Cookouts ‘without’ weight gain

At most cookouts, you’re invited to indulge in favorites like hot dogs, hamburgers and creamy potato salad that could sabotage your diet – but if you’d rather go to all your friends’ summer cookouts “without” packing on pounds, here are some great tasting healthy alternatives you can suggest or bring along to help create guiltfree grills:

Better than Burgers: Instead of high-fat hamburgers and hot dogs, fill whole-wheat buns instead of white buns with lower-fat proteins like turkey hot dogs, all-white meat turkey/chicken burgers, veggie burgers or chicken breast – all ideal choices for cookouts “without” all the fat and calories. High-protein bison is yet another leaner cut of meat to consider. Also known as buffalo, bison is often called the “better” red meat…One 3-ounce bison steak has only 150 calories and 7% of your recommended daily value of fat vs. the 38% fat in beef ribeye.

Top Toppings: Reduced-fat cheeses, lettuce leaves, tomatoes, onions and avocado slices are perfectly healthy for topping lean protein choices. For condiments, have light or fat-free mayo on hand, as well as mustard, steak sauce, hot sauce, pickles and relish.

Fresh Catch: A variety of fish can be grilled whole, in steaks or filets, or on a kebob. Salmon, grouper, shrimp and tuna are great grilling options.

Lighter Sides: Grilled vegetables can be a healthy side dish but they also make for great entrées themselves, especially choices like portobello mushrooms, squash, onions and peppers. Instead of potato salad and coleslaw with as much as 10 grams of fat per serving, opt for humus or vegetarian baked beans with just one gram of fat per serving. Instead of fried chips, try baking homemade sweet potato chips. Fat-free salsa with just 60 calories is also a great alternative to creamy salad dressings and guacamole.

Pitcher Friendly: Instead of high-calorie, sugary drinks or bloating sugar-free sodas, pour on ice water with cucumber and lemon slices; sparkling water with a splash of fruit juice; fresh squeezed lemonade; or unsweetened green tea. Crystal Light has also introduced new “Mocktail” flavors including Margarita, Mojito, Appletini, Pomtini and Peach Bellini. They only contain five calories per serving and mix-up easily with water. Mocktails are available in multi-serve containers with five 2-quart pitcher packs.

Just Healthier Desserts: After being so good and eating healthy cookout choices, don’t let dessert derail your diet! A Whole Foods Market chef appearing on a recent Channel 10 News food segment suggests grilling fruits like strawberries, peaches, pineapple and watermelon. Tips: Don’t move the fruit around once it’s on the grill. Flip softer fruits after two minutes and cook two to three minutes longer. Harder fruits can tolerate three to four minutes per side without falling apart. You can skewer grilled fruits on serve along with healthier dessert choices like low-fat frozen yogurt or angel food cake.

If you can’t find or bring healthier choices to cookouts – remember “without” exercise, you may not be able to achieve or maintain your best summer beach body. Fortunately, if you do indulge in anything decadent “hot off the grill” – you’ll be able to burn it off at one of the many gyms and workout facilities around town!

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