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Colorful, healthy food options for Memorial Day

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The sun is finally shining and the warm weather promises to put us all in a better mood—just in time for Memorial Day and the celebrations that typically accompany this holiday.

Many families will be celebrating Memorial Day with picnics, outdoor grilling and other gatherings with food. Below are a few tips on how to enjoy a day of food and fun while still sticking to a healthy diet with a variety of colorful fruits and veggies. They’ll look almost as good as they taste!

  1.  Kabobs. You can pre-assemble kabobs that have cherry tomatoes and red, green, yellow or orange peppers. You can also use big chunks of celery, onions, mushrooms, squash and other vegetables. Spritz some olive oil on each kabob before grilling and enjoy the wonders of grilled vegetables. You can grill zucchini, eggplant and even fennel bulbs, too.
  1. Choose lean protein. You may choose to add some protein to your kabobs such as chicken, fish or extra firm tofu. Shrimp are a tasty addition to kabobs, but be aware that they will cook much faster than your veggies or other lean protein.
  1. Fun with fruit. To add a little sweetness and lots of flavor to your kabobs, add fruit to the lineup. Try watermelon, peaches, nectarines, mango or pineapple. Strawberries can be grilled too, but they take only a few seconds to cook.
  1. Be corny. Grilled corn is so good! According to chef Bobby Flay, the best way to grill corn is to pull down—but not tear off—the outer husks of the corn. Strip away the silk and fold back the husks and lace ears of corn in a large bowl of cold water with one tablespoon of salt. Let soak for at least 10 minutes, then remove corn from water and shake off excess. Place corn on the grill and close the cover. Grill for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every five minutes. Remove husks just prior to eating.
  1. Fruity sauces. Puree apples, berries, peaches, mangos or pears in a blender for a thick, sweet sauce to use on grilled or broiled seafood or poultry. A sweet fruit marinade pairs well with chicken kabobs. Pineapple contains a natural meat tenderizer, making pureed pineapple a perfect natural way to marinate your meats.
  1. Smoothies. Use fruit, yogurt and natural juices to create your own sweet, colorful concoctions. Add spinach, kale or carrots for an energy-boosting power smoothie, which makes a great alternative to soda.

However you enjoy celebrating Memorial Day, keep in mind that this holiday is about respect, honoring those that have served and spending time with family. Make it a safe and healthy day!

About Julia Salomón MS, RD, CD

Julia is the corporate dietitian at Affinity Health System and also a nutrition educator. She works at various sites throughout the organization working with Affinity’s employee wellness program. She earned her Master’s degree in nutrition science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1996 and became a dietitian shortly thereafter. Julia has worked on several nutrition projects abroad as well as domestically. Before joining Affinity Health System in June of 2011, she worked as a college dietitian and later in the school nutrition field. She has earned certificates of training in adult and childhood weight management. Julia has a special interest in nutrition, public health and wellness.

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