Shared from another blog, great healthy holiday eats. So How did your family do? We had hummus and baba ganoush with vegetables, grilled chicken, fruit smoothies.
Just because it’s barbecue season doesn’t mean Staten Islanders have to load up on fat-filled foods
Published: Monday, July 02, 2012, 6:00 AM Updated: Monday, July 02, 2012, 10:18 AM
Barbecue season is in full swing and picnic tables around the country are piled high with summer staples like hamburgers, hot dogs, potato and macaroni salads, bowls of chips and sugary drinks.
It can be a minefield for those looking to cut back on calories. So, in anticipation of this week’s July 4th festivities, we asked nutrition experts how the host or hostess can put together a tasty menu that will help their guests stick to a healthy diet.
“I always tell people, ‘don’t forget the veggies,’” said Andrea D’Oria-Cameron, in-store registered dietitian at ShopRite’s New Dorp and Graniteville locations. “Other than corn, we don’t usually fill up on vegetables at barbecues,” she said, adding, “They taste really good and people really enjoy them.”
Considerate hosts might include veggie kabobs on their menu for the Fourth. Ms. D’Oria-Cameron suggests stacking cut up eggplant, squash, peppers, or any other variety. Fruit also works well on the barbecue, she points out, suggesting grilling up some pineapple slices, peaches or plums for a delicious and healthy addition to a meal.
Also, avoid having your guests fill up on high-calorie appetizers. Instead, provide a tray of vegetables along with humus or salsa to munch on.
“When food is out, it’s easy to overeat,” Ms. D’Oria-Cameron said. “Most people want the burgers and hot dogs. Doing just the veggies as an option helps people save their appetite for the good stuff you’re working hard on.”
Drinks also can add unnecessary calories, the dietitian noted. Her suggestion: Ditch the soda or straight-on juice in favor of seltzer given some flavor with juice ice cubes.
When it comes to the main attraction, registered dietitian Tanya Zuckerbrot is a proponent of eating foods high in protein and fiber, nutrients that take longer to digest and can lead to improved energy levels.
“Protein can help boost metabolism and build lean muscle tissue so that you burn more calories,” said Ms. Zuckerbrot, creator of the F-Factor Diet and food line (F is for fiber).
She suggests choosing leaner meats such as chicken, fish, turkey and sirloin, which are lower in calories, saturated fat and cholesterol than hot dogs and full-fat hamburger meat.
Ms. Zuckerbrot recommends burgers made from 99 percent fat-free ground turkey, or a veggie burger, which can save up to about 200 calories and 20 grams of fat per patty. Additionally, you can lighten a burger by swapping half the meat with fiber-filled, chopped veggies.
For hot dogs, choose leaner chicken or turkey varieties. Other good-for-you lean meat options include grilled chicken, turkey tips or shrimp kabobs, which clock in at around 60 calories for a 3-ounce serving.
Meat isn’t the only barbecue staple that can be high in calories. Ms. D’Oria-Cameron points out that condiments like mayonnaise and salad dressings can be as well. She suggests using oil and vinegar to dress salads and salsa or fresh tomatoes on burgers and hot dogs.
“Be creative with your toppings,” she advised.
Barbecue sauce also can add up calories quickly, with one tablespoon equaling 20 or more calories. While this may not sound like a lot, Ms. Zuckerbrot observes, “it’s hard to use just one tablespoon.”
She suggests using a dry rub on meat, with a blend of spices such as paprika, dry mustard, chili, garlic and onion powders, pepper and cayenne. A dry rub is best used on quick-cooking foods, she said. For meat that’s cooked slowly, a “wet rub” works well, adding moisture with vinegar, mustard or tomato-based rubs to keep calories low.
Other sauces to be wary of include ketchup, which is low in calories but filled with sugar, and high-fat butter. If you must have butter, add it lightly with a spray-on version.
Ms. Zuckerbrot also recommends that diet-conscious diners skip potato and macaroni salads, unless they’ve been revamped minus the mayo. Filled with carbs and lacking fiber, traditional salads can lead to a drop in blood sugar and make you feel lethargic and irritable, she said.
A healthier take on macaroni salad may include whole wheat pasta, more vegetables, a little yogurt and splash of olive oil. Or, the dietitian suggests: “For a side salad packed with protein, try quinoa. This seed soaks up flavors of whatever it’s cooked with, making it ideal for summer barbecues.”
Instead of traditional potato salad, Ms. Zuckerbrot suggests using sweet potatoes. They contain more fiber, protein and flavor than white potatoes and are a good source of Vitamins A and C. And swap cole slaw with broccoli slaw, — adding in fat-free Greek yogurt instead of mayo and Stevia instead of sugar — which will bump up the fiber content and make you feel fuller longer.