With the first long weekend of the season under our belt, summertime is here and grilling season is in full swing. Follow these tips to pump up the flavor and enjoy a backyard feast that is healthy and tasty.
- Go lean. Put the focus of your cookout on lean meat. Toss omega-3 rich fish, like salmon and tuna steaks, on the grill and add a squeeze of lemon and fresh dill for extra flavor. For red meat lovers, cuts that include the words “loin” or “round” will be your best bet. Be sure to trim excess fats before grilling.
- Rub it in. Choose dry rubs over marinades, which often contain unhealthy syrups and oil. For an extra punch, consider rubbing your meat with a favorite spice like cumin, rosemary, chili or garlic.
- Control portions. With buffet style eating at backyard BBQs, it’s easy to help yourself to excessive amounts. Keep in mind that a serving of meat should be about the size of the palm of your hand. To avoid over-eating, try cutting meats, veggies and fruits in small pieces and put them on a skewer. Enjoy the variety of textures and flavors along with healthy sides.
- Mix it up. Add fresh foods, like veggies and fruits, to your grill. Some great grilled veggie options include asparagus, broccoli, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, sliced sweet potatoes, squash or zucchini. For fruit, pineapple and peaches are great options as their natural sugars caramelize and enhance the flavor.
- Top it off. Forgo high-calorie toppings, like mayo and full-fat cheese. Instead, serve up chopped cilantro leaves and shredded cabbage with a squeeze of lime. Spice it up with some jalapenos and fresh salsa. Add avocado slices for some healthy fat with that similar, creamy consistency of mayo or cheese. Or try a little low-fat sharp cheese like Cabot Reduced-Fat Jalapeno Jack – a little goes a long way for flavor.
- Think outside the bun. Choose wholegrain breads to house your grill favorites. Pita bread and tortillas also make great options. Be sure to choose the wholegrain variety.
- Eat seasonal. Pick the perfect produce and offer up healthy side dishes incorporating your favorite foods that are in season. This summer, look for berries, watermelon, tomatoes and corn. Use leftovers to add crunch and flavor to salads the next day.
For more ideas on heart-healthy eating, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating fun and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition and visit:http://www.georgiakostas.com.
This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.