A Memorial Day celebration is the perfect way to welcome summer. But because it is the kick-off to swim suit season, it’s probably not the best time to be indulging in fat-riddled brats and sugar-loaded desserts. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to enjoy the long weekend without derailing your diet — you can cook healthy Memorial Day dishes. Grill a non-greasy, cheese-filled burger, serve a sweet watermelon side dish, or bake nutritious and delicious blueberry walnut bars. Thanks to these 7 recipes, you can spend Memorial Day feasting on fabulous foods that won’t wreck your waistline.
1. Grilled Vegetables
Grilling is a must on Memorial Day, and Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe, featured on Food Network, is the perfect excuse to fire up your barbie. A wide range of veggies, including peppers, squash, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, and asparagus, are grilled until they’re tender and lightly charred, and then topped with a flavorful herb mixture. It makes 6 servings.
- 3 red bell peppers, seeded and halved
- 3 yellow squash (about 1 pound total), sliced lengthwise into ½-inch-thick rectangles
- 3 zucchini (about 12 ounces total), sliced lengthwise into ½-inch-thick rectangles
- 3 Japanese eggplant (12 ounces total), sliced lengthwise into ½-inch-thick rectangles
- 12 cremini mushrooms
- 1 bunch (1-pound) asparagus, trimmed
- 12 green onions, roots cut off
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil leaves
- ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Directions: Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or prepare the barbecue. Brush the vegetables with ¼ cup of the oil to coat lightly. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and pepper. Working in batches, grill the vegetables until tender and lightly charred all over, about 8 to 10 minutes for the bell peppers; 7 minutes for the yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms; 4 minutes for the asparagus and green onions. Arrange the vegetables on a platter. The key to getting those great grill marks is to not shift the vegetables too frequently once they’ve been placed on the hot grill.
Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, parsley, basil, and rosemary in a small bowl to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the herb mixture over the vegetables. Serve the vegetables, warm or at room temperature.
2. Inside-Out Cheeseburgers
Rather than topping your burgers with cheese only to have some of it melt off, why not form your burger around the cheese instead? Any combination of hard or semi-hard cheeses will work well in this dish, so feel free to experiment with your favorite flavors. With each serving containing 264 calories, 16 grams of fat, and 26 grams of protein, Eating Well’s recipe ensures you can have your burger and eat healthy, too. For an extra nutrient boost, serve your burgers on Food.com’s Whole-Wheat Hamburger Buns.
- ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
- ¼ cup shredded gruyere cheese
- 1 pound 90% lean ground beef
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1½ teaspoons paprika
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Directions: Preheat grill to medium-high or preheat the broiler. Combine cheddar and gruyere in a small bowl. Gently mix beef, Worcestershire, paprika, and pepper in a large bowl, preferably with your hands, without overworking. Shape into 8 thin, 4-inch-wide patties. Mound 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture on each of 4 patties, leaving a ½-inch border. Cover each with one of the remaining patties. Crimp and seal the edges closed.
To grill, lightly oil the grill rack. Grill the stuffed patties over medium-high heat, about 4 minutes per side for medium-well. To broil, cover a broiler pan with foil and coat with cooking spray. Broil the stuffed patties in the upper third of the oven, about 4 minutes per side for medium-well. In either case, let the burgers stand for 5 minutes before serving.
3. Lemon-Herb Potato Salad
No Memorial Day potluck should be without potato salad, and we’ve found a delicious and nutritious version to serve at your party. Cooking Light foregoes mayo, and instead uses olive oil, lemon juice, and seasonings to flavor the potatoes. At 75 calories and 3.6 grams of fat per serving, your waistline and tastebuds will be happy you made this healthy dish.
- ¾ pound fingerling potatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon grated lemon rind
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ⅓ cup chopped arugula
- 2 tablespoons sliced kalamata olives
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Directions: Place a saucepan filled two-thirds with water over high heat. Cut potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Add potatoes to pan; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high; cook 5 minutes or until tender. Drain.
