Memorial Day weekend marks the start of summertime BBQ fun and is a time to teach our kids to remember and honor the brave soldiers who have fought and continue to fight for our freedom.
Millions of Americans will be gathering for a BBQ this Memorial Day Weekend – hopefully with just immediate family members, or with safe social distancing and masks. So I’m here to provide ideas for healthy eating that are fun and won’t sacrifice flavor! Pass on a few of these ideas to family members celebrating BBQ so that you can all enjoy new and healthy dishes.
Red, White & Blue Food Fun
- Swap the chips n’ dip. Instead of salty potato chips and creamy dip, choose organic baked blue corn chips dipped in red pico de gallo and topped with low-fat sour cream or nonfat plain Greek yogurt.
- Make some frozen yogurt Rocket Pops. These are a combination of pomegranate juice, vanilla yogurt, and blended blueberries that are frozen into rocket-shaped popsicle molds. For a fun variety of popsicles, you can have the kids choose a few different size shapes and molds.
- Get creative with cake toppings. Swap your typical angel food cake toppings and try a fat-free whipped topping paired with strawberries and blueberries for natural sweetness. You can even make it a fun art project and have the kids make an American flag with the toppings!
- Hydrate healthy. Add some frozen raspberries and blueberries to ice-cold seltzer water or try these healthy hydration ideas.
Side Dishes That Will Energize Your Memorial Day BBQ
- Corn on the Cob. Go light on the butter or try a healthy butter substitute.
- Baked Navy Beans. If you’re buying them from cans, opt for the vegetarian option with little added sugar. Or, experiment and make your own!
- Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta or Legume Pasta Salad. Mix cooked whole wheat pasta, tomatoes, olives, and a jar of roasted peppers, with a light salad dressing. Add balsamic vinegar for some extra pizzazz.
- Bean Salad. Try a bean salad made with black beans, garbanzo beans, and kidney beans, mixed with cider vinegar & OJ. Beans are packed with fiber, and people who include beans several times a week live longer and healthier. Check out this tasty veggie and bean salad.
Healthier BBQ Meat, Burgers, and Hot Dogs
- Choose chicken breasts with the skin removed. You can also make them in a citrus marinade to decrease cancer-causing compounds formed when grilling.
- Make your own lean Turkey Burgers. Mix in chopped onions, chives, and green bell peppers. Subbing some of the meat with mushrooms is another trick to keep the umami taste while cutting down on the amount of animal protein and cost! Check out my Plant-based boost cookbook, for ways to add veggies and plant-protein in chicken or turkey burgers.
- Search for nitrate-free hot dogs and serve them on whole-wheat buns. Get in the habit of checking the ingredient labels of hot dogs before you purchase them to make sure they don’t have added nitrates or nitrates (compounds used as preservatives and that give hotdogs their pink color). You can also try veggie or soy-based hot dogs and get creative with the toppings for extra flavor.
- Offer a meat patty alternative. Season peppers, zucchini, and eggplant and offer them as the base with the bun. Top with low-fat cheddar cheese for a protein boost and extra flavor.
- Explore different veggie burgers! Make Garden Burgers or homemade Quinoa Black Bean Burgers and serve them on a whole wheat bun with a side of coleslaw.
Refreshing Holiday Weekend Desserts
- Blend up a sweet smoothie. Mix blueberries, mango, raspberries, and low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt for a “fight-o-chemical” packed smoothie. Top with a red, white, and blue umbrella to be extra festive!
- Make fruit kabobs! Thread chunks of watermelon, pineapple, kiwi, mango, nectarine, strawberries, & blueberries on a wooden skewer. Get your kids involved so they can make their fun combination – they’ll be even more excited to eat them. This is also a great way to help them taste a rainbow of colors to add to their colorful fruit and veggie tracker.
- Get creative with home-made slushies. Keep 100% juice slushies on hand by filling up Dixie size cups with grape juice or make orange juice creamsicles. Defrost briefly (5 minutes) in the sun and serve with a spoon. Kids will stay cool and love them!
Fun Family Activities for Memorial Day
- Get out the wheels. Take out the Big Wheel, scooter, or bike and go for a ride if you live in an open area.
- Use those legs. Take an adventure hike or go for a walk around the neighborhood keeping social distancing in mind, and only if your state parks are open.
- Recreate a childhood memory. Play an oldie but a goodie game of freeze-frame, steal the bacon or badminton.
- Work those arms! Play catch or wash the car and have a water fight
- Grow something. Use this day to start a family garden. See these tips to get one started: creating a family garden, gardening with your little one, or starting a garden.
- Read together. Find a shady place and have fun reading or working on activities together. Learn what’s in season, with these Super Crew seasonal activities, or see our children’s book corner.