BBQ Survival Guide

BBQ season is upon us. After our (what felt like) never-ending winter, we no doubt deserve a long afternoon enjoying the weather and of course…the food. But how do we take pleasure in an afternoon of eating, drinking and sun without overdoing it? We refer to our BBQ survival guide.

Grilled Chicken Pita

Eat your vegetables!

A slice of tomato and a bit of lettuce on a burger doesn’t count as a serving of vegetables. Make sure that the BBQ you are at offers plenty of veggies before the meal… especially if they are sharing an appetizer table with chips and decadent dips. The fiber in vegetables will fill you up and help curb your appetite while the water content of some vegetables such as celery, bell peppers and cucumber can actually help keep you hydrated.

Speaking of decadent dips and chips…

Watch out! Some dips offer more calories, fat and sodium than you may realize. Look for Guiding Stars rated dips that won’t be as likely to push you overboard on calories and saturated fat, or try making your own with recipes like this one for Herbed Blue Cheese Dip. That said, if you sit down and enjoy a whole bowl of even the healthiest dip, you will definitely overdo it. Avoid this common trap by portioning out a serving of chips and dip and putting it on your plate so that you will be more aware of how much you eat.

Get up and move!

An afternoon of sun and fun can be made less indulgent if you move around a bit. Kick around a ball with the kids, engage them in a game of tag, set up a volleyball or badminton net or grab a friend for a brief walk. Even if you play a less active game like Cornhole or Ladder Ball you will still be getting away from the food and drink, which may be just what your body needs.

Hydrate…with water.

An afternoon of sun and heat will leave you depleted if you aren’t well hydrated. Avoid extra calories and sugar by going with seltzer, water or unsweetened beverages. If you are hosting, plan ahead with fun ice cubes made with lemonade or fruit juice for water or seltzer. Your guests will enjoy a fun drink while getting “just enough” flavor. Or surprise your guests with a colorful, refreshing drink like a Strawberry Mint Spritzer.

BBQ isn’t just about burgers.

Probably one of the biggest tips I can offer is simply to think outside the “BBQ box” with healthy grilling ideas. Get creative with a Greek-themed meal, which could include grilled chicken pitas with hummus and low-fat feta cheese, grill a skewer of shrimp or skip the meat and seafood altogether with grilled vegetables and portabella burgers. If you do want to make hamburgers, consider sliders or very small burgers and set up a fun slider bar with tons of healthful toppings.

Try for a not-so-decadent dessert.

You’ve enjoyed a long afternoon of eating, possibly drinking and hopefully a bit of activity. When it comes to dessert go with something light. Bake these better-for-you chocolate chip cookies, which are made with banana and naturally sugar free. Use them to freeze small, homemade ice cream sandwiches ahead of time (using light ice cream) or slice and grill fruit or enjoy a large fruit salad. You can even try a twist on a traditional S’more with Guiding Star rated Chocolate Better’n Peanut Butter (spread 1 tbsp on a half of graham cracker, top with one marshmallow and other half of graham cracker).