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June 29, 2011

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.

Side dishes

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.

Flag-friendly finish

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.

Posted by Kim Walker at 11:42 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Nutrition


Here's Jacob's Red, White & Blue cake.

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Andrea Siegel, a reporter at The Baltimore Sun, covers mostly crime and courts in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, as well as legal issues. She wishes she was more physically fit, and, as she's more fond of chocolate than exercise, fitness is a challenge. Her partner on a one-mile-plus daily walk is the family dog, a mixed breed named Moxie, and she exercises at the gym where the D.C. snipers once worked out.
Jerry Jackson has been a photo editor at The Baltimore Sun for 14 years and an avid cyclist for more than 30 years. Inspired by the movie "Breaking Away," he started racing as a teenager in Mississippi when leather "brain baskets" were still the norm. He regularly commutes to work by bike and still enters several mountain bike races a year for fun.
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Leeann Adams, a multimedia editor at The Baltimore Sun, also dabbles in content for the mobile website and iPhone app and covers the Ravens via video. She did a triathlon to celebrate her 40th birthday and continues to swim, bike and run -- none of them quickly, though. Her biggest fitness challenge is to balance working, working out, spending time with her husband and being a mom to a 6-year-old boy.
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Anica Butler, the Sun's crime editor, is a former high school runner and recovering vegetarian who spent more of her early-adult years on a bar stool than working out. She is currently training (though poorly) for a half marathon and is trying to live a generally healthier lifestyle. She also hates the gym.
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