Pick potato salad: Eating hot, cooked potatoes may cause abrupt spikes in insulin and blood sugar (leaving you feeling hungry soon after, Krieger says). Cooling cooked potatoes as you do for potato salad diminishes that insulin-spiking trait. In addition, potatoes are excellent sources of Vitamin C and potassium. Leave the skins on to retain most of those nutrients and fiber.
— Baked beans
Embrace beans: Beans are extremely nutritious, packed with antioxidant vitamins, protein and fiber. So don’t skip them, Krieger says; just bake them better.
Go Canadian!Instead of a lot of fatback or bacon, Krieger suggests giving beans that smoky pork flavor by using Canadian bacon. “It comes from the loin, so there’s not the fat but lots of smoky meatiness,” she says.
Make mine molasses: Instead of sweetening with brown sugar (which is nothing but empty calories), try molasses, which Krieger says has “very intense flavor” and, with its mix of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, selenium and Vitamin B6, is “one of the most nutritious sweeteners.”
Get the blues: Krieger likes to puree blueberries, with just enough water to cover the berries, with a bit of honey, then strain the mixture through a sieve. You can serve the resulting liquid cold, either as a punch or, if you dilute it with water, as “a transparent flavored water.” Krieger also simmers fresh sage in water and adds the liquid to the berry water. Here’s another combination she likes: Puree watermelon with a bit of water and sugar or honey, strain it and add the liquid from basil leaves that you’ve simmered in water on the stove.
Watermelons win: “Watermelon wedges for dessert. What’s more fun than that?” Krieger says. “Cut it open in front of everyone, let the kids run around and have pit-spitting contests.”
Fancy fruit:You could grill skewers laced with cut-up fruit and serve with a yogurt sauce, Krieger says. Or cut stone fruits (such as peaches and plums) in half, remove the pits, then brush the cut sides lightly with canola oil. Grill them for three minutes and serve with a scoop of frozen yogurt placed where the pit had been. (“Portion control!” Krieger says.) Garnish with fresh mint and serve.
I plan to try these ideas this weekend. If you do, too, let me know how the food goes over with your guests.
More online: Share your healthful barbecue tips and recipes at firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments on this column at washingtonpost.com/wellness. For more nutrition news, visit the Checkup blog at voices.washingtonpost.com/checkup .