#MemorialDay Made Healthy: 6 Alternatives to Your Favorite Dishes

#MemorialDay Made Healthy: 6 Alternatives to Your Favorite Dishes

Guest Piece By: Grace Derocha, registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and certified health coach with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan


More than 55 percent of Americans will fire up their grills this upcoming Memorial Day and spend time with friends and loved ones in celebration of the holiday. A time-honored tradition, tables will no doubt be lined with classic dishes such as potato salad, chips and dip, cans of soda and an array of desserts. In situations such as these, it can be easy to unknowingly overload on calories, but there’s good news. With just a few, minor substitutions, your holiday barbeque can be just as delicious, as it is nutritious.

  1. Drink this, not that

One, 12 ounce can of pop can contain 140 – 165 calories and nine and a half teaspoons of sugar. Opt out of these empty calories with a glass of Infused water, club soda or unsweetened sun tea. Fill a pitcher of ice water with cucumbers, mint and raspberries or drop a few peach slices into your sun tea. You’ll feel energized and cool in no time.

  1. Say ‘no’ to mayo

Avocado is a great substitute for mayonnaise and packs a variety of health benefits. Not only are avocados lower in calories, but they provide healthy, monounsaturated fats, fiber, Vitamin E, C and potassium. Include this fruit in the chicken salad with grapes or apples, or in the potato and egg salad with fresh dill or herbs for a crisp, refreshing addition to your barbeque.

  1. Go lean

Switch up your summertime protein with chicken or shrimp kabobs and a colorful array of roasted peppers for a satisfying, vitamin-packed option. Even better, swap the beef in your burger out for a salmon filet, tuna steak or portabella mushroom – all of which come in lower on the calorie scale and nix artery-clogging fats. Stuck on beef? Try flank steak, a leaner, thinner cut of meat that’ll satisfy your craving without bogging you down.

  1. Skip sugary sauces

While certainly a grilling staple, store-bought barbeque sauces can contain almost an entire cup of sugar. To cut down on calories, try a combination of olive oil, fresh lemon juice, herbs and black pepper for  a marinade that’s full of zest. If you’re missing that traditional sweet tang, swap lemons out for pineapple or orange juice. Mustard-based sauces are also great for a kick of flavor without the added sugar.

  1. Crunch on kale chips

Kale or seaweed chips are great substitutes for the potato variety. At just 30 calories per serving for seaweed and 50 per serving for Kale, they’re a much slimmer option than the 150 calorie per serving alternative. As an added bonus, seaweed is a great source of iodine and kale provides dietary fiber. Roasted chickpeas can also serve as a crunchy treat with a touch of olive oil and seasoning.

  1. Fulfilling Fruits

Looking for a delicious, healthy dessert? Grilled fruit is a tasty and low calorie option. The heat heightens the flavor of fruits like pineapple, peaches, pears, nectarines and apples. Serve the warm fruit with frozen yogurt for a refreshing, summer sundae.

Grace Derocha is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and certified health coach with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. For more tips on how to live a healthier lifestyle, visit ahealthiermichigan.org.

Cynthia Tait

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