Food Network TV host and author Ellie Krieger, who is also a registered dietitian, is known for inventing better-for-you versions of favorite foods. Here are Krieger’s tips for making your Fourth of July cookout more healthful yet recognizable.
Go lean: Start with ground beef that’s at least 90 percent lean. “Eighty-five percent sounds like bragging, but that’s a fatty meat,” Krieger says. Though people think “all the flavor’s in the fat,” she says, “the umami flavor” — or the savoriness — is in the lean part of the meat. Playing up that flavor is the key to a delicious burger, Krieger says.
Stuff it: Krieger suggests boosting umami by sauteing onions (or mushrooms, or both) with a little Worcestershire sauce. Or grate a bit of cheddar or another aged cheese. Or choose sun-dried tomatoes, or spinach with feta or olives. Then, “take four ounces of ground beef, a sensible portion, and divide it into two separate patties,” Krieger says. Drop a dollop of your savory filling in the middle of one patty, top it with the other patty and pinch around the edges to seal shut. Grill them as you would any other burger and serve on a whole-grain roll or English muffin.
— Hot dogs
Fine-tune the fixings: Piling chili and cheese atop your dog will nearly double the calories and saturated fat, Krieger says. Instead, try crafting something fresh and flavorful: a Vietnamese-inspired sauce of diced cucumber, shredded carrot, lime and chili-garlic sauce, for instance. Or go with sauerkraut or cabbage slaw. Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage; the fermentation process adds healthful probiotics. But watch your portions because sauerkraut is full of sodium. Again, use store-bought whole-grain buns if you can find them. One last tip: Try to find nitrate-free hot dogs because nitrates have been linked to a higher risk of cancer.
— Creamy side salads
Cut the mayo: When making dressing for cole slaw or potato salad (or whatever creamy side salad you plan), replace half the mayonnaise with nonfat plain yogurt. “That decreases the calories so much, but you still get that creamy body,” Krieger says. Plus, “it gives it a little tangy flavor, which you usually get by adding apple cider vinegar or mustard.” You may be surprised at her advice regarding the mayo itself: “I personally prefer to use full-fat mayonnaise,” because it tastes better, she says. She also prefers mayos made with canola oil, but only if you can find a brand that doesn’t have a lot of additives. Otherwise, you can try making your own.