Healthy (and not so healthy) Memorial Day Recipes

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My wife and I collaborated on a Memorial Day spread sure to please anyone! Holidays are often cheat/treat meals for us, but we also like to healthify (a non-existent word my wife uses to explain taking an unhealthy food and making it healthier) a few recipes. So here are some of our favorite recipes (some not so healthy but oh so good) along with alterations for those interested in "heathify-ing" them. We'll probably do a combination of the regular recipes and a few made a bit healthier. We stuck with sides and desserts since most of us will just grill our favorite meat on the BBQ for the main dishes.

Side Dishes:

Nine Layer Bean Dip

Get a big platter out!

  • Layer 1- 1 can of bean dip spread on the platter
  • Layer 2- 1 15 oz. can of refried beans spread evenly on top
  • Layer 3- 1/2 cup mayo and 1/2 cup sour cream mixed in a bowl with 1/2 package of taco seasoning whipped into it.
  • Layer 4- 2 avocados mashed and spread evenly on top
  • Layer 5- shredded lettuce
  • Layer 6-  2-3 tomatoes diced
  • Layer 7- Monterey cheese/cheddar cheese grated, enough to cover the top
  • Layer 8- green onions, diced and sprinkled on top (to taste, as many as you prefer I like to sprinkle sparingly like I do the olives)
  • Layer 9- sliced olives sprinkled on top

Cover and refrigerate and serve with chips. This dip is incredible!

Healthify it: Remove layer 1. Instead of mayo and sour cream use plain Greek Yogurt with the taco seasoning. Or, still use the mayo and use the Kraft Mayo with Olive oil brand. Layer 7 use less cheese or even omit it. Leave everything else the same and either use chips still or you can use raw veggies such as carrots, cucumbers and bell peppers instead!

Fruit with Cream Cheese Dip

This is a great side dish and it's easy and yummy. Cut up any fruit of your liking (apples, bananas, strawberries, mangos, pineappple, grapes, blueberries, etc.) and then as an option you can use this fruit dip. I'll share the normal recipe with a healthier option below it:

Cream Cheese Dip

  • 1 jar of marshmallow fluff (if you don't know what this is then you're in good shape- haha)
  • 1 8 oz. cream cheese bar (Philadelphia brand tastes the best)

Melt the cream cheese a bit in the microwave so it's easier to whip. Then whip the two ingredients together and refrigerate and you have a dessert fruit dip.

Healthify it: Get a large tub of whipping cream and mix it with a box of sugar-free, fat-free cheesecake pudding mix (don't make the pudding simply mix in the powder) and optional: a bit of unsweetened almond milk or regular milk (just about 1/8 cup or until it's the consistency you want). Let it set in the fridge for at least an hour.

Or you could make this awesome Fruit platter with just raspberries, blueberries and mini marshmallows!

Photo credit unknown

Brown Sugar Smokies (warning: these are addictive)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of bacon
  • 1 sixteen ounce package little smokie sausages
  • 1 cup brown sugar (or to taste)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut the bacon into thirds and then use a slice to wrap around the little smokie. Secure it with a tooth pick and then line it in a baking dish (I use a 9 x 13). After you filled the pan you sprinkle the brown sugar on top and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until bacon looks crispy.

Healthify it: We'll use nitrate and hormone free bacon (or turkey bacon) and reduced calorie brown sugar (found in the baking section). You can also use less brown sugar by just sprinkling a tiny bit on the sausages instead of using a full cup for the recipe.

Homemade Potato Chips

There's no sinful version of these… we like to make the real deal: fresh, healthy and delicious.

Servings: 8 (about 1/2 of the potato), Calories per serving: 135 or less (a lot of the oil bakes off the chip)

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium-sized potatoes (You can use whatever kind you like, see notes below for details)
  • 4-5 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Seasoning of your choice (I like using Mrs. Dash and Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning) but you can use garlic powder or salt or other seasoning of your choice.

Directions: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees (or if using convection as I did then set to 375). Peel your potatoes. Slice them using a slicer if possible. The thinner they are the quicker they will cook. If you don't own a slicer then just cut thin using a knife. Toss the sliced potatoes with the olive oil in a bowl. Place the slices (in a single layer) on a cookie sheet. I placed them on parchment paper for easy clean up! Sprinkle the potatoes with your choice of seasoning. You can even bake them plain and add a bit of sea slat and pepper if you prefer. Bake in the oven until they are golden brown  (approximately 12-30 minutes depending on how thin you sliced them). Transfer them to a wire rack after they are cooked if you want them to be crispier.

