Jun 10, 2011
The only problem with postrace parties, backyard barbecues, and picnics is the menu: Too much classic summer fare packs unhealthy fat and skimps on carbs, vitamins, and minerals. But you can give warm-weather favorites an upgrade by making healthy swaps that keep the flavor and add nutrients. When dining alfresco, store food in tight-fitting containers (to avoid spillage), keep cold food chilled, and pack antibacterial wipes for cleaning hands and food surfaces.
OLD STANDBY: Creamy coleslaw
UPGRADE: Asian-style coleslaw
Skip the mayonnaise, which ups the fat. Toss cabbage (which packs cancer-fighting compounds) with carrots, scallions, rice vinegar, sesame seeds, and sesame oil, which aids in absorbing nutrients.
OLD STANDBY: Canned baked beans
UPGRADE: Homemade baked beans
A half-cup of baked beans has about six grams of both protein and fiber, but it can also pack a lot of sugar. Instead, simmer navy beans with onion, cooked turkey bacon, a touch of dark molasses, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and dry mustard.
OLD STANDBY: Fried chicken
UPGRADE: Marinated grilled chicken
One fried chicken breast contains about 30 grams of protein but also packs 15 grams of fat. A healthier choice: Grill chicken in a rosemary and sage marinade—it provides antioxidants and just three grams of fat.
OLD STANDBY: Beef burgers
UPGRADE: Buffalo burgers
Beef is rich in iron and zinc, and both are crucial for cell function and endurance. But it can also be high-fat. Swap it out for ground buffalo, which is leaner and provides a good dose of both minerals. Serve with red onion and red leaf lettuce—they contain anthocyanins, which protect cells against UV exposure.
OLD STANDBY: Pasta salad
UPGRADE: Red quinoa salad
White pasta contains a fraction of the nutrients of red quinoa. This grain contains complex carbs, fiber, protein, and B vitamins that release energy during a run. Add asparagus tips, snap peas, and radishes for extra crunch and antioxidants.
OLD STANDBY: Lemonade
UPGRADE: Basil-infused Arnold Palmer
Lemonade can pack as much sugar as soda. Slash the calorie count in half by mixing equal portions unsweetened iced tea and lemonade; stir in fresh basil leaves for flavor. The tea and basil both provide an antioxidant boost.
OLD STANDBY: Strawberry shortcake
UPGRADE: Strawberries with frozen vanilla Greek yogurt
Butter-rich biscuits and whipped cream make for a dessert high in fat and refined carbs. Sweeten plain Greek yogurt (which is high in protein and calcium) with honey and vanilla extract. Freeze for two hours. Serve topped with sliced strawberries marinated with fresh mint leaves.