Message from the RDs: Healthy Swaps for Your Next Cookout by Amy Silver

Healthy Swaps

One of my favorite summer activities is getting together with friends and family, grilling outside, and enjoying the nice weather. If you love this as much as I do, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of extra calories come along for the ride… between a burger and hot dog, potato salad or baked beans, an ice cold [insert favorite beverage], and then ice cream for dessert, you’ve packed on enough calories for an entire day in just one meal! How can you enjoy summer’s best activity without ruining your summer body? Try some of my healthy swaps at your next cookout!

Try your burger sans bun.

Save 100-200 calories by wrapping your sandwich in butter lettuce instead of a bun. You’ll be surprised by how much more flavor you taste without the bread covering it up!

Reduce calories in the side dishes by choosing more non-starchy vegetables than starchy ones.

  • Corn, potatoes, and beans are good in moderation, but you can amp up the nutrient content and lower the calories by trying these ideas:
  • Serve skewers of grilled peppers, zucchini, and onions
  • Mix diced cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and parsley into cooked quinoa and serve cold
  • Grill portabella mushrooms and sprinkle Parmesan cheese and/or balsamic vinegar on top

Don’t drink your calories.

Lower calorie content in liquor drinks by mixing with club soda and lemon or lime. For a non-alcoholic option, mix up a big pitcher of unsweetened iced tea and lemon for everyone to enjoy!

Enjoy nature’s candy for dessert.

Have you ever tasted fruit right off the grill? The high heat makes it sweeter- perfect for dessert! Grill pineapple, peaches, or apples and top with plain yogurt or cottage cheese and cinnamon. If you want to plan ahead, make homemade popsicles out of fresh fruit and ice. Sweet tooth conquered, no regrets!

Take advantage of the grill being on and prep ahead.

Many of my clients use the grill to prep their protein and vegetables for the entire week. While you’re eating or cleaning up, throw more chicken breasts, veggie burgers, asparagus (or whatever you favorites are) on the grill to cook. Pack them in individual containers for meals all week!