Is your summer filling up with social engagements that threaten to derail your healthy diet efforts? Backyard barbecues and potlucks are wonderful, but the typical fare – creamy mayonnaise-based salads, high-fat meats like ribs, and baked goods – isn’t exactly optimal for good health and weight management. Here are my go-to tips for staying on track all summer long.
If you bring a dish that is healthy and delicious, you know there will be at least one appropriate choice for you to fill up on at the party. I love whole-grain salads – stir together any type of cooked whole grain (e.g., brown rice, quinoa, barley, wheat berries), a mixture of raw or grilled vegetables, and a tangy vinaigrette, and you have an easy, delicious dish that’s packed with fiber and nutrients. (I love this Quinoa & Snap Pea Salad, although I usually grill the onions and mushrooms first.) These types of salads taste great at room temperature, making them a convenient option at potlucks.
Choose your protein wisely
Avoid higher-fat red meats and instead opt for fish or veggie burgers as your grilled protein. You’ll save on saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories, while gaining heart-healthy omega 3 fats (from the fish) or fiber (from the veggie burgers). Fish also cooks faster than meat, and less time on the grill means fewer carcinogens forming on your food.
We are lucky to live in Portland, where the farmers’ markets are packed with gorgeous and delicious berries, melons, and stone fruit all summer. Instead of sampling the same old baked goods for dessert, try grilling peaches or nectarines, tossing berries with lightly sweetened yogurt, or just slicing a juicy watermelon for a sweet treat that delivers vitamins, minerals, and fiber with minimal calories.
Do you have a favorite tip for serving up a healthy barbecue? Share in the comments below!
Tracy Severson, RD, LD, is the dietitian for the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the Knight Cardiovascular Institute. She specializes in nutrition counseling for cardiovascular health and weight management.