Happy Memorial Day, and thank you to all who have served and are currently serving in our armed forces!
Memorial Day is a day to remember those who lost their lives fighting for our freedom, but it also seems to signify the start of barbecue and cookout season. While it’s always fun to hang out with our family and friends, it can be difficult to find healthy options when attending these parties and get-togethers and can be even more difficult if you have food intolerance or follow a specific diet (gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, etc.).
You can totally bring your own food to a cookout if you’re afraid there won’t be anything for you to eat – I’ve done it! But a lot of people might feel awkward or disrespectful doing this (you shouldn’t feel that way, but I get it.). Rather than bringing an entire meal of foods you can/will eat, bringing a dish that you’ll eat but is also something everyone can enjoy is a great option. By bringing a dish you can eat, you can make a full plate of your dish and add to it from dishes that the host or other guests provide.
Maybe the host of the cookout you’re attending is awesome and is providing all the food; you can still have a healthy meal by choosing your foods carefully. Choose chicken or a hamburger with no bun over a highly processed hot dog or bratwurst. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, don’t hesitate to bring your own veggie burger – I would imagine most hosts would be happy to oblige. Baked beans are typically a staple at cookouts, and they’re a great protein option for vegetarians. In addition to including protein, load your plate up with fresh veggies but skip the dip, and avoid carb-heavy pasta salads as well as chips and crackers. Choose fresh fruit to end your meal over other baked good and desserts.
Looking for a dish to take to a cookout? Try out the garbanzo bean salad recipe from my May 7, 2017 blog. It is a great main dish for vegetarians and vegans (and meat eaters, too!), and it is a higher protein substitute for potato salad if you’re in need of a side dish. To make this dish, you’ll need two cans of garbanzo beans, ¼ cup olive oil mayo (or vegan mayo), 2 tablespoons of dill pickle relish, 1 tablespoon of yellow mustard, 2 stalks of chopped celery, and ¼ cup chopped green onion.
After draining and rinsing the two cans of garbanzo beans, use a muddler (typically used for drinks) or a potato masher to mash the beans. You could also put them in a food processor or blender, but be careful not to run it for too long, otherwise you’ll end up with bean puree, and you probably don’t want that.
Mix in mayo, relish, and mustard, stirring well until completely blended. If the texture is not creamy enough, add 1 tablespoon of mayo at a time, until it reaches your desired consistency. (I typically end up adding 1 extra tablespoon of mayo when I make this dish.) Mix in chopped celery and onions, stirring until mixed well.
This dish is better after refrigerating for a few hours and is best if left to sit overnight so that the flavors have time to blend and soak into the beans.
As the garbanzo bean salad sits in the fridge for a day or two, it may become dry, and I would suggest adding a touch more mayo, about a half a tablespoonful at a time.
If you're not a fan of mustard, you could leave that out, and you can add any spices that sound tasty to you! It's a great recipe to play around with and make it your own, and however you choose to prepare and serve this garbanzo bean salad, I hope you enjoy!
Serving suggestions: You could serve this as a sandwich, as a snack with crackers, or over a bed of greens of your choice.
Think positive, stay active, and smile. -A