A backyard barbecue can be enjoyed even when you're following a healthy eating plan or trying to lose weight. Although BBQs may make you think of juicy hamburgers, hot dogs, sausage and ribs, there's no reason you have to prepare high-calorie, high-fat foods just because you're firing up the grill.
“There are so many healthy foods that can be cooked on a grill including chicken, fish, vegetables, and even fruits,” said Keri Howell, a registered dietitian with Maury Regional Medical Center. “Grilled foods rarely need any fatty additives like butter, cheese or creamy sauces. The smoky flavors and tasty marinades are a great alternative to higher fat additions.”
Here are 7 ways to make your next BBQ healthier:
- Choose low-fat beef, turkey or veggie burgers instead of hamburgers with a high fat content. To add flavor, experiment with seasonings and top with grilled onions, mushrooms or tomatoes. Gotta have cheese? Add a small amount inside the burger instead of smothering cheese on top. You’ll still enjoy that cheesy taste without so much fat.
- Skinless chicken breasts and pork tenderloin are good alternatives to red meat. Grill until cooked through and lightly brush with your sauce of choice at the end.
- Can’t imagine a BBQ without sausage? Choose turkey or chicken sausage and you’ll still get to enjoy the flavor without the fat. From fiery hot to mildly sweet, you’ll find a taste to suit your palate.
- Fish like salmon, tuna and swordfish are great grilling options. Or dust shrimp with dry spices, skewer and grill for just a few minutes.
- Marinades add flavor and tenderize leaner cuts of meat. Experiment with mustard, vinegar, fresh herbs, garlic, fruit juices, teriyaki or soy sauce and hot pepper flakes in addition to a bit of heart-healthy olive oil.
- Vegetables such as corn, eggplant, zucchini, portobello mushrooms and peppers are grill favorites. Coat with a little olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper before tossing on the grill rack.
- Don’t forget about dessert when firing up the grill! Pineapple rings, peach halves or watermelon wedges taste great when grilled.
Keri Howell, RD, LDN, is a registered dietitian with Maury Regional Medical Center.
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Date Last Reviewed: March 14, 2018
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Nora Minno, RD, CDN