Tips for a Healthy Summer Cookout

Memorial Day is the kickoff to a summer of hot dogs, cold beer, and lukewarm diets. It’s hard to make healthy choices when everything is fried and dripping in condiments!

Cookout blog picture

Have no fear; you don’t need to reject that picnic invitation quite yet. Here are a few tips that will help you make smart choices at any summer cookout:

Simple Substitutions

– Trade your hamburger for a veggie, turkey, or chicken burger. (Morningstar Spicy Black Bean Burgers are a delicious alternative!)

– Instead of fluffy white flour hamburger buns, try whole grain buns or Sandwich Thins.

– Substitute the mayo in your homemade cole slaw with a little nonfat Greek yogurt and apple cider vinegar; in potato salad, mix together white wine vinegar, mustard, and olive oil instead.

– Veto butter and salt and eat your corn on the cob with lime juice!

– Looking for something salty? Instead of potato chips—the star of any summer cookout—make a batch of kale chips or sweet potato fries.

– Instead of reaching for a sugary beverage like juice, soda, or a Lime-a-Rita, add fresh fruit to a glass of water for a low-calorie yet flavorful alternative.

Savvy Suggestions

One word: kebob. Kebobs are an easy way to make healthy food FUN! Veggie kebobs, fruit kebobs, fish kebobs—you name it.

Practice restraint and portion control. Devise a set of rules before you arrive at the event. If you know you typically struggle with overeating, allow yourself only one trip to the food bar—and eat off of a smaller plate to improve your portion control!

Stock the dessert table with healthier alternatives. Instead of bringing a tried and true dessert (that also happens to be loaded with sugar and fat), look for a healthier alternative to share.

Get active! There’s nothing like a little competition to spice up your cookout. While ladder ball, corn hole, and board games are all fun—they’re not active. Work off your meal with a game of wiffleball, soccer, or dodge-balloon (think dodgeball, but with water balloons), or organize a three-legged race. These games are fit for the whole family and will not only pass the time, but make some great memories.

Choose your indulgence: alcohol or dessert? It’s okay—even recommended—to indulge every once in a while. The key is to make smart choices and ask yourself what you are willing to give up in order to indulge. Craving that glass of wine? Skip the American flag cake. Drooling over your cousin’s pretzel jello salad? Forget the margarita. It’s all about moderation.

Change your focus. Sure, most people look forward to a summer cookout because of the delicious menu—but isn’t it about more than that? Start thinking of these get-togethers as more than a meal, and focus instead on the fun to be had with family and friends. Arm yourself with plenty of outdoor games, a killer soundtrack, and juicy conversation. Soon enough, the food will simply become part of the background.

Interested in learning more about healthy eating? Contact a Nutritionist at a club near you:
Charlottesville | Eagleview | Hunt Valley | Midlothian | Short Pump | Timonium | West Chester