Memorial Day is coming, and it’s the perfect time for a cookout. However, if you’re watching your weight or your health, this may be a bit concerning, as many of the classic cookout favorites aren’t necessarily the best foods for you. Red meats, heavy sauces, rolls and many other staples aren’t the best for you, but that doesn’t mean you need to pass on your cookout. By doing some clever substitutions and switching up the way you cook, you can have all the fun of a cookout without worrying about your health.
Cooking wisely does a lot to help you get your healthy cookout started the right way, but the best thing you can do is change up what you eat. It may be hard to say goodbye to hot dogs, burgers and steaks, but there are plenty of alternative options that bring lots of flavor and healthy benefits.
For starters, you don’t have to necessarily grill meat. There are many vegetarian takes on burgers, like Portobello mushrooms, black beans and roasted vegetables. Even if you’re not a vegetarian, these can help you get more nutrients out of your cookout. Grilled vegetables are also a great addition, with squash, peppers and onions being favorites.
Finding leaner takes on cookout classics is another good a way to eat lighter and healthier. Turkey and chicken hot dogs or burgers mean you can get the same tastes and textures with less guilt. Lean pork and beef cuts mean less fat for you.
There are also plenty of fish choices that are meaty and great for grilling, and they have plenty of good nutrients.2 A few examples of fish that are great for the grill include tuna, grouper and salmon. You can also grill shrimp skewers, if you are looking for something handheld.
Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to the cookout is your side dishes and dessert. Potato and pasta salads may be classics, but a major component in these is often mayonnaise. You can get a lighter salad by using vinaigrette dressings instead of creamy dressings or making pasta salads with whole-wheat pasta.For dessert, try skipping out on pies and cakes and bring fruit to the table. Use the same skewers you would use for a meat kebab or shrimp kebab and put fruit on the skewer, like watermelon, blueberries or pineapple. And grilled pineapple is a unique snack you can only have at a cookout.
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