blue potatoes with their red-skin cousins and using low-fat Italian salad dressing. Or try a low-fat pasta salad with mozzarella, purple grapes and cherry tomatoes. Or serve oven-roasted blue potatoes, sweet red peppers and cauliflower with a touch of garlic, pepper and sea salt. Instead of the typical chips and dip, try your hand at homemade baked blue potato chips for a lower fat option. Pair them with a Greek yogurt-based dip dotted with roasted red peppers or some fresh tomato salsa. Pair your main dish of grilled white fish with some broiled, roasted or grilled eggplant and tomatoes.
Dessert can be on the more healthful side, too. Try mixing up a fresh fruit salad of blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, and serve it with low-fat whipped cream or a slice of angel food cake for a lighter, more refreshing option. Or add white nuts or peeled pear chunks to cherry and blackberry cobbler.
Barbecues and holiday celebrations can include food options that taste as good as they look. Use these foods to brighten and lighten up your holiday meal while adding a few nutrients, too.