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Low-fat foods are just the thing for cookout menu


Honest-to-goodness low-fat hot dogs and hamburgers have arrived, just in time for your Memorial Day cookout.

Hormel Lite and Lean hot dogs at 45 calories and one gram of fat each, and Healthy Choice Jumbo Franks at 50 calories and one gram of fat each, really deserve a low-fat label. Wrap them in large buns and smother them in mustard, relish, ketchup and onions for a nearly nonfat treat.

They are a far cry from standard chicken and turkey franks at 9 to 11 grams of fat each, or traditional franks at 13 to 17 grams of fat each.

Burger lovers can rejoice in the new low-fat ground beef from Healthy Choice. Each four-ounce portion contains only 4 grams of fat.

Mount on a Kaiser roll, then top with thick slices of red, ripe tomato and sweet Vidalia onion, crunchy romaine lettuce and a thin smear of low-fat mayo for another heart-healthy taste treat.

Baked beans are high in complex carbohydrates as well as soluble fiber, which can help lower blood cholesterol. Many varieties -- such as barbecue, vegetarian and deep brown with molasses -- contain only 1 to 3 grams of fat per serving.

Marinated vegetables make a colorful, tempting display for adults, and great finger food for kids. These vegetables are naturally fat-free and high in fiber, and they contain reputed cancer- and heart disease-fighting agents: vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene. They taste good, too!

A day ahead, wash and trim fresh green beans, tiny thin asparagus stalks, cauliflower and broccoli florets and carrot strips. Cook each in boiling water until tender crisp, cool in cold water, wrap in paper towels and a plastic bag, then refrigerate.

One to four hours before serving, combine the chilled vegetables, along with cherry tomatoes, with a nonfat Italian salad dressing. Cover and refrigerate until serving time. Arrange on a bed of romaine lettuce.

Although it's way too early for fresh local corn, there's an abundance of really good sweet Florida corn in all the markets. Fresh corn is naturally high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, and low in fat. But watch the butter. It adds 15 grams of fat per tablespoon.

Finally, fill everybody up on fresh fruit. Strawberries, kiwi fruit, bananas and fresh pineapple are plentiful and fat-free. You may even find some good melons.

If folks are still hungry after all that, a little dessert probably wouldn't hurt.

Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center in Baltimore.

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