5 Revamped (and Delicious) Recipes to Try This Labor Day
Who doesn’t love a great cookout? With Labor Day weekend coming up fast (even though it feels like Memorial Day Weekend was last week), friends and family will be gathering for an outdoor celebration. As with any successful get-together, there’s sure to be plenty of food brought to the table.
Traditionally, cookout food is not known for its low-calorie or diet-friendly dishes, but the good news is, you have the power to change that with clever substitutions and fresh ingredients. No one will be feeling deprived of their Labor Day favorites with these bright, delicious dishes that you can whip up at home.
Creamy Potato Salad with Greek Yogurt
Lighten up a classic potato salad recipe by using Greek yogurt, a guilt-free and wonderfully creamy substitute for calorie-dense mayonnaise. Greek yogurt is far lower in both fat and calories, but it delivers the same wonderful creaminess that everyone craves. Plus, it’s packed with protein and has a light tanginess, making it a healthy substitute that provides plenty of flavor.
To use, combine Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, a drizzle of olive oil, fresh herbs like parsley or dill, and a squeeze of lemon juice for a zesty dressing to complement the potatoes. Additions like chopped celery, radish, or red onion can contribute an extra punch of flavor and color.
Potato salad is an ideal accompaniment to the standard hamburger or hotdog but is also great with an entree of meat or fish (not to mention we love it on its own, too). It’s even vegetarian-friendly so that you can satisfy everyone at your Labor Day festivities. With Greek yogurt in the place of mayo, you can cut down on excess fat and calories without sacrificing any richness–this cookout favorite could even become a weekday staple!
Grilled Shrimp Kebabs
Don’t settle for the average hotdog or hamburger as your main dish–switch it up with a healthier, flavor-packed protein like shrimp. As with many types of seafood, shrimp contains omega-3 fatty acids, an essential component of any diet to help improve heart health.
Grilled shrimp kebabs deliver the smoky cookout flavor that your guests love, but with some added interest for your taste buds. The shrimp can absorb and complement a variety of flavors, so choose any marinade you like.
Here’s a list of our favorite shrimp kebab flavor combinations:
- Lemon juice, thyme, garlic, and olive oil.
- Shredded coconut, lime juice, garlic, and coconut oil.
- Lime juice, cilantro, garlic, and olive oil.
- Soy sauce, sriracha sauce, lime juice, and ginger.
- Tomato paste, basil, garlic, and olive oil.
When applying the marinade, line up your shrimp on skewers to make grilling them easier. We love kebabs because they’re a great way to simplify eating at an outdoor party when people are walking and eating simultaneously. No one will be missing their regular cookout hamburger when these savory seafood skewers hit the grill this Labor Day weekend.
Guacamole with Baked Whole Wheat Tortilla Chips
Guacamole is sure to be an instant hit at any party. When paired with crunchy homemade tortilla chips, this is a snack you can feel good about serving to friends and family.
To make tortilla chips at home, all you need are your favorite brand of tortillas, (we go for a whole wheat or multigrain option), olive oil, any seasonings you like, and of course, an oven. Simply cut the tortillas into triangles, brush with a thin layer of oil, and sprinkle with salt. You can add spices, such as chili powder, cayenne pepper, and cumin, for an added kick.
Bake the chips in a single layer on a baking sheet for about 5 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and, voilà! You have a guilt-free accompaniment for your favorite guacamole.
Guacamole is not only a crowd-pleaser, but also loaded with health benefits. Avocados are a fantastic source of healthy monounsaturated fats, as well as potassium, magnesium, and B-vitamins. That’s just to name a few of the many perks of eating avocados, so you can go ahead and dip into a second helping of guac, free of guilt.
Homemade guacamole is quite simple to make. All you need to do is combine avocado with your flavorings of choice and mash. You can choose to either lightly mash the avocados for a chunky texture or put them in a food processor for a smooth, creamy consistency.
These are our go-to guacamole additions:
- Lime juice
- Chopped cilantro
- Diced tomatoes
- Chopped red onion
- Salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper for added spice.
For those who love extra creaminess in their guacamole, add a dollop of Greek yogurt. This versatile ingredient will make for an incredibly smooth and satisfying texture.
Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Fries are bound to disappear quickly at a gathering, but deep-fried white potatoes aren’t ideal for keeping your nutrition in check. Luckily, you can swap out the white potato with baked sweet potatoes for a colorful, nutrient-dense, and undeniably tasty alternative.
Here are a few clever tricks that you can use to make oven-baked fries delectably crisp:
- Cut the potatoes in small, thin rectangles, (think shoestring fries), as opposed to thick wedges. That way, the potatoes will cook through and begin to brown more quickly.
- Soak the cut potatoes in cold water for at least half an hour, or up to eight hours, before baking. Be sure to give the potatoes an extra rinse, drain all the excess water, and dry them with a paper towel after they’ve been soaked.
- Cover the potatoes in plenty of cornstarch. Cornstarch won’t add flavor to the fries, but it will allow them to become crunchy in the oven.
- Bake your fries at a high heat for a short period of time, (around 425-450 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes). A long bake time at a lower oven temperature will result in the texture of a classic baked potato, as opposed to the crisp fry we crave.
A combination of spices will give your sweet potato fries distinctive flavor. Salt is a must, but you can also add in:
- Cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pepper for a Mexican twist.
- Garlic powder, dried basil, oregano, and thyme for flavors of Italy.
- Coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne pepper for Indian-inspired fries.
Sweet potato fries are the perfect side for any savory main dish at your cookout, but they also make a delightful snack or appetizer. Your guests will never guess that these fries are a health food, not a junk food.
Banana Ice Cream Pops
Ice cream is a summertime staple and a fitting dessert for your Labor Day cookout. Fortunately, there’s a way to make popsicles that have a fraction of the calories, sugar, and fat typically associated with ordinary ice cream, yet, still taste wonderfully indulgent. The secret to our healthful pops is simple–frozen bananas.
Start with a ratio of 1 frozen banana to 1 cup of dairy, nut, or soy milk. If desired, you can sweeten the mixture with a tablespoon or two of honey. Create a smooth ice cream mixture using either a food processor or a high-powered blender. Once the ingredients are thoroughly combined, pour the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze until fully solidified, around 4-6 hours.
You can show off your creativity with banana ice cream pops by choosing interesting flavor combinations. The banana acts as a base, so you can mix in all sorts of tasty ingredients.
Here are a handful of sweet combinations to get you started:
- Coffee and cocoa powder
- Frozen strawberries, blueberries, cherries, or peaches
- Coconut milk and shredded coconut
- Vanilla bean seeds or vanilla extract
- Peanut or almond butter
- Pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice, (for those who, like us, can’t wait for pumpkin season to start!)
If you don’t have popsicle molds, just use paper cups or small drinking glasses instead. Pour the banana mixture into each cup or glass, insert a popsicle stick, and freeze. When using glasses, you may want to line the inside of each glass with a rolled section of parchment paper. This will ensure that the popsicles slide out easily once frozen.
With so many delicious substitutions for conventional cookout dishes, there’s no reason why a Labor Day meal must derail your health goals. Your loved ones won’t be missing the standard, less-than-healthy picnic foods when these fresh dishes are brought to the table. Plus, when you cook with naturally healthy ingredients, everyone will be left content, satiated, and on track toward improved nutrition.