5 Super Easy Ways to Stay Healthy this Memorial Day

Memorial Day, Happy Memorial Day, Animated Graphics, Animated Gif, Animated Gifs, Keefers photo: Memorial Day, Happy Memorial Day, Animated Graphics, Animated Gif, Animated Gifs, Keefers 673990b9.gifIt’s the unofficial start to summer which means cookouts, beach trips, and a food-filled weekend!

It can be easy to get caught up in the fun and slip off the health wagon once the summer parties begin. From high-calorie eats at barbecues to boozy afternoons at outdoor beer gardens, you can quickly fall off track with your health goals.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! There are many simple ways to substitute typical summer party fare for healthier alternatives that will keep your celebrating while in shape, all season long.

Here are five tips to stay healthy this Memorial Day weekend and onward:

1. Skip the ketchup. It may seem like sacrilege to forgo the ketchup on a hot dog or burger during a barbecue, but think about how much of it you’re eating throughout the day. Ketchup, as yummy as it is, usually has high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient. No need to load up on all of that added sugar each time you reach for that bottle. Mustard is a great alternative, in moderation. It’s much lower in fat, calories, and sugar, but can be high in salt. If you’re not a mustard fan, get your ketchup fix with thick slices of beefsteak tomatoes. They’re naturally sweet, and are nutritional powerhouses with fiber, vitamins A, C, K, B6, and lycopene which protects your skin from the sun and supports strong bones. Better choice, no?

courtesy MyRecipes.com

2. Greek yogurt is all-purpose. Greek yogurt is a familiar breakfast staple, Throw in some granola and chopped fruit, and you’re good to go. But did you know that you can also use greek yogurt for savory dishes? If it’s your turn to bring the potato salad, swap the mayo for the low-fat and protein-packed yogurt instead. I’ve tried this before, and I can guarantee that your salad will still be delicious and creamy without weighing you down. Here’s a simple recipe to get you started:

Potato Salad
courtesy Shape magazine

3. Treat yourself with dessert. And by dessert, I mean fruit. LOTS of it. One of the best things about summer cookouts is that its perfect timing for some of the best fruit in season. Berries, peaches, plums, mangoes, pineapples, watermelon; there are many different varieties available that are both healthy and delicious. A slice of cake may seem tempting, but wouldn’t you rather snack on this instead?

Courtesy TheBetterMom.com

4. Hydrate the smart way. Let’s be honest here. Most barbecues have some kind of alcohol, whether it’s beer or fruity cocktails. It’s a holiday and you want to kick back and have some fun. I get it.  I’m not going to rain on your parade, BUT if you’re looking to go the healthy route this year, be mindful to keep your alcoholic drinks to a minimum, one for women and two for men. It’s important to stay hydrated, especially if you’re spending the day outdoors and playing games. How about you throw in some of the dessert in your water, like these fruit-infused waters?

courtesy TheYummyLife.com

5. Don’t just sit there. After a long and terrible winter, don’t you think it’s time to get up and move around a bit? Go for a swim or hang up a net and play a friendly game of volleyball with your friends. Do all of the things you told yourself you were going to do once the snow melted. Get those potato sacks out of storage. The weather is finally right, so put on that sunscreen and have some fun!

courtesy of Univision

 What are your plans this holiday weekend?

How do you stay healthy during cookouts and summer parties?

Please feel free to share your comments or questions below or on FB and Twitter.

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY EVERYONE!

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Top 3 Healthy Cinco de Mayo Dishes to Spice Up Your Meatless Monday Fiesta

Like St. Patricks Day, Cinco de Mayo is one of those holidays that we take seriously. As in, we find the yummiest food (and not a few drinks) to celebrate another country’s culture for the day without really having any idea what the holiday is about.

Salud! courtesy PartyCity.com
Salud!
courtesy PartyCity.com

These fiestas aren’t always so healthy though. Between the cheesy dips and the chips and the fried taquitos, you’ll find yourself overloading on empty calories and saturated fats. No bueno.

Look at all that cheese! Photo courtesy galleryhip.com
Look at all that cheese!
Photo courtesy galleryhip.com

It’s great that Cinco de Mayo fell on a Monday this year because this gives us an opportunity to change up that fiesta menu to incorporate some of the incredible flavors of true Mexican cuisine without throwing in all of those fatty cheeses and sauces we love north of the border.

Bright, colorful, and delicious. Traditional Mexican cuisine is much lighter and far more nutritious than what’s been adapted as part of fast food culture here in the US. There are many ways to incorporate healthy dishes into your fiesta menu that’s true to the roots of Mexican food culture.

photo courtesy hetmanphotography.com
photo courtesy hetmanphotography.com

Mexican restaurants all over New York were crammed with patrons looking to indulge in a bit of tacos and margaritas action this weekend. But there’s no need to join the crowd when you can have your own healthy fiesta at home!

Here are my top 3 Mexican-inspired recipes that will keep you meatless this Monday without any chance of getting Montezuma’s revenge.

You know what I’m talking about.

¡Buen Provecho! Note: Sombrero optional.

Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Greek Yogurt-Avocado Dressing

Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Greek Yogurt Avocado Dressing

I LOOOOOOOVE quinoa; not just for it’s texture and flavor but also because a small amount with go a long way. You can make a large batch and throw in whatever you like, such as this southwestern style dish with black beans, peppers, and jicama.

Sweet Potato Hash with Homemade Guacamole and Egg Over Easy

Breakfat of Paleo Champions

Looking to jump start your day? I made this dish after a grueling workout and it remains my go-to whenever I’m starving, want something packed with flavor, and filling. Plus, is there anything better than guacamole? I think not.

