It’s the summer, and you’ve just been invited to a 4th of July barbecue. You RSVP “Yes”, but in the back of your mind you’re thinking, “Ribs, hot dogs, potato salad, creamy dressings, hamburgers, icecream; How am I going to control myself?!”
Obviously, if you are attending a barbecue, it is impossible to control WHAT is there, but it is possible to control what you put on your plate and how much you eat! While you are outside with guests, make it a point to enjoy the company of others and socialize rather than stand at the food table and snack all day. Enjoy what is there, but fill up your plate with the healthiest options available, like salad with light dressing, a piece of grilled chicken, corn on the cob, and fruit salad. If it helps control your food cravings, try eating a piece of fruit with peanut butter, a small salad, or a handful of nuts before going to the barbecue. Many people think, “Well, if I don’t eat anything before I got out, then I can eat more when I am there.” This simply is not a healthy way to go about your daily eating! Trust me, in the end, you wind up eating more!
Now let’s say you are the one hosting a barbecue and you want to create a delicious menu that your guests will enjoy, but will be healthy and prevent your child from overeating.
What should I drink?
The best option is to stick with water! Try adding orange slices, lemon slices, or lime slices. They add a great subtle flavor with virtually no calories! It is important to keep yourself hydrated while you are outside!
For your guests, offer cans of diet and regular soda along with whatever alcoholic or other beverages you think they would like. However, make it a point to place the diet soda in a separate cooler of ice; that way you will remind yourself to just go to that cooler and avoid the one with the regular beverages.
What kinds of appetizers should I serve?
The best appetizers and snack options to offer are baked tortilla chips with salsa, pretzels, fresh fruit salad, and cut-up vegetables with low-fat dip.
What should I grill? Hotdogs and hamburgers just seem so easy to throw on the grill, but I know there are healthier options.
If you simply can’t do without hamburgers and hotdogs, then opt for buying 93% or 95% extra lean ground beef and forming them into patties yourself! Spray the grill with non-fat cooking spray and enjoy a delicious lean burger. Hotdogs can be very tricky because often they are loaded with fat and sodium. The best option for hotdogs, are low-sodium and low-fat. Brands such as Healthy Choice and Hebrew National offer this! My family loves the Hebrew National 97% fat-free hot dogs! If you want to be adventurous and try some other meats, here are a few options that go great on the grill! Always remember to trim the fat off of your meats and avoid high-calorie marinades! Opt for light, whole-wheat rolls rather than white rolls and fat-free cheeses instead of regular cheeses. Limit the amount of condiments used and avoid mayo altogether. If you must have mayonnaise, use a small amount of fat-free mayonnaise.
|Option||Serving Size||Food Color|
|Lean Flank Steak||3 ounces||Yellow + Green|
|Grilled Shrimp||6 large||Green|
|Veggie Burger||1 burger||Green|
|Fat-free turkey hot dog||2 hot dogs||Green|
|Pork Tenderloin||2 ounces||Green|
|Veggie Sausage Links||3 links||Green|
|Chicken Breast/NO skin||2 oz/half breast||Green|
Keep in mind that fish is also a great BBQ dish, but can be difficult to cook on the grill, as it breaks apart easily. Try placing a white, lean fish of your choice in parchment baggies and toss in veggies and lay on the grill! It’s easy to make and when you’re done, just throw the bag away.
Another great fish option is to cook salmon on a cedar plank placed on the grill. The outside gets crisp while the inside remains soft. Plus, the cedar gives the fish a fabulous taste!
Top Tips When Grilling Meats:
- 1. Trim the fat
- 2. Avoid high-calorie marinades
- 3. Take off the skin
- 4. Stay away from overly processed meats, like full-fat sausage!
- 5. Try cubing chicken or beef and making a vegetable kabob
- 6. Use fat-free cooking spray. Avoid greasing the grill with oils/butters as it adds unnecessary fat and calories!
But what should I serve WITH the meat? That always seems to be the hardest part for me.
I am sure you are thinking about pairing that hamburger with potato salad or a buttered-up corn on the cob, but there are many satisfying healthy options to pair meat with. Here are just a few:
|Option||Serving Size||Food Color|
|Fresh strawberries||1 cup||FREE|
|Grilled peppers and onions||½ cup||Green|
|Salad with fat-free dressing||1 cup||Green|
|Sugar-free jello||3 tbsp.||FREE|
|Corn, cob, NO butter||1 cob||Green|
|Grilled zucchini and squash||½ cup||FREE|
|Angel Food Cake||1 slice||Green|
|Potato Chips, baked||10 chips||Green|
|Baked Sweet Potato||2 oz./half potato||Green|
|Fat-free pudding||½ cup||Green|
Hopefully, this gives you some great ideas to work with for your next barbecue! Remember to enjoy the company of your guests and plan fun activities and games with the kids to keep them active and not focused on sitting and eating. Set up a volley-ball net, jump in the pool, set up a relay-race or obstacle course, and get moving!