Grilling Up a Happy, Healthy Holiday

By Anne Coltman

As we all look forward to Memorial Day, I’m sure most of us have plans to fire up the grill, head to the beach, or host a backyard get-together. As a dietitian, I often get questions about “good” and “bad” foods to eat on this day. While all foods fit in moderation, here are some ideas to lighten up your holiday feasts:

Enjoy the warm weather by getting active! Consider taking a walk, enjoying backyard volleyball or going for an afternoon swim.

Grilling meats is a naturally low-fat approach. Enjoy lower-fat meats like chicken, turkey burgers, extra lean or ground beef or fish on whole wheat buns. Top your burger with fresh vegetables and fruit.

Use colorful sauces and marinades. Use heart-healthy oils like olive and canola oil mixed with fresh herbs and lemon juice to minimize sodium and unhealthy fats. Substitute the mayo in your potato salad with low- or nonfat yogurt and a squeeze of lemon juice to cut fat while pumping up flavor!

Prepare salads full of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables. These include spinach, asparagus, radishes, cherries, apricots and pineapples.

Consider desserts of fruit salad or grilled pineapple. Angel food cake with fresh berries and frozen yogurt is a low-fat, delicious way to enjoy frozen treats!

Be mindful of food safety. Keep raw meats separate from other raw foods and in the refrigerator. Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Cook all meats thoroughly.

Enjoying time with your families and friends does not have to mean packing on the calories. Stay healthy and enjoy the holiday!

Anne Coltman, MS, RD, LDN, CNSC, is a nutrition support dietitian who works in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Rush University Medical Center.

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