Before you savor a three-day weekend of grilling hot dogs and burgers, sipping cold drinks, and catching up with friends and family, remind yourself of the real reason for Memorial Day weekend.
Originally termed Decoration Day to remember the fallen soldiers after the Civil War, the last Monday of May became an officially observed American holiday in 1971 to honor those lost in battle. Today, people all over the country celebrate by decorating soldier’s graves, participating in parades, and visiting with family members.
Today, many celebrate Memorial Day with picnics and barbecues. It is important to pay tribute to all the servicemen and women who have passed away while protecting our country, and these ideas can add to your celebration of remembrance.
Here are 8 delicious ideas for your Memorial Day cookout!
- Strawberry Spinach Salad
Dive into the official start of summer with a fresh salad! Combine crisp spinach with blueberries, strawberries, and avocado for a refreshing side. Top your salad off with feta, blue cheese, or goat cheese, candied or plain walnuts or sliced almonds, and drizzle a tangy vinaigrette of your choice. You’ll be coming back for more!
- Grilled Tuna Kebabs
Looking to skewer something delicious and nutritious? Try adding tuna steak or other fish to your traditional veggie kebabs. Use a variety of vegetables such as green and red peppers, onions, Portobello mushrooms, and artichokes. If you want a fruity twist, try using mango and pineapple to jazz things up!
- Sweet Potato Fries
For a trendy side that everyone will love, try making sweet potato fries or wedges. Simply cut the sweet potato into bite-sized pieces, toss in coconut, olive, or avocado oil, and sprinkle on seasoning to taste. Some ideas to get creative include black pepper, paprika, cinnamon, rosemary, or sriracha seasoning. Cook the wedges at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.
For dipping or adding to a variety of dishes, guacamole is always a fan favorite. Simply take ripe avocados, add cilantro, tomatoes, onions, lemon juice and chilies (if you dare). Add a pinch of salt and black pepper for taste, and make sure to have a backup bowl handy!
- Crawfish Boil
Also known as crayfish or mudbugs, crawfish boils are popular at southern gatherings, especially in Louisiana and Texas. While crafting the perfect crawfish boil is an art, you’ll find red potatoes, corn, and sausage added to most recipes for extra flavor.
- Chicken Nachos
Finger foods are ideal for Memorial Day festivities. Try putting a healthy twist on cheesy chicken nachos by creating a flavorful dish with plenty of veggies and seasoning. Dice red onions, jalapeños, cilantro, and avocado, then add black beans and corn to a layer of tortilla chips. These nachos are delicious topped with grilled chicken and cheese!
- Avocado Stuffed with Shrimp
Just in case you can’t get enough, try stuffing your avocado with a creamy mixture of garlic, cilantro, black pepper, sea salt, and grilled shrimp! Easy and delicious!
- Pulled Pork Sliders
Finger-lickin’ good, BBQ pulled pork is a scrumptious dish to have at Memorial Day gatherings. For vegetarian and vegan friends, check out jackfruit, the newest pulled pork alternative.
Jackie Parker is currently a senior nutritional sciences student on the dietetics track at Texas A&M University.