20 Tips For The Healthiest Memorial Day Barbecue

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Eat smart at your next Memorial Day barbecue!

Encourage Smaller Portions

1 Be sensible about serving sizes. Instead of grilling extra large burgers, cook smaller burgers to promote portion control. For chicken kabobs, use smaller pieces of meat and alternate with vegetables. Cut sausages in half instead of grilling them whole.

Grilled Vegetables

2 Marinate vegetables for about an hour before putting them on the grill. When you cook them directly over medium heat and turn them frequently, they usually are done within 10 minutes. My favorite vegetables to grill include large portabello mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini and asparagus.

Choose The Leanest Cuts of Beef and Pork

3 Any cuts from the loin are considered lean. Try a pork tenderloin or beef sirloin for some lean red meat options.

Offer Vegetarian Options

4 Instead of overloading on red meat at the barbecue, offer some vegetarian-friendly options. Grill a few flavorful black bean burgers and vegetable kabobs.

Swap Mayo Out For Greek Yogurt

5 Greek yogurt is a light alternative to regular mayonnaise. When making potato salads or other dishes, try Greek yogurt instead of mayo or use half mayo/half Greek yogurt.

Limit Processed Meats

6 Hot dogs, sausages, bacon, and ham are examples of processed meats. The American Institute of Cancer Research has reported that processed meats are linked to increased colorectal cancer risk. Try to keep these items to a limit, and eat in moderation on
Memorial Day.

Grilled Fruit For Dessert

7 Grilling caramelizes the natural sugars in fresh fruit. Some of my favorite fruits to put on the grill are peaches, plums, and pineapple.

Up The Omega 3s

8 Fish can grill up beautifully and provides a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Try salmon, swordfish or tuna steaks for easy grilling. Add some walnuts to a large green salad for more of an omega-3 boost.

Offer A Large Veggie Crudité

9 Keep a large crudité with a variety of fresh vegetables out during the entire barbecue. Serve with natural hummus or homemade guacamole.

Get Outdoors

10 Memorial Day Weekend is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the weather. Plan a family hike or trip to the beach to enjoy the beautiful weekend.

Flavor Up Lean Meats

11 You can still get great flavor with leaner meats. Marinate them for 24 hours to enjoy delicious flavor without any extra fat. Lower-fat marinades with acid ingredients can help break down the tough fibers in meats as well.

Avoid Charring

12 PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and HCAs (heterocyclic amines) are the cancer-contributing substances found on the surface of well-done meats cooked at high temperatures. Avoid charring meats and start by trimming visible fat. Add vinegar or lemon juice to marinades to protect the surface of meat.

Take The Skin Off

13 Half of the saturated fat in chicken comes from the skin. If you cook with the skin on and then take it off at the dinner table, you’ll lose the flavor from your marinade and seasoning. Take the skin off before preparing the chicken and marinate for at least two hours in the refrigerator.

Swap Out Soda For Flavored Seltzer

14 If you still need that carbonated kick, opt for flavored seltzer water. There are a ton of new brands now selling all different varieties of flavored seltzer or sparkling water. My favorites are LaCroix Sparkling and Poland Spring Sparkling. You can also try Zevia, which is a naturally sweetened soda.

Ditch The Bun

15 Top your own salad with some fresh grilled protein instead of using a bun. You can even serve some burgers in large collard green wraps for a healthy alternative.

Stay Hydrated

16 When you’re busy running around and enjoying the barbecue, it can be easy to forget about hydration. Make sure you either carry a water bottle with you or keep a few water pitchers out during the day.

Offer A Few Salads

17 Memorial Day Weekend is the prefect time for some refreshing side dishes. Start with a big green salad filled with avocado, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and fresh fruit. Offer a southwest-style quinoa salad with grilled corn. Try a pasta salad with feta, basil, artichoke hearts, cucumbers and tomatoes.

Grilled Sweet Potato Fries

18 Instead of regular French fries, cut up sweet potatoes into long wedges and throw on the grill. Season with garlic and spices for a delicious flavor.

Indulge Sensibly

19 Some of your favorite foods may only come around once a year. If there is a dish that you absolutely love, try to indulge in a sensible way and focus on moderation.

Protect Your Skin

20 We can’t talk about summer and outdoor barbecues without mentioning the sun. Protect your skin by applying sunscreen or moisturizer with SPF.

Stefani Pappas, RDN, CDN, CPT, is a clinical dietitian nutritionist at St. Francis Hospital. She also provides private and group nutrition counseling at her office in Great Neck. Visit www.StefHealthTips.com for more information and to schedule an appointment.

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