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5 Healthy, Easy Memorial Day Snack Ideas

Memorial Day Snack Ideas - Watermelon and blueberry water infusion photo

Communities and families will soon gather together on Memorial Day in honor and remembrance of the brave men and women who fought for freedom and died while serving in the U.S. military. This day is often marked by parades, flags, flowers and cookouts as we gather with friends and family.

For many of us, Memorial Day weekend marks an unofficial start to summer, and it’s the perfect time to try some new, healthier recipes that your friends and family will love.

Celebratory snacks are often not the healthiest options. At almost every party you’ll find foods that are saturated with trans-fats, sodium and added sugars, plus high-calorie processed foods that aren’t exactly brimming with nutritional value!

While it’s definitely okay to indulge every once in a while, as long as you stick to a healthy overall balance between nourishment and pleasure, sometimes you can have the best of both worlds in a single dish. And that’s our thinking behind these delicious, healthy, easy to make Memorial Day weekend snacks. Try them and see for yourself!

1) Fruit Kebabs

The secret to an irresistible fruit kebob is making sure the fruit you use is ripe and ready to eat. There’s nothing fun about biting into a tough chunk of melon! Sticking with what is in season is best, but depending on where you live, there’s a good chance all your favorites aren’t in season just yet.

What can you do about that? Buy your fruit ahead of time and leave it out at room temperature to ripen. Check it daily for ripeness and move it to refrigeration when it’s ready. If you’re in a pinch, check the fresh-cut options in your grocery store’s produce department. Grocery stores will often select fruit that is at peak ripeness to cut up and sell quickly in grab-and-go containers before it gets too ripe and spoils.

Visit the United States Department of Agriculture Seasonal Produce Guide to see what’s generally in season across the US, or check out this seasonal foods guide for area-specific information.

What you’ll need:

  • Chunks of your favorite fresh fruits
  • Skewers
  • Yogurt for dipping (optional)

For a fun twist that will liven up your Memorial Day party, choose fruits in a rainbow of colors and put them on each skewer in the same order, then fan them out on a platter for a colorful display.

Eating a full spectrum of hues is super healthy because of the variety of carotenoid pigments that give produce its many colors. Each type of fruit offers a unique and healthy dose of vitamins and nutrients. Plus, rainbow foods make great Memorial Day kid snacks.

Colorful Fruits to Try:

  • Red: raspberries and strawberries
  • Orange: mandarin, tangerine or cantaloupe
  • Yellow: mango and pineapple
  • Green: kiwi and green grapes or honeydew melon
  • Purple: blueberries and purple grapes

Learn more about the benefits of eating all your colors in the article What are Carotenoids?

2) Infused Water

Save some fruit from your kebabs for water infusions to hydrate your guests in a delicious and healthy way. Plus, a pretty dispenser full of ice-cold water and colorful fruit is bound to catch everyone’s eye, even the little ones! It’s an excellent alternative to sodas and prepackaged beverages and infused water is a treat to drink.

It’s a good idea to get your infusions started the day before so the ingredients have time to impart flavor to the water. You can add fresh herbs to kick up the flavor.

Mint pairs well with cantaloupe, pineapples or cucumber. Thyme pairs with strawberries and cucumbers. Basil pairs with watermelon or strawberries. The combination options are endless!

Here are a few more to try:

  • Mint with blueberry and pomegranate
  • Mint with blackberry and lime
  • Ginger with strawberry and lemon
  • Ginger and cinnamon with pear

Check out Water for the Win: Benefits of Water, Plus 5 Water Infusions to Try and Infused Water Benefits for more recipes plus reasons to try water infusions!

What you’ll need:

  • Chunks of fresh fruit
  • Fresh herbs (be careful not to cut herbs small, so your guests won’t accidentally swallow them)
  • Glass dispenser, infuser pitchers or reusable water bottles
  • Filtered water

If you are adding your infused water to a larger dispenser, set up a bowl of the same fruits you used in the infusion near the dispenser so your guests can add some color and nutrition to their individual glasses.

3) Cauliflower Poppers

Skip the deep-fried appetizers covered in salt or sugar and try this fresh approach instead. These cauliflower poppers have the delicious taste and crispy texture of a baked treat, and they are so simple to make. You can serve them up on a platter or on skewers as Memorial Day BBQ snacks, and they make a great side dish too!

