With Memorial Day just around the corner, millions of Americans are lighting up their grills and getting ready to kick off summer. For many of us, holidays present too many unhealthy options that derail our health. Here are some great BBQ tips to help you enjoy the party, but not sabotage your health goals this Memorial Day.
Leaner Proteins Are Great On the Grill
A lot of us think of BBQ meals as the traditional fat laden hamburger and sodium-rich hot dogs. However, there are a myriad of delicious alternatives that pack in the flavor without all the fat and calories. Grilled chicken and pork are nice alternatives to fattier, higher calorie options.
Think Like A Vegetarian
While the notion of a summer holiday BBQ conjures up images of meaty dishes grilled to perfection, there is way more than just meat to heat up on the grill. A hearty Portobello mushroom marinated in a sumptuous recipe can almost make you forget about a steak. Grilled vegetables like asparagus, corn, zucchini and peppers can add some serious punch to your BBQ.
Leaner Options Mean a Healthier Holiday
If you’re a more “meatatarian” than vegetarian, that doesn’t mean all bets are off when it comes to your holiday BBQ. There are plenty of leaner options that can help you stay on track during your introduction to summer. Grilled chicken, turkey burgers and turkey or tofu hot dogs are all great alternatives. A grilled pork tenderloin can be an awesome option for those who want to eat on the lighter side, but not skimp on flavor.
Beware of the Condiments
Whether you plan your own Memorial Day BBQ or accept an invite, make sure to pay attention to what is on top of your favorite grilled dish. Many mass-market condiments such as ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce and ranch dressing are full of fat, sugar, artificial preservatives and colors. Dress up your burger with lettuce, onions and tomatoes for an amped up BBQ meal that ditches the bad stuff.
Veggies, Veggies and more Veggies
Many Memorial Day BBQ’s include side dishes that are full of carbs, fat and calories. Who doesn’t want some of Nana’s famous potato salad? We get it, but make sure to keep the fatty carbs to a minimum and take advantage of awesome veggie side dishes. Some of our faves include:
- Cucumber and onion salad
- Quinoa salad
- Grilled corn salad with avocado, tomato and lime
- Skinny potato salad
- Fruit salad
What To Drink?
What you choose to drink at a holiday party is just as important as what you’re eating. FIlling up on sugary sodas or carb-heavy adult beverages can derail any healthy eating that you work so hard to stick too.
If you’re not indulging in beverages of the alcoholic kind, stick to water as it will keep you hydrated in the hot sun and allow you to avoid the sugar and empty calories that come with soft drinks, juices and many iced teas. Also, water doesn’t have to mean boring. Bring along a water bottle that you can refill and put in some fresh herbs and fruit. A nice lemon mint water, or a refreshing basil peach mix can really take your water to the next level.
If you are drinking alcohol, which most of us do on occasion, please drink responsibly of course, and avoid beers with a high carb content or brown liquors that are quite often mixed with sodas and juices. Your best bet is a clear alcohol such as vodka as it has less sugar and carbs.
What’s For Dessert?
If you plan to round out your Memorial Day BBQ with dessert, instead of heavy cakes and sugary frozen treats there are plenty of naturally sweet, light options to choose from. Fruit is awesome whether it is chilled or grilled as an end of meal sweet treat. You can make your own frozen pops using low sugar fresh fruit juice. Nothing sweetens up a meal quite like a fresh fruit crumble.
Avoid The Grazing
Another culprit to our health at a BBQ can be grazing on appetizers at the food spread. While it’s almost a certainty you’re going to try a few things, do your best to stick to the veggies, but even more importantly, don’t stand next to the buffett table while catching up with friends and family. Pick a few healthy options on a small plate, and then go chat with friends on the other side of the lawn or in another room if you’re indoors, it will help prevent you from spending the entire party grazing on unhealthy apps and snacks.
Join The Small Plate Club
Finally, avoiding the temptation to overeat at your holiday BBQ can come down to something as little as the size of plate you choose. When in front of an appetizing spread of delicious options we tend to load big plates with a little bit of everything. While we think we’re just having a little bit of this and a little bit of that, it can really add up on a large plate. Go for the smaller plate and just fill it up once. It can drastically reduce the amount of calories you’re consuming.
These are some delicious and healthy tips to help keep you on track this Memorial Day. Just because a holiday rolls around doesn’t mean your health has to take a back seat. By staying active and eating right, you can enjoy the holiday without it taking a toll on your waistline.