zig
0

Notifications

  • You're all caught up!

19 Ways to Improve Your Barbecue

by
author image Pamela Nisevich Bede, M.S., R.D.
Pamela Nisevich Bede MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a nutrition consultant with Swim, Bike, Run, Eat! LLC, an online nutrition consulting firm. Specializing in nutrition communication and medical nutrition therapy, she is a consultant to food-industry leaders in the areas of product development, marketing and consumer relations. A registered/licensed dietitian and certified specialist in sports dietetics, Bede holds an M.S. in medical dietetics.

Slide 1 of 22

 
 
19 Ways to Improve Your Barbecue
Niki Gruttadauria

Come on party people, a backyard barbecue is no excuse to serve up foods that will keep you and your guests from stepping onto the beach (or the scale). In fact, every barbecue has room for a few entrees and sides that keep your health-conscious guests happy and your body looking and feeling good. Try the following tips and you’ll be sure to wow your guests and keep them asking for more -- without them even knowing they’re “indulging” in healthier options.

1. Keep It Lean
iStock

1 KEEP IT LEAN

Go for a healthier cut by choosing round, sirloin and loin cuts, which are typically leaner than prime meats. By exchanging six ounces of high-fat porterhouse steak for a leaner six-ounce sirloin steak, you’ll save at least 150 calories, along with eight grams of saturated fat. Choose chicken breasts or drumsticks instead of wing or thighs. And for the brats (bratwursts that is), opt for chicken and turkey sausages instead of higher-fat pork or beef choices.

Related: Tips to Choose the Healthiest Red Meat

2. Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill
kazoka30/iStock/Getty Images

2 CLEAN, SEPARATE, COOK AND CHILL

The United States Department of Agriculture recommends consumers prevent food-borne illness by remembering to follow these easy steps. 1) Clean hands and surfaces often. Remember to rinse fruits and veggies, but not meat or poultry, by running under tap water. 2) Separate raw, cooked and ready-to-eat foods while shopping, preparing and storing. Be careful not to cross-contaminate these items. 3) Cook foods to safe internal temperatures (see guidelines in this article). 4) Chill food promptly (i.e., don’t allow that macaroni salad and side of ribs to sit in the sun for three hours before placing them in the fridge).

Related: 11 Food-Safety Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

3. Watch Those Portions
Stocksy.com

3 WATCH THOSE PORTIONS

You’ve got plenty of options on the table -- meat, sides, salads and dessert -- so the meat need not be center stage at your backyard barbecue. Help your guests with portion control by serving better portion sizes. Marin Gilbert, a registered dietitian in Dayton, Ohio, says that three ounces of meat is equal to the size of a palm, deck of cards or a cassette tape. In other words, three ounces of chicken is half a chicken breast or a chicken leg and thigh; three ounces of fish is about the size of a checkbook; a three-ounce hamburger patty is similar in size to a hockey puck.

Related: Sign Up to Receive the FREE LIVESTRONG.COM Weekly Health and Fitness Newsletter

4. Preheat the Grill
bernardbodo/Adobe Stock

4 PREHEAT THE GRILL

By preheating the grill, you give it time to get ready to sear your meat, avoid sticking and lock in flavor, but you also make certain that harmful bacteria is killed before placing the raw meat on the grates. Allow a gas grill to preheat for 15 to 20 minutes after turning it on; allow a charcoal grill the same, but wait for the coals to get hot before setting your time.

Related: Sign Up to Receive the FREE LIVESTRONG.COM Weekly Health and Fitness Newsletter

5. Get Your Meats to the Right Temperature
Kondor83/iStock/Getty Images

5 GET YOUR MEATS TO THE RIGHT TEMPERATURE

When grilling ground beef make sure the internal temperature reaches at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. When grilling whole cuts (steaks, chops and roasts) of beef, veal or lamb, aim for a minimum of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, and always let the meat rest for three minutes prior to serving. Don’t depend on touch or sight to determine the temperature; rely on an instantly read digital thermometer.

6. Tips for Poultry Temps
Lukas Gojda/Adobe Stock

6 TIPS FOR POULTRY TEMPS

Many cooks like to use bone-in, skin-on cuts for added flavor and moisture, but if you’re trying to limit your calories, the simplest way is to remove the crispy skin prior to chowing down. The safe internal temperature for any poultry -- be it pieces, ground or the entire bird -- is a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

7. Tips for Fish Temps
koss13/Adobe Stock

7 TIPS FOR FISH TEMPS

Fish is a great choice for boosting your barbecue health score. Many fish options (like salmon) are packed with heart-healthy good omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce the risk of high cholesterol, hypertension and heart disease. Grill fish to perfection by aiming for an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. The flesh should be flaky and opaque as it nears the safe serving temperature. If cooking shellfish like clams, oysters and mussels, look for the shells to open during the cooking.

8. Choose the Right Marinade
John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images

8 CHOOSE THE RIGHT MARINADE

Sure, marinades offer health benefits, but they can also add extra calories and lots of sodium! But you can avoid these health pitfalls by using options like citrus juices, Worcestershire sauce, molasses, low-sodium soy sauce, vinaigrettes and even low-sodium vegetable, chicken and beef broths instead of oil. If your marinade recipe calls for sour cream, opt instead for a low-fat plain Greek yogurt.

Related: 20 Sneaky Sources of Sodium

9. Think Outside the Bun
Corby Chapin/iStock/Getty Images

9 THINK OUTSIDE THE BUN

Grilling is not just for meat and veggies anymore. Delight your guests with alternatives like grilled quesadillas, frittatas and more. Jenna A. Bell, Ph.D., RD, and co-author of “Energy to Burn” (Wiley 2009), impresses her guests with crispy barbecue pizza. Bell says it’s simple: She simply tosses pizza dough on the grill, tops it with fresh veggies and artisanal cheeses and waits until the dough is crisp and the cheese is bubbling.