Whisk together olive oil, lemon rind, lemon juice, Dijon, and pepper in a bowl. Stir in arugula, kalamata olives, parsley, basil, and chives. Add drained potatoes; toss gently to coat.
4. Watermelon On A Stick
No cooking is required to make Skinny Taste’s simple recipe. Light, refreshing, and easy, this is a great side to serve at your Memorial Day festivities. Simply cut the watermelon, place on a stick, and serve! Lifehack notes that watermelon is rich in vitamins and minerals, can lower high blood pressure, and helps keep you hydrated.
- Fresh watermelon, sliced about 1-inch thick
- Popsicle sticks
Directions: Cut watermelon into pizza shaped wedges. Insert a knife into the center of the rind and push the stick into the hole. Enjoy!
5. Yummy Honey Chicken Kabobs
Chicken breasts are flavored with a honey and soy sauce marinade, and placed on skewers with onions and bell peppers. The longer you allow your chicken and veggies to soak in the marinade, the better their flavor will be, so make sure to let them sit for at least 2 hours. Feel free to include more veggies in AllRecipes.com’s Kabobs — both mushrooms and cherries are great additions. The recipe yields 12 servings; each has 178 calories, 6.6 grams of fat, and 17.4 grams of protein.
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ⅓ cup honey
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 cloves garlic
- 5 small onions, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 2 red bell peppers, cut into 2 inch pieces
Directions: In a large bowl, whisk together oil, honey, soy sauce, and pepper. Before adding chicken, reserve a small amount of marinade to brush onto kabobs while cooking. Place the chicken, garlic, onions, and peppers in the bowl, and marinate in the refrigerator at least 2 hours. Preheat the grill for high heat.
Drain marinade from the chicken and vegetables, and discard marinade. Thread chicken and vegetables alternately onto the skewers. Lightly oil the grill grate. Place the skewers on the grill. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until chicken juices run clear. Turn and brush with reserved marinade frequently.
6. Blueberry Walnut Bars
Dieting does not mean depriving yourself; it just means making healthier choices, which is why Taste of Home’s Blueberry Walnut Bars are a Memorial Day must. Oats, walnuts, and blueberries provide this dish with vitamins, minerals, whole grains, and antioxidants, while reduced-fat ingredients ensure this treat isn’t a calorie bomb. One bar has 167 calories and 9 grams of fat.
- ⅔ cup ground walnuts
- ½ cup graham cracker crumbs
- 2 tablespoons plus ⅓ cup sugar, divided
- ⅓ cup old-fashioned oats
- 3 tablespoons reduced-fat butter, melted
- 1 (8-ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup reduced-fat whipped topping
- 2 tablespoons blueberry preserves
- 1½ cups fresh blueberries
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, combine the walnuts, cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons sugar, oats, and butter. Press onto the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 9 to 11 minutes or until set and edges are lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and remaining sugar until smooth. Beat in orange juice and vanilla. Fold in whipped topping. Spread over crust. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat preserves on high for 15 to 20 seconds or until warmed; gently stir in blueberries. Spoon over filling. Refrigerate until serving.
7. Flourless Chocolate Chip Blondie Brownies
Damy Health delivers a dessert that is chewy, sweet, and satisfying. Chock-full of peanut butter, honey, and chickpeas, none of your party goers will even realize these bars are nutritious. Do note that because this is an all-natural dessert, it’s best to store your bars in a sealed container in the fridge. The recipe makes 12 to 16 brownies.
- 1 cup natural smooth peanut butter
- ⅓ cup honey
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup egg whites (2 egg whites)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup chocolate chips
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray your 8-by-8 glass baking dish with a healthy, non-stick oil. Place all ingredients excluding the chocolate chips in your food processor and blend until smooth. Using a spatula hand mix in your chocolate chips. Pour mixture evenly into your glass baking dish. Place in the oven and bake for 27 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes. Cut into squares, serve, and enjoy!