In my family, any holiday when food was served, was deemed a “major event”. The Fourth of July was no exception. When I wasn’t busy burning myself with sprinklers, playing badmitten, or playing horse shoes, I would be helping Granny set up the buffet table for yet another family feast. Homemade strawberry rhubarb pie, freshly grated coleslaw, marinated chicken on the grill, corn on the cob, and yellow sheet cake topped with homemade vanilla pudding and whipped cream made annual summer appearances.
I really loved the heavy, rich taste of mayonnaise-filled potato salads, ice cream topped pies, and butter coated corn, but who doesn’t? So here’s how you can enjoy the same old recipes, the “greatest hits” of summer without letting them hit your hips.
Burgers and Dogs
I loved the smoky tastes of hot dogs on the grill. As a kid, I always got a kick out of the way hot dogs would crack and burst as my dad would turn them on a hot grill. As I grew up and my waistline expanded, I learned that hot dogs and beef patties are incredibly high in fat, in fact in some hot dog you could be getting up to 1/3 you alotted fat intake with just one! When you shop for your 4th of July fete, go for the turkey dogs – honestly, they taste great and have about 80% less fat. As for the burgers, I won’t lie and say that turkey burgers taste the same, but you can always make your own patties with half ground sirloin and half ground turkey to cut the fat by half.
Cool and creamy potato salad finds its way to so many summer cook-outs, but let’s slim it down without removing the mayo all together. Start by using reduced-fat mayonnaise instead of the full fat. Let’s take it a step further by cutting the mayonnaise in half and adding low-fat, plain yogurt that will take on the taste of mayo with a lot less calories and fat. I also put a little vinegar in my potato salad to give it extra zing without adding any fat at all and hardly any calories. Fresh chives or green onions are another healthful way to add flavor along with mustard seed, fresh chopped dill, or chopped parsley.
Corn on the Cob
You might like to bast your cob in butter after it comes off the grill, but try sprinkling it with fresh lime juice, salt and a teaspoon of grated parmesan. You’ll cut the fat in half and still enjoy the sweet crunch of home grown corn. Spice lovers can add a shake of their favorite dried chili powder.
Go ahead and follow your Aunt Marge’s devil’s food cake recipe, but try to sub out some of the the high fat items for reduced fat choices. Use skim or 1% milk for whole milk, use egg whites instead of whole eggs, and use reduced sour cream and cream cheese whenever possible. Decrease the baking time slightly and you’ll have a healthier spin on a fat-filled family favorite. Psssst – just don’t tell them it’s low-fat!
Pies are a wonderful way to use fruit during the summer, but most traditional pie crusts are loaded with butter. Try turning that pie into a crumble by doing a low-fat oatmeal topping instead. Or transform your pie recipes into a healthier cobbler by using whole grain biscuit mix.
- Try something new for your next cookout and design your own marinade.
- Too hot to cook? Here are some tips how to make meals with the oven off.
- Want to learn more about what you should be eating? Listen to my favorite host, Leonard Lopate talk to guest, and reknowned author Michael Pollan talk about what we should be eating and why.
- Serve a crowd pleaser that is welcomed at any barbeque, Guacamole with whole grains tortilla chips.
- Have lots of left-over corn on the cob? Make Healthy Corn Chowder.
- Add more salads to your picnic table like Zucchini with Lemon and Ricotta or Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Poppyseed Dressing.
- Try a summer Peach Cobbler from deliciousdays.com.