10 Tricks to Slim Down Your Summer Cookout

Your summer barbecue doesn’t have to be unhealthy
Host a Healthy BBQ

Follow these tips for an easy, healthy cookout you can feel good about hosting

While grilling is generally a low-fat cooking method, potato salad, chips, and desserts can cause your summer cookout to become a calorie bomb. Follow these tips to enjoy a backyard barbecue without overdoing it.

1. Choose Lean Protein

Start with a lean protein. Here are some of the most common choices:

  • Skinless chicken breasts
  • 90 percent lean ground beef, ground turkey breast or ground chicken for burgers
  • Pork chops or pork tenderloin
  • Beef flank, sirloin or tenderloin steaks
  • Lamb loin chops
  • Fish

2.  Mix Up Your Own Marinade

Bottled marinades are packed with preservatives and sodium. While sodium may not directly cause weight gain, excessive salt intake causes fluid retention, leaving you feeling bloated. Make your own marinade to save on sodium and preservatives and still add flavor and moisture to your lean protein choice.

3.  Throw On the Veggies

Grilling intensifies the flavor of vegetables just like it does meat. Trying building kabobs by alternating lean meat and vegetables, or grill veggie burgers or vegetable side dishes.

4.  Lean and Green

Instead of filling your plate with creamy potato and pasta salads, choose green salads with oil-based dressings. You’ll cut calories and get a boost of healthy vitamins, minerals and heart-healthy fats.

5.  Go Greek

If you just can’t imagine a cookout without creamy potato or macaroni salad, switch out half of the mayonnaise for low-fat Greek yogurt and replace the other half with low-fat mayonnaise. You’ll cut the calories and fat significantly and get a healthy dose of calcium and protein from the Greek yogurt.

6.  Macaroni Makeover

Substitute whole grains, like whole grain pasta, quinoa, or bulgur for refined grains in salads. The fiber will help fill you up while consuming fewer total calories.

7.  Ditch the Chip

Dip crisp, fresh veggies in dips instead of chips. Just be sure to choose dips wisely and opt for protein-packed hummus or dips made with low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream. Baby carrots, cucumber, radishes, bell pepper, snap peas and broccoli or cauliflower florets all make excellent dippers.

8.  Sweet on Fruit

Satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh, juicy, naturally sweet summer fruit instead of traditional fat and calorie-laden desserts.

9.  Drink smart

Fruit punch, sweet tea and lemonade can have 150 calories per serving or more. Choose water with lemon or lime, sparkling water or unsweetened tea for a calorie-free sipper, or try one of these low-calorie summer beverages.

10. Perfectly portioned

Overindulging can leave you feeling uncomfortable. Take a small portion of your favorite dishes, eat slowly, and evaluate if you’re really still hungry. Remember you can always go back for seconds.


What are your favorite healthy cookout dishes? Share with us in the comments or @emeals.