While grilling can be one of the healthiest ways to cook, the menu at a typical cookout – burgers, brats and dogs, and creamy sides – can be a diet disaster totaling more than 2,000 calories and two days’ worth of harmful saturated fat. Keep your backyard BBQs from becoming waistline-wreckers with these 5 healthy swaps:
1. Skip the chips
Instead of crunching on high-calorie chips and cream-based dips, serve up a tray of mixed baby veggies with a trio of healthy dips like hummus, black bean dip and muhammara. For check out some of these great appetizer/dip ideas!
2. Go for Smart Side Dishes
Nix the creamy potato and pasta salads, which often pile in more than 350 calories per cup, and enjoy summer veggies grilled to perfection. Corn on the cob, summer squash, asparagus, bell peppers and eggplant are sure to please your taste buds while adding less than 50 calories per cup. Just pick your favorites, toss in plastic bag with oil, pepper or your favorite seasonings, and then put them on the grill.
3. Build Better Burgers and Dogs
If it’s burgers you’re craving, use the leanest ground beef possible (I prefer ground sirloin for my burgers, as it’s leaner) or skinless turkey breast. For added moisture, mix meat with an egg, chopped onion and other veggies. Or skip meat altogether and grill up delicious Portabella mushroom burgers. Try this amazing recipe and you won’t miss the beef!
For hot dogs, you can slash saturated fat by choosing chicken or turkey based varieties over beef. There are also some great tasting vegetarian dogs on the market that are low in both calories and saturated fat. In fact, with some brands of veggie dogs you can slash calories and saturated fat by over 50 percent vs. regular beef hot dogs
4. Go Naturally Sweet
Pie, ice cream, brownies and other decadent sweets can create summertime diet disasters. Opt instead for nature’s naturally sweet picks: fresh fruit! There are an endless number of healthy desserts you can make when you start with fruit. It can be as simple as individual servings of fresh berries or a fruit cobbler. Also try these individual Strawberry Cheesecake Bites (just 40 calories each) and these festive blueberry-yogurt parfaits.
5. Sip Smart
To stay bathing suit-ready all summer long, cut back on liquid calories, because beverages don’t provide the same feelings of fullness compared to the same calories of food. Skip sodas and other sugary beverages and reach for sparkling water (or plain tap) or unsweetened iced tea instead. As for alcohol, it can be a triple-threat to your waistline: it’s high in calories, stimulates your appetite, and weakens your resolve to make healthy food choices.