Independence Day: A Diet Diary

Yesterday, like many Americans, I celebrated the Fourth of July with my family by cooking and sitting down to a summer feast. I figured that with so much good food around, it was a perfect opportunity to post about what we were up to and how I build a healthy meal at a summer cookout. Telling you is helpful, but showing you is so much more fun!

The first thing I made was a cold grain and vegetable salad called tabouleh. I got this particular recipe from The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger. It consists of bulgur wheat, tomatoes, cucumber, mint, and red onion, with parsley in the starring role (the recipe calls for 2 cups). These are all mixed together and then dressed with a mixture of extra-virgin olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, cumin, salt, and pepper. This is a popular recipe at my house, especially with my 15-year-old brother. In fact, it's his favorite thing that I make! Sometimes, we add chicken to make it a little more filling as a main dish, but, this time, we kept it as a side. There was one minor "learning opportunity." I was a little naughty and didn't wash the parsley off before chopping it. Needless to say it was full of grit and we got a little bit every few bites. I like to think it added some more minerals. Lesson learned: always wash your produce!

I also made a salad from Deborah Madison's Local Flavors. This is a recent find that has been showing up often at the dinner table lately. Romaine is tossed with bell pepper, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and avocado. Then, a dressing is added made with extra-virgin olive oil, lime juice, mint, cilantro, marjoram, jalapeno, and salt. It can then be topped with sliced olives and crumbled feta, if you so desire.

To round out the meal, I made a burger with grass-fed beef, Worcestershire, and soy sauce and enjoyed it on a Food For Life sprouted wheat bun. The result was delicious and definitely worthy of being one of the few burgers I eat each year.

Mom made a cheesecake for dessert and I enjoyed a small slice to finish the meal off. I was completely satisfied and didn't feel awful the next day. When eating at a cook out or celebration it's important to eat what you love, but also not totally blow your healthy lifestyle out of the water. By filling your plate your veggies and whole grains you can get full on healthy fare and still enjoy dessert.

What did you do to celebrate Independence Day? What is your favorite recipe to bring to a cookout? Answer in the comments below. : )