Healthier Spring and Summer Celebrations

Sara Laite

We were recently invited to an outdoor potluck. After hearing of all the delicious and decadent items already planned to be brought by the other guests, I couldn’t help but think that we were missing something on the menu. I immediately offered to bring a veggie tray with a variety of low-fat dips and hummus. 

Although we still plan to indulge a bit, it will be nice to have a healthy option available to curb the chance of going overboard and having a stomach ache by the end of the day.

When planning a spring/summer event, try to incorporate at least three different food groups into the menu. If it’s a potluck, don’t be afraid to give guests potential options, including healthy items. 

MyPlate includes five food groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, protein and dairy. When deciding on your menu, think how you can include at least three of these food groups. Here are a few ways to add nutrition and variety to your menu:

·       Have a sandwich bar that includes whole wheat bread options, colorful veggie toppings, and low-fat condiments.

·       Include a colorful veggie tray or incorporate them into salads.

·       Try fruit parfaits instead of cake and other goodies for a sweet treat.

·       Replace higher-fat sour cream and mayo with plain yogurt in dips and condiments.

·       When baking, swap half of the flour for whole wheat flour and half of the oil for applesauce.

Make food fun. Get the kids involved in the event planning. They can make the fruit and yogurt parfaits or make the good ole “bugs on a log” for a fun treat. A trail mix bar would be a fun addition!

Remember to stay active. Plan an outdoor scavenger hunt for the kids, have a corn hole tournament, or go for a walk while visiting with family and friends.

Here’s a refreshing treat made from seasonal fresh strawberries. When fruits and veggies are “in season”, they are at their best quality and often best price.

Strawberry Italian Ice

¾ c. thawed 100% apple juice from concentrate

1-3 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and halved

Fresh mint, optional

In a blender, combine the apple juice concentrate, lemon juice and strawberries; cover and process until blended. Pour into an ungreased 8-inch-square dish. Cover and freeze for 1 ½ to two hours or until partially set. Spoon into a large bowl; beat on medium speed for one to two minutes. Return to dish; freeze for two to three hours or until firm. Remove from the freezer 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with mint if desired.

Makes 10 (1/2-cup) servings. Each serving has 45 calories, 0g fat, 0g protein, 12g carbohydrate, 1g fiber and 0mg sodium.

For more information, contact the Ramsey County Extension Office at 701-662-7027. Website: Facebook:

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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