04:07pm Friday 15 November 2019

Eat healthy this Fourth of July

“With the average cookout plate racking up more than 2,000 calories, many people are looking for healthier options to take to backyard cookouts,” said Kari Kooi, a registered dietitian at Houston Methodist Hospital.

Kooi recommends these four healthy side dishes to replace the potato salad and coleslaw at your next summer cookout:

  • Smoky Grilled Sweet Potatoes: Grilled sweet potatoes make a healthy side dish because they contain beta-carotene, an antioxidant that the body converts into Vitamin A. To prepare, boil the potatoes in water until fork-tender and slice into lengthwise wedges. Coat the potatoes with a light layer of canola oil and grill for two to three minutes on each side. For an extra flavor kick, Kooi recommends adding finely grated lime zest and ground cumin to the canola oil prior to coating the potatoes.
  • Watermelon-Cucumber Salad: This refreshing option combines cool cucumbers with sweet watermelon to create a healthy side dish. Because watermelons and cucumbers are mostly made up of water, this salad helps fill you up without filling you out. To prepare, mix small cubes of cucumbers and watermelon with minced mint in a large bowl.  Drizzle balsamic vinegar and toss to coat.
  • Creamy Herbed Greek Yogurt Dip: Packed with protein and antioxidant-rich herbs, this creamy, cool dip is a healthy alternative to traditional high-calorie dips like ranch dressing. To prepare, simply mix plain, low-fat Greek yogurt with two teaspoons of lemon juice, chopped dill, chives, and fresh basil.  Serve with crisp vegetables or whole wheat pita chips.
  • Grilled Portobello Mushrooms: Grilling for a vegetarian? Kooi suggests grilled Portobello mushrooms as a meat alternative because of their umami, or meaty, flavor that research has shown increases satiety. To prepare, marinate the mushrooms in a mixture of olive oil, minced garlic, and balsamic vinegar prior to grilling.

“This Fourth of July does not have to be a challenge for those wanting to maintain or lose weight this summer,” she said. “Prepare these four flavorful side dishes to indulge in all of the festivities without sacrificing a healthy diet.”

For more information, contact Frances Dannenbrink at fdannenbrink@houstonmethodist.org.

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