Make your Fourth of July event memorable and guilt-free by serving lowfat seafare instead of traditional burgers and dogs.
The skinny little hot dogs that come 10-to-the pound contain 145 calories and 13 grams of fat before you add the bun, chili, cheese and the rest of the works. A quarter-pound hamburger with mayo, hold the cheese, contains 500 calories and 22 grams of fat.
On the other hand, a steamed crab, containing 3 1/2 ounces of meat, provides only 93 calories and 2 grams of fat. So you could eat six medium crabs for the same calories and half the fat as one burger. What a bargain!
Or try one of these other burger substitutes: 30 steamed hard shell clams, 1 1/4 pound spiced steamed shrimp, 1 pound grilled scallops, 1 1/4 pounds boiled lobster tail, 3/4 pound grilled tuna or swordfish, or 2/3 pound grilled salmon.
Watch your sauces and dips, though! Butter, margarine, mayo, cooking oil, tartar sauce and sour cream add 50 to 100 calories per tablespoon.
On the other hand, tomato-based barbeque sauce, cocktail sauce, mustard, picante, soy, steak, tabasco, teriyaki and worcestershire sauces contain only 9 to 18 calories per tablespoon.
In case you're worried, the Food and Drug Administration recently analysed data from the Centers for Disease Control in Altlanta and showed most seafood is safe to eat when handled properly.
The major risk of seafood-borne illness -- one in 250 servings -- comes from raw or undercooked oysters, clams and mussels. Risk from other seafood is one in 5 million servings. For comparison, risk of illness from poultry is one in 25,000.
The National Fisheries Institute provides these safety tips:
* If you have liver disease or a weakened immune system, avoid raw fish or shellfish.
* Fishermen should not eat or sell fish caught in polluted waters.
* Avoid scromboid intoxication. Rapidly chill freshly caught fish, especially tuna, mackerel, mahimahi and bluefish, either on ice or by refrigeration.
* Keep shellfish alive until cooked or served raw. Ventilate well. Like people, they suffocate in air-tight plastic bags.
* If you're going to eat raw shellfish, buy from reputable markets only. If in doubt, ask to see the shipper's tag on shellfish or shipper's number on shucked oysters indicating harvesting from state-approved waters.
* Prefreeze fin fish that will be eaten raw, at -4 degrees Fahrenheit for four days, to destroy parasites.
* At the grocery store, buy fresh fish last. Have it sealed in plastic, then packed in a bag of ice.
Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center in Baltimore and national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.