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How to BBQ the Healthy Way

When thinking about ways to celebrate summer, outdoor BBQs are at the top of the list. There’s nothing like being outside, enjoying the warm weather, while feasting on favorite grilled foods and seasonal dishes. But summer favorites, like hot dogs, hamburgers, pasta salad and potato salad are not always waistline friendly. It can be difficult trying not to overindulge in BBQ dishes and treats. And with it also being swimsuit season, many of us want to avoid consuming extra calories. To help navigate your way through your next BBQ party spread, consider offering these healthier options at your next cookout.

BBQ the Healthy Way
Snack Slim-Down

Instead of the typical chips and French onion dip appetizer, think about alternatives to lighten up this part of the party, when most of the mindless calories are consumed. Fresh salsa is a great way to take advantage of the summer vegetable harvest. Tomatoes, the base for most salsas, are an excellent source of vitamin A, C and folic acid, and can prevent chronic diseases and provide additional health benefits from phytochemicals and lycopene. A half cup serving is only 25-40 calories and contains minimal fat. If you do feel the need to serve something creamy, try making your own vegetable dip using tangy Greek yogurt. It’s high in protein, which helps make you feel fuller.
Veggie Variation

There are so many substitutes to the traditional veggies and dip to serve at your next BBQ. While the grill is hot, throw on some fresh veggies. Simply toss asparagus, mushrooms, zucchini—or whatever your favorite veggies are—in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and use a grill basket. For a prettier presentation, thread the marinated veggies on a bamboo skewer, grill, and then serve.

Lean Machine

Speaking of skewers, chicken kebabs are a great BBQ alternative to greasy and fatty hot dogs and hamburgers. Marinate 1” cubes of chicken breast in Italian vinaigrette, then thread on a skewer and grill. For easy prep, marinate your favorite chopped veggies with the chicken. Shrimp and certain hearty fish also make great kabob options, and are a great way to add variety to your summer meals.

Skinny Salads

Pasta and potato salads often contain a lot of mayonnaise, which is high in calories and fat. Believe it or not, there are other salad choices out there for your next BBQ! Besides substituting low fat sour cream or Greek yogurt for the mayonnaise, consider a potato salad with a Dijon mustard base. Dijon mustard is low-calorie and full of flavor. For a hearty dish, try using quinoa instead of pasta for a refreshing side. Quinoa provides essential vitamins, minerals and fiber, which help regulate the digestive system and make you feel fuller and satisfied longer.

Sweet Endings

Although ice cream is a traditional summer treat, a BBQ is the perfect time to serve watermelon as dessert. It’s refreshing, fat-free, and full of vitamins, potassium and lycopene. If you feel like indulging a bit more at the end of your meal, angel food cake is a good choice. It’s low in fat, and you can serve it with fresh sliced strawberries.

BBQs can be the highlight of the summer. Take a bit of time to plan ahead and it can be a healthy and satisfying meal. Enjoy the taste of summer at your next BBQ!