Like many of you, I’ll be hosting a summer BBQ over the Fourth of July holiday. Fourth of July is the most popular grilling holiday with more than ¾ of all Americans attending or hosting a cookout.
The good news is that grilling is fun and can be an extremely healthy way to prepare food. The bad news is that typical BBQ menus can pile on more than an entire day’s worth of calories and more than two days worth of saturated fat.
I’ve outlined my summer grilling menu for this party so maybe it will inspire some of you to write in what your favorite better BBQ menu items are.
Fire Up the Flavor, not Calories, In Your Cookout Menu
Appetizers and Sides:
Here’s exactly what I’ll have for appetizers and side dishes
Veggie crudité served on beautiful cutting board (include baby veggies, bell pepper strips, jicama, and snow peas)
Trio of dips with Better Chips: My go-to dips are always hummus, black bean dip and Muhammara (wonderful walnut dip). I’ll serve this with baked pita chips and have a bowl of Pirate’s Booty (aged white cheddar is my fave) for a significantly better alternative to fried chips.
Mediterranean-style Pasta Salad: I’ll use a blend of whole-wheat and regular pasta with olives, grape or cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli and red onion. The dressing is a simple olive oil and Champagne vinegar with some Dijon mustard.
Mediterranean-style Potato Salad: Again, like the pasta salad, I’ll make an herb-infused potato salad with the great multi-colored new potatoes, chives, parsley and tarragon. (Here is one recipe I like)
Grilled Poultry Sausage vs. Bratwurst: I like Aidells Portobello Mushroom Smoked Chicken and Turkey Sausage. Each of these stocky sausages weighed in at 140 calories 8 grams of fat, with only 2.5 being saturated and 540 mg sodium. (Compare that to a pork sausage that are often 250 calories and 20+ grams of fat.)
Grilled Veggie Kebobs: I nix coleslaw—over 250 calories per cup and 15 grams of fat–and grill up summer squash, bell pepper, onions and mushrooms. If you want to add some lean protein, use this rule: 3 veggies to every one piece of lean protein. That will help you keep the proportions of vegetables to protein right in your diet.
Turkey and Portobello Burgers: A small (3 oz cooked) beef burger made with 80% lean ground beef and on a plain burger with ketchup, mustard packs in just over 400 calories and 16 grams of fat. I’ll serve turkey burgers or Portobello burgers that will shave 100 or more calories off this main course.
Fresh Fruit Salad: If ever there’s a time to serve fresh fruit, it’s now. I’ll cut up whatever looks great (berries!) with melons and serve in individual glass cups or in a beautiful glass bowl. To garnish, I’ll ad fresh mint leaves.
For something a little more festive, try the Strawberry Cheesecake Bites. They have just 40 calories apiece compared to about 340 calories in a slice of cheesecake.
These simple dietitian-approved substitutions can cut hundreds of calories and a day’s worth of saturated fat from your summer menu. And, I bet no one feels the least bit deprived. At least no one complains when they come to our house, but maybe that’s because they wouldn’t expect me to serve anything too wicked.
Let me know what your tips are for making simple substitutions for a healthier BBQ this Fourth of July.