With Memorial Day kicking off this weekend, summer is officially here. So I thought it would be wise to offer some advice on how to eat well at the endless array of BBQs destined to mark your calendar during the upcoming summer months. These gatherings are a great way to get together with friends and family, enjoy the weather, relax, and just enjoy life in general. You will typically be faced with a smorgasbord of food options, so trust that you can still get your fill and also feel good about what you are eating. Here are a few tips for you to take to your next gathering.
On the grill: Plant-based proteins are always the better choice. If available, enjoy a grilled veggie burger, portobello mushroom or veggie dog. If plant-based options aren’t on the menu, choose lean proteins such as fish or chicken . But, let’s be honest! Low fat options at your typical gathering (unless it’s your casa) are often slim. Most likely it will be hamburgers and traditional hot dogs. Remember– you don’t have to try everything just because it’s there. Select what you really like. Enjoy it and aim to just have one serving. You can always make a delicious meal from grilled vegetables (if they are available) and salad.
Condiments: Go easy with the mayo, creamy dressings and cheese you consume. For a healthier alternative, try a couple slices of creamy avocado. Bulk up your burger or sandwich with as much lettuce, onions, tomatoes and pickles as you desire.
Sides: Go heavy on the salsas and fresh vegetable options; go lighter with the mayonnaise-based sides, such as macaroni salad and dips. Don’t overdo the chips, as they are empty calories that won’t fill you up. Opt for crackers, pretzels or even baked chips and aim for one handful. If raw vegetables are being served, indulge in them. They are always the BEST choice!
What to bring: A watermelon (everyone will love this!), vinegar-based coleslaw, salsa, hummus, raw vegetable tray, chickpea salad, salad with fresh nuts and berries with vinaigrette or fresh fruit salad (this is my personal favorite!). While these are all healthier options, if it tastes good, people will eat it.
Above all else, enjoy your time with your friends and family. Enjoy summer!
Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN was recently honored as the The 2015 Outstanding Dietitian of The Year by The New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a speaker, blogger, entrepreneur and innovator who is passionate about spreading the message of healthy eating for optimal health. To help restaurants improve upon menu choices and food preparation, Lisa recently founded Eat Well Restaurant Nutrition where she collaborates with chefs to get healthy meals on the table. She is the author of the “The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad,” (Nirvana Press 2014) and the widely-acclaimed “The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy,” (Nirvana Press 2012). In her private practice, with offices in Huntington, NY and the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Lisa specializes in weight managment, travel nutrition and diabetes for teens and adults. For more info, contact Lisa via email or visit here.