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Memorial Day Recipes: Healthy choices – burgers, tofu, and veggies

Written By | May 25, 2017

WASHINGTON, May 25, 2017 –  Memorial Day Barbeque does not mean breaking all your healthy eating resolutions (if you are still keeping them from New Years, congratulations!) For this year’s Memorial Day barbecues choose delicious foods that are low in saturated fats, and that offer healthier choices beyond the plate of carrots and celery sticks, that are low in saturated fats, carbohydrates and empty calories.

Delicious and healthy, any day of the year, starts in the grocery store.  Choose items that do not include high fructose corn syrup and long lists of unreadable ingredients.  In my opinion, high fructose corn syrup is the number one saboteur of any healthy diet — and it is found in bread, mayonnaise, ketchup, barbecue sauce, salad dressings and many prepared foods.

Read your labels and make other choices.

Duke's Mayo nutrition lable

Duke’s Mayo nutrition label

One of my alternatives to hfc laden condiments is Duke’s Mayo. Duke’s is not only delicious but it also has a great story. Duke’s origins are in Eugenia Duke’s Greenville, South Carolina kitchen in 1917, and in the Richmond, Virginia, C.F. Sauer family in 1929.

During WWI Mrs. Duke made sandwiches using her homemade mayonnaise and sold them to soldiers at nearby Fort Sevier.  She also sold sandwiches in drugstores, and eventually a local grocer agreed to take a few bottles of her mayonnaise on consignment. The volume of orders continued growing until she progressed from operating out of her kitchen to a separate outbuilding on her property (historical information taken from the Duke’s Mayo website)

Sandwich-making led to Mrs. Duke selling Duke’s Mayonnaise full-time and finally selling her company to the the C.F. Sauer Company in 1929.

Duke’s Mayo is great on sandwiches, but what it does to the lowly hamburger which often becomes dried out in the grilling process is remarkable.

Image by LWYang / Creative Commons -

Hamburger Image by LWYang / Creative Commons – –


  • 1/3 cup Duke’s Mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Grill Shakers Hamburger Spice
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon Sauer’s Mustard
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons Grill Shakers Hamburger spice (recipe below)


Mix first four ingredients. Refrigerate 1 hour or overnight. Mix beef and Grill Shakers. Form into four patties. Grill until cooked through. Add condiments and enjoy.

Make your own Grill Shakers by combining sea salt, dried ground garlic or finely diced whole clove, black pepper, ground whole brown mustard seed or a spoonful of mustard, dried onion flakes or finely diced sweet onion, paprika, chile pepper, fresh basil, and rosemary to taste.

Add a little lift by including some dried lemon or lime seasoning or the zest from a fresh piece of citrus fruit.

Alternative: For a healthier burger, buy brisket and sirloin in equal parts and have the butcher grind it for you. This will make a dryer hamburger, so you will want to add one egg, whipped, to every pound of meat in addition to the Duke’s mayonnaise.

Instead of a store-bought bun, provide large lettuce leaves to use as a base or wrap for your burgers.

Serving Size: four servings

Award Worthy Tofu and Vegetable Sandwich:

Forgo the burger altogether and create a creamy tofu on grilled focaccia bread sandwich with mayo, dill and lemon dressing, mixing the ingredients to your taste.

Creamy tofu sandwich as created by Auberge La Fascine, Isle-aux-Coudres, QC - : 

While on the Isle-aux-Courdes, in Charlevoix, QC, a great tofu sandwich was discovered at Auberge La Fascine with thin slices of grilled vegetables, including beets (which really make the sandwich), zucchini or squash, grilled onions, cucumber and Swiss cheese layered on a focaccia bun with a thin slice of pan fried seasoned tofu (garlic seasoning, salt, olive oil, and lemon would be a simple seasoning, but you could also use dry rub bbq seasoning).

Marinate the tofu slices in lemon juice, dijon, garlic, mirin, maple syrup, olive oil and

Marinate the tofu slices in lemon juice, dijon, garlic, mirin, maple syrup, olive oil and sambal oelek chili paste. Pan-fry the tofu in advance and quickly re-heat on the grill using a grill matt, for a super healthy sandwich choice filled with summer flavor.

Serve with a peppery arugula salad, with marinated watermelon cubes (tamari, sesame oil, ginger, maple syrup, sriracha) and topped with mint, feta cheese, and pumpkin seeds.

