Think about a summer barbecue and the first things that come to mind are likely burgers, hot dogs and chips. The last thing? Vegetables. But if you worked hard to get in shape for swimsuit season, these quintessential summer affairs present a dilemma: You want to eat, but you don’t want to erase your progress.
I like to consider it a challenge instead. A few simple swaps and cooking methods let you have your burger and eat it too. Eat, drink and be merry with these three healthy summer BBQ tips.
Grilling, rather than frying, meat and veggies can save a few hundred calories per 3oz serving. For a little extra flavor, glaze the meat with spice and oil before putting it on the grill. I would recommend using a fresh spice rub once in a while instead of bottled barbecue sauce to help forgo any extra oil, butter, cream or sugar. There have been ongoing concerns about grilled food being linked to cancer, particularly because of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) produced when meat is cooked with very high temperature methods. To help avoid this, I would recommend not over-charring your meat.
Pasta salad and potato salad are summer favorites but what makes them a summer favorite for me is that I can substitute real mayo for light mayo without my guests really tasting any difference. Adding fresh herbs, salt and pepper and even a cooked egg can amp up the flavor. One thing to be aware of is that some pasta salads that contain mayo may lead to foodborne illness and cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea if they are left out at room temperature for too long. If food is to be stored longer than two hours, keep hot foods over 140°F and cold foods under 40°F.
Replacing some potato chips, cheese balls or pretzels with grilled vegetables can actually be a hit. Seriously. Make the healthier option pop by appealing to your guests’ eyes. For example, carving out a bell pepper and filling it with a greek yogurt dip can create interest in the dish and surround it with fresh veggies. Balsamic vegetable skewers with red, green and yellow peppers are another colorful way to make healthy pretty.