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 of the trimmings.
Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (May 27th in 2013). It commemorates men and women who died while in military service to the United States.
The Video below is called "Remember Me", by Lizzie Palmer and has over 29 million views on YouTube. The music is Pacific Wind, by Ryan Farish.
This Memorial Day, let’s celebrate our traditions with new healthy diet habits, and tweak our trimmings for healthier Memorial Day Meals. Make colorful 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.
Use the half plate rule to serve your guests. You are the host so change it up. You rule.
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!
Add fresh fruits to your green salads for fun. Strawberries 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!
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?
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!
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. 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!
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!
Remember your Memorial Day holiday is a day to honor all of those men and women who have died serving our country! Thank you and we honor you!
Photo: My Dad, Herb Smith as a 1st LT in 1953 during the Korean War before a Combat Mission.
Photo: My Dad, Herb Smith as a 1st LT in 1956 in Augsberg, Germany where I was born. He served two terms during the Vietnam War, the first he was a Helicopter pilot, and the second tour, he was the commander of an airfield.