Barbecues are a summer tradition for many people. They’re a great way to gather family and friends, enjoy fresh air and warm weather, and eat delicious food! Unfortunately, many traditional BBQ favorites are often high in sugar, salt, and heart damaging fats. A diet that is high in these products can contribute to heart disease, weight gain, and other problems. While it is perfectly okay to enjoy these foods once in a while, if you find yourself at barbecues every weekend, you may want to consider making some healthy swaps! Here are some ways to have a healthy summer barbecue:
Choose lean meat: Red meat is higher in saturated (unhealthy) fat than white meat, so if grilled chicken or a turkey patty is an option, choose those over a hamburger.
Go veggie: Veggie burgers are a great alternative to meat. They can replace a hamburger, and give you an extra serving of vegetables that comes with vitamins, minerals, and fiber! Add extra lettuce and tomatoes for a double serving of veggies!
Be choosey with condiments: Not all condiments are created equal. Mayonnaise is about 100 calories per tablespoon, versus mustard that is 5 per teaspoon (or 15 per tablespoon). Cut back on calories and fat with lighter condiment options such as mustard, ketchup, or relish.
Grill up fruit: During the summer, peaches are plentiful. Grilled peaches are a delicious treat that is full of nutrients. Pineapple is also a tasty grilled treat. Top grilled peaches with plain Greek yogurt for extra protein and calcium!
Try tofu kabobs: Tofu is another vegetarian alternative to red meat, so swap your beef for tofu on your kabobs! Add in grilled bell pepper and tomatoes for extra crunch and nutrients.
Choose healthy sides: Potato chips and dip are a barbeque favorite, but not the healthiest option. If you’re looking for a crunch, choose veggie sticks (such as carrots, celery, or broccoli) and hummus or tortilla chips and salsa. A fruit salad is also a great healthy side choice. Potato salads and pasta salads are also common barbecue favorites, but can often be high in calories and saturated fat. Be wary of these options, and choose a salad that’s oil based rather than mayonnaise based.
Enjoy dessert with moderation: Barbecues are usually abundant with desserts, so be sure to enjoy with moderation. Rather than choosing a little of this and a little of that, choose one dessert that you really will enjoy. Savor that dessert and enjoy spending time with family and friends rather than focusing on food.
Bring a healthy dish: If you are not hosting the barbecue, bring a healthy dish such as a fruit salad, a vegetable platter, or an oil based pasta salad to ensure that there will be a healthy choice. If you are hosting the barbecue, ask that everyone please bring at least one healthy item. Be sure to provide lots of water rather than soda, juice, or adult beverages.