Asian Coleslaw

Image and recipe courtesy of

Image and recipe courtesy of (sponsored by Walmart)

This tasty Asian coleslaw recipe from the fine folks at Heart.Org offers a tasty alternative that in addition to being diet-healthy will last in the hot weather.

Make this the day before and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator.


  • 12 ounces packaged, shredded cabbage (green, purple, or blended)
  • 1 medium cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium bell pepper (red or green), thinly sliced
  • 5 medium green onions, sliced
  • 12 washed, fresh basil leaves


  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar (for extra health use Mott’s Organic Apple Cider with “the mother”)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (use organic cane sugar, honey or Stevia to sweeten your dressing)
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil


  1. Combine all vegetables in a bowl and toss. Combine dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk to blend well.
  2. Pour dressing mixture over vegetables and toss well. Serve.


Yield: 6 servings. Calories: 42, Carbohydrate: 7g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 1 g, Saturated Fat: 0g, Sugar: 4g, Dietary Fiber: 2g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 107mg.


Premium Green Tea - Flickr Creative Commons - some rights reserved

Premium Green Tea – Flickr Creative Commons – some rights reserved

Make an antioxidant-rich alternative to traditional Southern Sweet Tea using green tea, mint and fresh berries to sweeten. The recipe is easy and can be made in advance. Steep your tea by pouring boiling hot water over Organic Green Tag using either bagged tea or an infuser. While some say you can’t tell the difference, I also like to make it as sun tea, floating bags in fresh, clean water, sealed in large jars or pitchers, and set in the sun.

Add some sprigs of fresh mint and let it sit until your desired strength.

Why green tea? It is bursting with antioxidants which will help protect your cells from damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. Free radicals are constantly formed and then destroyed by antioxidants throughout our lifetime. Green tea helps to cleanse those mad, bad free radicals that we collect through pollution and some food choices.

While your tea is steeping, in a glass jar muddle together berries — blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, blackberries, cherries with mint to make a syrup. Using clean ice cube trays, make it even more special by freezing some whole berries in a bit of crystal clear (use spring or purified water if you can) lemon-infused water.

All these flavors and the natural sugar in the fruit should make this plenty sweet and very refreshing.  Make it for adults by adding a bit of rum, fresh mint and basil for a mojito inspired treat. If you must have it sweeter, use local honey or Stevia (liquid or granular). Stevia, made from the agave plant. Stevia is twice as sweet as sugar without the glycemic spike. Avoid using artificial sweeteners.

When serving, place a spoonful or two of your mint and berry syrup on the bottom of the glass, add berry ice cubes and cover with tea, strained to remove the mint and any loose tea leaves, and garnish with fresh fruit, berries or slices of crisp apple.

Grilled Avocado with toppings

Serve your tea with hard cheeses and fresh fruit including grilled pineapple and watermelon wedges. You can also halve the avocado, brush with olive oil and citrus and a dusting of sea salt, grill until marks form and avocado is fully warmed. The halves with a variety of toppings – from salsa to seafood salad, make for a great starter salad.

Courtesy of Avocado Central –

Grilled Avocado – recipe courtesy of Avocado Central

2 ripe, fresh Hass avocados, seeded and peeled
2 Tbsp. fresh lime or lemon juice
Olive oil or cooking spray
Sea salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Grilled Half Shells:

  1. Cut avocado in half and remove seed with a spoon.
  2. Drizzle with fresh lime or lemon juice and brush lightly with olive oil.
  3. Gently place cut side down on grill over hot coals for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serving Suggestions: 

Create a half shell bar by putting out seasonings and filling options in bowls with serving spoons, that way guests can customize their grilled half shell to their taste.

Optional Toppings:
  • Fresh chopped tomatoes, Pico de gallo or your favorite salsa
  • Sliced Buffalo mozzarella or crumbled feta cheese as garnish
  • Fresh diced basil or cilantro as garnish
  • Grilled or chopped vegetable salsa – peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro, small wedges of lemon or lime (cut to keep juice pockets intact, gently toss in so that they are not broken for a surprise burst of citrus when eating)
  • Sushi grade tuna or ceviche
  • Chicken or seafood salad

Jacquie Kubin

Jacquie Kubin is an award-winning writer and wanderer. She turns her thoughts to an eclectic mix of stories - from politics to sports. Restless by nature and anxious to experience new things, both in the real world and online, Jacquie mostly shares travel and culinary highlights, introduces readers to the chefs and creative people she meets and shares the tips, life and travel information people want to read.