Posted 1 month ago

Eat this Not That – Memorial Day Edition

We all can feel the summer heating up. Winter spoiled us this year and now the heat is back to reclaim its misery. This means, cookout season is upon us. It is no secret that cookout foods are amazing, but those hot dogs and potato salads come at a high caloric cost. There are many foods that can act as a substitute for our beloved BBQ, without compromising the enjoyment that comes with grilling by a pool alongside our friends and family.


This Arizona heat requires lots of hydration. For those who love sodas, try some low sugar alternatives like flavored soda water or freshly made juice. There may be some added sugar in the juice, but at least you are getting the vitamins and minerals from the fruit. Fruit is also packed with water for a hydrating snack, making it a great choice as a beverage and a food! Other options that are great for hydration are coconut water and cactus water. Add some fruit to these and you have a refreshing summer drink.


 Now, let’s shift focus to the foods. No cookout is complete without some good protein options- ribs, burgers, and hot dogs, to name a few. But with these foods comes a high amount of saturated fat that can negatively affect are cardiovascular health and add a lot of calories. Swap out those meats for some of these options:
– Chicken Sausage without bun (150 calories, 9g of fat) instead of Hot Dog without bun (314 calories, 18g of fat, high in sodium)
– 93% burger patty (170 calories, 8g fat) instead of 4oz of 80% hamburger patty (290 calories, 23g fat)


Sides are the unsung heroes of cookouts. From mac and cheese to potato salad, all play a vital part in the cookout. These are also the hidden culprits for high calories. Here is a list of some lighter options to these delicious sides:
– Greek yogurt instead of Sour cream: This is a great swap to for dishes like potato salad and coleslaw. The sour taste is maintained while adding some protein.
– Greek pasta salad instead of Macaroni salad
– Hummus with whole wheat pita and vegetables instead of Spinach artichoke dip
– Low sugar alternative baked beans instead of Baked beans
– Greek yogurt or olive oil-based dressings instead of Cream-based dressings


 Last, but certainly not least, dessert. If you ask me, I could say “no” to all the foods listed above. When it comes to sweets, it’s a different story. Consider some of these foods before you go into making your famous fudge brownies:
– Fruit salad instead of Fruit with cream cheese dip
– Homemade popsicles or fruit bars instead of Store bought popsicles.
– Frozen fruit blended with cottage cheese and a dash of honey for added sweetness instead of Ice cream

There are so many ideas out there for healthy alternatives. Luckily, the internet can be a great place to find some inspiration. I challenge you to experiment with some of these foods, they will be a hit! You probably won’t be the only one hoping for some healthy options at the cookout and it could be a great conversation starter with new people. If there is a food that is too good to pass up, be mindful of portion sizes and try to eat the more nutrient-dense options on your plate first. Enjoyment is still very important and if you don’t allow yourself to have one or two special foods, sustaining these mindful choices could be difficult over time. Life, especially nutrition/diet, is centered around balance. Balance of health and enjoyment. So go enjoy your Memorial Day and the rest of the summer and make sure to stay hydrated while you do it!

Please ask your Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers provider for a referral to see our dietary counselors. 

Brenda Gridley, CSP, RDN

Brenda is originally from Los Angeles, CA where she attended California State University of Los Angeles for her under graduate degree in Nutritional Science. She began her career with Kaiser Permanente in 2004.    Throughout her professional development, she has worked in Cardiology and open heart surgery, Renal/Dialysis, organ transplants and Oncology, including chemotherapy, radiation and head and neck.  Brenda has extensive experience with weight management programs, including Bariatric and finally Eating disorders and mindful eating.  She went on to specialize in the Pediatric population and has maintained her Certification in Pediatric Nutrition since 2011.  Areas she has managed include pediatric and neonatal intensive care units where she was responsible for individualizing therapeutic diets and alternate nutrition support  based on specific metabolic needs, medical conditions, and cultural preferences.

Her passion for nutrition was developed at a young age and reared by her grandmother who always instilled the importance of a healthy diet and active lifestyle.  When her grandmother became ill, Brenda became aware of the impact nutrition plays in disease prevention and maintaining overall mind and body health.  She cared for grandmother until she passed and has made it her goal to help others achieve their full “nutrition potential” with using a culturally sensitive holistic approach.

She is married with two beautiful daughters and in her spare time she enjoys watching movies with her children, experimenting with new recipes, reading mystery novels, running and Yoga.

Lauren Duda, RD

Lauren PhotoLauren was born and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona and has lived throughout the Valley her entire life. She attended Arizona State University and graduated with her undergraduate degree in Nutrition (Dietetics) and a minor in Family and Human Development in December 2017. Lauren completed her dietetic internship through Arizona State University and became a registered dietitian in August 2020.

Lauren’s interest in nutrition peaked at the age of 14, when she experienced a personal journey in developing her relationship with food. She decided that she wanted to help people like herself and educate the general public about nutrition.  Becoming a registered dietitian was a clear career path and quickly became a dream of hers at a young age. Throughout the years, Lauren began to realize how necessary nutrition is in the management of disease, especially when witnessing her family members experience major health concerns. With this deepening her desire to care for others, Lauren ultimately knew that it was her goal to provide nutrition therapy in way that also values empathy, compassion, and kindness.

When she’s not working, Lauren loves spending her free time with friends, family, and her dog, Zeppelin. She enjoys listening to music, attending concerts, styling clothes, and hiking/biking during the cooler months.