Related: Sign Up to Receive the FREE LIVESTRONG.COM Weekly Health and Fitness Newsletter

10. Amp Up the Veggies
Jill Chen/iStock/Getty Images

10 AMP UP THE VEGGIES

There’s always room for splurges in life, so why not make those treats really count? Dr. Jenna A. Bell, RD enjoys the occasional hotdog, but adds Asian-inspired coleslaw of green and purple cabbage to increase her vegetable consumption while still splurging. Smother a chicken breast or cut of beef with green peppers and onions for a backyard Philly. One rule of thumb: Increase the veggies while decreasing the size of the meat. You can also simply toss tougher vegetables like summer squash, eggplant, asparagus and portabella mushrooms with heart-healthy oil and some fresh seasonings and grill just until the veggies are tender.

Related: Cut Calories With These 9 “Pasta Poser” Recipes

11. Not Your Mama’s Pasta Salad
Stocksy.com

11 NOT YOUR MAMA’S PASTA SALAD

When serving pasta salad, pack it with fresh, chopped vegetables and crumbled flavorful cheeses that are lower in fat than cheddar or Swiss. Try goat cheese, feta or fresh Parmesan for instance. Toss the pasta with a low-fat vinaigrette or a tomato-based sauce rather than a heavy, creamy sauce. For even more health benefits, choose a base of whole-grain pasta rather than the usual refined option.

Related: Cut Calories With These 9 “Pasta Poser” Recipes

12. Skip the Potato Salad
Laura Clay-Ballard/iStock/Getty Images

12 SKIP THE POTATO SALAD

Jennifer Sharp, a stay-at-home mom from Akron, Ohio, who entertains frequently, says that instead of serving heavy, creamy potato salad, she simply slices some potatoes -- leaving the skin on -- tosses them in extra-virgin olive oil, tops with fresh herbs and some sea salt and places on the grill until the potatoes are fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside.

Related: Sign Up to Receive the FREE LIVESTRONG.COM Weekly Health and Fitness Newsletter

13. Skip the Chips
bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images

13 SKIP THE CHIPS

Tired potato chips are off this years’ menus, replaced by healthier alternatives like sweet potato chips (high in vitamin A) or whole-grain varieties. Another option? Serve up some kale chips. Simply wash, trim and dry kale leaves, coat lightly with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper and roast in the oven or on the grill until crispy and toasted.

Related: 9 Better-for-You Potato Chip Swaps

14. Tips for Dips
Courtesy of Jackie Newgent

14 TIPS FOR DIPS

This year, creamy, mayo-based dips are out and healthier alternatives are in. Instead of ranch dressing or cream-cheese dip for vegetables, why not serve up some homemade guacamole (still high in calories, but packed with heart-healthy fat), fresh salsa or hummus? If creamy dips are a necessity, make yours with a base of plain Greek yogurt.

Related: 10 Good-for-You Dips and Spreads

15. Think Outside the (Condiment) Box
Dani Vincek/Adobe Stock

15 THINK OUTSIDE THE (CONDIMENT) BOX

Offer your guests a new flavor sensation by offering new-and-improved condiments like gourmet mustards, salsas, sliced veggies and light, herb-infused spreads that offer a multitude of flavors without the calories. Added bonus? Herbs, vegetables and salsas offer vitamins and antioxidants while omitting excess sodium!

Related: Sign Up to Receive the FREE LIVESTRONG.COM Weekly Health and Fitness Newsletter

16. Remember the Sweet Stuff -- Fruit!
Gelner Tivadar/iStock/Getty Images

16 REMEMBER THE SWEET STUFF -- FRUIT!

Fruit for dessert may be a dietitian’s dream, but the rest of your guests are likely to appreciate fresh fruit as an accompaniment to their main dish. Get fancy by serving fruit kabobs, or take it easy and slice some fresh fruit, toss with lemon juice (to prevent browning) and serve!

Related: 20 Foods to ALWAYS Buy Organic - Even If You're on a Budget!

17. Time for Dessert
AbbieImages/iStock/Getty Images

17 TIME FOR DESSERT

Marin Gilbert, RD, recommends hosts keep the party light by serving refreshing options like sorbet and gelato rather than traditional ice cream or cobblers. Or offer up fruit-based desserts as opposed to heavier chocolate and creamy ones.

Related: 10 Desserts That Won’t Derail Your Diet

18. Keep Cool With Cold Bevvies
Stocksy.com

18 KEEP COOL WITH COLD BEVVIES

When it's hot out, guests are certain to be thirsty, but help them keep their waistlines in check by offering lighter options like light beer, sangria (with fresh fruit and club soda) and cocktails made with low-calorie additions instead of sugary, high-calorie daiquiris and pina coladas. Remember to keep plenty of low-calorie, alcohol-free options on hand for all of your guests.

Related: 13 Worst Alcoholic Drinks

19. Enjoy the Party!
4774344sean/iStock/Getty Images

19 ENJOY THE PARTY!

Sure, you may know it's lighter fare, but let that remain your own private secret. There’s no need to announce it. Simply sit back and watch your guests enjoy their meals and time together.

Related: Sign Up to Receive the FREE LIVESTRONG.COM Weekly Health and Fitness Newsletter

What Do YOU Think?
oneinchpunch/Adobe Stock

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Are you planning to barbecue this summer? What are your favorite go-to barbecue foods. Any tips we missed on our list? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Related: 10 Surprising Flat-Belly Foods

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
THE LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate Nutrition, Workouts & Tips
GOAL
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
GENDER
  • Female
  • Male
lbs.
ft. in.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Demand Media

Our Privacy Policy has been updated. Please take a moment and read it here.