As summer winds down, there seem to be a lot of “lasts” — the last few carefree days before school starts, the last of the warm weather and sunshine, and the last barbecue of the season.
Whether you’re hosting a Labor Day barbecue or bringing a dish to someone else’s party, you’ll want the meal to be as unforgettable as the summer memories you’re leaving behind. How about giving the same old menu a healthy twist without taking away the yummy traditions guests expect?
“Food triggers an emotional response for many of us, especially on holidays and family gatherings,” says April Dearden, a certified nutritionist, wellness coach and founder of the New Normal Lifestyle Inc. “There is a comfort and familiarity that comes with the food at these events. Swapping out fats and sugars for herbs and spices creates dishes that are healthy yet don’t leave us feeling deprived. My goal is to make dishes that look and feel like the original version but are so full of flavor that people won’t even know it’s healthy — because it’s just delicious.”
Below, Dearden shares her recipes for revamping your entire menu — from side dishes to desserts.
Ditch: Iceberg Salad
Switch: Red, White and Blue Kale Salad
Don’t be the person who tosses a bag of iceberg lettuce with some cucumbers and carrots, throws on some store-bought ranch dressing and calls it a day. This festive red, white and blue kale salad is perfect for Labor Day and loaded with nutrients from several superfoods. Kale’s antioxidant value is more than three times higher than iceberg lettuce. It’s high in vitamin K and iron. This anti-inflammatory also has cardiovascular benefits. Berries are another superfood that can help lower cholesterol, improve cardiovascular function and reduce inflammation. Feta cheese is lower in fat and calories than other cheeses. The small amount used in this salad allows for a little creamy texture without adding tons of calories. Just a squeeze of fresh lemon juice lets all the natural flavors in this salad shine.
4 cups kale, chopped
2 cups strawberries
2 cups blueberries
½ cup feta cheese
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper, to taste
Wash all produce under warm water. Pat dry with clean cloth. Remove spine from kale and chop into bite-size pieces. Remove stems from strawberries and cut in quarters. Crumble feta cheese. Add kale, strawberries, blueberries and feta to large bowl. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over salad. Sprinkle salt and pepper (to taste). Toss and serve.