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Dash of Class: Celebrate freedom with a guilt-free meal

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Food column by Nora Sweat

By Nora Sweat

It seems every time you are back on track weight-wise, a family reunion or a holiday gathering or a night out on the town happens and your efforts to eat healthier are sabotaged.

The Fourth of July, whether you celebrate Wednesday or this weekend, can be healthier by choosing menu items that are delicious but lighter. The menu I will suggest includes Grilled Chicken with Rosemary, Potato and Cheese Packets, Grilled Green Beans and Red, White and Blue Trifle.

Since three of these recipes are done on the grill, I have chosen chicken for the main course. There are several ways to enhance grilled chicken and it is much healthier than hamburgers, fried chicken or barbecue ribs. Both vegetables are grilled along with the chicken. The dessert I chose uses sugar free pudding and sugar free or light dairy topping and is a cool, refreshing dessert. But remember even if you have healthier choices for your day to celebrate our independence, it is all about portions. Don’t over indulge, leave off rolls and it will be a lighter Fourth of July.

Grilled Chicken with Rosemary
2 broiler chickens, split, 5 to 6 pounds
1/2 cup melted butter
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons dried rosemary, crushed
1 small clove garlic
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Prepare the grill; place an oiled rack 4 to 6 inches above medium coals. Combine butter or oil, lemon juice, rosemary, garlic and salt. Brush the chicken inside and out with 1/4 cup of the seasoned butter.

Place the chickens on the grill, bone side down. Baste chicken halves frequently with the remaining butter mixture and turn every 10 minutes. Grill for 30 to 40 minutes in all or until chicken is tender and juices run clear with pierced with a fork. Sprinkle well with pepper and serve. Serves 4.

Nora’s Note: For an even healthier option, try substituting olive oil for melted butter. Also try using fresh rosemary for a more flavorful chicken.

Potato and Cheese Packets
2 medium potatoes, sliced
3 tablespoons water
2 bacon strips, diced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
4 ounces processed cheese (Velveeta), cubed
3 tablespoons butter, cubed

Place potatoes and water in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes or until almost tender. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until partially cooked but not crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain.

Drain potatoes. On a double thickness of greased heavy-duty foil (about 18 inches square), layer half the potatoes, bacon, onion, cheese and butter. Repeat layers.

Fold foil around potato mixture and seal tightly. Place on grill, covered, over medium heat for 12-14 minutes or until potatoes are tender and cheese is melted. Carefully remove foil to allow steam to escape.Serves 2.

Nora’s Note: You might wonder why I would include this recipe as a healthy option. Remember the potatoes are steamed and you could omit the bacon for a healthier choice and you also might use reduced-fat cheddar instead of Velveeta. There is a low-fat version of Velveeta. Also, use a butter flavored spray instead of the butter.

Grilled Green Beans
1 pound fresh green beans, washed with ends removed
4-5 garlic cloves, smashed with skins remaining
¼ of a Serrano or Jalapeno pepper, chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper
2 T. olive oil

Place green beans on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Add smashed garlic and chopped peppers. Generously sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add olive oil and toss. Close the foil tightly in a flat configuration, then double wrap. Place green beans on a grill for about 20 minutes, repositioning every 5 minutes. Serves 4-6.

Nora’s Note: You might want to omit the hot peppers with Serrano being the hottest. However, if you want something hot for the fourth, go right ahead.

Red, White and Blue Trifle

1 angel food cake
2-3 ounce package of sugar-free instant vanilla pudding
3 c. skim or 2 percent milk
2 containers sugar free or light frozen dairy topping, thawed
Strawberries and blueberries

Cut cake into 2-inch square pieces. Set aside. Mix pudding mix and milk until well mixed and add one thawed dairy topping. Place half of the cake pieces into a trifle bowl or large clear glass bowl. Pour half of pudding mixture over top with a layer of strawberries and blueberries on top. Repeat cake, pudding and fruit layers. Place second container of thawed dairy topping on top and garnish with additional berries. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Nora Sweat, author of “Mama and Me,” is a native of HardinCounty and a retired home economics/family and consumer science teacher. She can be reached at norasweat@thenewsenterprise.comor by mail at 408 W. Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown, KY 42701.