Smoky Chipotle Black Bean & Roasted Sweet Potato Tacos

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos

Ah, the humble taco. I shared this recipe a few weeks ago and it remains one of my top Meatless Monday dishes to date. Pairing sweet potato with black beans is a standard for me (see above recipe) and this spicy version with crunchy cabbage and lemony cilantro is sure to keep you happy and full. Two of my favorite things.

 

What are your favorite Mexican dishes?

As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂

 

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Light and Creamy Potato Leek Soup with Roasted Cabbage

Light & Creamy Potato Leek Soup with Roasted Cabbage

Tapping the microphone.

Shaking the dust off my favorite pretty apron.

Clearing the throat. Ahem. AHEM!

Yes, I am still here!!

After a very long winter hiatus, I am back on the blog with a brand new recipe for my favorite day: Meatless Monday!

And while there isn’t a mic, there is a camera. Yes, an actual video camera helmed by my brother who chose me as the subject for his video documentary project for school.

Look ma..no hands!

So under the bright and glaring lights of the…uh tiny handheld camera, I awkwardly walked through this recipe for the one person who will watch this video (okay maybe two assuming my brother’s teacher actually sits through the whole thing) and put together a delicious meal. Altogether, not a bad way to get back into the food blogging game.

More to the point, this soup. This light and creamy Potato Leek soup is really exactly as advertised. And the roasted cabbage? A nice touch if I do say so myself.

It’s Saint Patrick’s Day which gave me an opportunity to do something a bit different while celebrating the holiday the proper way- sharing a pint of Guinness with someone dressed as a leprechaun with Irish food!

Corned beef, boiled potatoes, and cabbage never appealed to me plus it all seemed a bit obvious. Instead, I went for something simple, tasty, and quick while using quintessential Irish ingredients. The best part is I was able to make this whole meal for under $10. Save that pot of gold for something else..er..okay, and I’m done with silly St. Patty’s Day jokes.

A couple of notes before I get started with the recipe sharing business:

  • This is my first time cooking with leeks, but I was forewarned of the extra work involved. Leeks are veritable dirt traps so be sure to clean them properly before you use them in this or any recipe.
  • I couldn’t stand cabbage up until about a year ago. That was until I learned that cabbage could be absolutely wonderful if cooked with the right ingredients. I’d only ever had it raw in salads or cole slaw and it was usually too bitter for my tastebuds. Roasting them seemed a genius move and so simple. Plus they taste AH-MAZING!!!!
  • This recipe can be adapted for vegans by simply eliminating the sour cream. I actually debated this myself when I saw just how creamy the soup was after the vegetables were pureed. The sour cream adds another layer of richness without being overwhelming, but the soup was wonderful without it.
  • You’ll note the color of the soup is a little darker than normal. The vegetable stock I bought was tomato-based which I didn’t realize until I poured it out of the carton. This didn’t affect the flavor of the soup in a bad way, but just a heads up if you’re wondering why the shade seems off.

Now I normally include a nutrition factoids section in here, but I’m doing things a bit differently this time. Needless to say, my raison d’être remains the same: healthy cooking that doesn’t require a lot of fuss and is delicious. I think I accomplished that pretty well in my first pre-Spring go in the kitchen. 🙂

INGREDIENTS

Servings 6-8 people

Serving size, approx 1 cup

Soup

  • 2 leeks, cleaned, trimmed and sliced (white and pale green parts only!)
  • 4-5 medium-sized yukon potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • Salt and pepper

Roasted Cabbage

  • 1 medium sized cabbage, 1″ thick slices
  • Olive Oil Spray (or 2 tsps olive oil)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp herbes de Provence

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Prepare all vegetables by peeling, rinsing, and chopping as necessary. Preheat oven to 400°F.

Light & Creamy Potato Leek Soup with Roasted Cabbage Light & Creamy Potato Leek Soup with Roasted Cabbage

2. Heat oil in a large pot or dutch-oven and add onions, garlic and leeks once hot. Cook at medium-heat for about 10 minutes or until onions are soft and translucent. DO NOT BROWN THE LEEKS!

3. Add the potatoes, stock, thyme, and salt and pepper to the onions. Stir everything together and reduce heat to a simmer. Place the lid and allow it to cook for about 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes.

4. While the soup is simmering, prepare cabbage on an oiled rimmed baking sheet and season both sides. Place in 400°F oven and cook for 40 minutes, flipping them over halfway through. Remove from oven once they’re caramelized and brown on the edges.

Light & Creamy Potato Leek Soup with Roasted Cabbage

5. Working in batches, carefully place soup in a blender (or food processor), filling it halfway. Do not seal completely, remove the plastic nozzle in the middle and cover with a kitchen towel. Pulse it for several seconds about 3 times before pureeing it completely. Do this for each batch and place the soup in a separate pot.

Light & Creamy Potato Leek Soup with Roasted Cabbage

6. Turn the heat on to low and stir pureed soup for several minutes. If you’re going for a vegan version of this dish then you’re done! If not then add the sour cream and continue stirring until it’s completely incorporated. Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary.

7. Serve up a bowl of soup with several pieces of roasted cabbage. Garnish with chopped spring onions. Done!

Light & Creamy Potato Leek Soup with Roasted Cabbage

I hope you enjoyed the recipe. I’ve slowly been making my way back into the kitchen, experimenting with new dishes and finding some of that creativity with food that I enjoy so much. This time I managed to get it on camera and onto this blog to share it with all of you, and I couldn’t be happier.

If you tried the recipe, let me know what you think! I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions below or on Facebook and Twitter!

recipe adapted from Eating Well magazine

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂

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