With summer only a few calendar days away it’s inevitable you will soon be invited to or host the first of many summer barbeques or picnics. While these gatherings are great for relaxing and catching up with friends and family, they are also an easy way to add unwanted fat and calories to your daily intake. However; barbeques don’t have to burn you. Follow these tips to add some health and some flavor to your next summer gathering.
Choose your sauces wisely.
Using sauces with no calories served after cooking — such as Worcestershire, Chile, Soy, or light Italian dressing — in place of salt or heavy sauces will add a lot of flavor with a few calories. If you are looking to flavor with spices, try garlic, onion powder, or chili powder. If sweet taste is what you are going for add a little fruit juice to the sauce. Also, a low-calorie sweetener such as sucralose can help sweeten a sauce without the added calories.
Think beyond just meat.
Barbeques don’t have to be a meat lover’s paradise. On steak or chicken skewers, in between each piece of meat add pineapple, mushrooms, peppers, or any other fruit or vegetable you and your family or friends enjoy. Cut the veggies into sizes that will cook well on the grill and then grill them for about 8 – 10 minutes. If you like seafood, shrimp or fish could be a great option for grilling whole or making into skewers.
When grilling chicken, make sure you remove all the skin.
The skin of the chicken is where most of the saturated fat is found so removing the skin will remove this unwanted fat as well. If you are a chicken skin lover consider this: 4 ounces of grilled chicken breast with skin contains 8.8 grams of fat and 2.5 grams of saturated fat 4 ounces of grilled chicken breast without skin contains 4 grams of fat and 1.2 grams of saturated fat. When cooking other types of meat be sure to choose the leanest cuts possible and trim additional fat before cooking.
Portion distortion is still a problem on the grill.
If you are making skewers, cut the meat in small pieces with loads of vegetables in between. If you are making burgers or steak, think “tapas” and cut them into smaller appetizer portions before cooking. For every piece of meat you have, try to have an equal amount of vegetable.
Traditional barbeques are centered on grilling meat, but don’t forget about the sides.
Complement your meat with a healthful pasta salad made with whole wheat pasta and light Italian dressing. Or, going along with the tapas theme, make some mini appetizers such as bruschetta, hummus with olive oil and whole wheat pita, low fat artichoke dip, or a veggie tray. Take advantage of the delicious fruits in season and provide a fruit tray and a yogurt dipping sauce sweetened with sucralose for a low-calorie dessert that is sure to satisfy all your guests!