04/29/2014 02:51 pm ET Updated Jun 29, 2014

7 Healthier Southern Derby Day Dishes (PHOTOS)

On the surface, Derby Day is a rather refined, white-gloved brimmed-hat affair. Well, until the bourbon starts flowing anyway.

But the food could also use a classy little makeover. You can make your white bread pimento cheese sandwiches as dainty as can be, but you're not adding a whole lot to your diet, no matter which way you slice them.

Since I'm not a native of the South, I love any excuse to direct my healthifying powers below the Mason Dixon line. I've updated a few of my favorite classic Southern recipes to make them gluten-free and slightly better for you. At least with lighter dishes like these ones, you'll end up feeling more like the jockey than the horse by the end of the race.

  • 1 Crispy Spiced Black Eyed Peas
    For healthy snacking, make these crispy black eyed peas. Not only are they incredibly easy to, but they are also incredibly good for you. Just a hint of brown sugar, cinnamon, cumin, and chili powder really make the flavor pop. Get the recipe for Crispy Spiced Black Eyed Peas.
  • 2 Gluten-Free Spicy Skillet Fried Chicken
    Classic fried chicken is a labor of southern love. The more time the chicken has to hang out in the marinades, the better. But luckily for the busy home cook, each step of this recipe adds a punch, with plenty of spices in the rub and hot sauce in the buttermilk bath. This gluten-free version keeps things lighter. Get the recipe for Gluten-Free Spicy Skillet Fried Chicken.
  • 3 Gluten-Free Jalapeno-Scallion Mac 'n Cheese
    Who doesn't love some good old fashioned Mac 'n Cheese? This rendition with jalapeno and scallion will have everyone fooled that it's actually gluten-free. Get the recipe for Gluten-Free Jalapeno-Scallion Mac 'n Cheese.
  • 4 Stir-Fried Collard Greens with Ginger and Jalapeno
    Collard greens are a must for your Derby Day spread. The addition of ginger and jalapeno add the perfect amount of heat to really kick up the flavor, without adding the usual bacon or ham hock. Get the recipe for Stir-Fried Collard Greens with Ginger and Jalapeno.
  • 5 Bourbon Punch with Mint
    For something to sip on during Derby Day, make this bourbon punch with mint. The combination of sweet tea, bourbon, and mint is refreshing and amazingly tasty. Get the recipe for Bourbon Punch with Mint.
  • 6 Oven Baked Ribs with Tex Mex BBQ Sauce
    BBQ ribs are a must for any southern event. These ribs are baked in the oven and the sauce is packed with fresh herbs, garlic, and jalapeno. Get the recipe for Oven Baked Ribs with Tex Mex BBQ Sauce.
  • 7 Gluten-Free Cornbread
    This cornbread is made gluten-free by using a mix of rice flour and cornmeal. Get creative and throw in some additional ingredients like jalapeno and cheddar to spice things up. Get the recipe for Gluten-Free Cornbread.

-- Phoebe Lapine of Feed Me Phoebe