Tips for healthier spring and summer celebrations

Sara Laite, Ramsey County Extension Agent
Special to Devils Lake Daily Journal

It feels like spring! It’s so refreshing to finally spend some time outside. I hope you are enjoying it as much as my family has been.

Along with spring and summer come get-togethers and celebrations. What better way to celebrate than with good food? Whether it’s a birthday, graduation, wedding shower, or a family picnic, just remember that it’s important to nourish your body whenever you can. Read on for some tips to keep you nourished.

Incorporate at least three different food groups into celebration foods. MyPlate includes five food groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, protein and dairy. Here are some ways to add nutrition and variety to your menu:

· Make sandwiches with whole grain breads or use whole-grain pasta in salads.

· Include a colorful vegetable tray on the menu.

· Try fruit and yogurt parfaits instead of cake as a sweet treat.

· Use lean or extra-lean beef and poultry in sandwiches and casseroles, or serve hummus as a fun and healthy dip with pita chips.

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

Explore ingredient substitutions. You can easily cut calories or add fiber, vitamins and minerals with healthier swaps. Check out the NDSU Extension publication, “Now-Serving: Recipe Makeovers” for many ideas. For example, you can easily replace ½ of white flour with whole wheat flour in recipes to increase fiber and antioxidants.

Make food fun. Get the whole family involved in preparation. Have a food activity, such as making bugs on a log, or having a smoothie night. Have each family member create meals with colorful pictures on paper plates with healthful foods from each of the food groups. Turn those into real meals!

Have a sweet tooth? Instead of a piece of cake or a brownie, try these parfaits with fruits that are in season. You can find the waffle bowls by the ice cream cones in the grocery store for an easily, unique dessert.

Waffle Bowl Parfait

10 pack waffle bowls

3 T melted chocolate chips

3 cups sliced strawberries

2 cups grapes, sliced in half

2 cups blueberries

1 (16-ounce) container non-fat vanilla Greek yogurt

Rinse fruit and drain well. Prepare as directed and mix. Microwave chocolate chips on high for 15 seconds at a time and repeat until melted. Stir well. Add one teaspoon of melted chocolate to bottom of each bowl and let cool. Place about 1/3 cup strawberries and 1/3 cup yogurt in each

bowl. Top with the rest of the fruit. Chill in the freezer for 30 minutes or serve right away. Makes 10 servings. Each serving has 170 calories, 2.5g fat, 5g protein, 33g carbs, 3g fiber, and 30mg sodium.

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