Barbecue sauce is a cookout staple, especially slathered on grilled chicken. The Southeast region of the United States houses five of the largest chicken-producing states in the country. If you are a BBQ sauce lover, prepping your own may be the healthiest way to go. Most bottled sauces contain between 300 to 500 milligrams of sodium in a 2 tablespoon serving. Plus, when you make your own, you can make the sauce as sweet or spicy as you want.
If mustard is your sauce of choice, you can thank North Dakota, which produces more than 60 percent of the mustard seeds harvested in the United States. Yellow mustard is typically fat-free and has zero calories, but the sodium content can be high. Just one teaspoon provides 60 milligrams, so remember to watch your portion sizes.
What about ketchup? Tomatoes, ketchup’s primary ingredient, are high in vitamin C, potassium and fiber. They also contain lycopene, a phytochemical that acts as an antioxidant to protect our body’s cells from damaging free radicals. While local tomatoes are readily available in our region during the summer months, throughout the year, most of our tomatoes come from Florida and California. Added sugar is common in ketchup, so choose varieties with less sugar if possible.
No July Fourth get-together is complete without potato salad. Idaho, of course, is the top producer of potatoes in the United States. While often avoided by many, white potatoes are actually loaded with nutrients and relatively low in calories. Just one medium potato provides 20 percent of our daily requirement for potassium and 30 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin C. Make your own potato salad a bit healthier by replacing half of the mayo with plain Greek yogurt. Keep the skins on the potatoes to add more fiber and potassium. Season with fresh herbs for a bright flavor without added sodium.
Columnist Elizabeth Hall, MS, RDN, LDN is a Food City Registered Dietitian.