Potlucks and barbecues don’t have to wreck your diet.
Do you smell that? That’s the savory scent of a summer barbecue – smoky, chargrilled, and rich in flavor and aroma.
Summertime and grilling go hand-in-hand and it’s a great way to celebrate special events with friends and family. For some, a barbecue can seem like a pit of unhealthy, albeit delicious, eating options. We asked PeaceHealth Registered Dietitian Cecelia Jacobson for some advice on making healthy choices.
Season with herbs.
If you’re in charge of the barbecue or asked to bring a dish, consider swapping salty seasoning blends by using fresh herbs. You may use your favorite combination or a blend of thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary, garlic or sage. Doing this can reduce the salt and maybe even the calories, but not impact the flavor.
Highlight fresh fruit and vegetables on your plate.
Filling your plate with vibrant and flavorful vegetables like grilled peppers, fresh corn, roasted carrots, asparagus, green beans and sugar snap peas. These delicious veggies will not only provide you with fiber but will help fill you up faster.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t indulge in foods that are higher in calories or carbs, but keep those portions smaller. “Try grilling fruits or make fruit kabobs as a sweet and tasty dessert. When you grill fruits like pineapple, nectarines, peaches, or plums, the natural sugars caramelize with the heat and give them great flavor. Fruit is loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber. Plus, it is low in calories,” says Cecelia.
Choose lean meats, fish or plant-based proteins.
Boneless, skinless chicken breast has less fat than a burger or steak. Better yet, choose a lean fish like salmon which is a good source of omega 3’s and contains as much as 41% of the recommended daily intake of protein. You could also try making a homemade black bean burger.
Skip the bun.
An easy way to have a healthier meal is to go bun-free with a lettuce wrap or nothing at all. A burger that’s wrapped in butter lettuce is a great alternative.
Side dishes: Think green, red, orange, yellow, purple and more.
Choose sides full of color, dark green leafy salads or fruit salads. You could also combine both, such as a strawberry spinach salad or mixed greens with orange slices. “Add a little crunch to salad with toasted walnuts or almonds instead of croutons,” mentions Cecelia. “Instead of potato chips, which can be high in saturated and trans fats, serve fresh raw veggies like cucumbers, carrots, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, broccoli and cauliflower with hummus or baba ganoush.”