Memorial Day, also known as Decoration Day, is a day dedicated to honoring lost loved ones—especially those who passed away while serving in the U.S. military. When you’re trying to honor your diet, too, it can feel difficult when there’s a delicious spread of sugary or fatty foods before you.
Luckily, healthy Memorial Day dishes exist, and they can help you connect with friends and family without ignoring your wellness goals. Keep reading for quick and easy recipes, including classic Memorial Day recipes like potato salad and red, white, and blue desserts.
Healthy Memorial Day Mains
Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of warm weather holidays. What better way to celebrate than getting outside and firing up the grill?
The following recipes make great main dishes and can easily be scaled up if you cook for a crowd.
Healthy Beef Burgers
Sticking to a diet does not mean you have to pass on a nice, juicy burger. The key to healthy beef burgers is the meat, and choosing extra-lean ground beef means the burger will be healthier from the start.
Additionally, using reduced-fat cheese slices and whole-wheat hamburger buns can make your burger more nutritious.
Tasty Turkey Burgers
Want a twist on the classic burger? Jalapeño turkey burgers have just the right amount of spice, although the spice level can be tailored according to your tolerance level.
Ground turkey meat is typically lean to begin with and pairing this recipe with low-carb condiments will make it a crowd-pleaser.
Carnivore-Friendly Veggie Burgers
The best veggie burgers are anything but boring. Even if you usually eat meat, a veggie burger can be a welcome departure from the norm and surprisingly scrumptious.
Packed with high protein ingredients, veggie burgers can help keep you feeling fueled for whatever the weekend brings.
Tangy & Sweet BBQ Chicken
Baking BBQ chicken can seem like hit or miss when you sometimes end up with crispy bits and other areas are underdone. Instead, grilling can help ensure your BBQ chicken comes out perfectly and evenly cooked every time!
The best part? BBQ chicken uses ingredients you likely already have in the pantry, like olive oil. You can even make your own homemade, healthy BBQ sauce. If you’re not feeling chicken, this recipe also works surprisingly well with grilled salmon.
Protein-Packed & Herb-Seasoned Sirloin Skewers
If your Memorial Day involves lots of physical activity, a protein-powered lunch or dinner is ideal for helping your body to recover. With minimal marinating time, herb beef sirloin skewers are flavor-packed and deliver almost 30 grams of protein per serving.
Eaten with pita bread, this Mediterranean-inspired dish is sure to have guests asking for the recipe.
Perfect, Pan-Seared Filet Mignon
Hosting an indoor celebration and feeling fancy? Pan-seared filet mignon is much easier to make than it sounds, and only requires a few simple ingredients.
With that melt-in-your-mouth texture, it’s the perfect recipe if you want to wow family and friends.
Healthy Memorial Day Sides
What Memorial Day meal would be complete without spectacular side dishes? From potatoes to salads, the following recipe ideas provide a tasty twist on the holiday’s classic dishes.
While you’ve got the grill fired up for your main dishes, you can throw some vegetables on there, too! Grilled vegetables have a unique, smoky flavor that can’t be beat.
Feel free to get creative with colors! Red peppers, onions, and eggplants can be grilled together to create a red, white, and blue-inspired skewer.
Herb-Dressed Grilled Vegetable Salad
Grilled vegetable salad is the perfect blend of grilled veggies and herby salad flavors. As its name implies, the salad consists of a medley of grilled vegetables, tossed in a delicious blend of salad dressing ingredients and herbs.
The result? A veggie salad that pairs perfectly with almost any main dish.
Homemade Salad Dressings
Speaking of salad dressings, did you know whipping up your own with only a few, simple ingredients? One subtle way to impress your guests is to create healthy, homemade salad dressings that consist of thoughtful flavor pairings.
Instead of your usual blue cheese dressing, try adventurous options like Greek Yogurt Ranch or Almond Butter Soy dressing.
Dill Cucumber Salad
If your Memorial Day meal is giving garden party vibes, dill cucumber salad is a delightful dish to include. It’s visually stunning, and topping it with fresh dill will give it that straight-from-the-garden look.
For carbohydrate-conscious friends, this dish nets only 5 grams of carbs and is only 150 calories—great for guests with weight loss goals!
Potatoes are a beloved side dish and an easy way to bulk up your holiday spread. Fingerling potatoes are flavored with a touch of spice and lemon juice, and the addition of pumpkin seeds provides an unexpected crunch.
If you’re keeping an eye on carbohydrates, it’s worth noting that fingerling potatoes have a naturally lower starch content and the added fiber from the potato peel may help to balance blood sugars.
Vegan Potato Salad
Want a side dish that checks everyone’s boxes? Potato salad is a classic party and cookout side dish, and making it vegan means even guests with allergies will likely be able to enjoy it.
Vegan potato salad is mayo-less, dairy- and gluten-free, and flavored to perfection with ingredients like cashew cream sauce, mustard, and garlic.
Sweet Potato Fries
Not into traditional potato dishes? Sweet potato fries are the perfect blend of healthy and delicious. Chalk-full of vitamins and minerals, sweet potatoes are sneakily healthy.
Plus, they’re a family friendly dish for eaters of all ages and can be customized with fun flavors like BBQ, parmesan herb, or salt and vinegar.
Greek Yogurt Coleslaw
Especially if you’re serving BBQ, coleslaw is another common side dish you’ll see during summer holidays. Interestingly enough, store-bought coleslaw can contain quite a bit of added sugar.
Fortunately, this dish can be homemade with nutrient-rich ingredients—such as Greek yogurt—and sweetened naturally with honey. Buying pre-cut or pre-shredded vegetables makes preparing this recipe a cinch!
Unique Salsa Combinations
If you’re celebrating in the South, you know no table spread is complete without a bag of chips and a bowl of salsa! Avocado or tomato-based salsas are a great companion for chips, while fruit-based salsas (like mango or peach) pair well with certain meats and main dishes.
You could also pay homage to America’s favorite pastime with pico de gallo-topped nachos, a ballpark concession staple.
Healthy Memorial Day Desserts
While the main meal often gets all the attention, dessert recipes can be just as exciting and delicious. The following recipe ideas are both refreshing and nutrient-rich, which is perfect for keeping your Memorial Day healthy and cool.
“Skinny” Starfruit Splash Water
Although technically a beverage option, starfruit splash water is certainly a treat for the eyes. Thanks to an infusion of fruit, this water is naturally sweet and star-spangled.
This red, white, and blue pitcher is picture-worthy. Plus, it provides plenty of antioxidants.
Since strawberries often come into season during mid-May and June, there’s no better time to enjoy homemade strawberry gelato. Using a food processor instead of an ice cream maker makes this recipe even easier.
Sweetened with agave nectar and natural sugars form the strawberries, this frosty gelato is virtually guilt-free.
Avocado Ice Cream
When you hear the words “avocado ice cream,” the color green probably comes to mind. However, for a fun twist, you can add blue spirulina, which is a natural coloring agent that will give the healthy ice cream a fun blue hue that fits in a bit better with your patriotic color scheme.
Like other ice creams, you can add mix-ins like chocolate chips, or opt for more festive add-ins like star-shaped or red, white, and blue sprinkles.