Blog: Nutrition

4 Ways to Lighten Up Your Next BBQ

By MariJo Kolze

 There's nothing like a backyard BBQ with friends and family to mark the beginning of summer. Summer BBQs are known for their delicious foods, refreshing drinks, and good company. But BBQ calories can add up! Don’t fret yet since there are still a wide variety of food options to choose from if you’re in search of healthier options. No matter what your eating habits are, you shouldn’t have to miss out on a fun and enjoyable BBQ! Use these tips to transform your grill into something lighter, whether you're hosting a guest or hosting a BBQ.

1. Consider different protein options

The grill still offers a variety of tasty and healthier meals even though many people prefer juicy steaks. Protein options that can be included in your meal are chicken, fish, and lean pork loin. Compared to red meat, proteins from these sources contain a greater proportion of healthy fats and less saturated fats. In addition, they contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as other vitamins that contribute to a healthy diet. By choosing a lighter option like fish, you can reduce your calorie intake while keeping the same meaty taste and you’ll be able to maintain fullness for longer by choosing options such as fish and chicken. Along with these protein sources, you can grill vegetables like zucchini and asparagus, which can be seasoned to your liking.

If your barbecue wouldn't be complete without red meat, you may want to consider leaner cuts of the meat, such as sirloin or tenderloin. These cuts should all be graded choice or select rather than prime, which contains more fat. The sirloin is a better alternative because it is still incredibly flavorful while having less than 5 grams of fat. Avoid more processed meats such as hot dogs and sausages, which contain high levels of sodium and saturated fat (the sodium content of one hot dog alone can reach your daily limit). By following this method, you can lower your fat intake. 

2. Add vegetables and fruit

Lighten up your meal by including vegetables and fruits. You can easily incorporate these foods into your next meal by combining a tray or bowl of fruits and vegetables. The trays are even more enjoyable when they are paired with tasty dips and sauces. As for enhancing the flavor of grilled vegetables, you can use a variety of techniques and seasonings. With just salt, pepper, and a spoonful of olive oil, you can grill tasty, juicy vegetables. Aside from the vegetables already mentioned, you might also enjoy eggplant, corn, and cauliflower at your next cookout. Even try combining these vegetables together to make a delicious skewer!

As a healthy dessert option, fruits are also a great choice. Instead of sweetened pies, consider fresh or grilled fruit. Adding some yogurt or whip cream will spice up the fruit even more. Another refreshing and fast option is to make a fruit smoothie. With just one or two fruits in a smoothie made with milk or yogurt, you can easily lower your sugar intake. For those who are dairy-free, almond or soy milk are great alternatives to dairy milk that contain fewer calories. Additionally, you will satisfy your sweet tooth while maintaining your calorie intake.

3. Go for fresh marinades and sauces 

As a vital aspect of your BBQ, sauces and marinades enhance the flavor of foods. While cooking or grilling, marinades help keep your protein juicy and tender. As well as adding many benefits to your meal, they are the perfect complement.

A healthy BBQ starts with knowing what's in the barbecue sauce you choose. Nevertheless, it's important to read the ingredients of store-bought marinades and sauces since they often contain more sodium and sugar (find ours here). Try homemade marinades and barbecue sauces that contain light oils and vinegar. Additionally, you should use marinades that contain an acid and an enzyme in the right proportions to obtain the most benefits. Enzymes such as mango or pineapple in the marinade help break down protein fibers, as well as tenderize the meat. Managing portion sizes and marinade amounts goes hand in hand with this. While eating barbecue sauce and marinades, you can still limit your calories. Don't add as much sauce to your meat as you used to, and try to use half a cup per pound. By controlling proportions accordingly and choosing your marinades wisely, you can maintain the flavor and tenderness of your meat as well as follow a calorie-controlled diet.

4. Hydrate with healthy beverages

During the warm summer, nothing is better than a nice refreshing drink. It is, however, possible to consume too many calories by drinking sugary drinks. Sugars and other sweeteners are commonly added to summer drinks. That's why choosing homemade drinks is a healthier option. Many low-calorie drinks can be enjoyed at a summertime barbecue! To get started, you can make your own pitcher of fruit-infused soda water. Simply add fruit, soda water, and limes to a pitcher to make the perfect drink. There's no better way to serve plenty of guests than with this simple, yet effective, method. 

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