Healthy Memorial Day Meals

Memorial Day Meals usually signal that summer is on the way, and barbeque season is opening.  What better way is there to celebrate our brave heroes, who have died serving our Country, than dusting off the barbeque, gathering family and friends, and celebrating with a wonderful barbeque platter and all the trimmings.

Memorial Day is a US Federal Holiday observed on the last Monday of May  It commemorates men and women who died while in military service to the United States. The ultimate sacrifice!

This Memorial Day, lets celebrate our traditions with new healthy diet habits, and tweak our trimmings.  Make colorful fruit and vegetable creations rather than the standard starch filled table with bowls of potato salad, macaroni salad, chips, and corn on the cob, French bread or buns, and baked beans.  All are great, just way too much starchy carbohydrates for one meal!

Some Healthy Diet Habits to make this Memorial Day Meal memorable are:

  • Use the HALF PLATE RULE to serve your guests. You are the host, so change it up. You rule!

Half Plate Rule

  • 1/2 plate of Fruits & Vegetables

  • 1/4 plate of Proteins

  • 1/4 plate of Grains

  • Then add a glass of milk, cup of yogurt, or sprinkle of cheese.

Make sure half of your serving dishes are full of fresh salads and veggies. Remember corn, peas and potatoes count as your starch! This time of year fresh colorful veggies are returning. Some awesome ideas to add more veggies are:

  • Fresh veggie filled foil packets dotted with a bit of butter, garlic, salt and pepper, and sealed and placed on the barbeque. These cook quickly and are delicious. Zucchini, peppers, onions, and tomatoes are awesome!
  • Fresh veggies chopped up without the green base. Add a handful of green olives, and cilantro and balsamic vinaigrette and you are set! Creativity rules here! Finely chop cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, green peppers, green olives, and cilantro and top with vinaigrette and your guests will never miss the heavy potato salad! Below is my Broccoli Salad pictured. Get the Recipe at Kerry's website here!

Broccoli Salad - Healthy Memorial Day Meals Tips from Holidays and Observances

  • Add fresh fruits to your green salads for fun. Strawberries, (and other berries) add a nice zing to greens or add oranges and chopped dried fruit and nut mix. Add walnuts or slivered almonds and top with poppy-seed dressing. I always take this to potlucks! This is also a great salad for Christmas meals because of the red and green colors!

Stawberry Spinach Salad - Healthy Memorial Day Meals Tips from Holidays and Observances

  • Skewer your veggies and grill them: Prepare an array of chopped vegetables like zucchini, summer, squash, onions, different colored peppers, and pineapple and allow guests to skewer away! Coat the skewers with olive oil and grill. When done, top them with a bit of balsamic vinaigrette and fresh herbs. Kids love this and they might just eat their veggies! Who is missing the grilled corn?

Grilled Skewed Vegetables - Healthy Memorial Day Meals Tips from Holidays and Observances

  • Use cabbage salad instead of potato or macaroni salad. Find a cabbage salad with lots of added veggies and use a dressing with fat free mayo or Greek yogurt. Cabbage should be your best friend. It can be added to any salad and is super filling. You will not be hungry for hours! Just a hint: If you do buy store bought potato or mac. salads, you can put them in a colander and rinse away the heavy dressing. Mix your own lower calorie dressing and you have a lighter delicious salad.
  • Visit your local farmers market for choice organic fruits and vegetables. Great tasting foods are the result of using great ingredients!

Farmers Market Haul - Healthy Memorial Day Meals Tips from Holidays and Observances

  • You can never go wrong making a Produce Tray for a Holiday Meal! See our tips on making one!  Since Memorial Day is a May Holiday and a Military Holiday, you can concentrate your produce colors primarily as Red, White, and Blue!! During this time of year, the berries are starting to be in season, so you can usually find great strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, which would go with the color scheme.  Watermelon works great too, and if you want to put a vegetable dip or hummus in a bell pepper, like I have below, just choose a Red Bell Pepper! Reds: cherry tomatoes, pomegranate seeds, watermelon, red bell peppers, red grapes. Blues: blueberries, blackberries, olives. Whites: cucumber, artichoke hearts, daikon, cauliflower, pears.  You get the idea - just choose YOUR favorite fruits and veggies!

Produce Tray - Healthy Memorial Day Meals Tips from Holidays and Observances

  • Make sure that your meals are not centered on meat. Meat should be 1/4 of your meal and fill 1/4 of your plate, per the half plate rule. Use better quality meat by choosing sustainably raised meats that are hormone-free, pasture raised, grass fed beef or free range chicken. These can be pricier, but are becoming less so as more people buy them! Please avoid all processed meats, like hotdogs and bratwurst, because they are full of nitrates and salt. If you do use them, buy grass fed beef that are nitrate-free, especially if you are serving them to kids! Grill smaller servings of meat or try seasoned kabobs or a giant salad with grilled chicken, olives, tomatoes, feta, mixed greens, and homemade vinaigrette with fresh herbs, lemon and olive oil. Change is good!

Memorial Day is a perfect weekend to get the grill up and going for the summer!

  • Make sure that your meals are not centered on starches. The traditional barbeque could be all starches. Ever served your guests burgers with enormous white buns, potato salad, chips, and corn on the cob? I have and I do not even want to figure out how many grain servings that is! Starches should be only 1/4 of your meal and yes that includes dessert. That means choose one starch, most likely. If you are serving buns, choose smaller whole grain varieties and make tons of veggies creations! If you are grilling fresh corn, skip the potato salad and chips. Skip the chips anyway, and put your pricey chip money towards better quality meat. A little planning allows you to get these out of control grains under control!

  • One more lifestyle solution would be, watch out for added marinades and condiments. They are often chemical concoctions and can be loaded with excess calories! Check the label and if you do not understand it, do not eat it! Learn to add fresh herbs for flavoring. Enjoy the taste of real food rather than smothering all of your foods with condiments and marinades!

Enjoy YOUR Memorial Day Meals!!

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