Today’s post is a fun one — it covers 41 recipes and tips for a healthier Memorial Day.
Yes, 41! That’s a lot. Hope it’s not overwhelming. I just got so excited while I was writing this post and looking at all of the recipes I could include.
This post will give you plenty of options, whether you’re hosting a party, taking something to a potluck, or just relaxing at home over the long weekend.
To make things easier on you, I divided the recipes into sections for your holiday meal planning convenience.
First, let's start out with my most recent video — a Wild Rice and Edamame Salad I made during my weekly healthy eating segment on More Good Day Oregon. This salad is a great option for any Memorial Day potluck or summer party.
How to eat healthy during holiday weekends
Now, let’s be honest — healthy food isn’t the first thing we think of when it comes to barbecues and Memorial Day. Usually, we think of mayonnaise-y salads, cheesy casseroles, burgers, hot dogs, and barbecue ribs. And brownies, right?
As much as I like to indulge on holidays, I also don’t like overdoing it. Because overdoing it can lead to a whole cascade of icky feelings and circumstances. Like bloating and puffiness. Headaches. Breakouts. Feeling self-conscious in my clothes.
Not to mention getting on the scale and staring that holiday weekend weight gain in the face come Tuesday. Not my favorite.
So what can we do?
Is it really possible to enjoy ourselves, and still feel like we’re making healthy choices?
I say yes! And I have a whole bunch of recipes to prove it…
What to eat in the morning
When it comes to indulgent holidays and weekends, I find it helpful to keep the early part of the day as clean as possible. That gives you more wiggle room to enjoy some treats later in the day.
For a healthy first meal of the day, I love smoothies. No surprise there. Especially green ones, because that way I know I’m getting a lot of leafy greens and plant-based nutrients in before I head out to a barbecue or party later that day.
A couple of smoothies my family and I have been enjoying lately include the Sweetpea Smoothie and the Kale-icious Smoothie. And if you’re not feeling the green, try our other family favorite, the Strawberry Hemp Smoothie.
Smoothies not your thing? No problem!
When I’m not slurping smoothies, I love to dig into Banana Walnut Overnight Oats, Chocolate Pecan Granola or Quinoa Protein Cups.
The granola, by the way, is a great thing to make for brunch or house guests. Set out the granola with an assortment of fresh berries and a cold pitcher of nut milk, and you’re all set.
Healthy appetizer recipes
I have a lot of ideas when it comes to healthy appetizers. In fact, I’m kind of obsessed with healthy starters.
But back before I got into all this healthy food stuff, I was the queen of the cheese plate. That was pretty much what I would bring to every party.
However, once I started cutting out dairy — and my digestion improved — taking a big ol’ cheese plate to a party didn’t seem like the right thing to do. I wanted to bring something that would help my friends eat a little healthier too. But I didn’t want it to look or taste like “health food,” if you know what I mean.
So, I learned how to make things like hummus (super easy) and dairy-free dips (easy as well). I also often buy the vegan Bacony Chipotle Dip from Oregon-based NuCulture. It's insanely delicious, especially with some Mary's Gone Crackers.
As for recipes, here are a few of my party-tested, tried-and-true healthy appetizers:
- Thai Carrot Hummus
- Spicy Sriracha Hummus
- Crowd Pleasing Mexican Party Dip
- Smoked Almond Cheddar Ball
- Spicy Seed Mix
- Vegan Nacho Cheese Dip
You could also serve soup as a starter — here are a couple of fun ones:
Healthy drinks and mocktails
You need some drinks to go along with those appetizers, right?
Well, drinks don’t always need to have booze in them. When we’re entertaining, I like to put out an ice-filled tub of La Croix or Topo Chico water, as well as growlers of kombucha. People love it!
I find that many party guests may start with an alcoholic drink or two, but then migrate to something non-alcoholic after a while.
If you’re in Oregon, you could also throw some Otto’s CBD Cider in the mix (available at New Seasons) for a non-intoxicating and relaxing brew.
Sometimes, however, you want to offer something more homemade for your booze-free friends, and this is where a tasty mocktail recipe comes in handy:
Healthy salads perfect for a party or potluck
Salads are another dish I often take to potlucks and parties.
Why? Because that way I know there will be at least one veggie dish I can eat at the party.
And you know what? Salads tend to be really popular with other party guests as well. Most people like to have something healthy alongside some of the other rich or indulgent foods they’re enjoying.
Sometimes I like to bring a primarily green salad, and other times I like to bring something heartier, such as bean- or grain-based salad. Totally depends on the weather, or what I have in the pantry.
Here’s a list of salads you can pick and choose from for Memorial Day potluck-ing:
- Wild Rice and Edamame Salad
- Mediterranean Farro Salad with Arugula
- Thai Chopped Salad
- Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Pomegranate and Hazelnuts
- Quinoa and Black Bean Salad with a Jalapeño Vinaigrette
- Cannellini Bean Salad with Tomatoes, Olives and Basil
- Kale Caesar Salad
- Kale Salad with Maple Tahini Dressing
How about some healthy protein for your potluck?
A lot of people worry about getting enough protein when following a more plant-based diet.
But most people don’t need to. I’ve written about this before — you can check out “Why You Don’t Need to Obsess About Protein.”
However, I totally get it when people are craving some protein, or want to make something that they know will have a good amount of protein in it. This becomes especially important during barbecue season, when everyone else is grilling up burgers or chicken.
For starters, I highly recommend that you check out some of the great meat alternatives that are available in stores these days, such as the Beyond Meat burger. Beyond Meat products can be found in many natural grocery stores including Whole Foods and New Seasons. Look for them in the refrigerated section, either with the packaged meats or with plant-based foods such as tofu and tempeh.
Side note: the Impossible Burger is also worth checking out while you’re dining out. You’ll find the Impossible Burger at major chains such as Burger King, Red Robin, Qdoba, and Carl’s Jr. You can also find the Impossible Burger on the menu at Portland restaurants such as Migration Brewing, Irving Street Kitchen, Wilf’s, Yakuza, Superdeluxe, Backwoods Brewing, Burnside Brewing, and more.
Both of these plant-based burgers will blow your mind — so much like the “real” (beef) thing, but totally plant-based and cruelty free.
OK, so back to protein, the kind that you can make at home. A few recipes to try include:
- Savory Chickpea Burgers (bake in the oven and finish on the grill if desired)
- Mustard Roasted Tempeh (roast ahead of time and then warm on the grill)
- Veggie Packed Chili (one of my most popular recipes)
Also, here are a couple of ideas for how to season roasted or grilled vegetables and veggie kabobs:
Healthy dessert ideas for Memorial Day and barbecue season
Every good party needs a dessert, right?
And it doesn’t always have to be the Oreo-crusted ice cream cakes I used to make back in the day.
These days, I like to use fruit for dessert, such as:
Phew — that's a lot of recipes! No shortage of ideas here, right?
I hope these recipes help you get something delicious and healthy on the table this Memorial Day weekend.
And if you find yourself needing a bit of a detox after the holiday weekend, stay tuned. Next week's post will have ideas for how you can clean things up after a long weekend of indulgent food and drink.
In the meantime, you may find the fun freebie below helpful…