Cauliflower is low in calories and high in nutrition, offering vitamin C, dietary fiber, vitamin B-6, magnesium, potassium and more.1 Plus, you can pack in more nutrition and flavor by adding herbs and other natural flavorings. You can find our original recipe here for lemon curry cauliflower poppers, but we’ve included some additional flavor options below.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 head of organic cauliflower (cut into flowerets)
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • your flavorings of choice from below

Original Lemon Curry2

  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • ½ medium lemon, zested
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Smoked Paprika

  • 1½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Additional pinch of salt to taste, if needed

Simply Savory

  • 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Additional pinch of salt to taste, if needed
  • Sprinkle with parsley (after cooking)

Roasted Rosemary

  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
  • or ¾ teaspoon dried, crushed rosemary

Spicy Poppers

  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Special instructions for Spicy Poppers:  Combine Sriracha, hot sauce and lemon juice and save the mixture until after you bake the cauliflower, then toss to coat.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F
  2. Mix together oil and flavorings in a large bowl (minus any salt or zest your flavoring recipe calls for, save those for step 4)
  3. Add flowerets to the bowl and toss to coat
  4. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and if your flavoring recipe above includes it, sprinkle on the zest
  5. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes, turning a couple of times during cooking for even baking
  6. Alternate option: cook on your grill or stovetop at medium heat for 15-20 minutes
  7. Optional: serve with skewers or toothpicks

4) Quinoa Meatballs

Satisfy those meat-eaters and help keep them healthy with a meatball recipe that includes flavorful additions like quinoa, paprika and parsley. Adding quinoa helps cut out some of the fat and calories without sacrificing flavor, and you get the benefits of this nutritional whole grain. Quinoa provides protein, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, folate and some vitamin A.3

What you’ll need:

Directions:

  1. Cook the quinoa according to the instructions on the package
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl using your hands
  3. Roll into balls and place in greased baking pan
  4. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until cooked thoroughly
  5. For even more flavor, serve your quinoa meatballs with mild BBQ sauce

5) Loaded Sweet Potato Nachos, Two Ways

Want a nutritious alternative to nachos made with traditional chips? Try making nachos with sweet potatoes instead. You can make them Irish style and keep the potatoes softer like home fries, or make your nachos with baked sweet potato chips to satisfy a craving for crunch.

Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin A and contain impressive amounts of vitamin C, fiber and potassium.4 Pile them high with toppings like fresh veggies, flavorful spices and a bit of cheese, and you’ll have a crowd-pleasing appetizer!

Topping Ideas

  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/3 cup sharp shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded light pepper jack cheese
  • 1 medium scallion, sliced
  • 1 small jalapeno, sliced
  • 1/2 medium tomato, diced small
  • 1 teaspoon cilantro
  • Sliced black olives, optional
  • Black beans, optional
  • Corn, optional
  • Shredded lettuce, optional
  • Guacamole, optional
  • Greek yogurt or sour cream, for dipping
  • Salsa, for dipping

What You’ll Need for Sweet Potato Chips

  • 2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • Salt, to taste

How to Make Sweet Potato Chips

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Cover two or three baking sheets (depending on their size) with parchment paper and set aside
  3. Place sweet potato slices in a zip lock bag and add oil. Close bag and shake well, making sure all chips get covered in oil.
  4. Place sweet potato chips in a single layer on baking sheets and sprinkle with paprika and sea salt evenly, to taste
  5. Bake one sheet at a time (around 10 minutes for each baking sheet) until your sweet potato chip edges curl up and get golden brown
  6. Let chips cool down until they get a bit crispy
  7. Layer your chips with toppings on a serving platter and serve with your choice of side dips

To make your sweet potato nachos Irish-style, follow our original recipe for Sweet Potato Nachos here!

Memorial Day Weekend Snack Recipes

As we gather to honor those who've fought for freedom and begin summer cookout season, taking a nutritional approach to Memorial Day snacks will give you a head-start on healthy summer habits. With these healthy Memorial Day snack recipes, you’ll have flavorful, nutritious dishes on hand that will keep your guests coming back for more, with nutritional value that outranks typical Memorial Day snack food options.

If you’re planning a picnic, pack these 4 Tips for a Healthy Picnic along with your Memorial Day picnic snacks. And be sure to share your own Memorial Day snacks and hacks below! 

Are you looking for ways to support optimal wellness everyday? Check out Swanson's A-Z Guide to Modern Wellness, which begins with Amazing Alphabet Vitamins: The Six Vitamins You Need to Know. Beauty, detox, exercise, heart health, probiotics, relaxation, eye health, sleep—get easy, everyday tips for ways to support your nutrition and total-body health. 

Lindsey Bristol, Swanson Health Products
 

 

About Lindsey Bristol, MS, RD
Registered Dietitian, Swanson Health

Lindsey is a nationally recognized registered dietitian and nutritionist with a soft spot for ice cream. She empowers people to take charge of their health by finding the balance between the pleasure and nourishment in food. 

Her philosophy is that you should take care of your body because it’s the only permanent home you have. It’s what inspired her to pursue a career in nutrition and, ultimately, led her to Swanson Health.

Sources

1 Cauliflower. United States Department of Agriculture Nutritional Database. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/301801 (Accessed 05/18/2018)

2 Lemon Curry Roasted Cauliflower. Mom Foodie. https://momfoodie.com/lemon-curry-roasted-cauliflower/ (Accessed 05/18/2018)

3 Quinoa, Cooked. United States Department of Agriculture Nutritional Database. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/20137 (Accessed 05/18/2018)

4 Sweet potato, cooked, baked in skin. United States Department of Agriculture Nutritional Database. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/11508 (Accessed 05/18/2018)

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


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