With the 2012 Olympics upon us, the London-themed celebrations and viewing parties are about to begin. And if you're wanting to throw your own English shindig, don't fret, there's more to English fare than just shepherd's pie. We'll help you celebrate without regret.
1. Fish & Chips
Though typically a dish of flour-battered, deep-fried fish served with "chips" or fried potatoes, you can lighten it by serving baked sweet potato fries (full of beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A) with homemade baked fish sticks. And make sure you eat it the proper English way: by seasoning it with malt vinegar.
2. Ploughman's Lunch
A regular bit of pub grub, the ploughman is a piece of cheddar cheese, relish, and pickled onion served on a piece of hearty bread. You can use a reduced-fat cheese and whole-grain toasted baguette slices to cut calories and up the fiber.
3. Bangers & Mash
Bangers and mash are simply mashed potatoes and sausage--which are usually high in fat and calories. You can slash nearly half the fat in the sausage by serving turkey or chicken sausage. "Healthify" the mashed 'taters by substituting half of the white potatoes with steamed cauliflower, and then go easy on the butter and use skim milk to whip up this traditional favorite.
4. Cheese & "Biscuits"
Biscuits can mean bread, cake, cookies, crackers, or actual biscuits. You should opt for whole-wheat versions of these for extra nutrients. Cheshire, Wensleydale, Cheddar, Double Gloucester, and Stilton are popular English cheeses, but try serving a cheese platter with reduced-fat versions of them (if available) as well as other cheeses your guests might like.
5. Smoked, Salted, Dried Fish
These delicious English staples are already healthy because they're lean sources of protein! Smoked salmon would surely be a crowd-pleaser.
6. Roasted Meats
Roasted beef, lamb, pork, and game meats are popular in Britain. You can choose lean cuts and thread onto skewers along with lots of veggies to make healthy kebabs for grilling.
A variety of tasty teas are enjoyed in London and Britain is known as a nation of tea-drinkers. Luckily, teas are calorie-free and there's a huge variety to choose from.
Londoners share a great beer-drinking tradition, and their pubs typically serve light ales and lagers as well as dark ales and stouts by the pint and half-pint. Light beers will be your best bet if you're trying to stay sleek and slim like the Olympic athletes.
If You're Not Throwing the Party
If you're attending a party and don't have control over what's served, be sure to have a light snack beforehand, and bring your own lean dish to share with the group. Bringing a veggie or fruit platter will ensure you have a healthy go-to snack there and will certainly impress the host.
Let the Games begin!
Kari Hartel, RD, LD is a Registered, Licensed Dietitian and freelance writer based out of St. Louis, MO. Kari is passionate about nutrition education and the prevention of chronic disease through a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Kari holds a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Southeast Missouri State University and is committed to helping people lead healthy lives. She completed a yearlong dietetic internship at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, IL, where she worked with a multitude of clients and patients with complicated diagnoses. She planned, marketed, and implemented nutrition education programs and cooking demonstrations for the general public as well as for special populations, including patients with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, and school-aged children. Contact Kari at KariHartelRD@gmail.com.