Mushroom Burgers

You are relieved of the discomfort of my independence Day experiences in Hawaii in 1949, but this is a full post and I don’t want to fuller it no more!

You may not get around to reading this post until after Independence Day, but no matter. As great as these hints are for the Fourth, they fit into any barbecue or backyard bash.

Mushroom Burgers

This is an all-time favorite cookout hack. It is not vegan nor vegetarian, but who says everyone must follow these practices? Enjoy this variation on burgers to make them healthier and still as delicious. [Note: This can easily converted to vegan/vegetarian by elimination of the ground beef. Substitute another veggie filler.]

Grate 6 ounces of mushrooms in a food processor (just chop them if you like a chunkier texture).

Mix them in with 1 pound of ground beef.

Add any of your other favorite burger fixins (chopped onions, spices, diced green peppers, or even a little salsa).

Form your patties.

Toss ‘em on the grill.

Cook ‘em to desired doneness!

They’ll come out moist and delicious, and you’ll be cutting back on a lot of unhealthy fat. Win-win, right?

More Fixin’s–Grilled Veggies

The secret to this simple recipe is the basting oil. It turns carrots, zucchini spears, asparagus and other vegetables into true treats by bringing out the flavor, and in carrots, sweetness — without a lot of calories.

Basting oil—

Mix

4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil,

1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary (or try a little powdered or fresh ginger).

Wash and peel any of

1 pound of medium-sized carrots.

1 pound of zucchini squash cut into thick spears

1 pound of asparagus spears [cut away tough ends]

Put them on the grill and brush with the oil mixture.

Cook for 10 minutes,

Turn and cook for another 10 minutes, brushing with the oil mixture again.

Then chomp away!

More tips

Barbecues and backyard feasts frequently mean

burgers and hotdogs on the grill,

Potato salad,

Chips and dips,

Sodas,

Sugary desserts

… and all you can eat!

I admit, this is delicious but…

   …they don’t do your waistline any favors

       — and some of them are flat-out not good for you.

So let’s keep them delicious, but see if we can use some healthy [and delicious] substitutes.

Potato Salad

All family reunions and backyard cookout hang on potato salad. Can you cut out some of the fat and calories — and discover an amazing new taste treat? Yep — by replacing the mayo in your favorite recipe with either plain Greek yogurt or mashed avocado. Uh, mashed Avocado? Ain’t they full of fat?

Right, but you want to replace bad fat with good fat. And the fat in avocados is good fat. Just don’t over-indulge. This substitute tastes so good you’ll wonder why you never heard of this before.

(And remember another “trick”—cooking potatoes, then refrigerating them. This changes them from “bad carbs” to “resistant starches” — which not only help you stay slimmer… they also feed the good bacteria in your gut.)

Deviled Eggs

Too bad I became a vegan. You can substitute three tablespoons of water mixed with flaxseed flour as an egg substitute in normal cooking. But it is absolutely impossible to convert this into deviled eggs, on of my all time favorite cookout foods. [I even cheat on rare occasions and steal a deviled egg—but hopefully this  transformation.

Eggs are a great source of protein and other nutrients… and even help your good cholesterol. Mayo, however, in most recipes is just empty calories and unhealthy fat. Why not swap it out for something healthy—say plain Greek yogurt?

Also hummus, or crushed avocado [again?] may be used

Hard-boil 6 eggs

Cool in cold water.

Peel them.

Slice lengthwise.

Place the yolks in a bowl.

Add

¼ cup of plain Greek yogurt (or hummus or avocado),

1 teaspoon of vinegar (balsamic, for a richer flavor),

1 teaspoon of yellow mustard.

⅛ teaspoon of salt.

Mash together.

Spoon the mix equally into each of the egg whites.

Add a light sprinkle of paprika or cayenne.

Only two per meal, dog-gone-it!

(Another ‘un-mayo’ idea: If you make your own coleslaw, try swapping out the mayo for one of these other healthier ingredients. You won’t be disappointed!)

Salad Dressing

The best way to ruin a salad — and turn it into an UNhealthy choice — is to smother it with a sugary or fat-filled dressing.

Make your own dressing.

Start with

equal parts extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Let your creative juices flow.

Try some minced garlic or garlic powder.

For a little kick, add some dijon mustard.

Say you prefer a creamier texture. Thicken it up with a little plain Greek yogurt.

Remember, experimenting is fun! So try different herbs and spices.

Grilled Melon

Whoa! Really?

This works great for cantaloupe or honeydew.

Cut the melon into wedges.

Pare off the rind. [Very important!]

Grill on medium heat, about 5 minutes per side.

This brings out the sweetness, while adding a delicious smoky flavor.

(Also try with watermelon. Watermelon?

Cut 1-inch slices, then cut in quarters so they’re easier to handle.)

Want an exciting, zesty twist?

Sprinkle on a little chili powder.

[Like it really like it spicy? Try some cayenne!… let the heat and the sweet fight it out inside your mouth. Yummy in the tummy, mummy!]

Melon Smoothie

Not into grilled melon? Well, use any melon to create a smoothie.

No one needs sodas. You can have a healthy melon smoothie in just minutes?

Add

4 cups of melon [honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon]

a peeled avocado,

some chopped fresh mint.

Place in a blender.

Liquify.

I like to use chilled melon, but you can also add a couple of ice cubes to cool it down. Delicious, refreshing, and only about 100 calories per serving.

Hope this helps your celebration. Next post watch for an Info Box in addition to other elements of this blog. It will feature items like definitions of little-known, but much used terms. How about free radicals? How do you define this so your little brother understands your explanation?

Until next time.

I love you.

Larry Winebrenner

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