It’s that time of year again! Sun’s out, spatula’s out, and fire up that grill! For those trying to lose weight or just focusing on a healthier lifestyle, a backyard BBQ might seem like a diet disaster. Hamburgers, hotdogs, chips, soda,- it’s true that these food items can wreak havoc on the waistline, but who invited them to the party anyway?? With some healthy swaps and nutritious additions to the menu, your next barbeque will leave you and your guests feeling (and looking) good!
One thing barbeques are known for is the array of delicious munchies usually provided before the grill is even fired up. With high calorie, high fat appetizers like chips and dip, you may find yourself finishing a meal’s worth of calories before dinner even reaches your plate.
Make it healthier: Keep the appetizers simple. Serve a tray of pre-cut veggies with low fat dressing or hummus for dip. Toss together a big green salad dressed with olive oil and vinegar. Thread veggies, fruit, and one or two pieces of cheese on a skewer to make healthy kebobs. Can’t give up the chips and dip? Choose whole grain chips or pretzels and serve with fresh salsa, which is much lower in calories and fat than a creamy dip.
The Main Course:
Good news! Grilling is one of the healthiest cooking methods there is! Hamburgers and hotdogs have long been staples of the backyard barbeque- but it might be time to make room on the grill for some smarter choices.
Make it healthier: Fish and poultry are excellent sources of lean protein that taste wonderful on the grill. (Bonus: most seafood contains heart healthy omega-3s!) Salmon, tuna, shrimp, and white meat chicken are all great options.
Still pining after a burger? Try a veggie burger! Veggie burgers are gaining popularity for being low in calorie but bursting with flavor. If you choose to have meat, choose ground beef or turkey that is at least 90% lean; pork tenderloin is another lean option as well.
Creamy dressings, extra butter, and oversized portions are often the high calorie culprits when it comes to side dishes.
Make it healthier: Go for lighter options, such as a quinoa salad or grilled veggies. Lightly brush corn on the cob with olive oil and grill for five minutes to get delicious flavor without the need for butter. Cut sweet potatoes into wedges, brush with olive oil, season, and grill for yummy sweet potato fries. For a healthier pasta salad, try whole wheat pasta, add lots of veggies, and use light Italian dressing. Get creative with the side dishes; it is usually possible to make a much lighter version of your favorite dish with just a couple substitutions!
Treats are fine in moderation, but if you know you’re going to be hosting or attending a bunch of gatherings, sugary desserts can add up fast and slow your progress.
Make it healthier: You might already know where I am going with this one… fruit salad! Summer means many delicious fruits are in season, and there is nothing prettier or more refreshing than a bowl of colorful, fresh fruit! For a little extra indulgence, dip a few pieces in dark chocolate or provide light cool whip for topping. This isn’t to say you can never have a cookie or brownie, just remember to indulge in moderation and choose a healthier option more often.
Barbeques are a great time to gather friends and family and get active together! Toss around a football, put on some music for dancing, or take a walk together after dinner. Encourage kids to play outside, whether it is a game of tag, swimming in the pool, or going on a bike ride. Make screen time off limits during the festivities.
Barbeques are a great way to gather with friends and family and enjoy the warm weather. And with so many great options for the menu, there is no need to compromise your healthy lifestyle! If you are attending a barbeque and have less control over what’s served, contribute a dish to the event so you know there will be something healthy for you to have. Remember, a healthy lifestyle is all about balance and smart choices. Happy grilling!
What’s your favorite dish at a barbeque? Do you have any go-to recipes?