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Start Grilling! Your Delicious Guide to Nutritious Summer BBQ

Grilling season has officially begun! It’s time to break out the fresh produce and juicy burgers, call over your best pals and start grilling! In the past, you probably served typical BBQ foods like potato salad, loaded hot dogs, and an endless supply of potato chips – but that was before you committed to your health and fitness. This season, ditch the junk and host a healthy BBQ for your friends and loved ones. Not sure where to start? Follow this Guide to a Nutritious Summer BBQ for a surefire way to enjoy the season without derailing your healthy body routine.

1. Meat

Traditional BBQ meats include hotdogs, hamburgers, ribs, kielbasa, and cheeseburgers. On the surface some of these foods aren’t terrible for you, it’s what you put on top of them that raises their status on the junk food scale. For instance, a 90-93% lean ground beef burger is loaded with good-for-you protein, but once you add on a white flour bun, cheese, mayo, bacon, and fried onions, you’ve taken your clean protein option from fit to fat in a flash. Instead opt for whole grain buns, avocado instead of mayo, and ditch the ribs altogether. Here are some tips for your main dish meat:

- Serve fish seasoned with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon

- Opt for lean ground beef or bison burgers with a natural cheese or avocado instead of American cheese and mayo

- Swap white flour buns for light whole grain buns

- Choose low-fat 100% beef hot dogs if you must

- Try a jerk seasoning rub on grilled chicken breast

- A marinated cut of top sirloin or flank steak is amazing on the grill

2. Sides

Refried beans, coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni salad, and cornbread – none of this is healthy. Replace high calorie salads and sides with lighter, more refreshing options. Some examples include:

- Fruit salad

- Cucumber salad or other vegetable based cold salad

- Fresh garden or Caesar salad with dressing on the side

- Grilled corn on the cob (minus the butter)

- Black beans or kidney beans

- Grilled vegetables (zucchini, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers, yellow squash, etc.)

- Gluten-Free Protein Corn Muffins

3. Appetizers

Ditch the usual chips and dip for nutrient packed snacks. Some ideas include:

- Hummus and baked pita chips

- Vegetable platter

- Cheese slices and whole grain crackers

- Guacamole and veggies

- Baked chips and salsa

- Whole grain pretzels

- Light popcorn

- Deviled eggs – use light mayo or half mayo/half nonfat plain Greek style yogurt instead of full fat mayo in your recipe

- Sliced watermelon

4. Desserts

You don’t have to take all the fun out of your summer BBQ. Remember to include some tasty summer treats alongside your new and improved nutritious BBQ menu. But if you’re looking for some nutritious dessert options, you’ll love these ideas:

- Grilled banana split pouches – Create a pouch using aluminum foil. Slice your banana lengthwise. Fill with mini marshmallows and sugar-free or regular chocolate chips. Seal the pouch and grill until gooey. Enjoy with a dab of whipped cream or top with Toasted Marshmallow Protein Fluff

- Fresh fruit popsicles

- Chocolate Banana Protein Popsicles

- Red White and Blue Protein Pops

- Peach Protein Ice Cream

- Orange Creamsicle Smoothie

5. Ask Others to Bring Something Healthy

Hosting a BBQ can be overwhelming and exhausting. Don’t be afraid to ask your attendees to bring a healthy recipe to share with others.

6. Provide Calorie-Free and/or Low-Cal Beverage Options

Since alcohol is at the top of most BBQ beverage lists, be sure to choose light options like light beer and low-cal cocktails. And remember to provide refreshing and hydrating beverages like bottled water, unsweetened iced tea and sparkling water infused with fruit.

7. Limit the Junk

There’s always going to be junk food at a BBQ. The key is to limit what you provide for others, and what you eat yourself. To avoid going overboard and feeling like you ate a horse, load up on lean protein and veggie options. Then pick 1 or 2 of your favorite unhealthy food choices and try a small portion – then move on. Be sure to only serve yourself once – don’t go back for seconds.

8. Be Aware of Food Safety

With food sitting outside for hours at a time, it’s important to pay attention to food safety. Here are some tips to ensure no one gets sick:

- Keep raw foods and cooked foods separate

- Marinate foods in the refrigerator

- Cook food thoroughly

- Refrigerate and freeze promptly (when everyone is finished eating)

- Keep hot food hot – hot food should be kept at a minimum 140 degrees

- Keep cold food cold – dairy or mayonnaise based foods can be kept in a bowl or shallow container full of ice. Drain and replace the ice as needed. Move these foods inside if necessary.

9. Provide Activities

One of the worst things you can do at a party or BBQ is sit around the table that houses all the food! With food in front of you, you’ll be more likely to snack even if you’re not hungry. Provide your guests with activities that get them up and moving. They’ll burn more calories and be less likely to overeat. Some fun activities to include are:

- Frisbee

- Can Jam

- Giant Jenga

- Corn hole

- Yard Twister

- Ladder Toss

- Horseshoe

- Lawn Bowling

- Toss a football

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