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A few changes can cut calories at your picnic

POSTED: May 23, 2012 1:30 a.m.

With Memorial Day weekend coming up in just a few short days, lots of folks have their minds set on hosting a barbecue.

While providing your guests with cookout staples like burgers and baked beans, there’s no reason you can’t be a bit more health conscious when planning your menu.

Seemingly, no barbecue is complete without a creamy and rich potato salad. When slathered with the usual amounts of mayonnaise, things can get pretty unhealthy pretty quickly, but there are ways to lighten it up.

First, make sure you leave the skins on the potatoes. Potato skins contain much of the potatoes’ fiber, as well heaps of vitamins and minerals, including a crazy amount of potassium — even more than bananas.

Second, replace the commonly added hard-boiled egg. While eggs do add plenty of protein, if you’re barbecuing it’s unlikely that protein deprivation is your problem. And egg yolks also add plenty of unnecessary fat. This recipe replaces the egg with chopped, canned artichoke hearts, which have a similar texture and a wonderfully subtle flavor that complements the potatoes.

Third, and possibly most important, you need to overhaul the mayonnaise dressing. Adding just a half cup of regular mayonnaise can add 800 calories and 90 grams of fat to the salad. And really, who stops at just a half cup?

You certainly could dress a potato salad in a light vinaigrette, but this dish sticks to the traditional creamy salad by incorporating Greek yogurt. It is a versatile, healthy ingredient that adds significant flavor and creamy texture.

Although side dishes aren’t designed to be the star, they can be the main attraction for hidden calories, so that’s a good place to start overhauling your buffet.

According to Sheenagh King, a registered dietician with The Longstreet Clinic in Gainesville, half of your plate at meal time should be filled with veggies. Incorporating more fresh fruit and vegetables will not only spare waistlines a few inches, it will also please your vegetarian guests.

Throw a few ears of corn on the grill. Live on the edge and make two "tossed" salads, one with veggies and another with fruit.

Pull out the blender and whip up some Kiwi-Melon Coolers, according to the "Better Homes and Gardens" recipe, the frozen drinks only have 106 calories per serving. And since they’re thick like milk-shakes, they could double as a sweet treat to end your meal.

The magazine’s Garden Sliders recipe puts a modern spin on cucumber sandwiches by layering grilled squash, fresh cucumbers and tomatoes between thick baguette slices. It also incorporates a hearty, white bean spread.

The sliders can be an appetizer, side or entree.

Speaking of entrees, take it easy on the salt and instead get heavy-handed with the fresh herbs.

Although you’ll be reducing your guests’ sodium intake, the switch won’t cause you to make any sacrifices in the flavor department.

 

Associated Press contributed to this article.

 



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