Sadly the end of summer is near and that means that BBQ season is almost over. Labor Day weekend is often full of pool parties and BBQs, which means lots of chips, burgers, potato salad, and other indulgences. How can you stay healthy in the face of these yummy eats? Follow my Nutritioulicious Labor Day barbecue guide!
MAIN COURSE MEATS
Keep ’em lean. Grill up skinless chicken breasts (either on the bone or cutlets), London broil, beef tenderloin, extra-lean ground beef patties, lean turkey burgers, salmon, or tuna.
Watch those dogs. Regular hot dogs are full of calories and fat — about 180 calories and 16 grams of fat per dog. And don’t forget about those nitrates, which are used as preservatives, but have been linked to cancer. One hot dog is nothing to worry about, but to be safe, try to find nitrate-free hot dogs. Also look for reduced-fat or 97% fat-free hot dogs, which have about half the calories and fat.
Make your own marinade. Many barbecue sauces and marinades are filled with added sugar and additives you don’t need. Your best bet is to make your own using olive oil, honey, herbs, spices, low-sodium soy sauce, or whatever else you fancy.
SIMPLE SIDES & TOPPINGS
Check your chips… There are so many types of chips on supermarket shelves these days, so read the labels check your portion sizes — one serving is usually about 15 chips and 150 calories. Look for chips made with unsaturated fats like sunflower, soybean, or corn oil.
…and dip. Choose salsa and hummus over cheesy or ranch dips. You’ll save calories and fat and get veggies and protein instead.
Fill up on veggies. Start with a big mixed green salad, which will fill you up and keep you from eating too much of the other stuff. Also try grilled vegetables or veggie kebabs that can be grilled with chicken or fish.
Be wary of “salads.” Macaroni salad, cole slaw, and potato salad are all BBQ favorites, but they’re also filled with lots of mayo, meaning they pack on the calories and fat. A typical creamy cole slaw has 250 calories and 22 grams of fat per cup, so watch your portions. Or try making your own cole slaw using oil and vinegar or a mustard dressing and you’ll save at least half the calories and more than half the fat. And in place of the macaroni and potato salads, try grilled corn or sweet potatoes for a starch.
Pay attention to those buns. If you want to keep your buns from sagging, have your hamburger or hot dog on a whole wheat bun. The fiber will help keep you full and they have more flavor than the white stuff.
Try new toppings. Instead of ketchup, go for the mustard or a teaspoon or two of relish. Or better yet, try sauteed onions and mushrooms — an easy way to get in flavorful veggies.
Salad for dessert? Not so strange. Make a big fruit salad filled with berries, melons, grapes, cherries, and whatever else you have around. Mix with some mint for a kick!
Ice it up. Enjoy a 1/2-cup of Italian ices or slow-churned ice cream, which has half the fat of regulr ice cream.
Avoid mixed drinks. Sure it’s fun to have a nice cold drink by the pool, but those frozen drinks and mixed cocktails are loaded with calories. A frozen margarita, for example, has 300 calories! Not only is this a big chunk of your calories for the day, but it will also dehydrate you by the pool. Instead, stick to iced water with sliced lemon, lime, or orange. It will be refreshing and calorie-free.
Liquid calories add up fast. When you sit down for the BBQ it’s ok to have a drink — maybe two. But choose wisely and how much. Light beers and a wine (4-6 ounces is a serving) are your best bets. And make sure to rehydrate with plenty of water.
Wishing you all a very happy and Nutritioulicious Labor Day!