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Fourth of July and picnics

June 26, 2013
By Cheryl Rude , Marshall Independent

The Fourth of July is just around the corner, and we are in the middle of the summer season. We wait all year long for these long, warm days of summer. (Remember we said that we wouldn't ever complain about it being too hot again after that long cold winter.) Along with summer comes the barbecue season, which is in full swing by now. Food tastes so good cooked on the grill. Grilling is a great way to prepare meat without having to add extra fat. But what about those side dishes that go along with summer barbecued food?

There are those who feel that a picnic just isn't a picnic and the Fourth of July just isn't the Fourth of July without the traditional favorite - you guessed it, potato salad. A recent food survey said that potato salad was the most popular side dish, followed closely by baked beans and coleslaw. All three of these popular dishes can be quite high in fat, depending upon your recipe.

There are some ways to shift some of the fat out of these dishes by a few simple substitutions. For a more healthful focus, try these ideas:

Use low fat mayo for the salad or slaw; or mix some low fat yogurt with regular mayo. It decreases the fat and increases the nutritional value.

Bake beans without meat and add more spices, tomatoes or onions.

Prepare coleslaw with vinegar and oil dressing instead of a creamy dressing.

There are several very good fat-free and reduced-fat versions of many food items now available. And there are other substitutions that you can make in your recipes to help cut down on the fat. Following are a few substitution ideas:

Ingredient substitution

Light cream (1 cup) 1/2 cup evaporated skim milk + 1/2 cup 1 percent milk

Heavy cream (1 cup) 1 cup evaporated skim milk

Sour cream (1 cup) 1 cup fat-free or low fat sour cream or 1 cup low fat unflavored yogurt

Cream cheese (1 cup) 1 cup fat-free or reduced fat cream cheese

Egg (1 whole) 2 egg whites

Baking chocolate (1 oz) 3 T dry cocoa + 1 T vegetable oil

Mayonnaise (1 cup) 1 cup fat-free or reduced fat salad dressing

If you do try using the fat-free or reduced fat substitutes, experiment with them first. Sometimes the fat-free versions can separate and become watery. That is because they have more water in them. You can also try adjusting your recipe and cutting back on the total amount of fat that you use. Just because Grandma's recipe calls for two cups of mayo, one cup may taste just as good. And, of course, a big change in fat content can come by just adjusting your portion size. A moderate first portion and seconds on fruits and vegetables can go a long way in cutting back on fat!

Cheryl Rude is a registered dietitian at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center. In addition to her column, you can also find nutrition tips on the blog she writes at



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