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Healthy Twists on American Summer Favorites

There’s nothing more American than apple pie for a summer cookout—except maybe hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and potato salad. Nothing says summer like a backyard barbeque, especially when you don’t have to compromise flavor to keep health and nutrition in mind. Here are some healthy twists on your favorite summer meals.

Apple pie
While this American classic is slightly better than most, given the presence of fruit, there are some tricks you can utilize to cut down on the sugar and boost the nutrients. One mouth-watering take on this recipe is to make a crust of blended oats, walnuts, maple syrup, and salt. You can even add dates, lemon juice, or orange juice for a light, fruity desert.

Cheeseburgers are certainly delicious, but they contain lots of unhealthy fats. Luckily, there are several healthier alternatives:

  • Turkey burgers contain high quantities of zinc, which is excellent for boosting your immune system, as well as niacin, which may reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s. As a bonus, turkey is a low-fat source of high protein and tastes just as good as a beef patty.
  • Veggie burgers are a great source of fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, and niacin.
  • Black bean burgers are packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, but are much lower in fat and cholesterol than a traditional ground beef burger.

When it comes to deciding what to toss on the grill, try turkey burgers, black bean burgers, or veggie patties instead.

Hot dogs
Chicken hot dogs are leaner than all-beef or beef and turkey hot dogs, making them lower in fat and sodium. Pair your chicken dog with a whole-wheat bun for a healthier alternative that’s just as fun and messy to eat.

Potato salad
This staple of picnics and cookouts can be unhealthy when made with lots of mayonnaise. One way to mix things up is to replace the mayonnaise with low fat Greek yogurt. You could also try a cauliflower potato salad that uses cooked cauliflower instead of potatoes. If you don’t feel ready to make these changes yet, try a canola or olive oiled based mayonnaise, which are higher in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

Potato chips
Everyone loves the satisfying crunch of potato chips, and they are certainly a tasty snack. When it comes to choosing which bag to grab for, try baked chips instead of the traditional fried varieties.

A serving of regular potato chips contains about 10.32 grams of fat, of which 1.13 grams are saturated. A corresponding serving of baked potato chips contains about 6.19 grams of fat, of which less than 1 gram is saturated. Restricting your fat intake—particularly unhealthy saturated fats—can help prevent elevated cholesterol levels and heart disease.

Healthy eating doesn’t necessarily mean dieting or compromising your favorite meals. While healthy eating means different things to different people, the root of it is to consume as many whole foods as possible with as little processing as possible. Clean eating is a simple and delicious way to stay healthy and feel great.