The Alternative Memorial Day Menu

When your neighbor says she's hosting a Memorial Day fest, what comes to mind? The usual fare at these events is hot dogs, burgers, cole slaw, potato salad, chips, brownies, and beer.

Hardly diet food. In fact, it is the nutritional nightmare that has led us to become some of the fattest people on this earth.

What's a girl to do? Take down the flag and head to the gym?

Now that just isn't practical or fun.

I have an alternative. I'd like to share my menu. I hope it will inspire you to rethink Memorial Day, and BBQ's in general, so that you can enjoy them and come away feeling great about your diet.

(Don't fret. This is far from a complicated menu. I like to cook, but I have other things to do, like chase my kids around. Quick and healthy is my mantra. I'll stick to it, even when my kids don't need chasing anymore).

Memorial Day Menu:
  1. Burgers. Yes, the real deal. No fake burgers here, thank you very much. Why? Lean beef is rich in vitamin B12 and iron. It is also high in protein, which will keep you full longer. If you are able to purchase grass-fed beef, all the better. It is high in omega 3's and rarely fed antibiotics or steroids.
  2. Sweet Potato Fries. Sweet potatoes are high in fiber and a rich source of powerful antioxidants, particularly beta-carotene. They are also high in vitamin A and potassium. How do you prepare them? Scrub some sweet potatoes or yams well (don't remove the skins) and cut them up. Lay on a baking sheet and spray with olive oil cooking spray. Season with your favorite spice. (My favorite is cayenne pepper). Bake in the oven at 450F for about 15 minutes.
  3. Tossed Salad. By now you know that dark green leafy vegetables are loaded with nutrients. Choose one you love and top it with some combination of fruits, nuts, and vegetables that appeal to you. I love arugula topped with dried cranberries , chopped walnuts, and feta cheese. It's delicious, and the toppings up the nutritional content by adding omega 3's, vitamin C, and fiber.
  4. Watermelon. Watermelons aren't just for greasing and seed spitting contests, ladies. They are a good source of potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C. And, they have no cholesterol and virtually no fat. If watermelon is your dessert, you've chosen a great one.
  5. Grilled Bananas. You probably already know the basics on bananas: they are high in fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. They are also a good source of vitamin B6 . Like watermelon, they do not contain cholesterol or fat. Here's how to grill them: drizzle with oil (okay, you just added some fat, but the oil makes the sugar in the bananas crystallize as they grill. Definitely worth the fat, and still a very good choice for dessert).
  6. Brownies. Yes, brownies. There's not much to say about the nutritional content of brownies. However, there is a psychological benefit. Allowing yourself to indulge once in a while helps you stay on track and avoid binges. Enjoy them; allow your guests to enjoy them.
Happy Memorial Day. Happy Cooking.
For more ideas on healthy outdoor dining, you may want to check out these meal preparation ideas for your next picnic.

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