Veggie Platter with Cheese Dip

Simple and healthy! We love to have: carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers (mini or large ones sliced), cauliflower, broccoli and sugar snap peas loaded with our healthy (and dairy-free….I know it sounds strange but trust us on this one) cheese dip!

Cheese Dip

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 7oz pimentos (with the liquid or you can use roasted red peppers instead)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes

Directions: Put ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. If you want it thicker add a pinch of xanthum gum.

Desserts- Because a party isn't complete without desserts. 

Lets start with easy because after making several sides the best dessert for me can be the one that's the quickest to make.

5-Minute Fruit Jello Salad

Ingredients:
•   1 lb of cottage cheese
•   .3 oz box of sugar free raspberry jello (or other sugar free pudding of your choice) *You can also use regular (non-sugar free) jello if you aren't worried about the sugar.
•   8 oz container of whip cream (or cool whip) 
•   4 oz of raspberries (or other fruit of your choice to go with the jello you picked) 

Directions: Put all the ingredients in a bowl (do NOT prepare the jello you do NOT add water you simply use the powder) and mix thoroughly. After mixed let it set up in the fridge for at a minimum 30 minutes. Save leftovers in a container in the fridge. 

Tip: You can be creative and do several variations like strawberry jello with strawberries or orange jello with mandarin oranges! It doesn't matter if you use fat free cottage cheese or not. I personally use the full fat cottage cheese because it is the lowest in sugar. I focus on low sugar, not low fat (remember fat doesn't make us fat, it's sugar that does!)!

The next recipe is a party favorite. The brownies are moist and delicious and there's no guilt involved with this healthy version of brownies.

Sweet Potato Brownies, Servings: 9

Ingredients:
•    1 sweet potato
•    3 eggs, whisked
•    ¼ cup coconut oil, MELTED
•    ½ cup Truvia (or Xylitol or other sweetener of your choice)
•    3 Tablespoons coconut flour (I haven’t tried this with any other type of flour but I’ve heard using almond flour or a gluten free flour tastes good too)
•    2 ½ Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
•    ¼ teaspoon baking powder
•    ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
•    ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
•    pinch of salt

Directions:
1.  Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
2.  Use a knife or a fork to puncture the sweet potato before baking it for 25-30 minutes.
3.  Once your sweet potato is cooked all the way through, peel the skin and mash it up in a bowl.
4.  Turn your oven down to 350 degrees.
5.  Add in the Truvia, vanilla, whisked eggs, and melted coconut oil. Mix together.
6.  Add in the coconut flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix together.
7.  Grease an 8×8 glass baking dish with coconut oil and pour in the mixture.
8.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until you can poke a toothpick in the middle and have it come out clean.
9.  Let it cool and enjoy.

Each serving has: 102 calories, 3 g protein, 8 g fat, 113 mg sodium, and 15 g carbs.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch Cake (or cupcakes)

*Sorry I don't have a delicious photo I haven't made them yet for tomorrow! ;0)

If you love peanut butter and chocolate lets just say this is my FAVORITE recipe for the combination. I'll post the unhealthy version with notes on how to "healthify" if you prefer. Easy to make too (bonus).

Ingredients:

  • 1 Package Yellow Cake Mix
  • 1/2 cup. chunky-style peanut butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 2/3 cup milk

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 container dark or milk chocolate fudge frosting

Directions: Pre-heat to 350 degrees. Mix all main ingredients at low speed until blended and then medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan or you can make them as cupcakes and grease a cupcake pan (bake as directed on yellow cake mix box if making cupcakes). Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let COOL before putting on frosting.

Frosting Instructions: Combine 1/4 cups creamy style peanut butter and 1 container of dark or milk chocolate fudge frosting Frost & Enjoy!

Healthify it: Use a sugar free yellow cake milk, natural peanut butter, unsweetened almond milk or skim milk and eggs (all measurements stay the same). Frosting you can use natural peanut butter and a sugar free chocolate frosting container or even just spread a thin layer of natural peanut butter along with sprinkling some sugar free chocolate chips on top. YUM YUM!

From our kitchen to yours…. ENJOY!

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