This Fourth of July weekend you may be hosting or heading to a BBQ. With all of the scrumptious selections at a traditional BBQ, it may be difficult to make healthy choices. Options may be limited and temptations are high. Well, we’re here to say, you CAN eat healthy at a BBQ. Today we’re sharing the healthiest BBQ foods and which ones to avoid.
Burgers, hot dogs and pork are among the major meats at most BBQs. If you’re going to opt for the real deal, select lean, top grade cuts of ground beef, beef hot dogs and pork. Alternatively, you can make delicious turkey burgers and turkey dogs that will satisfy the cravings with less fat and calories. Chicken and salmon are also great choices for the grill. If you’re cooking in advance, try a BBQ pulled chicken in the crock pot.
When putting together your sandwich, keep a few things in mind: First, whole wheat bread is better than white bread. Or better yet, try an open faced sandwich with only one side of the bun. Use lower fat and calorie condiments like mustard and relish rather than mayo and ketchup. Skip the cheese because that adds about 100 calories per slice.
When grilling, use spices to flavor your meats. Studies show they can actually cut down on HCAs caused by grilling. Also, consider using alcohol as a marinade. This also reduces carcinogenic effects from grilling.
While the meats may have fat, they pack in a lot of protein. Many sides contribute extra fat and calories without much nutritional value. Steamed, roasted or grilled veggies are a great choice and would definitely top the list of healthiest BBQ foods, or raw veggies with a hummus dip are another way to go. Potato and pasta salads made the traditional way use a lot of mayonnaise which can be very fattening. Instead, try a quinoa or brown rice side dish tossed with olive oil, spices and chopped veggies. Side salads are another option that can help fill you up on nutrient-rich vegetables. If you decide to have corn, skip the butter and enjoy the natural sweetness of the kernels.
Who can resist a chocolate firecracker tort, apple pie or an American flag cupcake? Desserts are challenging and may be the one area where you splurge a little. If you want to try a dessert, share it with a friend or just slice a nibble to give yourself a tidbit of the flavor without overdoing it. Fresh fruit salad is a grand idea for a healthy dessert or juicy, sticky watermelon slices make a fabulous alternative that is both sweet and hydrating. Frozen fruit bars are another healthy way to cool off at your holiday BBQ.
As with any healthy diet, avoid sugary sodas and sweet tea. You may be tempted to have a margarita, sangria or other fruity cocktail at your July 4th BBQ but those are laden with empty calories. A glass of wine or a light beer is a much better choice if you’re going to indulge in an alcoholic beverage. Also consider water flavored with fruit slices or sparkling water to spice up your non-alcoholic selections.
Making Healthy Choices
It is hard to make healthy choices in social situations, especially if you’re a guest and the menu is out of your control. You may want to ask your host what will be served so you can think ahead and plan accordingly. You can also volunteer to bring several dishes to ensure you, and others, have healthy options.
Enjoy your 4th of July weekend with these healthiest BBQ foods. After the holiday, you’ll be proud of your commitment to your health.