Gina, our New England Dairy & Food Council intern, is back at it again on our blog. This time she is sharing tips and tricks for eating healthy during the summer BBQ season. Read on for her suggestions!
Healthy Eatin’ During BBQ Season
By: Gina Petracca, Dietetic Intern with New England Dairy & Food Council
Summer is a wonderful time to bond with family, relax at the beach, have a picnic by a pond, and grill outdoors with friends. Despite the ample amount of delicious produce available to us during the summer season, eating healthfully during this time of year can sometimes be rather difficult. With barbecue after barbecue, the same meals tend to arise: grilled meat, chips and dip, and if you’re lucky, a watermelon. Here are a few tips and suggestions for ways to spice up your summer meals with some delectable, healthy flavors!
• The grill is a vegetable’s best friend. Hot dogs, hamburgers, and barbecue chicken are an obvious summer favorite, but what about veggies? Make full use of your grill by loading it with vegetables.. For example: vegetable kebabs are a fun way to eat a colorful arrangement of veggies. If you like your meals simple, toss large chunks of summer veggies—like zucchini, eggplant, peppers, and onions—with a little bit of oil and lay them directly on the grill. For a more exotic twist, toss your vegetables with whatever spices and herbs you have on hand, then wrap your vegetables in aluminum foil and let them steam on the grill for 15-25 minutes.
• Always bring a salad. Whether you are hosting this week’s BBQ or heading over to a friend’s house, take the lead and volunteer to bring a salad. There are so many delicious veggies available during the summertime that none of your salads need ever be the same! Try tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella cheese. Or perhaps massaged kale salad with grilled corn, Cheddar and tomatoes.
• Lighten up your dips. Chips and dip is a classic combo for BBQs, but sometimes the dipping sauces are loaded with too much fat and salt. Make your own lighter versions of classic dips. Substitute Greek yogurt for any mayonnaise based dips. Add lots of spices instead of using salt. And utilize those fresh summer veggies to make your own salsas and guac.
• Make fruit-y desserts. Sliced watermelon is a crowd-pleaser, especially on hot and humid summer days. If your friends are interested in a sweeter dessert option, be sure to incorporate as many summer fruits as possible. Blueberry crumble, peach crisp, or even a mixed fruit salad topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream are all great options.
• Offer whole grain options. Offering whole grain options, like whole-wheat buns or whole grain pasta in pasta salad, is an easy way to incorporate more fiber into your diet, without forging your favorite dishes.
• Load your plate the MyPlate way. Just because it’s summertime doesn’t mean we can forget about our health. Use the simple image of MyPlate to guide your choices when piling up your plate with delicious BBQ grub. Make half your plate fruits and veggies, about a quarter of your plate should be grains, another quarter should be your protein, and don’t forget to include some dairy, like a Greek yogurt sauce, glass of cold milk, or cheese on your burger!