Healthy Tips for a Backyard Cookout before Summer Ends

Stay on track with food while enjoying the fun of a backyard cookout before summer ends

Summer is ending soon, and a backyard cookout with the grill is a great way to savor it! Nothing shouts summer like a warm day, a fired-up grill, yummy cookout foods and your loved ones gathered together. And to make things sweeter, you don’t have to splurge on just hamburgers and hot dogs to celebrate. There are so many healthy options available to you.

Options for Grilling at Your Cookout

The grill is a symbol of summer. Fortunately, heavy steaks and cheeseburgers aren’t the only items available on the menu. Try grilling these instead:

Leaner Cuts of Meat:

  • Turkey burgers or turkey dogs
  • Veggie (black bean, chickpea) or tofu burgers
  • Chicken breast
  • Fish and other seafood (trout, salmon, crab, shrimp)

Vegetable Medleys:

  • Zucchini and squash
  • Asparagus
  • Onions
  • Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Carrots
  • Blistered tomatoes

Dessert (Yes, We’re Serious!)

  • Fruit kebabs
  • Pineapple slices
  • Peach halves
  • Watermelon
  • Mangoes

Nutrition Tips to Keep in Mind

Even though the grill is a simple tool to use (most, at least), there are other strategies you can use while grilling to whip-up a healthy meal. Keep in mind that when grilling meats, up to 40% of B vitamins and some minerals may be lost during the grilling process. However, grilling can be a healthier option because you need less oil than sauteing, and fat drips off the meat.

Give it a Soak or Rub

Marinate your proteins like poultry, fish, beef or pork for at least a couple hours before grilling. Or, rub different spices on it for a unique flavor. Just make a simple rub of your favorite spices. Try allspice, chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, garlic powder, paprika or rosemary.

Don’t Load up on Extras

Heavy condiments and dressings add a lot of sugar, salt and calories. Don’t drown your grilled masterpiece in all these extras! Sometimes, a simple squeeze of lemon or lime juice will work.

Be Mindful of Portion Sizes

How much you eat is just as important as what you eat. A healthy portion of any meat is about three ounces, or the size of a deck of cards. Your portion should be no more than six ounces. A fun way to practice portion control is to make slides instead of full size burgers.

Explore Bun Alternatives

You don’t need potato bread or Hawaiian rolls for a tasty meal. Whole-grain buns can be lower in calories and carbs while providing extra fiber. If you want to avoid the extra carbs altogether, try an open-faced burger or a lettuce wrap.

Final Thoughts

Before summer turns to fall and the holiday season sneaks up on you, make this season last with a backyard cookout! Invite your loved ones over and encourage everyone to bring a healthy dish, drink or appetizer to compliment your grilled masterpiece. Also remember to keep your grill clean to prevent burning, smoking and bitter flavors. Enjoy!

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