One of the things I love most about summer is the grill. When it starts to get warm out we whip out our gas and charcoal grills and make some really great food. This Memorial Day weekend we’ve grilled out twice—yesterday we made BBQ shrimp and veggies, and today we’re grilling Trout!
Our favorite things to grill are fish, vegetables, and chicken. We grill a lot of salmon, tilapia and shrimp. We try to stay away from red meats like hamburgers and steaks, saving them for special occasions. When we do grill hamburgers we make sure to use 90/10 or 95/5 ground beef. We like to substitute ground turkey for beef, and I think they taste even better!
It can be really easy to go overboard when barbequing—you have your chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, then the sides: buns, cheese, mayo, potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, beer, etc. Overeating is way too easy at cookouts. The calories add up fast, sometimes close to 1,000-2,000 calories per meal. I’ve come up with 10 ways to add variety and create healthier cookouts for your family!
10 Steps to a Healthier Cookout
1. Plan ahead. Know how many people are coming to your cookout, and plan for 5-6oz of meat per person, and about 1/2 cup of each side if you’re going to have multiple. Planning ahead of how much you need will prevent over-buying, which leads to over-eating.
2. Pick 3-4 of your favorite sides instead of including everything. Choose the potato salad, cole-slaw and baked beans over mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and buttery corn. If you can make some of the sides from scratch, you will control what goes into them.
3. Switch from beef to turkey burgers. Turkey meat is lower in calories and fat than beef. Add seasonings like pepper, onion and garlic powder or your favorite herbs to your turkey patty to ramp up the flavor.
4. Invest in a vegetable grilling basket. Grill onions, zucchini, bell peppers, carrots and potatoes mixed with a little olive oil and garlic.
5. Switch to fish. We love grilling fish because it adds a great smoky flavor. My favorites are salmon, tilapia, whole trout and shrimp.
6. If you’re going to have chips and dip, buy guacamole and fresh salsa instead queso. Watch the portions of guacamole, it can add up fast. That’s definitely one of my weaknesses!
7. Try not to use too much salt when cooking chicken or fish. Make your marinades out of oils, vinegars, herbs and spices instead of salts and store-made marinades.
8. Buy low-fat cheese if you like cheeseburgers. Or, be adventurous and add avocado slices instead.
9. Switch to low-fat mayonnaise for your burgers, and add extra relish and mustard to hot dogs instead of chili.
10. The calories from hamburger and hot dog buns can add up fast. Stick to one bun, or if you’re going to have multiple burgers, go bunless or just have one half of the bun each time and eat it with a fork.
Have a relaxing and healthy holiday!
Hi! I’m Emily, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and self-taught intuitive chef. I firmly believe that cooking is the simplest and most important step we can take to improve our minds and bodies and build healthier communities. Join me and let’s bring food back to the kitchen!