While grilling is generally a low-fat cooking method, potato salad, chips and desserts can cause your summer cookout to become a calorie bomb. Follow these tips to enjoy a backyard barbecue without overdoing it.
1. Choose Lean Protein
Start with a lean protein. Here are some of the most common choices:
- Skinless chicken breasts
- 90% lean ground beef, ground turkey breast or ground chicken for burgers
- Pork chops or pork tenderloin
- Beef flank, sirloin or tenderloin steaks
- Lamb loin chops
2. Mix up your own marinade
Bottled marinades are packed with preservatives and sodium. While sodium may not directly cause weight gain, excessive salt intake causes fluid retention, leaving you feeling bloated. Make your own marinade to save on sodium and preservatives and still add flavor and moisture to your lean protein choice.
Related Post: Kitchen Tip: How to Marinate (Plus 3 Marinade Recipes)
3. Throw on the veggies
Grilling intensifies the flavor of vegetables just like it does meat. Trying building kabobs by alternating lean meat and vegetables, or grill veggie burgers or vegetable side dishes.
4. Lean and green
Instead of filling your plate with creamy potato and pasta salads, choose green salads with oil-based dressings. You’ll cut calories and get a boost of healthy vitamins, minerals and heart-healthy fats.
5. Go Greek
If you just can’t imagine a cookout without creamy potato or macaroni salad, switch out half of the mayonnaise for low-fat Greek yogurt and replace the other half with low-fat mayonnaise. You’ll cut the calories and fat significantly and get a healthy dose of calcium and protein from the Greek yogurt.
6. Macaroni makeover
Substitute whole grains, like whole grain pasta, quinoa or bulgur for refined grains in salads. The fiber will help fill you up while consuming less total calories.
7. Ditch the chip
Dip crisp, fresh veggies in dips instead of chips. Just be sure to choose dips wisely and opt for protein-packed hummus or dips made with low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream. Baby carrots, cucumber, radishes, bell pepper, snap peas and broccoli or cauliflower florets all make excellent dippers.
8. Sweet on fruit
Satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh, juicy, naturally sweet summer fruit instead of traditional fat and calorie-laden desserts.
Related Recipe: Balsamic and Ginger Glazed Plums
9. Drink smart
Fruit punch, sweet tea and lemonade can have 150 calories per serving or more. Choose water with lemon or lime, sparkling water or unsweetened tea for a calorie-free sipper, or try one of these low-calorie summer beverages.
10. Perfectly portioned
Overindulging can leave you feeling uncomfortable. Take a small portion of your favorite dishes, eat slowly and evaluate if you’re really still hungry. Remember you can always go back for seconds.
Related Post: A Quick Guide to Portion Control Sizes
What are your favorite healthy cookout dishes? Share with us in the comments or @emeals.