You might be dreading Memorial Day because you fear the carb-loaded feast that will be set before you. But, if you are trying to eat low-carb, a “grilling holiday” such as Memorial Day is actually a great opportunity to demonstrate to friends and family how eat low-carb and not miss one tasty step.
- Hamburgers: Meats are great low-carb options, and you will definitely be seeing plenty of that over the holiday weekend. But, what to do about the bun? Ditch it! There are other options for the open-mined low-carb eater. First, just eat your burger with a knife and fork. You can eat it as-is, more like a hamburger steak—with or without the cheese—or you can actually add your typical hamburger fixin’s and go for it. Or, if you really want to pick up your burger, you can go for a lower-carb “bun” version, including wrapping your burger in lettuce leaves (you were going to have lettuce on your burger anyway, right?) or you could use a low-carb tortilla for just a few more added carbs. Two things to be wary of: Sweet pickle relish and ketchup. If you want a pickle, go dill! And, give one of the sugar-free ketchups out there a try, or just skip it altogether.
- Hot Dogs: Similar to hamburgers, you can eat without the bun or you can go for a wrap, like lettuce or a tortilla. But, you’ll want to keep a check on the hot dogs themselves; you’ll be surprised when you start checking just how many carbs some brands might contain.
- Steaks, Ribs, Fish and Chicken: All of these are great for low-carbers, but be wary of any sauces that might go on them during grilling. Many BBQ sauces, steak sauces and marinades are loaded with sugars.
- Side-Dishes: You’ll want to stay away from carb-loaded sides like potato salad, coleslaw (often full of sugar) and macaroni salad. But, here is a great one from About.com to contribute to the party:
Cauliflower “Potato” Salad
- 1 medium head cauliflower (about 4 cups/1 quart florets)
- 2 hard-boiled eggs
- 1 medium stalk celery, minced (including leaves)
- ½ cup chopped green pepper
- 2 green onions, chopped (green and white parts)
- 3 tablespoons Carb Counters Instant Mashers (optional)
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon prepared mustard (brown or yellow)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- 1-2 drops hot sauce or a pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1-2 teaspoons worth sugar substitute
- 2 tablespoons sugar-free pickle relish or dill relish, or chopped sugar-free pickle
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh herbs (optional, but good)
1) Break or chop the cauliflower into smallish florets. If they are too big, they're difficult to cook so that they have the right "bite" and flavor - the outside tends to overcook.
2) Microwave florets in a covered container with a small amount of water, or steam on the stove. I've never tried boiling, but cauliflower tends to hold on to water, so I'm a little skeptical. You want them to be fork-tender (a fork slips in easily), but not overcooked (avoiding the stronger smell and flavor which develops with longer cooking).
3) Drain and put into a medium bowl. Chop the egg and add. Toss with salt and pepper. I like quite a bit of pepper, and it does seem to take a surprising amount of salt, but this would be to taste. Sprinkle in the Carb Counter Instant Mashers if you're using them, and toss again.
4) Mix the ingredients for the dressing (mayo, lemon juice, spices, etc.). Taste for the balance of flavors you like. Mix the chopped vegetables and the dressing into the cauliflower and egg mixture. Add chopped fresh herbs if you wish - chives, dill, or parsley work well, but I've even used mint for something different. Garnish with the herb, or sprinkle with paprika. Chill.
Makes 8 servings.
Nutritional Information: Each serving has 3 grams effective carbohydrate plus 1.5 grams fiber, 3 grams protein, and 99 calories.
Bottom line, if you are going to a party where others are doing the cooking, there is no way to know for complete certain if a food is carb-friendly (for example, were those normally carb-friendly deviled eggs made with sweet pickle relish, or even given a tap of sugar?). However, you can make some reasonably educated guesses, take a dish or two yourself (and if you want lower-carb versions of things like ketchup and tortillas, it is a good idea to supply them yourself, by the way), and, depending on the circumstances, ask a few questions to help you navigate the carb-loaded party waters.
Image: Wikimedia Commons