Healthy Summer Barbeque

July 21, 2022

When many people think of unhealthy food, they think about a barbecue summer party, but it doesn’t have to be that way at all! Barbecue food can be very healthy as grilling one of the preferred methods of preparing food in a healthy way.



Barbecue Meats:

There are so many lean meats that taste great on the grill. Chicken pieces are tender and juicy, but it is best to take the skin off as each piece of skin on the chicken can be around 100 calories. Loin cuts of meat are lean and healthy and great on the grill such as pork loin chops, pork tenderloin, beef tenderloin and sirloin steak. Hamburgers can even be healthy with leaner cuts of beef such as 90/10 or better or lean ground turkey which is usually 93/7.  When eating at a barbecue, limiting processed meats can help to make for a healthier meal. Turkey hot dogs can have lower calories than beef hot dogs, but the sodium content is around the same, so it is important to also take this into consideration. Trying to use spices for seasoning meats or using low sodium marinades can make for a healthier barbecue meal as well. There are low or no sodium seasoning mixes on the market specifically for grilled meats. Avoiding seasoning blends with MSG’s or monosodium glutamate is a good practice as that is an unhealthy flavor enhancer.



Meat Alternatives:

Grilled fish is an excellent alternative to meat. Grilled salmon can work with a mango salsa on top or shrimp or scallop skewers with grilled veggies. Grilled tilapia cut into pieces would be a perfect alternative to tacos. Grilled veggie burgers or black bean burgers taste oh so good on the grill and are a great protein alternative to meat. Tofu skewers are a great idea with some veggies and barbecue sauce. Even veggie dogs on the grill can do the trick and with the condiments on top, one could barely tell the difference between that and the real thing!




Healthy Side Dishes/Desserts:

The sides for a barbecue can make or break healthy meal plans. Watermelon or a fruit salad can be an easy and healthy side as could grilled vegetables such as mushrooms, onions, peppers or asparagus. Another healthy side dish instead of chips can be roasted kale chips. Roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes with some garlic and onion powder and pepper can add to a healthy grilled meal.  For dessert options on the grill, It does not get better than grilled pineapple skewers with a touch of honey. This is so sweet and is the perfect summer dessert. Other fruits that work well on the grill as well are watermelon, pears or apples. The pears or apples with a little bit of frozen yogurt on the top would be a refreshing treat for sure!

The Author

Kim Kramer R.D., L.D.N., CDCES

I have been a dietitian for over 15 years and my passion is in outpatient wellness working with kids and adults to help change their eating habits. I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a dietitian, and I am enthusiastic about nutrition as it gives me joy to talk to others about healthy foods. I promote a healthy lifestyle and positive behavior changes. I have also been working in the field of diabetes for the last 7 years providing optimal diabetes management practices to those in need. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my kids, cooking, playing the piano and working out.

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