Grilling Can Save Your Diet at Summer BBQs

By Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD, nutritionist for the Biggest Loser Resort.

As the weather warms up, you may find yourself attending many outdoor barbecues. The good news is grilling is a great way to prepare foods. It requires no water and has a short cooking time, two variables that can lead to nutrient loss. Water leaches vitamins from food and longer cooking times can destroy nutrients. The bad news is that grilled foods are often served with heavier dishes.

Here are some tips on how to lighten up your summer barbecues.

1. Grill Leaner: Instead of using ground beef, pork hot dogs, sausage or bratwursts try ground turkey, chicken breast, lean poultry sausages (Applegate Farms brand), veggie burgers and fish.

2. Build a Better Burger: Top your lean meats with whole grain buns, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and/or salsa.

3. Don’t Forget the Veggies: Grill veggie kabobs and ears of corn right along side your meats. Or bring fresh veggies with a healthy dip. Try mixing plain non-fat greek yogurt with dill weed, minced onion and pepper for a protein packed, low calorie dip.

4. Snack Smarter: For a healthier take on chips, try a few of these brands: Terra chips, Original Sun Chips, Food Should Taste Good, Kettle Brand baked potato chips and Popchips. Although these are a more natural and healthier way to satisfy your need to crunch, you still need to watch the portion size!

5. Always Serve Dessert: Summer is full of colorful fruits that can satisfy your sweet tooth. Watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries will make a beautiful fruit salad. These fruits also have a high water content, which makes them perfect for staying hydrated in the heat. For another idea, you could make fruit popsicles for dessert by pureeing fruit and freezing in popsicle molds.

Here are a few menu ideas for your next barbeque:

Menu 1:

  • Turkey burger on a whole grain bun with ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles
  • Veggie kabob
  • Favorite chip from above brands

Menu 2:

  • Corn on the cob
  • Veggies and dip
  • Favorite chip from above brands


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